We’ve hit July which means we’re more than halfway through the year!
Sorry – but where is this year flying to? I honestly feel like time speeds up out of nowhere as you get older.
Anyways, I wanted to come on here and talk a bit about my reading goals! I decided to try and read 100 books this year. I promise you this is so much more difficult than it seems for me. The last time I read over 100 books was in my early teens! Trying to read, write, run a blog, work full time and have a social life seems so very difficult.
However, as of a few weeks ago, I’ve managed to read 50 books! They’re mostly fiction and I’m sure that’s because of the lockdown over here in the UK. I didn’t want to read anything too serious or about real life.
I thought it would be fun to show you all my top reads of the year so far! I’m sure this will change massively.
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Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry – Joya Goffney
My favourite read of the year! This gave me all the feels! If you’re going to read any book this year – please let it be this one!
Quinn keeps lists of everything – from the days she’s ugly cried, to “Things That I Would Never Admit Out Loud,” to all the boys she’d like to kiss. Her lists keep her sane. By writing her fears (as well as embarrassing and cringeworthy truths) on paper, she never has to face them in real life. That is, until her journal goes missing . . .
An anonymous account posts one of her lists on Instagram for the whole school to see and blackmails her into facing seven of her greatest fears, or else her entire journal will go public. Quinn doesn’t know who to trust. Desperate, she teams up with Carter Bennett – the last known person to have her journal and who Quinn loathes – in a race against time to track down the blackmailer.
Together, they journey through everything Quinn’s been too afraid to face, and along the way, Quinn finds the courage to be honest, to live in the moment, and to fall in love.
The Mothers – Brit Bennett
Why did it take me so long to pick up The Mothers? I have no idea but please don’t make the same mistake I did. This is a phenomenal read!
It’s the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, seventeen-year-old beauty. Mourning her own mother’s recent suicide, she takes up with the local pastor’s son. Luke Sheppard is twenty-one, a former football star whose injury has reduced him to waiting tables at a diner. They are young; it’s not serious. But the pregnancy that results from this teen romance – and the subsequent cover-up – will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth. As Nadia hides her secret from everyone, including Aubrey, her God-fearing best friend, the years move quickly. Soon, Nadia, Luke and Aubrey are full-fledged adults and still living in debt to the choices they made that one seaside summer, caught in a love triangle they must carefully manoeuvre and dogged by the constant, nagging question: what if they had chosen differently?
Seven Days in June – Tia Williams
I discovered this book through bookstagram and adored Shane and Eva’s story. I need more of them in my life!
Eva Mercy is a single mother and bestselling erotica writer who is feeling pressed from all sides. Shane Hall is a reclusive, enigmatic, award-winning novelist, who, to everyone’s surprise, shows up unexpectedly in New York.
When Shane and Eva meet at a literary event, sparks fly, raising not only their buried traumas, but also the eyebrows of the Black literati. What no one knows is that fifteen years earlier, teenage Eva and Shane spent one crazy, torrid week madly in love. While they may be pretending not to know each other, they can’t deny their chemistry – or the fact that they’ve been secretly writing to each other in their books through the years.
Over the next seven days, amidst a steamy Brooklyn summer, Eva and Shane reconnect – but Eva’s wary of the man who broke her heart, and wants him out of the city so her life can return to normal. Before Shane disappears though, she needs a few questions answered . . .
The Space Between Worlds – Micaiah Johnson
I’m not really a big fan of sci-fi books. I have such a high expectations because of Marvel. But this book was SO good. I highly recommend it!
Born in the dirt of the wasteland, Cara has fought her entire life just to survive. Now she has done the impossible, and landed herself a comfortable life on the lower levels of the wealthy and walled-off Wiley City. So long as she can keep her head down and avoid trouble, she’s on a sure path to citizenship and security – on this world, at least.
Of the 380 realities that have been unlocked, Cara is dead in all but 8.
Cara’s parallel selves are exceptionally good at dying – from disease, turf wars, or vendettas they couldn’t outrun – which makes Cara wary, and valuable. Because while multiverse travel is possible, no one can visit a world in which their counterpart is still alive. And no one has fewer counterparts than Cara.
But then one of her eight doppelgängers dies under mysterious circumstances, and Cara is plunged into a new world with an old secret. What she discovers will connect her past and future in ways she never could have imagined – and reveal her own role in a plot that endangers not just her earth, but the entire multiverse.
The Mermaid of Black Conch – Monique Roffey
This surprised me in all the best ways. I devoured this beautiful story and it’s no surprise that it won the Costa Book of the Year 2020 Award.
Near the island of Black Conch, a fisherman sings to himself while waiting for a catch. But David attracts a sea-dweller that he never expected – Aycayia, an innocent young woman cursed by jealous wives to live as a mermaid.
When American tourists capture Aycayia, David rescues her and vows to win her trust. Slowly, painfully, she transforms into a woman again. Yet as their love grows, they discover that the world around them is changing – and they cannot escape the curse for ever . . .
