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MID YEAR BOOK FREAK OUT TAG // 2021 edition ft. fantastic books, reviews galore & books I need to read asap

We’re fashionably late to this tag today and I also have to be annoying & ask HOW WE ARE ALREADY HALFWAY THROUGH THE YEAR?!?

It can’t be true. I refuse to accept it.

Let’s reuse last year’s terrible joke and deem this month the bookish Christmas in July. Just to lighten the mood about the horrendous fact that time moves too fast for us mere humans.

I’ll stop now. Let’s get into the questions!!


Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

I truly don’t know what more I could say about this book. Because I’ve definitely talked everybody’s ear off already and my throat is hoarse from all the screaming. However, I’m still going to throw this book at your face and force you to read it and cry with me.

I’ve been having awful luck this past year and a half when it comes to finding new favourites and/or 5-star reads. I lowkey cry myself to sleep about it. Kidding. But it does astound me because I never used to have this problem. Anyways, this book got a lot of mixed reviews when it came out and I didn’t really take note of its existence until more recently. Cutting to the chase, the moral of the story is that anybody who hated this book is wrong. Idk if you were on something but it just had to be said.

EMERGENCY CONTACT IS SO AMAZING WTF MY MIND IS STILL BLOWN. I probably think about it on a daily basis at this point. Penny is me in book form, in all the ways possible. I’ve found characters I’ve related to just a smidge, but Penny is literally me. The writing and the anxiety representation and the college setting and the slow-burn romance and just everything about this book are P-E-R-F-E-C-T-I-O-N. THIS BOOK IS A MASTERPIECE READ IT NOW!!!!!

Read my blog post review here <3<3<3


Always Only You by Chloe Liese

I was literally leaving this question open saying because I thought I hadn’t read any sequels yet, but clearly, my brain is not functioning properly. Because this beauty is technically a sequel. Not a direct sequel in a series, just a companion but still definitely qualifies.

This one also happens to be my first 5-star of the year and I loved it so so much. If you haven’t read this wonderfully diverse adult sports romance, then please get off your butt and do so. I need more people to scream about this book with because she’s so good and criminally underrated.

I read the first two books in this series back to back, didn’t love book one Only When It’s Us nearly as much as I did this one. And I was just so surprised at how much I loved it. If you haven’t read this delight yet, I highly recommend you do so. No regrets. I mean, just LOOK how cute the cover is *wink wink*

Read my blog post review here!!!


Lore by Alexandra Bracken: Still not over the fact that 1) this cover is amazing and 2) I’m a trash human for still having not read this. But I just bought a copy so I AM GOING TO ASAP!! I swear on my last breath.

Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi: I mean, obviously I need to read this. I doubt I’ll survive but Ms Mary can step on me and I’d let her. I have a *hunch* that this book is going to be painful so #prayforruby

Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare: okay I have a valid reason for this book still not being read. Which is that I NEED to reread Chain of Gold. Idk if you were around last year when I had an existential life crisis after finishing that book. Still haven’t given it a rating or a proper review. So my genius solution is to reread it and then move onto book 2. Again, who knows if I’ll survive,,,

Witches Steeped In Gold by Ciannon Smart: this absolute BEAUTY of a book just came out in my country and OMG I’M SO EXCITED!! The cover is too amazing for words and probably the prettiest YA fantasy cover I’ve seen in a while. Also, it just sounds super good and I’m hoping to start it soon!

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé: I need this book INJECTED INTO MY VEINS RIGHT NOW!! I’m counting down the days until is out in my country and I will be opening that bad boy up so fast I’ll most likely get whiplash. But I don’t care because I just KNOW it’s going to be amazing wtf *insert heart eyes*

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston: Also so desperately need to get my hands on this book for obvious reasons. RW&RB is one of my all-time favourite books and ugh I’m so ready. Though I am slightly nervous because I’ve heard some mixed reviews, even from people who loved Casey’s first book. Also please shun me because I was granted an eARC by the amazing publisher but I STILL haven’t read it. Blasphemy.


Like A Love Song by Gabriela Martins (3 August 2021): This book looks absolutely adorable and I am so excited to read it. My body is ready for fake dating between a pop icon and a British indie film star?!?!? Sounds brilliant.

