With the year halfway over, I thought it would be fun to reflect on books read this year so I’m considering myself tagged and doing this survey I saw on Lady Business. If you see this here and also want to do this overview of your own 2024 reading so far, you can consider yourself tagged too!

I wasn’t sure how much I’d have to discuss at first since I’ve basically read only 3 new-to-me standout books this year, but there was enough variety here that I managed to cover more than just the books I thought were excellent (even if some of those did come up more than once). It hasn’t even been an especially bad reading year; it’s just that the majority of the books I’ve read so far this year fall into the 7/10 category, meaning they’re good, solid books but not ones I found especially memorable. But then, I have also left several books that I didn’t find compelling unfinished, including a couple I had been really excited about, so it certainly hasn’t been the best reading year either!

Cover of Warchild by Karin Lowachee Cover of The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman Cover of Goddess of the River by Vaishnavi Patel

Best book you’ve read so far in 2024

This is a tough one because I reread one of my favorite books ever and also discovered a new book I absolutely loved.

The book I reread is Warchild by Karin Lowachee, the first book in my favorite science fiction series. I wanted to read it again before writing about the series here, and I was once again amazed by Karin Lowachee’s skill at writing characters with such depth and the way she digs into dark subjects and trauma.

The best new-to-me book I read this year is The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman, a historical fiction book about the War of the Roses and Richard III. I read this after adoring the author’s Welsh Princes trilogy, and I loved this one because it was sprawling and epic and also has many characters who are very flawed but also have good qualities. Sharon Kay Penman’s books were recommended for A Song of Ice and Fire fans, and though there are no fantastical elements, they’re an excellent fit if you’re looking for something with a wide cast of characters with different motivations and court intrigue/politics.

The best 2024 release I’ve read this year is Goddess of the River by Vaishnavi Patel, a reimagining of the Mahabharata that focuses on the goddess Ganga and her son. It’s beautifully written, and I loved how Vaishnavi Patel captured the perspective of a goddess and the emotions she had about humanity, as well as the exploration of questions related to duty and responsibility.

Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2024

In an unusual turn of events, I’ve only read one sequel so far this year: Under the Silence by Karin Lowachee, a novella that is set after the second book in The Warchild Mosaic, Burndive. I didn’t love it quite the same way as the novels, but as a fan of the series, I’m glad I read it. It’s a lovely, character-driven story about a changing relationship that’s delicate because of scars that make it impossible for someone to just be close to someone else, no matter how much they want to be.

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

There are a couple of these that come to mind, both of which were on my anticipated 2024 releases list.

Medea by Eilish Quin is a reimagining of the story of the titular Greek sorceress, and I was especially interested in reading it after seeing an interview with the author discussing retellings, questioning narrator reliability, and wanting this novel to make people think more critically about storytelling.

The Practice, the Horizon, and the Chain by Sofia Samatar is a science fiction novella about power and academia set on a generation space ship, and editor Emily Goldman described it as “‘The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas’ taken to whole new level.”

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

If I had to pick just one, I think I’d choose A Song to Drown Rivers by Ann Liang, an epic historical fantasy novel inspired by the Chinese legend of Xishi. I love mythic/epic/historical fantasy, and it has a protagonist infiltrating a palace for the good of her kingdom, which is something else I love: characters spying and pretending to be someone else.

There are others I’m excited for as well, though:

  • The Ending Fire by Saara El-Arifi, the final book in the trilogy that began with my 2022 Book of the Year, The Final Strife
  • Mistress of Lies by K. M. Enright, which features a villainous, bloodthirsty heroine and court intrigue
  • The Mountain Crown, the first novella in a new fantasy trilogy by Karin Lowachee that features dragons
  • The Scarlet Throne by Amy Leow, a debut novel with a power-hungry protagonist and talking cats

These were all also on my anticipated 2024 releases list.

Biggest disappointment

Of the books I actually finished reading, The Serpent and the Wings of Night by Carissa Broadbent was my biggest disappointment. I loved the beginning and the non-romantic relationships introduced there, and then I found the tournament and romance to be dull and rushed. (Since I was busy with holidays and then sick shortly after starting it, I thought it might be those and not the book, but I went through it again later and found those had nothing to do with my experience and opinions.)

If going by books I was very excited to read but didn’t finish, it would be To Gaze Upon Wicked Gods by Molly X. Chang.

Biggest surprise

This probably isn’t the way this was intended to be answered, but I don’t have a book that took me by surprise by how much I ended up loving it so I’m going with a book I was surprised I didn’t love more: The Hidden City by Michelle West. From all I’d heard about this book and The House War series, I expected to love it, but instead I thought it was decent enough with a nice found family dynamic without being something I found especially notable.

I’m on the fence about continuing the series since it also didn’t actually get to any of the house wars of the series title yet. If you’ve read the series, does the next book have more intrigue or is this a case where the first book is a pretty good indicator of how much I’d enjoy the other books? Should I try another one of the series set in this same world?

Favorite new author (debut or new to you)

Samantha Mills is my pick for favorite new author after reading her debut novel The Wings Upon Her Back. This science fantasy has a unique setting and some pretty writing, and it also explores fascism, extremism, complicity, disillusionment, and well, a lot. (It’s my favorite 2024 release after Goddess of the River.)

Newest favorite character

That would have to be Richard from The Sunne in Splendour, who was portrayed as someone who tried hard but still had flaws and made mistakes. In particular, the depiction of his complicated relationship with his brother Edward was wonderfully done.

Book that made you cry

There haven’t been any books that made me cry so far this year, but The Sunne in Splendour came closest since it had its share of tragedy.

Book that made you happy

I haven’t read anything new that qualifies, but I recently reread the first book in The Dark Elf Trilogy, Homeland by R. A. Salvatore. It was fun to revisit the start of Drizzt’s story, seeing him doing his best while surrounded by followers of Lolth and their political machinations, and his friendship with the panther Guenhwyvar made me happy.

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

I am horrible at sticking to any sort of plan since I’m a mood reader and easily distracted so I won’t say there’s anything I need to read by the end of the year, but there are books I’d like to read by then. Those books include all the 2024 releases I mentioned earlier. As for books I haven’t mentioned here yet, I’d like to reread Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart and then read Kushiel’s Chosen and Kushiel’s Avatar for the first time. I’d also like to reread She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan before finally reading He Who Drowned the World.