mid-year check in

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag 2021

To be honest, I wasn’t even sure if I was going to do this tag and to do a check in of my reading this year so far as I have been pretty much in a sixth month reading slump. But this tag is like a booktube/book blogger stapple so thought I’d check in and see just how my reading has been this year.

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2020
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
I just loved this book a lot. The characters, their relationships, how everything comes together, it’s all so good. I would highly recommend the audiobook too, it was excellent.

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2020
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
I liked Shadow and Bone well enough but then I loved Siege and Storm. Was everything I’d want in a sequel; adds new and great characters, gives old ones more development, more action and drama – it’s just so good!

3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to
Monstrous Design by Kat Dunn
I did something which I have not done in a long, long time – bought the sequel even though I’ve yet to read the first book. Yes, I’ve not read Dangerous Remedy but I got that in a subscription box last year and then they were doing a special edition of the sequel so I ordered that so then hopefully when I finally read this series, they’ll match and both look pretty.

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year
Beka Lamb by Zee Edgell
I’m so bad at keeping up with new releases and technically this isn’t a new release as it was originally published in 1982 but there’s a new edition being released at the end of July that I already have on preorder. It will be my read for Belize in my Read the World Project.

5. Biggest disappointment
The Good Life Elsewhere by Vladimir Lorchenkov
I haven’t really had any disappointing books so far this year (guess that’s the perks of not reading a lot) but I did find The Good Life Elsewhere very odd. Just it wasn’t what I expected based on how it was described and it was a very odd book with some really dark humour.

6. Biggest surprise
In Praise of Love and Children by Beryl Gilroy
Again, haven’t really read enough to be truly surprised by a book but I did enjoy In Praise of Love and Children more than I thought I would. It was a really engaging immigrant story and it was set in a time of UK history I had vague knowledge of so I found that interesting too.

7. Favourite new author. (Debut or new to you)
Besides Leigh Bardugo (who I had read before this year) I haven’t read multiple books by the same author so far in 2021. I did like Uršuľa Kovalyk’s writing style in The Equestrienne and I was very impressed by how Svetlana Alexievich wrote non-fiction so I wouldn’t be opposed to checking out more of their work.

8. Newest fictional crush and 9. Newest favourite character.
Sturmhond aka Nikolai Lantsov – Grisha’verse by Leigh Bardugo
I’ve not yet read King of Scars and Rule of Wolves but from his first appearance as Sturmhond in Siege and Storm I absolutely loved Nikolai and he became my favourite character in the original trilogy. I don’t know if he is a fiction crush, as I don’t have them often, but he is a new favourite and he’s so charming and funny and a perfect scoundrel while also being a great tactician.

10. Book that made you cry.
The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich
This didn’t make me proper cry or anything but I did feel myself get really say or get a sort of pain in my chest as I listened to the audiobook. It was just really vivid in its descriptions of the brutality and reality of war.

11. Book that made you happy.
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
While Crooked Kingdom does have it’s sad or bittersweet moments, I just really enjoyed how everything came together and the final reveal of the con was exceptional. Having characters from the original Grisha trilogy was a huge bonus too.

12. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)
The Beast Player and The Beast Warrior by Nahoko Uehasi
You’re getting two for this answer. I saw The Beast Warrior when browsing a Waterstone and immediately fell in love with the cover. After realising it was a sequel (book two in a duology I believe) I had to pick up the first book which was also stunning so I came home from Waterstones with these two beautiful books that I’ve yet to read.

13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
All of them? I’m pretty sure I say that every year I do this tag. I want to focus on my Read the World Project. There are a few books I’ve started but only read a few pages or maybe a chapter or two (told you in a big slump) so they’re probably going to be my priority. There’s  by Ali Al Saeed, How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone by Saša Stanišić and The Madwoman of Serrano by Dina Salústio to name a few.

Now for some reading stats. I want to read 52 books this year and I’m current at 20 so I’m 5 books behind schedule which isn’t terrible and I do think if I actually pick a book up instead of watching a load of TV shows, I’ll soon get back on track.

I think the pandemic reading slump is hitting me now rather than last year like it seemed to hit a lot of people. Maybe now things are starting to open up a bit that’s what’s occupying my brain whereas before when there was very little to do I could focus on reading. Who knows!

Thanks to the Grisha’verse books I’ve read this year my most read genre is fantasy followed by short story collections and historical fiction. I’ve read more books by women than men (just) which I’m happy with but feel that might become more equal as I think I have more books by men on my TBR than women – or at least more books on my Read the World Project TBR are by men.

 

Mid-year Film Update 2020

Last year was the first time I did a mid-year check in on my film-related goals and I thought I’d do the same again this year – mainly because I like to see how much my most watched actors change over the course of a year.

My film-related goals are pretty chill. They are:

And I have to say, I’m on the right track with both of those so far. I have watched 28 films directed women so over half way there and I’ve watched 40 films written by women which is over three quarters of the way to 52. I’ll definitely hit 52 films for both directors and screenwriters by the end of the year, the question is what will my final total be. My favourite films made by women I’ve seen so far this year are Miss Americana, Little Women and Misbehaviour. I also rewatched Mamma Mia! which was a delight as always.

