Darlene Foster's Blog

Mid-Year Book Tag 2021

Posted on: August 6, 2021

The year is more than half over so it might be a good time to see what we’ve read so far. I read about this book tag on There’s Something About KM’s blog


I thought it would be fun to join in.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

Best Book You’ve Read So Far in 2021

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

My review: “A wonderful story told from the point of view of a stiff, emotionally repressed English butler whose only goal in life was to provide perfect service to his employer. Even though his employer was a man of dubious character and misplaced allegiances. The author does a superb job of depicting a man devoted totally to his job, at the cost of friendship and romance. This is writing at its finest.”

Best Sequel You’ve Read so far in 2021

The Family Way by Laura Best

My review: This much-anticipated prequel to the popular Cammie stories did not disappoint. Even if you have not read the other books, this story stands alone very well. The fact that the story is based on a tragic part of Canada’s history, makes it even more intriguing. The writing is so engaging, I felt transported back to the days of the start of WWII.
Like Lucy Maude Montgomery, Laura Best knows how to write an awesome story from the point of view of a young person. Tulia May is a delightful character who tells it like it is. She is a twelve-year-old seeking independence, a young girl who wants to do what’s right. She is wise beyond her years, as is often the case of the youngest of a large family. She says, “I understand that sometimes you do things not because they’re the right thing to do, you do them because sometimes you have no other choice.” Tulia, I couldn’t agree more!

I loved Tulia May but there are many other appealing characters in this story as well like Tulia’s mother, a widow who raised a number of children and is struggling to make ends meet. And Finny Paul, a First Nations boy who faces overt racism. And the delightful Millie Turple, who arrives in a tizzy and takes the world on by storm. This book kept me guessing until the end, and then I wanted to read it all over again. I wish there were more than 5 stars for this book.

New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To

The Gentleman’s Daughter by Bianca M. Schwarz

Biggest Disappointment

I haven’t been disappointed with any book I’ve read so far this year.

Biggest Surprise

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

My review: Wow! A terrific read. I couldn’t put it down. I needed to know what happens to Andy and Alex. History is skillfully woven into a story with contemporary themes. Present-day Andy is suffering badly. Not from your regular teenage angst but with serious issues. The reader feels her pain. A visit to Paris with her distant and estranged father, the discovery of a diary belonging to Alex, a young girl who lived during the French Revolution, and her connection to a mysterious musician from the past will either help her or drive her over the edge. Vivid descriptions of today’s Paris and the Paris of 1795 add to this engaging novel. 

Favorite New Author

Nancy Blodgett Klein

Newest Fictional Crush

Prince Larkin from Lava Red Feather Blue by Molly Ringle

My review: A gem for readers of fantasy. Ms Ringle has created an awesome world where humans and fae live together in somewhat harmony. When the Sleeping Prince is accidentally woken up, all hell breaks loose. (You read that right, it is not a Sleeping Princess). It is Merrick, half-human, half-fairy, who breaks a 250-year-old curse by waking up the handsome prince and now he has to pay for it. And pay for it he does as he enters forbidden and dangerous territory to find and stop Ula Kana before she destroys everything and everyone on his island. What he doesn’t plan on happening is falling for the handsome prince from the past, which complicates things. There is plenty of action, fabulous world-building and amazing characters. But this is more than a fantasy novel, this is a story about family and relationships. And ultimately it is a love story with a Fairytale/Lord of the Rings feel written with a humorous undertone. An enjoyable read even for those who don’t usually read fantasy.

Newest Favorite Character

Brody Cody from Brody Cody and the Haunted Vacation House by Toni Pike. I just love this kid.

My review: I fell in love with Brody Cody and his friends in the first book, Brody Cody and the Stepmother from Outer Space. I was pleased to learn there was a second book in the series. In this book, Brody learns he will be a brother soon and is not sure if this is a good thing. Then on a holiday in the Blue Mountains, Brody and his friends discover there is a ghost in the vacation house. They are determined to catch the ghost. This fun book is perfect for kids 6 to 9 as they will easily relate to the characters. The descriptions are vivid and clear with just the right amount of action and tension. I hope there will be more books in the series. 

Book That Made You Cry

Sword of Destiny by Sue Vincent. It made me cry because this wonderful author is no longer with us.

My review: Yorkshire is the perfect setting for this sublime adventure that includes ordinary mortals, ancient deities and Merlin! If you are a follower of Sue Vincent’s blogs and books, you will recognize her wise words and incredible wit. Merlin, one of my all-time favourite characters, echoes the writer’s wisdom, especially when he explains things like happiness, good and evil, light and dark. At one point the mage says, “We can bare far more than we think we can.” Another character says, “Yet by surrendering to beauty and joy, the darkness could find no hold on me anymore.” Pure Sue Vincent gold. The seriousness of the quest to find the sword of destiny is offset with clever humour. This from the ancient Merin had me laughing out loud, “It gets harder to stay up all night after the first millennium or so.” A readable fantasy with plenty of life lessons, humour, romance and gorgeous Yorkshire descriptions. I will never look at the moors the same way again without thinking of Sue Vincent and her amazing words.

