As I learn more and more about the book world, I come across fun challenges and events other bloggers/vloggers are doing. One challenge that caught my eye recently is the “Mid-Year Freakout” Book Tag. This is a reading related challenge that seems to have been around for a few years now, where bloggers answer thirteen questions, talking about the books that they’ve read so far this year and whether they’re achieving their goal or not. Since this entire blog is book review and goal based, how could I not contribute?
If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know that I’m trying to read 50 books this year. That might seem like a large number to some people, but I’m seeing much larger goals in some of the book community Facebook groups. That being said, my goal here isn’t competition—it’s becoming more widely read.
Now, my goals for this year weren’t just number related. While meeting the 50-book goal is my priority, there are two other goals I made as well. First, to read more diverse books. For me, this means authors I haven’t read before or books that have unique characters (i.e. ones that I wouldn’t see myself relating to). The third goal here that I set for myself? Connect more with the book community. While I do this through my blog, I’m also reaching out to others through Facebook groups and following other blogs. This has been a big step for me, as I’ve found a really great support system in these book groups (and that leads me back to how I found this challenge).
So far, I’ve read 24 out of 50 books for this year. According to my story graph chart (I’ll post that below), that’s exactly 8,363 pages and my most popular moods are emotional, lighthearted, and funny—which seems accurate.
Without further ado, let me talk about some of the books that I’ve read so far with the Mid-Year Freakout Book Tag.
1. The Best Book You’ve Read So Far in 2022
This is definitely a tough one. I’ve only rated a select few books this year 5 stars, so that certainly narrows things down a little. If I had to pick one, I’d go with Agatha of Little Neon. While I rated this book 4.5 stars (you can read all about that by clicking here), I found that this novel had SO much depth to it. On the surface, this is a book about four nuns that get relocated to a new vocation, so they make new friends. Yet, it’s also about Sister Agatha’s journey to becoming autonomous and how she gains strength in the process of leaving her sisters. It’s definitely the most unique book I’ve read this year and it stood out to me in so many ways—not to mention the gorgeous neon cover, which will definitely stand out on any bookshelf.
2. Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far This Year
I haven’t truly read any sequels this year (yet), so I’m going to instead talk about The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez. This one is kind of a sequel, as it talks about Sloan’s story after the first book, The Friend Zone. In this sequel-esque novel, Sloan is recovering after losing her fiance to a terrible accident. She thinks she’ll never find love again, until a dog jumps into her car (right through the sunroof) while she’s driving. The kicker? The dog’s owner is a hot musician who’s away on tour and she’s agreed to watch the dog until he gets back. As Sloan connects with the dog and his owner, she slowly comes to terms with her grief and thinks about falling in love again. Overall, this book is fun, romantic (in all the best ways), and it also talks about some hard topics in a very realistic tone. Best of all, there’s an actual playlist to go along as you’re reading, and that definitely added some extra clout for me with this one.
3. New Release You Haven’t Read Yet, But Want To
There’s been so many amazing new releases this year that it’s tough to even just pick one. While I try to vary my reading between new releases and older books, it’s impossible not to snag another one when I’m at the bookstore. If there’s one book I’m most excited about that released this year, I think it’s The Unsinkable Greta James. This book came out in March of this year and it’s been sitting on my bookshelf now since. I received it from my Book of The Month order, but there were several other big titles released that month, so I just haven’t gotten around to it. The book is essentially about Greta James, a musician who recently lost her mother. Struggling with her career and her grief, she turns to her father, who’s always predicted that she wouldn’t make it big. Reluctantly, she agrees to join him on an Alaskan cruise that he had booked with her mother, except the trip doesn’t exactly go the way that either of them had planned. This book sounds moving, warm, and filled with passion and I can’t wait to pick it up this summer. I’ll definitely be tackling it soon, maybe on my beach vacation in August.
4. Most Anticipated Release For Second Half of The Year
While I haven’t quite done my research on some of the new releases coming out in the later half of this year, there’s definitely one that I’ve been keeping my eye on, and that’s Love on the Brain by up and coming author, Ali Hazelwood. Hazelwood’s debut novel, The Love Hypothesis, came out last September and I was so encapsulated by it. While Olive’s character isn’t the most realistic one I’ve ever read, I absolutely loved the “chemistry” (see what I did there?) between her and the love interest, Adam. I think a lot of other bloggers have too, because this book has grown wildly popular on BookTok and BookTube since it’s release. Love On The Brain brings back all the female-powered-STEM that we love, with character Bee, who seems to be involved in neuroengineering. This enemies to lovers based plot line follows Bee as she falls in love with Levi, another lab arch-nemesis who might be getting in the way of her big project. This cute romance is definitely on my TBR list and I’ll be pre-ordering it for first dibs.