Thanks to COVID-19 and lockdown, naturally I haven’t been to the cinema since March (and I’m not sure when I’ll be going back even though they being to open here in a couple of weeks), and a lot of the big films directed by women – Black Widow, Mulan, Wonder Woman 1984 – have been pushed back. So, if it hadn’t have been for COVID, I’ll have probably seen more films directed by women by now but there we go.

Thanks to the A-Z in April Challenge this year, I have knocked 20 films off my unwatched DVD/Blu-rays list so now I have 64 left to watch. I do hope to watch more of them over the next six months, especially the Hitchcock and Clint Eastwood films.

I love my Letterboxd stats. Here’s my most watched actors of 2020 so far:

I have done a lot of rewatching of some of my favourite franchises so far this year which pretty much explains everyone here. So far in 2020 I have rewatched; the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the original Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, the Ocean’s Eleven trilogy, The Lord of the Rings (normally a Christmas rewatch for me but I needed the extra comfort that those films bring me), and The Chronicles of Narnia films. Last month I decided to watch all of Anton Yelchin’s films that I hadn’t seen before that were available on Netflix/Prime so that’s how he made it on the list. I’m interested to see how many of the MCU actors especially manage to stay in my most watched actors list by the end of the year.

My most watched directors of 2020 so far:

Again, my director list isn’t that surprising based on the franchises I’ve rewatched so far this year. The Russo’s, James Gunn, Peyton Reed, Joss Whedon, Jon Watts and Jon Favreau all directed multiple films in the MCU, while Steven Soderbergh, Gore Verbinski and Peter Jackson directed the Ocean’s trilogy, Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, and Lord of the Rings trilogy respectively. It’d be nice if I could have a more diverse range of filmmakers in this list by the end of the year (at least Bong Joon-ho is there!) but we’ll see how that goes. While I often at least watch 52 films directed by women each year for example, they are often from 52 different women so female directors don’t often make this list.

In the first half of 2020 I have seen 144 different films with 13 being at the cinema, and as I said while I miss spending a Saturday watching three films in the cinema back to back, I’m not sure when I’ll be doing that again.

What are some of your favourite films you’ve watched so far in 2020? Are you missing the cinema at all? Besides the ones I’ve already mentioned, some of my favourite films have been Dark Waters, Da 5 Bloods and Love, Antosha. Each month on Twitter I share my Top 5 First Views if you ever want to see my monthly film highlights.

Mid-year Book Freak Out Tag 2020

We’re halfway through what has been an eventful, interesting and somewhat depressing year so far (at least for me) so it’s time to have a quick check in on my reading so far in 2020. I also thought I’d do the Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag which was created by Earl Grey Books and Read Like Wildfire on YouTube. Turns out I did this tag in 2017 and not done it again since – probably due to my lack of organisation.

My very simple reading goals of 2020 are:

  • Read 60 books and review at least half of them. I’ve read 32 and reviewed 27 (though some of those aren’t live yet) so that’s on track. You can find a full list of the books I’ve read and reviewed so far this year on my Books of 2020 page as well as Goodreads.
  • Get my TBR down to 50 books. It currently stands at 91 when I stared the year with 85 unread books so that’s not going well but what else is new! Although while I am acquiring books they’re not overwhelming my TBR too much.
  • Have an equal split of male and female authors/if it leans one way, have it be that I read more women. As you can see by my handy pie chart that’s on track too:

  • At least 30% of the books I read be by people of colour. This is definitely on track at the minute as the authors of colour make up 60% of the books I’ve read so far this year. By the way “both” refers to books with multiple authors and one might be white and the other might be Black for example.

Now onto the tag!

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2020
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
This was actually a bit difficult to choose as I’ve read a few 5 star books so far this year but I just loved Locke and his crew/family and the story was funny and exciting and just fantastic. I listened to the audiobook and I highly recommend that because the narrator is one of the best I’ve ever heard.

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2020
Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland
I don’t read a lot of sequels. Both because I tend to read standalone books and when I do read a series, I usually take ages to get around to reading the next book. This year I read a sequel the month after I read the first book! Deathless Divide was darker and better than the first book and I definitely recommend reading them both. (more…)

Mid-Year Reading Update

We’re (over) halfway through the year and as I did a mid-year check in for what films I’ve been watching, I thought I’d do one for what books I’ve been reading too. Plus, I haven’t managed to read one book so far in July (though I’ve nearly finished rereading The Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman on audio, but I started that last month) so these stats are definitely for the first six months of the year.

I kept my reading goals for 2019 pretty simple. I didn’t sign up for any reading challenges though I set my Goodreads goal to 52 books and I wanted to review at least 26 of them. I’m right on track with that as so far, I’ve read 41 books and have reviewed 25 of them (review 26 is half written and will be posted next week). I read 12 books in June which definitely helped these stats. I spent 10 days at my dad’s and pretty much all I did there was read.