With You Forever by Chloe Liese (14 September 2021): I GOT ACCEPTED FOR THE EARC AND I AM HYPERVENTILATING!!! I absolutely cannot wait to read this book and she’s definitely up my next on my tbr. I still need to get to book 3 in this series but who knows if it’ll be before or after. I heard marriage of convenience and I was THERE.

Aristotle & Dante Dive Into The Waters of The World by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (16 October 2021): omg I honestly thought this book would take AGES to come out but I’m so so excited!!! They jumped it on us a couple of months ago and honestly still screaming!!! I said when I finished book one that I think I needed a sequel and now it’s coming and I’m so here for it <3<3<3

Believe Me by Tahereh Mafi (16 November 2021): It’s the way I actually laughed at this announcement lmao. Will Ms Tahereh Mafi ever end this series? We thought it was over. Methinks not. Either way, of course, I’ll read this book. Though I personally loved the finale, one of my issues was that the ending happened way too quickly.

Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong (16 November 2021): I WOULD SELL MY SOUL FOR THIS BOOK AND I’M NOT EVEN KIDDING. Just a few days ago, I saw some fan art on Instagram and collapsed on the spot. Praying to the book gods for an eARC of this one also. OMG, I AM NOT READY FOR THIS BOOK SOMEBODY SEND ASSISTANCE!!!!!


The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary

To be honest, when I thought about an answer for this question, no book popped out for me. Fortunately, I’ve had a pretty great reading year so far and I haven’t read a book that I was hugely excited for that like… 2-star sucked or anything.

However, I did think that this book would be better than I found it was. I read and absolutely adored The Flatshare last year, it was a 5-star read for me. And this one was a 3-star. So the disappointment lies in that I had expected it to be as amazing as the other book, but it just really didn’t work for me, personally.

Read more of my thoughts here.

The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Oof, however this one was SO SO SO disappointing. I technically gave it 3 stars but to be honest, that was generous. I just,,, expected so much more. This book had such an amazing premise, but unfortunately just fell flat in so many places.

The plot sounded absolutely amazing. Like fake exes and radio shows?! SO COOL. But it was just so eh. The writing was rather plain in my opinion. Most of all, it was the romance that was disappointing. I expected slow-burn, especially since this is an enemies to lovers, but the steaminess started at 40% ??? It was just under-developed and I didn’t sense any sort of connection between them. The age-gap was also just a bit weird. It was said over and over again and I got irritated by it. Confuzzled.

Oh well.

Read more thoughts here.


Kate In Waiting by Becky Albertalli

It’s the way I absolutely adored this book and never saw it coming. I immediately knew I had to talk about this book for this question because it truly was the biggest surprise of the year. I rated it 4.5 stars but honestly think I want to bump it up to a 5-star because I think about it a lot. I haven’t read a really good YA contemporary in a while, let alone a Becky Albertalli book so it was so wonderful to fall in love with this book.

It just had all the best elements and was so fun to read. I loved the characters and the discussion on platonic friendships and just,,, This book is like a warm hug and if you’re sceptical about it, don’t be. Because it’s brilliant. Trust me.

Also, I read back to my 2021 releases post and apparently thought it was sapphic. Which it’s not. Just to clarify lmao.

Read my blog tour book review here.

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This one was one of my most anticipated reads of 2021, so I’m not surprised that I loved it. However, 1) I wanted to mention it somewhere in this tag and 2) I was surprised that I listened to the whole thing on audiobook and loved it that way.

I literally just finished this book like last week and to be honest, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. I didn’t read it very fast like I did the other two because I was only listening to it in the mornings, so I will say I was confused when I finished it. But once I slept on it for a little while, I came to the conclusion that… it was absolutely amazing and that I could only give it 5-stars.

Taylor Jenkins Reid is just an absolute genius. Just like with Evelyn & Daisy, you almost can’t believe that the characters and the events in this book aren’t real. The writing and storytelling are absolutely phenomenal and my mind was just going !!!!!! the entire way through

You already probably have it on your TBR, but if not, here’s your sign!