Book That Made You Happy

Life Begins When The Kids Leave Home And The Dog Dies by Barb Taub

My review: I loved this book. A laugh-out-loud collection of stories based on the author’s life. Vacations with her mom, dad and nine siblings, as well as later vacations with her husband, four kids and a dog – what could possibly go wrong? The stories are written with heart, humour and truth. I found myself nodding as I recognized the frustrations of motherhood, smiling when the love of the author’s family shines through and choking on my tea at the hilarious episodes in Barb’s life. If you have read her blogs, you will know that Barb finds humour in most situations. This book does not disappoint but makes you want more of the same. My favourite chapters were about her dad, the WWII hero who fathered ten, a wizard at fixing cars long after their best before date, and saw that all his children got a good education. These are the heroes who have made our world so great. Thanks for the reminder, Barb, and for the giggles. 

Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year

The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd (OK, I didn’t buy this book, it was on my mom’s bookshelf and now on mine. I love the cover and the beautiful words.)

My review: A profound story full of emotion, told by a master storyteller. The author states in the prologue, “They say you can bear anything if you can tell a story about it.” I believe this to be true. The story centres around Jessie, a woman in crisis. When her mother does something horrible, she returns to her island home to look after her and try to discover why she did such a thing. Immediately she is thrust back in time and besieged by memories of a much-loved father who died when she was very young. “The wind is spiked with the smell of my childhood.” Filled with interesting island characters and fascinating descriptions of the area, the story takes the reader along Jessie’s journey to find independence, answers and acceptance.

Books You Need to Read by the End of The Year

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky I have recently joined a readathon where we read a chapter a day of this book. We will finish it on the 200th anniversary of the authors birth. A great way to read a classic that is a bit intimidating.

Of course, I read many other great books. This is just a sample.

Now into the first week of August, I tag you, my dear readers, to look back (and forward) at your 2021 reading up to this point. I’d love to hear your answers in the comments or on your own blog.

77 Responses to "Mid-Year Book Tag 2021"

Great list. I haven’t read any of these except Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov (I was a Russian major). Well worth the effort to survive the translation.

Thanks for the encouragement, Jacqui. I am loving the Brothers K so far.

You have been reading! I enjoyed this collection, because each book had a different purpose for you.

yes, it is an eclectic selection. I do try to mix my reading up a bit.

This is an awesome way to review and share books! I’ve got some great ideas from your list!

Glad to hear you got some ideas. So many books so little time.

Darlene, your posting last year’s array of books read (2020) made me feel disappointed in my smaller (but I thought respectable) number. After all, I love reading BOOKS. So far this year, I’m doing much better than last with one I’ll finish today.

One of the best books I’ve read this year is Breath Taking, by Dr. Michael Stephen, which discusses the power and fragility of our lungs, an organ of the body which the Covid-19 virus attacks. Thanks for sharing this motivational post.

Thanks for sharing your favourite book so far this year. Our lungs are so important. Happy reading!

I enjoyed reading about good range of books you’ve read in the last few months. I really should read Remains of the Day. I remember seeing the movie with a group of friends, and we had to leave the theater with our sunglasses on to hide our red, crying eyes.

If you enjoyed the movie, you will love the book. He is an amazing writer.

What a fun idea! It’s hard to agree or disagree since I’ve only read two books on your list.

Which two books on my list you have read? I would love to know what is the best book you have read this year so far. or if you have been disappointed by a book.

Hi Darlene,
“The Remains of the Day” is a well written book, indeed. We like nearly all books of Ishiguro, we like his style.
We have read “The Brothers Karamazov” but we don’t think that one has to read this book although it contains nearly perfect texts. If you like a psychologically well done design of dramatis personae you will like it.
Wishing you a wonderful weekend
The Fab Four of Cley
🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

I like Mr. Ishiguro´s style as well. Have you read his most recent book, Klara and the Sun. I have heard it is excellent. I am enjoying the Brothers Karamazov and am surprised that there is some humour in it as well as serious thoughts. My brother had read it twice and is reading it again, a different translator each time.

Dear Darlene,
I did review “Klara and the Sun” just lately
The novel is very well done. Easy to read although it has a lot of levels how you can understand it. In a way it touches all the mayor challanges of AI. I really liked reading it.
Concerning “The Brothers Karamazov”: I have to admit I rather like to read post-modern novels that keep me as the reader at a distance, like Bert Brecht’s V-Effekt (the alienation principle). I don’t like it if the author pretends his/her story is real and even worse if he/she tries to make me identify with the characters. Actually, I want a novel to reflect the medium of fiction in the text, to show that it belongs to the realm of texts. Well, “The Brothers Karamazov” are old fashioned but still readable.
Thanks a lot for your comment
Klausbernd 🙂

I saw the film ‘The Remains of the Day’ but I haven’t read the book. I always wanted Anthony Hopkins to proclaim his love for Emma Thompson, but he just wouldn’t do it, lol.

Oh yes, and it is even more frustrating in the book. It was a well-cast movie. I couldn´t help picturing Anthony Hopkins as the main character as I read it.

I think I’ll have to read this book, lol.

What an interesting selection, with several want to catch up with.