I wanted to get my physical TBR down from 100 books to 50 and that’s going well so far too. While I have acquired books, through subscription boxes, the London Bookshop Crawl, and just taking advantage of when I see a book has become somewhat cheap as it sits on my Amazon Wishlist, I have been reading a lot of what I already owned. My current TBR stands at 88 books and while I’m not sure I’ll actually manage to hit my target of 50 by the time 2019 is finished, it looks like (for once) I’m reading more than I’m bringing in.

I’m always interested in who I’m reading books by and try and have an even split of books by men and women (though I naturally tend to read more books by women than men). So far this year I’ve read 25 books by women and 16 books by men. I can see this sort of split continue for the rest of the year as I do own slightly more books by women than men. But then again, I’m a mood reader with eclectic taste so who knows what I’ll read next!

I also started tracking if the authors I’m reading are white or people of colour and I wanted at least 25% of the books I read to be by non-white authors. So far, I’ve read 27 books by white authors and 14 books by authors of colour – which is 34% of what I’ve read! If I keep on like this, I should achieve my goal. I do think my Read the World Project helps me with this as it has really broadened my reading tastes and I’ve discovered so many new authors and stories.

Speaking of the Read the World Project, out of the 41 books I’ve read this year, 23 of them have been by international authors. That leaves me with 133 countries (by my count) left to read in the next 2 years and 2 months-ish if I want to meet my thirtieth birthday deadline I imposed on myself. At the start of the year I said I’d need to read about 50 books for the Read the World project to be in with a chance of finishing the project before my 30th birthday, and I’ve read just a bit less than half of that in the first half of the year so I may be able to achieve that goal. North America is where most of the authors I’ve read so far this year are from (which makes sense as if I’m not reading something for the Read the World project it tends to be YA by American authors) but then there’s Europe, which is not just the UK as I’ve only read 3 books from authors from there, and Africa and Asia. I have more books from both of those continents to read before the year is out so it’ll be interesting to see how this chart looks at the end of 2019.

Did you have any reading goals for this year? If you did, how are you doing with them? I’m a big fan of charts and stats so thought it’d be cool to see how my reading was now, so I could have something to compare it to at the end of the year.

Mid-Year Film Update

I don’t usually do mid-year check ins with my film-related goals (mainly because I don’t have many) but after having a look of my stats on Letterboxd, it was something I fancied doing.

My main film-related goal of 2019 is to continue watching 52 films directed and written by women. I’m happy to say I’m well on track with that. This is in part thanks to my Reel Women movie marathon in May as I watched 12 films directed in women in 24 hours so that helped me catch up as I was lagging behind a bit before then. I’ve seen 30 films directed by women so far this year (you can find a list of them all here) and I’ve watched 32 films written by women (a full list of those are here). My favourite films made by women I’ve seen this year have been Unicorn Store, What They Had and Capernaum. They are three very different films but are all powerful in their own way.

I don’t think I’ve made a dent on my unwatched DVD’s/Blu-Rays at all this year as when I have watched a DVD it’s been of a film I’ve already seen. I actually have more than what I started the year with as I bought an Alfred Hitchcock boxset from a friend a few months ago.

My favourite thing about Letterboxd Pro is the actor and director stats. I thought it’d be cool to keep a record of who were my most watched actors of the first six months of 2019 and then see if and how there’s any changes by the time December rolls around.

My most watched actors of 2019 so far are:

I went on a bit of a Brie Larson binge in February, watching six of her films that I’d never seen before that month! I don’t know if another actor will become my most watched by the end of the year, but I think she’ll definitely be in the top five. Keanu Reeves and Ian McShane were a bit of a surprise, but I rewatched/watched all three of the John Wick films a few months ago so it does make sense. I’ve also started to rewatch and review all the Fast and Furious films (including the two short films I never realised existed) so that’s why some of those actors are here and I think a lot more of them will be there once I’ve finished my rewatch. Whether or not it’ll be a majority Fast and Furious-actors list at the end of the year (like it was with Harry Potter last year) remains to be seen.

My most watched directors of 2019 so far are:

This isn’t so exciting, and they can be put down to the John Wick films, MCU films, and then Cretton directed two films starring Brie Larson. I’ll be interested to see what other directors will end up on my most watched of the year list as there’s still plenty of room. Justin Lin will definitely be there as he directed a fair few Fast and Furious movies.

In the first half of 2019 I have seen 117 different films and have been to the cinema 35 times. A full list of what I’ve seen is here. I haven’t been putting pressure on myself to watch a film every single day, instead only watching things I want to watch and when I feel like it, so I was surprised that I’d still managed to watch so many. I’m going to continue to not put pressure on myself when it comes to watching films. I’ll probably see a good chunk more at the cinema before the year is out – I’m a big fan of seeing between two to four films in the cinema on a Saturday – but I won’t go out of my way to see EVERYTHING.

What’s been your favourite film you’ve seen so far this year? It could be a 2019 release, or an older film you’ve seen for the first time. Some of my favourites I’ve seen this year have been Avengers: Endgame, Instant Family and Short Term 12. Each month I share my Top 5 First Views on Twitter if you ever want to see what new-to-me films I liked the most each month.