More thoughts here but review coming soon!

There’s one other book that I could use here but saving that bad boy for a later question, though I did just want to mention it here.


Holly Jackson

I finally got around to reading A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson and omg was it phenomenal. Like with Kate, I’m debating bumping it up from a 4.5 to a 5 star because it was that good. I was SHAKING at some of those reveals. Holly Jackson is just an absolute genius and I loved the way this book was told. It’s interspersed with multimedia like emails, phone calls, voice recordings, alongside the standard novel format and !!!

Honestly, just all the praise for this author to come out with such a unique and refreshing YA mystery as their debut and I’m so excited to continue with the series. Even though I’m a scaredy-cat and am setting myself up for heart attacks.

Again, I technically have another contender for this question but mentioning that genius author later on, but just wanted to note it here ; )


There isn’t a huge standout for me for this question, except Sam Becker from Emergency Contact, for obvious reasons. The reason he’s not UP THERE as a huge crush is because I wouldn’t necessarily say Sam is a romantic character I think about a lot. Even though he’s a smol bean to be protected at all costs and I would smother him in hugs. Does that make sense? I 1000% love him, but if he was a real person, I wouldn’t picture myself with him.

However, I absolutely loved Eve Brown from Act Your Age, Eve Brown, who is an absolutely chaotic angel and I 100% relate. She’s definitely my favourite of the sisters and this is my favourite book in the series. Anyways, Eve is full of spunk and sass and is the best. Love her purple hair and her co-dependent relationship with AirPods *insert heart eyes* Though again, she’s not the newest love of my life.

Honourable mention goes to Noah Kaplan from Kate In Waiting whom I adored but didn’t get enough page time so when the sequel comes out, then he’ll get the spot. No there is not a sequel, that was a joke. Don’t want to confuse you lmao


I mean, it has to be no other than Penny Lee from Emergency Contact. Who else did you expect? I already spoiled this question but I don’t even care because I love Penny so much. Which by default means I love myself so much. But it’s true.

Okay, I know what. Let’s write a letter:

Dear Ms Mary H.K. Choi


I would just like to thank you for writing a character that means so much to me. I’d never before related to a character so much, down to the dot on every ‘i’ and cross on every ‘t’,  before I met Penny.  You’re also a genius writing wizard and I loved Emergency Contact with all of my heart.


Yours in crying,

Ruby Rae Reads

Indeed you are welcome for that masterpiece of a letter. That is all I have to say.


Kulti by Mariana Zapata

Okay, I don’t really have a book to talk about that made me SOB in any way. I’ve stayed away from sad books this year welp.

But I thought this one kinda worked because I think I cried happy tears. I could’ve also used this book as a book that surprised me this year because I honestly thought I’d hate it. But this book is neck and neck with From, Lukov With Love as my favourite Mariana Zapata book… who would’ve thought?

As I mentioned earlier, I HATED the age gap aspect of The Ex Talk, and I honestly thought it was the trope. But wowee was I wrong because I LOVED this book. The two main characters were just so perfect for each other, so I cried happy tears. Mayhaps also jealousy tears because I have not met my match yet but that’s a conversation for another day welp.

Highly recommend this one & just Zapata in general because she’s a romance whizz and I adore her books. So desperately want to get my hands on physical copies of them all *sighs*


You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

Eeeep I finally read this book and wowee was it good, you all were so right. I was just so amazed by Sarah Hogle and her writing, who’s the author I was talking about earlier. My mind was absolutely blown away by this debut work because the writing is just absolutely phenomenal. I don’t think I’ve ever read writing that is so effortlessly funny, the humour is just weaved into every sentence it didn’t even have to try.

But not only that, this book is just full of all the wonderful moments. It took me like 4 tries but once I got into it, I was so enthralled. The characters are rays of sunshine, and the pranks are just brilliant. This book is just such a clever blend of tropes: enemies to lovers, second-chance romance, forced proximity. Honestly, HOW is Sarah Hogle such a genius? I think we need to bow down before this queen.

Ugh just so so so good and I 100% need to read her latest release.

More thoughts here, but review coming soon.


