The Fiction Fox
Mid-Year Book Freakout
1. Best book you've read so far in 2021. ... As usual I struggled hard to narrow this down to one favourite book, as I read from so many different genres that it feels like comparing apples to oranges. Therefore, I split the question and picked one for each major demographic/target audience I read for. Especially the Middle-grade and Adult category were very hard to narrow down this year, but I tried to make sure the honourable mentions made an appearance later on the list! - Best Middle Grade Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger
- Best Young Adult The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore
- Best Adult The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
- Best Non-fiction or Memoir: Sitting Pretty by Rebekah Taussig
- Best Short-fiction or Poetry: Antiemetic for Homesickness by Romalyn Ante
2. Best sequel you've read so far in 2021. ... This one is easy: Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames. Kings of the Wyld was one of my favourite fantasy novels of all time and Bloody Rose has absolutely matched that. This series combines a well-crafted traditional fantasy world with three dimensional characters, and weaves together an action packed story with wonderful humor that I can’t help but love.
3. New release you haven't read yet but want to. ... - Hummingbird Salamander by Jeff Vandermeer - House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland - The Light Through the Leaves by Glendy Vanderah - Mrs Death Misses Death by Salena Godden - Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky
4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year. ... Again: there are many, which you can find on the Anticipated page as well. That being said: here’s again a selection of just 5 that I’d like to shout out. - The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould - Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy - A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger - (Me) Moth by Amber McBride - All’s Well by Mona Awad
5. Biggest disappointment. ... Although it’s by no means a bad book, it was one that I was fairly sure would be a 5-star read, and therefor let me down so hard… Horrid by Katrina Leno was just not what I expected and hoped it would be. Perhaps it makes a great spooky read for its target audience, but it wasn’t the impactful experience and exploration of grief I hoped it to be.
6. Biggest surprise. ... I rarely pick up books without knowing anything about them, but it’s sometimes the best way to find some hidden gems that I might have overlooked otherwise. This time I picked up Black Water Sister by Zen Cho, of my library’s “New additions”-shelf, purely based of the beautiful cover and “fantasy” label. I ended up really enjoying it. If a Malaysian-inspired urban fantasy with a queer protagonists and sassy ghosts sounds like a good time to you; I highly recommend you go in blind and let yourself be surprised.
7. Favourite new author (Debut or new to you) ... The best debut I read this year has to go to one of the most impactful books I read this year: My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Marshall. It’s a hard hitting but incredibly important and novel about a young woman looking back at the abuse and grooming she suffered as a teen from her high school professor. It explores the way this affair rippled through the lives of all involved and the narratives we sometimes to ourselves in order to survive. It’s a heart-breaking read but it’s more than worth your time if you’re up for it.
8. New fictional crush. I don’t really get fictional crushes, but if I had to pick one it’d be Henry from The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. What can I say: apparently I have a type in favourite male book characters…
9. New favourite character There were so many candidates for this spot this year… Ciela from The Mirror Season, Addie from The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, Amari from Amari and the Ghost Brothers, Jamie from Later, basically the entire crew of Fable from Bloody Rose… All would have been good picks for this question. In the end, this spot has to go to Kirby from Elatsoe however. Because after all: it’s hard to find a character more lovable than this ghost-dog…
10. Book that made you cry I rarely cry over books, but I do have the occasional moment of tearing up, usually over books that somehow make me feel seen or understood in a way I forgot literature could do. This year I had one that stood out: Sitting Pretty by Rebekah Taussig. This is the best disability-related memoir I’ve read in a long time (possibly ever). If you know me, you will also know that this is a topic I’m always on the lookout for, and Rebekah Taussig has not only satisfied my need and wish for a book like this, but has helped me in more ways than I can express here. A short review and some of my thoughts can be found in my Goodreads review.
11. Book that made you happy Amari and the Ghost Brothers by B.B. Alston. I described this as the more modern, diverse and inclusive version of Harry Potter, and I don’t say that lightly. I genuinely hope this series will fill that spot in the hearts of a new generation of kids and will do for them what Harry Potter did for us, only better!
12. The most beautiful book you’ve bought this year Cover-artists have been killing it with the 2021-releases, so there were many to pick from. I’d have to go with The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He for not just the cover-art, but the entire aesthetic of the novel as well. I only wished I loved the content of the book as much as I did the cover...
13. 3 books you need to read before the end of the year Basically I could go with any of the ones I already mentioned under question 3 or 4, but in the interest of variety I’m veering away from fiction for these. I’d love to read ACE: What Asexuality Reveals about Desire, Society and the Meaning of Sex by Angela Chen this year. Basically: the title sums it up… I would also like to get to the anthology that has been on my TBR for the longest time but I haven’t been able to get my hands on yet; Outsiders is edited by Alice Slater and contains stories by Kirsty Logan, Jen Campbel, Anna Wood and many others, all about their experiences of being “different” in the broadest sense of the word. Lastly, Seeing Ghosts by Kat Chow is a memoir on grief, family, and a girl who became obsessed by death after trauma, set for release on August 24th. I’ve heard amazing things and can’t wait to get to this one.