5. Biggest Dissapointment
You guys might have seen this one coming for this category of the Mid-Year Freakout Book Tag challenge—My biggest disappointment this year? Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. I found this book to be so frustrating, mostly because of the way it was marketed. Lessons in Chemistry is the story of Elizabeth Zott, a female scientist in the 1950s working in a male-dominated field. Elizabeth falls in love with lead scientist Calvin Evans, only to lose him to a terrible accident before their relationship gets to really progress. Evans leaves her an unwed mother with an unborn child, which poses some problems in a time where second wave feminism has yet to hit the country—and this is where the rest of the problems are with this book. I didn’t love Zott as a female protagonist and she seemed like a 2022 feminist set in the wrong time period (if you want to read my brutal review, click here). While I know debut novels are often the most difficult to write, this one really missed the mark for me. I was so excited to read about another female in STEM, as their aren’t many characters like this, but Zott really just didn’t impress me. I will definitely be selling my copy of this one.
6. Biggest Surprise
Moving on, let’s talk about my biggest surprise of this year. For this one, I think I’m going to have to go with Taylor Hahn’s new release, The Lifestyle. Picking up this book, I was a bit surprised to learn it was about a couple engaging in the swinger lifestyle—yup, that’s right, a couple switching their sexual partners. Even more surprisingly, I read this one almost directly after the book about nuns! Talk about a genre switch-up. That being said, I fell in love with this novel. It’s fun, witty, and emotional in all the best ways. The book follows the protagonist, Georgina, as she finds her husband, Nathan, cheating on her. After this terrible discovery, the couple decides to try to save their marriage by doing the unthinkable—having sex with other people. Together, with their group of friends, the two get a second chance…but maybe not with each other. Georgina is a multi-dimensional character and somewhat unreliable at times, which I loved for this plot line. I was so impressed with this book as a debut novel and I certainly think that Taylor Hahn is one to watch—I’ll be reading everything she releases from now on.
7. Favorite New Author
This one was a tough one, since I’ve read so many new authors this year, but if I had to pick just one, I’d pick Julia Heaberlin, author of We Are All The Same In the Dark. I picked up Heaberlin’s book completely by accident (we’ll save that story for another day), and I was immediately impressed by her writing style. I’ve read a lot of murder mysteries, but We Are All The Same In The Dark is by far the first one I’ve ever read that was so lyrical. Heaberlin’s voice is incredibly mature and well-written, and I loved every single second of it. In this thriller, the discovery of a girl on the side of the road, abandoned, unearths long buried secrets of a small town in Texas. With a bloody handprint, a detective with a missing leg, and a publicly condemned man that talks to ghosts, this book is EVERYTHING you’d want in a murder mystery and debut novel. I definitely will be (and have been) recommending this one to literally everyone who likes thrillers.
8. Newest Fictional Crush
Now I know I’ve already mentioned this author for the Mid-Year Freakout Book Tag, but I just really love her stuff. Honestly, I read a LOT of romances—and I mean, A LOT. I’m not sure why, but there’s something really satisfying about seeing two characters fall for each other and being there for the journey and Jimenez is my favorite one to craft it together. That being said, if I had to pick a favorite, it would be Daniel Grant from Part Of Your World. This new release has taken BookTok by storm, and with good reason—Jimenez is a talented writer, and one of my favorites. Part of Your World is a romance between two characters who shouldn’t work—big city doctor, Alexis, and small town mayor, Daniel. The two meet by accident when Alexis’s car breaks down in Daniel’s town, but they hit it off and keep seeing each other, knowing it’s not going to work out—or is it? This is one of my favorite romances for this year and I just love Daniel’s character. He’s hardworking and he just cares (in a way most men don’t). Daniel is always taking initiative and effort and he deserves this category, for sure. If you haven’t read this one yet, run (don’t walk) to the bookstore. You’re missing out.
