I’m freaking out for the fifth time! I like this post idea, as it forces me to reflect on my reading halfway through the year instead of just at the end when Kathleen and I do our Best Of list. I had fun going through my Goodreads data, and bonus, it highlights the other genres I read since I read way more than just graphic novels.

Best book you read in 2021 so far

The novel Valentine by author Elizabeth Wetmore blew me away. It is a beautiful but heartbreakingly honest book set in 1976 in Odessa, Texas. Told primarily from several women’s perspectives, it shares the limited options, prejudice and violence that many women had to endure.

Best sequel you’ve read so far 

While I wouldn’t call it great, the sequel Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline gave a send off to characters Wade, Art3mis,  Shoto and Aech from Ready Player One. It continued to have nostalgia for the 80s era, and I enjoyed the audio edition narrated by Wil Wheaton.

New release you haven’t read yet, but want to

I’m a big fan of author Kristin Hannah who has written The Great Alone and The Nightingale, so I am anxious to read her newest book The Four Winds, set in the Great Depression, that came out a few months ago.

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

I want Volume Ten of Saga released! In fact, no one has any idea when the next volume will come out, as fans have been waiting anxiously since 2018 after a heartbreaking last page in Volume Nine. ( I said this last year too- and still no word of when it will be released)

Biggest disappointment

b, Book, and Me by Kim Sagwa was a short YA novel about two friends in South Korea who have a falling out. Both teens were utterly reprehensible and I did not enjoy this surreal tale.

Biggest surprise

I just finished reading Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked The World by Pénélope Bagieu and was engaged by the 29 short biographies about women who were rebels for their times. The stories were cheeky yet educational and I’m surprised it took me so long to pick this book up.

Newest fictional crush

Duncan from the graphic novel series Once & Future that twists the King Arthur legends in delightfully warped ways. He’s a stand-up guy who has handled finding out his Gran is a monster-hunter and has taken meeting his long-lost murderous mother and half-brother in stride.

Favorite book to film adaptation you saw this year

I’m going to say Jupiter’s Legacy that premiered on Netflix recently. The graphic novels by Mark Millar had some great source material to pull from, and the multi-generational superhero series showed promise, but proved to be very uneven. I watched all the episodes, but wasn’t terribly surprised when it wasn’t renewed.

Newest favorite character

Author and illustrator Stjepan Šejić gave Harleen aka Harley Quinn an excellent origin story and really gave this anti-hero a nuanced backstory. I’ve always found her annoying in the past but this book transformed her for me.

Favorite new author (Debut or new to you)

Stjepan Šejić from the above mentioned graphic novel was new to me. His illustrations are amazing and I am surprised it was the first time I ran across his work. He is an author and an artist I will now seek out.

Book that made you happy

From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back follows the format of the previous book that has 40 authors sharing 40 stories about life in the Star Wars universe for background or supporting characters from the ending of A New Hope to the ending of TESB movie. These are fun books to read and I look forward to the next based off Return of the Jedi in two years!

Book that made you sad

The graphic novel Covid Chronicles was a sobering book at what the world has been going through for the last year and a half. “True stories from the front lines of Covid-19” is the tagline for this somber but excellent collection of ten short stories about the current pandemic. Published in December of 2020 these timely vignettes utilize the stories that NBC News used online that visualized life for front line and essential workers early in the pandemic.

Favorite review you have written this year 

For the third year in a row, Kathleen and I participated in a Fiction’s Fearless Females series, and this year I choose Nyota Uhura, for all strong female Star Trek characters owe a debt of gratitude to her. Beautiful, smart, ambitious, and an equal to the men – she is the original Star Trek role model. Even Uhura’s name has important meaning – Nyota means star in Lingala, a language from the Democratic Republic of Congo, while Uhura is the Swahili word for freedom. My post also included info about her real-life counterpoint Nichelle Nichols who helped NASA recruit women and minorities into their space program. Uhura and Nichols have merged into one incredible icon – who is fine, fierce, and fearless! 

Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)

Marvels by Kurt Busiek has Alex Ross as it’s artist… nuff’ said.

What books do you need to read by the end of the year? 

I review YA books for the School Library Journal magazine and they have been sending me a lot of middle school graphic novels recently. But I can’t mention titles until they publish the review first. But they all have been delightful and worth buying for my library.

I gave myself a Goodreads goal of reading 120 books this year, and I am already at 67, although some of those are short stories from the LeVar Burton Reads podcast. I look forward to reaching my goal and enjoying more excellent books this year!