Welp, looks like it’s that time of year again. I have been working to keep myself to a post-every-Saturday schedule – and actually do have a stack of finished draft posts and a publication schedule to back that up – but I realized this morning that I’ve got a lot of social- and errand-related conflicts tomorrow and Saturday, so this one had to get finished and released today. :’D The good(ish) news is that I am currently only 23 books into my 72-book challenge, so at least this year I don’t have enough books to trigger my traditional mid-year indecision.
Best book you’ve read so far in 2022
Impostor Syndrome (Kathy Wang) was absolutely my favorite new read this year. I’m puzzled by its relatively low rating on Goodreads, because it really hit home for me in a couple of different ways. A full review is coming – I’m not just saying this, I actually do have a finished review in my drafts folder, currently scheduled for publication in late September because I’m planning to publish everything I’ve written about the things I read last year before I start getting into the things I read this year – but for now suffice it to say that I finished the library’s copy one fine night and ran to the nearest BN to buy it the next afternoon.
Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2022
I suppose I’ll have to give this one to Freezing Order: A True Story of Money Laundering, Murder, and Surviving Vladimir Putin’s Wrath, in that it was the only sequel I’ve read this year, though admittedly I read it without realizing it had a prequel. I wasn’t sure going in if I would like it or not, but it hooked me pretty good.
New release you haven’t read yet, but want to
After all that bleating I did about Xiala and Iktan, I still haven’t read Fevered Star. ;___; I wish I had some really good excuse for this, but the reason is literally that I bought it and forgot it.
Most anticipated release for the second half of the year
NONA THE NINTH!!! If I say her name three times in a mirror, will she magically drop into my hands? Nona is coming out September 13, when of course I will be out of state, but I have her on preorder, so I’m not worried. I am obsessed with this series, having sold my soul to it about five pages into Gideon the Ninth, and I needed it to be September 13, like, the minute I finished Harrow the Ninth. I’m a little puzzled by the existence of Nona, given that I was expecting Alecto the Ninth to be the next and final installment, but, since the Locked Tomb is now a four-book series rather than a trilogy, I’m not mad. Now if I could just talk the right people into making it a TV series my life would be perfect and I would never ask for anything ever again oh gawd I want this badly.
I haven’t had any real stinkers this year, but in terms of expectations not being met I’d have to say Plain Bad Heroines (Emily M. Danforth) takes this dubious cake. Even though I’d already heard that a lot of people had found it disappointing in some way, I really was hoping to love it, and in the end I just didn’t. I didn’t hate it either, and there were parts of it I did like, but I couldn’t really get past the Merritt problem for a solid 3/4 of the book.
The rate at which I have been DNF’ing this year, starting with Outlander (Diana Gabaldon) and ending – so far – with The Book of M (Peng Shepherd). I’ve only DNF’d three books, but this is a huge number for me because my usual policy is to finish a book, even if it breaks my brain in the process. I’ve been struggling with my reading since last year, however, and this year I’m shit outta patience for a lot of things, which apparently includes books that I can’t get into. And I’ve gotta say, it’s been really liberating just putting down a book and never picking it up again. There are so many things I want to do, and reading books I don’t love is not one of them.
With all that being said, I am currently pondering a fourth DNF. I started A Tip for the Hangman (Allison Epstein) last night, and, well, it’s………..a little bland? I can’t really articulate why it feels off to me, because it is funny and I don’t hate it, but it’s not hooking me the way I want to be hooked, and I really do not want to read 374 pages of blah. I’m only on page 23 right now, so I’m going to give it another three chapters, and if it doesn’t grab me in that time it’s going back to the library.