9. Newest Favorite Character
Next in the Mid-Year Freakout Book Tag challenge, newest favorite character for the year. Now, I’m not sure I would call this character new, as the book’s been out for a bit now, but I’ll say new to me. This year, I read Madeline Miller’s Circe, and she is by far my favorite book character this year. This book is the story of Circe, the first witch in Greek Mythology. She is the daughter of sun god, Helios, and is overlooked her entire life—that is, until she discovers she has the power to turn men into gods. Circe is sad in all the best ways, and her story is one of incredible feminism, power, and self-love. I absolutely loved this story and I was enraptured by her ability to be a mother to her son without a single resource available to her. She protects him at all costs, even when it upsets the gods that she does so. I think she’s incredible brave and strong and I absolutely loved every minute of it. While I haven’t read Madeline Miller’s other book yet, it’s on my TBR list and I’m hoping to get to it in the second half of this year.
10. Book That Made You Cry
There are VERY few books that make me cry—like, ever. In fact, I can’t even remember the last book I cried over, save this one I’m about to talk about: When Stars Rain Down by Angela Jackson-Brown. I picked up this debut novel hoping to find a diverse story, as it’s about race in 1930s Georgia. As diverse narrators were part of my goal for this year, I definitely found what I was looking for. Narrator Opal Pruitt is an 18-year-old living in Colored Town when the Ku Klux Klan come to her neighborhood. This story is poignant and it’s much more than historical fiction—it’s impossible not to get sucked in to the characters. For a debut novel, this one has some of the best character development I’ve EVER seen in a book and I loved it. Opal’s coming of age story features different personalities, tempers, and even innocence. The ending of this book was a tough one and it’s one of the only books that has actually had me tearing up. Read it and you’ll see why—you won’t regret this one.
11. Book That Made You Happy
Reading invariably makes me happy, no matter what book is in my hand, but there’s a certain type of book that just is the perfect read— You know the one. It probably has a pretty cover, larger than usual words, and its the type of story that gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling inside. It’s the kind of book that just makes you want to decompress and let go and it doesn’t require much thought about the plot line. For me, that’s If The Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy. Before reading this book, I hadn’t had any experience with this author, but I did watch the Netflix movie “Dumplin’,” which was released sometime last year and based on another one of Murphy’s books. If The Shoe Fits is a fun, Disney-inspired Cinderella re-telling where the protagonist, Cindy, enters a reality dating show. The only caveat? She’s the only plus-sized woman on the show. This book is all about inclusivity, from gender pronouns to clothing size, and I loved the way that Julie Murphy writes—she has a fun, happy writing style that’s impossible not to fall in love with. I zipped through this book in just a few days and it is one of my favorites that I’ve read so far this year for the Mid-Year Freakout Book Tag Challenge.
12. Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought So Far
Okay, so I’ll admit that I haven’t BOUGHT this book (technically, I rented it from the library), but it’s definitely the most beautiful cover I’ve read from all year and that’s Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt. This debut novel is already on Amazon’s bestselling list for 2022 and it’s been picked up by some major news sources as well. This book follows the story of 70 year old, Tova, after losing her husband to cancer. Newly widowed and with a lot of time on her hands, she becomes the night cleaner at a local aquarium, where she meets, Marcellus, the Giant Pacific Octopus. Except, Marcellus is unusually smart and he has some thoughts about her missing son, and the new guy in town. While this book was a little bit predictable, the environmental aspects of it were so vibrant and colorful that I felt like I was at the Puget Sound, myself. It was impossible not to fall in love with Van Pelt’s characters and I absolutely loved reading from Tova’s perspective. This was a 4 star read for me.
13. What Books Do You Need To Read By The End Of The Year?
And last, but not least, for this year’s Mid-Year Freakout Book Tag, what books I need to read this year. Well, I’m only at 24, so for me, that would be the other 26 on the list. But, more specifically, I’m gearing up to add Bunny by Mona Awad to my list. Now, I’ll admit, I’m not too familiar with this one, but one of my good friends has been telling me about it fo months. It’s her favorite book and she has so much to say about it, which tells me that it’s going to be a great read. This book has been all over TikTok lately, too, which leads me to think it’s something to be talked about. Taking place in an MFA program in New England, I think this book is going to hit close to home and I’m excited to get my hands on it.
Somehow, we’ve already made it this far through 2022, and I’m excited to share the books I’ve already read with you with the Mid-Year Freakout Book Tag. Have you read any of these? Are there any you’re looking forward to reading later this year? Leave a comment below and let me know!
If you’re not sure what to read next, or you’d like to check out my thoughts on the books mentioned, be sure to check out my Book Review Page for more information and recommendations. New posts go up every weekend, so be sure to subscribe to follow along!