Shadow & Bone

There is absolutely only one answer for the 2021 tag and I literally almost forgot it. Please kick me off the internet because I don’t deserve to be here.

We’re all still mind-blown, right? To be very honest, I was getting hecka nervous leading up to the release, as some aspects of the trailer had me feeling iffy. But boy was I wrong. I don’t think we could ever ask for a more perfect adaptation. It’s is literal perfection from heaven and it’s shameful that I still haven’t done a rewatch.

I want to do a whole post about it though it’s obviously been a hot second. So please let me know if you still want to see that? Anyways, I was also worried about the acting because I had only ever seen Ben Barnes and welp we didn’t know if the rest of the cast could even act. I was nervous about what they were going to do with The Crows, me was slightly confused about where they’d be taken in this storyline. The only thing I knew I’d love was the score, which was excellent from the very beginning.

Of course, all of my worries were unnecessary because everything was impeccable. The set design, the special effects, the casting. ALL. ABSOLUTELY. AMAZING. WTF. I really need to do a whole post because I have a lot to say but I was gobsmacked by everything and I’m so glad it’s done well.

*screams for eternity*


I’ve actually not been too shabby with reviews this year and am pleased with every review I’ve posted. I currently have about 4 in drafts also because those are the only posts I’ve managed to put together sshhhh

Honourable mentions:

But it just had to go to These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong, which was my first post of 2021 and my favourite read of 2020. Still not over this book oof *cries for days*


Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

I didn’t buy this one, it was sent to me by the lovely folks over at Jonathan Ball Publishers, who are the bestest ever. They’ve actually had SO many great ones this year, but this is by far my favourite. UK cover tops the US by a million in my opinion.

I’m just obsessed with the detailing and the blue and gold are just IMMACULATE. Still need to take a photo of it but I kinda have no idea how to do it justice. So excited to read this one as I’ve heard marvelous things. Let me know if you’ve read it!


Oops, basically all of these were here last year but did you expect anything else?

Yikes, wish me luck. I still literally have all of the books on my 2021 tbr to read also,,,,

Aaaannnddd that’s it. That’s the end of the tag. You all have either done this tag already or have been tagged, so I shan’t be tagging anyone. Though if you haven’t done it yet or are perhaps new to this tag, then hey, I tag you.

Until next time ; )




    • Ruby Rae Reads

      Welp hello I am incredibly late to this comment, I’m so so sorry *hides*

      But omg I WAS APPROVED AN EARC OF OUR VIOLENT ENDS AND BE READY FOR PAIN!!!!!!!! Made me sob but it’s SO GOOD *insert all the heart eyes*

      Also hope you love Malibu Rising too. Lots of love xoxo

  • Lais @ The Bookish Skies

    i’m so happy you loved emergency contact so much! i read it back in 2019 i think, and wasn’t a huge fan of it, but i can see how the anxiety rep would be meaningful for readers.

    likewise, i also CAN NOT WAIT for the ari & dante sequel. i’ve seen people getting ARCs this past week and😭😭😭😭😭 the FOMO is hitting pretty bad. like a love song comes out in two weeks and!!!!! i am so excited. i love fake dating and the fact is by a brazilian author featuring a brazilian MC makes me even more hyped.

    i was interested in the ex-talk because indeed the premise is SO cool but all the reviews i’ve read for this one are mostly underwhelming, soooo i don’t think it will be for me. a shame because a twist in the fake-dating trope (aka the best trope of all times) is something i do want to see more of!

    i hope the rest of your reading year is just as awesome, ruby!🤍

    • Ruby Rae Reads

      Heyo I’m on a reply spree as you can tell haha (again, sorry it’s taken so long ilysm)

      I did say that if you disliked Emergency Contact then your opinion is just wrong so I don’t want to be a hypocrite JUST sAYING *wink wink*

      Ahhh hope we both love those two! Though I’ve been seeing some stuff about Benjamin Alire Saenz? Not sure what though. Ugh SO SO READY for Like A Love Song omg <3<3<3

      I had actually only heard fairly good things so maybe you might feel differently?? Idk you give it a go. But it was not my type of romance