Favorite new author (debut or new to you)
I have no immediate answer for this, but I am (reluctantly) going to give it to Sue Lynn Tan, whose debut (Daughter of the Moon Goddess) I read back in May. And I loved it: though it was a little fast-paced and some of the arc resolutions were a tad too convenient, I loved the characters and the story, and I thought Tan did an excellent job remixing Chinese mythology. The reason I am reluctant to name her my new favorite author is that I really did not like her writing style, which I found clunky and repetitive, albeit mostly during the battle scenes. This is nothing against her personally, because her writing suffers from some very common first-time author habits, and I still loved her book and have every intention of reading the second installment, which is coming out in November. I’m hoping she’ll publish other works as well; like I said, my objections to her writing can be blamed on inexperience, and – in general, and based on this one book – I like the way she thinks.
Newest fictional crush
Okay I always say N/A here and I was going to say it again, but if I were the crushing type, Prince Liwei (Daughter of the Moon Goddess) and Isak Baek (Pachinko [Min Jin Lee]) would own my soul. T_T These may seem like strange choices, given that one is the son of assholes and the other is a Presbyterian minister, but they are both so sweet and too pure for this world and I’m still pissed that Isak dies (and also I just met Isak in the Pachinko TV adaptation and like why is every young man in that show so beautiful). I mean I knew Hansu was going to be gorgeous but then I saw Solomon and I was like daaaaaammmmmnnnnnnn and to be perfectly honest he’d be on this list if he were just slightly less cutthroat. While I’m spilling my soul here, I might as well admit that Hansu probably would’ve made the list too, but he’s not a nice person and my girl Sunja deserves far better.
As for Liwei, I want to wrap him up in a warm blanket and roll him away from his asshole parents. He is kind and gentle without being weak, and I love that he’ll just casually drop in on a courtier’s daughter more or less incognito and then sharply critique her habit of abusing her servants. That was such a great scene. I also love his relationship with Xingyin, because he sees her exactly as she is, and he loves her for it. Oh, my heart. This is what I mean when I say that I like the way Tan thinks. :’D I was low-key considering adding Wenzhi to this list as well, but there is the very slight problem that he’s not above kidnapping his crush and keeping her in chains until she says yes.
Newest favorite character
Tiger the Tabby (The Cat Who Saved Books [Sōsuke Natsukawa]) is a precious gem and must be protected at all costs. This cat literally pops out of a very strange dimension to drag a Japanese high schooler along on seemingly self-assigned missions to rescue books that are in trouble, and I’m here for it.
Book that made you cry
It might be faster to list the books that didn’t make me cry. In terms of which one made me cry the most, I’d have to say probably Pachinko.
Book that made you happy
Daughter of the Moon Goddess made me so happy just in time for Pachinko to crush my soul.
Favorite book-to-movie adaptation this year
PACHINKOOOOOOOOOOO 😀 This is a TV show rather than a movie, but, fuck it, I’m gonna count it because Dune was last year. Pachinko hooked me hard somewhere between episodes two and three, and I’m already looking forward to season two because, based on the episode synopses, it looks like season one doesn’t even get halfway through the book. I’ve only watched the first three episodes, but so far the show is phenomenal and I am absolutely already making my friends watch it with me. I love their approach to the vast scope of the story. The opening scene has to be hands-down the best introductory sequence I’ve ever seen on TV. Holy cow, what a way to tie such disparate characters and storylines together. The story has been faithful to the book, which is the surest way to please me. The casting is remarkable. Every actor I’ve seen so far has been brilliant. I have been blown away by Yu-na, Min-ha Kim, and Yuh-jung Youn, who all play Sunja at different stages of her life, and I am so glad I finally started watching this show. More to come on this later.
Favorite review you’ve written this year
I’m pretty pleased with how my reviews for Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë) and Lamb (Christopher Moore) turned out. Lamb is getting published next Saturday, but for now I’ll say I had a lot of fun writing it.
Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)
It’s a tie between Daughter of the Moon Goddess and Nordic Tales (Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, Parker Hoysted Fillmore, Jón Árnason, and Ulla Thynell), because they are both seriously gorgeous.
What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
I will settle, at a minimum, for every book I’ve taken out of the library thus far, barring of course any surprise DNFs.