A Belated Mid-Year Freakout Tag 2023 + Catch Up

I know, I know, the mid-year freakout tag is for the end of June not the end of August, but I had an extremely busy summer, so sorry for falling a bit behind. I do this tag most years, and since I don't write as many lists and personal posts anymore, I figured I'd make it a priority to do it again and check in with everyone. It's wild that in the chaos of school in March I missed my 6 year blog anniversary! Time is truly flying, but I've found in the last year that I love books more than ever. 

This is a general tag that I'm adapting, but I did directly reference the questions and get a refresher from Talk Nerdy Book Blog if you also want to read that post as well! 

Reading Goal Check In:
I'm actually super happy with where I'm at with my reading in 2023, which hasn't always been true in my college career. I was super excited that I finished my reading goal back in June. To be fair, it was a very modest goal of 50 books, but given that I barely scraped out 37 books in 2022 and 39 in 2021, it felt like I shouldn't totally set myself up for failure. Since I'm reading at a fairly regular pace, I have bumped up my new goal to 75, and I'm pretty sure I'll make it. 
At the moment, July was my slowest reading month since January (where I read 5 books each), but considering I'm already at 60 books completed, I have a feeling that I'll meet this new goal too. There's a small part of me hoping I'll make 100 books in a year for the first time since 2018, but that might be too much to ask of myself. 

Blogging/Life Check In: 
As you've probably noticed, the blog is definitely not as all-encompassing as it used to be. I've abandoned the set schedules, imposed variety of posts, and much of the frequency it used to have. I apologize for that as a writer who values discipline, but I've also realized that taking the pressure off is what has allowed me to continue maintaining this blog for so many years and through so many evolutions in my life. That being said, I've really tried to make a conscious effort to post a bit more regularly than I have in year's past. Reading more is definitely helping that, and that is why most of the posts on the site have been reviews. Oddly, I'm reading so much now that I have tons of drafted reviews, and my biggest issue is forgetting to post them! I would like to branch out into different kinds of posts as well as interviews again sometime before the year is over. I'm hoping when I have more time to settle into the semester that the opportunities to do that will grow naturally, but it has been weird to navigate blogging as the social media communities I'd built up around it are starting to fade. It'll be interesting to see how the writing community converges online once again once we figure out which platforms might stick around. I honestly wouldn't be mad if the Internet turned back to people having their own blogs.
I'm heading into my senior year of college this week with a completely different idea of what my future will look like than I had before the summer. While I've realized I might have made a mistake with my major, I am finally coming back to my roots and the themes of this blog in what I want to explore career-wise. I've always been a writer, reader, and words person at heart, and I'm really looking forward to tapping into that more going forward. Hopefully, that means having even more room to prioritize blogging as I've simplified a lot of my commitments going into this year.

The Actual Tag

Best Book You've Read in 2023
It's hard to pick a definitive best book so far since there's been about five I've absolutely loved, but Pizza Girl is the first book that stopped me in my tracks this year. Jane's story held me captive and had me tearing up at the end, which is always a marker of success. This was one of those books that's so deeply rooted in character and reminded me of why I love books.

Best Sequel You've Read So Far in 2023
Contemporary novels (which is pretty much all I read) don't typically have sequels, so I've fudged this a little with Happy Place. I get that all of Emily Henry's books are stand alone, but they feel like they exist in so much of the same world that I think of all her books as part of a romance series.

New Release You Haven't Read Yet But Want To
Okay, this is 2022, but as you've seen, I like bending rules. If I Survive You is a book I pick up every time I walk into a bookstore cause that cover is just gorgeous and the title is gripping. I hadn't thought about it in a while but, in one of my English classes, a different section is reading this as their section book, and I'm taking it as a cue that I should probably just read it myself. 

Most Anticipated Release For The Second Half of the Year
Memorial is a book that's majorly stuck with me that I've picked up in the past year, so it makes me excited to read another of Brian Washington's books and see how he's grown as a writer since then. Family Meal comes out in October, and I'm incredibly excited for it.

