• The Fiction Fox

Midyear Book Freakout Tag 2022

With the start of July comes the (dreaded) mid-point of the year, and a good opportunity to reflect on the past months of reading. As has become tradition; I wanted to do so in the form of the Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag, with some questions modified a little to suit my reading-tastes better. 2022 so far has been a great year for reading. Out of the 55 books I completed as of posting this, I’ve already found more favourites than I had in the entirety of last year, and the majority of my reading has been 4- or 5-stars. Here's to hoping that the second half of the year is as good as this one, or perhaps even better. Without further ado, let’s talk about some of my highlights so far.



1. Best book you've read so far in 2022...

Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield

As mentioned: there were quite a few to chose from, many of which will appear in later questions. The book I went with in the end is probably one of the more controversial ones, but it was also the one that stood out most to me. Julia Armfield’s debut novel is a literary horror story featuring themes of the deep ocean, grief, loss and alienation (in an environmental, personal as well as relationship level). Following the unravelling relationship between two women after one of them returns from a deep-sea mission that ended in tragedy, this novel got under my skin and has haunted me with it melancholic and eerie beauty ever since I finished it. A full review can be found elsewhere on my blog.

2. Best sequel you've read so far in 2022...

Shorefall by Robert Jackson Bennett I’ve put off reading the sequel to one of my favourite fantasy novels until the 3rd book was released, so I could binge the series if I needed to. Upon finally being able to read book 2 of the Foundryside Trilogy, I’m so happy I did, because I couldn’t have waited 1.5 years to continue the story from this point on. Shorefall was everything I wanted in a sequel: it expended on the characters and world, and upped the scope, whilst never losing the charm that captured me in the first place. Highly recommend this trilogy to fans of Brandon Sanderson, Robin Hobb or steam-punk high fantasy in general.

3. New release you haven't read yet but want to…


The Fevered star by Rebecca Roanhorse Nuclear Family by Joseph Han

Yonder by Ali Standish As per usual, I could fill a complete list with these, so I’ll narrow things down to 3, divided by my most read genres.

Continuing on the last question of fantasy-sequels; I haven’t yet gotten to The Fevered Star by Rebecca Roanhorse. The dark world of Tova and its interesting characters are still fresh in my mind after reading Black Sun almost a year ago now, and I can’t wait to see where this story takes us next. For general/literary fiction, I’m hoping to get to Nuclear Family by Joseph Han soon. Described as a tragi-comedic family story about a family facing the fallout of their eldest son's attempt to run across the Demilitarized Zone into North Korea, at the time of the 2018 nuclear missile-alarm. For Middle-grade/YA I have yet to read the latest release by one of my favourite hard-hitting-middle-grade-authors Ali Standish. With Yonder she makes her historical-fiction debut, telling a story of friendship against the background of WWII.

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year…

What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher

I’ve recently posted my top 10 most anticipated novels for the rest of this year, in case you’re looking for a more complete list, but for now I’ll mention the one that is closest on the horizon. As a retelling of the horror-classic The House of Usher by one of my favourite horror-authors T. Kingfisher, I couldn’t help myself but be excited for What Moves the Dead. Releasing later this month, the wait for this one luckily is blissfully short.

5. Biggest disappointment…

The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd The Cartographers featured prominently in my most anticipated releases of 2022 at the start of this year. With its intriguing premise and the name of an author whom debut I loved, this had to be a success. Unfortunately, what was advertised as a clever mystery about missing map-makers and phantom-towns, turned out to be a clunky and plot-hole-riddled mess, as dry as the pages it writes about… My full review can be found here.

6. Biggest surprise…

Sundial by Catriona Ward Honestly, I’m not sure why this was such a surprise to me: upon receiving the ARC I was expecting a fairly entertaining thriller, but nothing too special based of the description. Instead, Sundial blew me out of the water with its unsettling mystery, cindering atmosphere, and memorable characters. I found myself theorizing and reminiscing about this book long after I’d finished it, whilst also being completely satisfied with the ending. What more could I ask for in a thriller.