Black Sun – Rebecca Roanhorse
I went into this novel not knowing what to expect but the story was so rich in indigenous culture. As epic fantasties go, this is an excellent starting point!
In the holy city of Tova the winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial event proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world.
Meanwhile, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her as easily as it can warp a man’s mind. Her ship carries one passenger. Described as “harmless” the passenger, Serapio, is a young man, blind, scarred, and cloaked in destiny. As Xiala well knows, when a man is described as harmless, he usually ends up being a villain.
The Final Revival of Opal and Nev – Dawnie Walton
Okay, I know this has an incredibly slow start but once you really get into this…it’s phenomenal. An incredible story composed of interviews about a punk rock duo! I thought it was real!
Opal is a fiercely independent young woman pushing against the grain in her style and attitude, a Black punk artist before her time. Despite her unconventional looks, Opal believes she can be a star. So when the aspiring British singer/songwriter Neville Charles discovers her one night, she takes him up on his offer to make rock music together.
In early seventies New York City, just as she’s finding her niche as part of a flamboyant and funky creative scene, a rival band signed to her label brandishes a Confederate flag at a promotional concert. Opal’s bold protest and the violence that ensues set off a chain of events that will not only change the lives of those she loves, but also be a deadly reminder that repercussions are always harsher for women, especially Black women, who dare to speak their truth.
Decades later, as Opal considers a 2016 reunion with Nev, music journalist S. Sunny Shelton seizes the chance to curate an oral history about her idols. Sunny thought she knew most of the stories leading up to the cult duo’s most politicized chapter, but as her interviews dig deeper, a nasty new allegation from an unexpected source threatens everything.
The Mountains Sing – Nguyên Phan Quê Mai
A deeply moving insight into the Vietnam War and the impact it had on families in the country. A beautiful story that deserves so much praise. I wasn’t planning on doing a review but please let me know if you would want one!
One family, two generations of women and a war that will change their lives forever
Ha Noi, 1972. As war breaks out in Viet Nam, twelve-year-old Hương clings to her grandmother in an improvised shelter as American bombs fall around them. For her grandmother, the experience is horribly familiar. This is a woman who knows what it takes to hold a family together as a country crumbles. And now, coming of age in a nation rocked by conflict, Hương must do the same.
The Prophets – Robert Jones Jr
This was the first book I read this year and it left such a mark on me. An excellent read about slavery and the LGBTQ+ community.
The Halifax plantation is known as Empty by the slaves who work it under the pitiless gaze of its overseers and its owner, Massa Paul. Two young enslaved men, Samuel and Isaiah dwell among the animals they keep in the barn, helping out in the fields when their day is done. But the barn is their haven, a space of radiance and love – away from the blistering sun and the cruelty of the toubabs – where they can be alone together.
But, Amos – a fellow slave – has begun to direct suspicion towards the two men and their refusal to bend. Their flickering glances, unspoken words and wilful intention, revealing a truth that threatens to rock the stability of the plantation. And preaching the words of Massa Paul’s gospel, he betrays them.
As you can see there is no way all of these books are making my top 10 at the end of the year. We’ve still got six months to go and there are so many books I’m still very excited to read. (A Most Anticipated List Part 2??)
Anyways, whether you’ve read 100, 50, 25 or even 1 book this year so far! You’ve done phenomenally well! Finding time to read can be so difficult so be extremely proud.
I’m so excited to see what my final top 10 at the end of the year will look like. Hopefully, there will be some non-fiction thrown in there too. Regardless, I’m sure it’s going to look somewhat different!
If you haven’t heard by now but I’ve been short-listed for Book Influencer of the Year at the Blogsphere Awards 2021! If you would like to vote for me – click here! I would be extremely grateful and appreciative!
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Liz Dexter says
What a great list! I really want to read The Mothers so you’ve moved that up my list. Seven Days in June looks intriguing and I’d not heard of it before, and my husband has read and enjoyed The Space Between Worlds. Well done on your 60 and hope you get as many good ones out of the next 50!
Thank you so much! The Mothers is such a great read and I enjoyed it more than The Vanishing Half! Seven Days in June was another beautiful story! Ahh thank you!! I hope you enjoy all possible future reads this year!!
Liz Dexter says
Ooh, that IS promising, because I loved The Vanishing Half! I am glad that people’s backlist is getting promoted, maybe this new flourishing of publishing and promoting Black authors’ work is going to continue this time. I’ve been looking at Tayari Jones’ earlier work after really enjoying An American Marriage, for example, and Bernadine Evaristo’s previous novels have been rebranded and republished since she won the Booker.
Yess same! It’s always nice to see authors finally getting the recognition they deserve! I liked An American Marriage but struggled with some of the characters!! I’ve only read Mr Loverman and GWO by Bernardine Evaristo but I’ve heard her earlier books are just as great!
I keep seeing Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry everywhere! I need to pick it up.
It’s such a beautiful read! One of my favourite stories this year by far!!🥺