Biggest Disappointment
I had such high hopes for this book, and I loved the first few chapters, but Old Flame took a turn I deeply disagreed with, and I'm still bitter about it. Also, weirdly, just now I realized I might have had a warning of what was to come if I'd paid a bit more attention to the cover. It didn't even register when I wrote the review. I guess I was too irritated to pick up on it after finishing the book.

Biggest Surprise
I found this book on a random list and was taken by the idea of "what if we actually talked to the strangers on the train?" I love British books, so that was already on this book's side, but Iona Iverson's quirky story absolutely stole my heart. It's a lighthearted book for the most part, but the character work and how these strangers become a part of one another's lives makes for a super thought provoking book.

Favorite New Author
I debated whether to put Pineapple Street as my biggest surprise, but I decided I'd rather talk about Jenny Jackson under this category instead because I'm dying to see more books from her. After seeing it on enough lists, I figured it'd be worth a read, but I didn't think I'd still be thinking about its take on New York, families, and privilege months later.

Newest Fictional Crush
Charlie is hands down the winner of this category. I rarely swoon for a love interest in a book, but Charlie made me swoon. I related to Nora quite a bit, and that's probably why Book Lovers is my favorite Emily Henry book (which it seems like is a somewhat controversial opinion from some rankings I've seen on Bookstagram and BookTube).

Newest Favorite Character
As I try to slowly work my favorite books into random categories to have an excuse to discuss all of them, I'm giving this to Maame and Maddie. I relate to Maddie so much, and seeing her navigate young adulthood and grief and everything else made for a cathartic and fascinating experience. Shout out to another British book!

A Book That Made You Cry
Okay, I didn't fully sob or anything with this one, but I did majorly tear up here. This is a book about grief and death and losing a parent, so maybe that was the inevitable place this was moving towards. This Time Tomorrow blends time travel into a literary fiction novel using the Freaky Friday model to interesting effect. Basically, Alice uses going back to her 16th birthday as a 40 year old woman to appreciate the time she has with her father when he was young and get past her regrets with the time lost. 
(Full Review Coming Soon)

A Book That Made You Happy
The Mostly True Story of Tanner and Louise is full of so many wild twists and turns as well as a lot of heart. I couldn't help smiling while reading about this old lady turned potential jewel thief and the sad ex-college student somehow on the run with her. This story could've gone off the rails in so many places but Oakley commands it in a way that extracts the best out of it the entire time. This is the perfect book to break you out of a reading slump or any kind of emotional funk.
(Full Review Coming Soon)

Most Beautiful Book You Bought This Year
I finally bought myself a copy of Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow in the spring after reading and loving it in the summer of last year. I'm sure I'll eventually do a reread of it, but it's gorgeous just as decoration alone. I love the cover art of this book so much. Also, it might be the only book I've bought this year that wasn't material for a class. I've converted to feeding my reading habit almost exclusively through Libby and various library's Kindle collections.

What Books Do You Need to Read By the End of the Year?
I couldn't think of one book on my TBR to put over another for this category or any that were a true need to read with a timeline, so I went with the book I should be reading while I'm instead writing this post. I'm reading The Overstory as required reading for an English class, which I'm pretty happy about since I sold about a million copies of it when I worked in a bookstore as a teenager. I just never picked it up myself. So I'm excited to learn what it's about after all these years.

Other Books on My TBR:

Library Books:
Old Enough by Haley Jakobson
All-Night Pharmacy by Ruth Madievsky
Rent to Be by Sonia Hartl
I'm a Fan by Sheena Patel

The Rachel Incident by Caroline O'Donoghue (I know I'm so behind on this one)
and thanks to Wednesday Books generously sending these
Even If It Breaks Your Heart by Erin Hahn
The Getaway List by Emma Lord


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