7. Favourite new author (Debut or new to you)…


Maddie Mortimer Another contestant for my favourite read of the year so far was Maddie Mortimers debut novel Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies. I admit that this might be even more niche than Our Wives Under the Sea, considering its alternative formatting and almost poetic prose, as well as its touch subject-matter. This is a novel about cancer, but most importantly: about the body, the person and the life that this cancer inhabits, told from within. It’s a story that has to be experienced and felt rather than written about, and I highly recommend any modern fiction fan to do so. Maddie Mortimer is a name to watch, and I can’t wait to see what else she has in store for us. Not only is it an absolute masterpiece in writing, it’s also a novel that thematically feels very close to me. That link growing even stronger as I read it during my first months on the job as a doctor within the specialty that has always had my heart: oncology.

8. New Favourite character…


To me, characters are one of the most important elements of a story, so any main character from a book I’ve mentioned as a favourite before could count for this question. The loving but almost suffocating relationship between Miri and Leah (Our Wives Under the Sea), the warmth and comfort radiating from Sara and Emilie (Yerba Buena) or Iris and Lea (Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies) as the most raw depiction of mum-and-daughter on page I’ve read, have all left a deep impression on me. As did the joy of seeing familiar characters return in the sequels I read such as Sanchia (Shorefall), Roger and Dodger (Seasonal Fears) and the cast of The Glass Hotel (Sea of Tranquillity). As for characters I haven’t talked about yet, I want to give a shout-out to Orka from Shadow of the Gods, for being one of the most well-rounded and badass female characters in epic fantasy lately.

9. A book that made you cry & a book that made you happy…


Yerba Buena by Nina LaCour Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

I’ve combined these questions together (sort of), as I immediately thought of two books that would fit either question perfectly and interchangeably. No book got actual tears out of me this year, but two left me with that tight feeling in the back of your throat, that’s melancholic but wonderful at the same time. Those same two books also brought me warm fuzzy feelings of recognition (revisiting past characters, and meeting new ones), and it’s that contrast that makes me happy about reading. Both books of them are by authors that have had a free-pass to my heart for years now, and have made me cry ánd smile with their work before. Unsurprisingly, I’m talking about Yerba Buena by Nina LaCour and Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel. One of them tells a narrative of lives intertwining through time and space, the other an intimate tale of two women finding love and healing within a cocktailbar. Both of them have memorable characters and writing that resonated with me like few others.


10. A book that made you happy…

Breathe and Count Back from Ten by Natalia Sylvester

As a bonus entry, however, Breathe and Count Back from Ten by Natalia Sylvester made me happy, because we finally have another YA-novel with good chronic-illness/disability representations. They are still too few and far between, so any new addition to my recommendations list is worth some happiness.

11. The most beautiful book you’ve bought this year…

A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross

This one needs no explanation. It’s the UK hardcover edition of A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross. I’m sorry to my American followers: I truly feel you were done dirty with that original US-cover.


12. 3 books you need to read before the end of the year…

Again: too many to count, but currently topping my TBR are: Build your House Around my Body by Violet Kupersmith A magical realism about two Vietnamese women who go missing decades apart. Their stories are bound by generational history, folklore and the “memories of possessed bodies and possessed lands”. I’ve been wanting to read this ever since its release in 2021, and still haven’t gotten to it. My excitement got renewed with the flood of positive reviews when it was nominated for the Women’s Prize for Fiction this year, so it’s high time I sink my teeth into this one. What My Bones Know by Stephanie Foo A hybrid between science non-fiction and memoir about complex trauma and PTSD, and the way it shapes our lives and the bodies we inhabit. Simply on my TBR because I’m (both professionally as well as personally) deeply interested in understanding this topic.

The Library At Mount Char by Scott Hawkins A bizarre fantasy/horror about a missing God, a library that holds the secrets of the universe, and an ordinary man wrapped up in a murder-incrimination, involving a colourful cast of characters that might not be entirely human… I have no idea what to expect with this one, having people hear it describe as anything from “like American Gods” to “utter nonsense”. It has intimidated me enough to become a TBR-veteran by now, so it’s high time I kick myself in the but and just get to it.


I always love seeing other peoples answers to this tag, so if you’ve done it as well, feel free to share your links with me. If you haven’t done the complete tag, please let me know down below: what was your best book of 2022 so far, and what’s your most anticipated read for the rest of the year? Until next time: happy reading!