      Lots of love to you friend xoxoxoxo

  • ahaana @ Windows to Worlds

    fashionably late is definitely the best kind of late (i love how i’m also fashionably late to typing out this comment lmao). i promise i WILL pick up emergency contact soon, you’ve hyped it up so much for me now ahhh!! i’ve read both ace of spades and one last stop, and OMG they were both instant favs!! ace of spades, especially, blew my mind. ALSO I WAS LITERALLY SO SAD WHEN I GOT DECLINED FOR THE OUR VIOLENT ENDS ARC </3 i NEED it nowwwww 😭😭

    ahhh excuse me while i go hide behind a tree i got sent an ARC for kate in waiting a while ago, but i kept putting it off because the synopsis didn't completely pull me in!!! definitely picking it up soon tho!! i've loved all your reviews, and i can't wait to read all the rest of your fashionably late posts throughout the rest of the year too!! 💕

    • Ruby Rae Reads

      Ahaana oof, again apologies for being so late to this comment *hides* but love you and miss you and I need to catch up with your posts!!!!

      Squealing with joy that I’ve convinced you to read Emergency Contact, it is SO WORTH IT eeeeep <3<3<3 you’ve also hyped me up even more for Ace & OLS, just hauled them recently and am so ready.

      OH NO YOU GOT DECLINED TOO?!?!? Do you have access to Netgalley UK, because I got approved for OVE on there *wink wink*

      Adore you so much Ahaana. Please let me know what you think of Kate, I’ve heard so many mixed things but it was just such a delight at the time. Lots of love to you xoxoxoxoxo

  • Kay @ Hammock of Books

    emergency contact is so amazing truly why have I not read yolk yet??? and Kate in waiting sounds so amazing I’m so glad to hear you loved it I must read!! and ahklasfjlaksfjdksalfjsdof shadow and bone!!! I wanted to do a full post on it but never got around to it lmao but pls do write your post I will 100% read it and shout about the show and go back into my April obsession with you!!

    also this is not a drill!!!! I *think* I’m getting an arc of our violent ends!!! and I’m just like alksdjflksfjslakfjsalf fLAILING

    • Ruby Rae Reads

      Hello again dear friend, still replying to comments but THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR LOVELY ONES <3<3<3<3

      YES EMERGENCY CONTACT SUPREMACY I ACCEPT NO BLASPHEMY AGAINST HER NAME!!!!! Also truly a crime that I haven’t read Yolk (or Permanent Record) yet either *hides*

      Kate is such a fun time, I’ve heard it can be a miss for some people but I just have such fond memories. WELP OMG I LOVE YOU THANK YOU FOR THE ENCOURAGEMENT!!!! Will be doing the post just for you, hugs and kisses hehe


      K that is all love ya to the moon and back xoxoxo

  • Caro @ bookcheshirecat

    I loved reading your answers Ruby!! ❤ I need to read Ace of Spades as I keep hearing such good things about it 🥰 I also liked A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, I definitely have to read the sequel! (and I think book 3 is out or coming out!)

    • Ruby Rae Reads

      Apologies again for taking AGES to get to this comment Caro but huge thanks for always popping by and leaving such lovely comments!!!!!!

      Eeeep hope we both love Ace of Spades, I’ve heard just amazing things. Ugh yes Good Girl’s was so good and I’ve since read book 2 which was also phenomenal, maybe for slightly different reasons. CANNOT wait for the final book. Lots of love to you xoxoxoxo

  • Stephen Writes

    I loved reading your answers! Oh my goodness, you basically said how I feel about Our Violent Ends, I simply cannot wait to pick up that book. Also completely agree on Holly Jackson and Ariadne, I bought that too and it’s so beautiful 🥰

    • Ruby Rae Reads

      Hello again dear friend, love you for being so awesome and supportive!!!

      Because it’s been years since I should’ve replied to this, I come bearing very exciting news. That being that I got approved an eARC of Our Violent Ends and you are indeed speaking to a corpse IT BROKE ME THRICE AND PUT ME BACK TOGETHER!!!!!

      Lots of love to youuuuu xoxoxoxo

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