Glad you enjoyed it.

I am so glad that you joined the #KaramazovReadalong, Darlene. I’m off to read my chapter. I confess that I probably would only have read the synopsis, if is wasn’t for sharing this reading path with others

I agree with you, I would probably have never read this book either if t wasn’t for the readathon. My brother has read it twice and is now reading it again. He has read a different translation every time and said I picked the best one. (I was glad to hear that) I got a bit behind due to guests. So trying to catch up. Are we on day 11?

August 6 was Day 11 and now we are on Day 12. Just think, we only have 74 more days to go!!! 😂😂😂

It is so hard for me to get my own reading in while reviewing children’s books. Haven’t read anything you listed, but they sound engaging. But, my favorite read this year is The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah.

You are such a dedicated and good children’s book reviewer. I often wonder how you get time to read your list of TBR books. I’ve heard good things about The Four Winds.

Some lovely reviews here, Darlene. I enjoyed Toni’s book too. I have this book of Sue’s on my TBR as well as Barb’s book. Well done on joining Rebecca’s reading challenge.

I loved Sue’s book as Yorkshire is one of my favourite places. And anything Barb writes is hilarious. I am so glad I joined the readathon. The trick is not to get behind!

I can’t believe the amount of reading you have done so far this year!! Thanks for sharing….great review of each book!

I´ve made a point of reading every day, no matter what. My goal when I retired was to read more, so I´m trying to make it happen. Glad you enjoyed the reviews.

I’m constantly amazed by all the books you read AND review! Again, thank you so much for your continued support. So glad you enjoyed THE FAMILY WAY! Still waiting for my local bookstore to call with your book!

Thanks, Laura. I loved the Family Way and all the Camie books. Delivery is so slow these days. Sorry.

Thank you for this list Darlene and the amazing reviews. I am going to add some of these books to my ‘TBR’ list. I’ve noted them down based on your review 🙂

Thanks! I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. I review all the books I read and leave the reviews on Goodreads.

Hi Darlene. I always enjoy your reviews and recommends. And I agree with you on Codie Brodie 🙂 I’m adding some of these to the topple! Hugs xo

Thanks, Debby. I hope there are some there you will enjoy! Sending hugs. xo

You better believe I’ve added a few 🙂 xx

Great list Darlene and useful favourites to broaden the recommendations.. hugsx

Thanks, Sally. I have read some great books this year and have not yet been disappointed.

This will be fun, but challenging! So hard to pick favorites!

I love the sound of the Brody Cody book – always up for a haunted house tale. You’ve read a wonderful variety, Darlene!

Ooh, some fabulous new reading choices here. Thanks, Darlene 🙂

Thank you so much, Darlene, for your lovely mention of Brody Cody – what a great honour. Your reading list is amazing! I hope you have a fabulous week. Toni x

Reblogged this on Toni Pike and commented:
I was thrilled to be mentioned in Darlene Foster’s amazing mid-year book tag. She wrote a lovely review for Brody Cody and the Haunted Vacation House – what a great honour.

#children #reading

Darlene, an excellent book tag and love the various categories of books! It makes you think and appreciate each book on yet another level. Lovely to See Toni’s Brody Cody here and you’ve reminded me that I want to read The Mermaid Chair. Love your eclectic books for 2021 so far and enjoy Dostoyevsky – I’m reading it too and surprised by how much I’m enjoying the book.

Welcome to The brothers club!! I’m loving it.

I keep meaning to share on Twitter! Rebecca’s approach of a chapter a day has made it so accessible!

Well Darlene you may be responsible for a divorce, I promised no more books this month and now you have made me break it. Great reviews and super ideas.

Oh dear! I hate to be the cause of your domestic problems. I hope you ejoy the books you added to your TBR pile.

Haha! The extent of his cross patch was a roll of his eyes and a rather loud tut!😉

That would be the same here. xo

What a list! And I haven’t read many of these, which is unusual, except I also enjoyed The Mermaid Chair (and any book written my Sue Monk Kidd). Now my TBR list is even longer. 🙂

Sue Monk Kidd is amazing. Another thing we have in common. xo

Looks like you’ve had a lot of great reads so far this year. Hope the second half of the year is just as good.

I almost did this, and now you’ve tagged your readers I’m going to have to, because I’m not very good at resisting these tags, especially when I’ve been invited to play along. LOL! Look for mine on my blog soon. 😉

I am so pleased you are joining the challenge! Have fun with it.

Excellent reviews, Darlene. And a wonderful, eclectic group of books. I’ve read Brody Cody and Sword of Destiny. Lava Read Feather Blue appeals to me too. Thanks for the recommendations!

Thanks, Diana. So many good books out there. Lava Read Feather Blue is unique. Have a great weekend.

Congratulations on your podium spot for this past week in Senior Salon. Your post will be shared on Monday, Aug 16th, and published at 2 am PST Vancouver BC time. Thanks for your participation. Please check out the post on the blog on Monday

Thanks so much. I’m delighted.

what a marvelous selection! it’s so hard to find fellow readers – thank goodness for blog land 🙂

I agree blog land is great for meeting like-minded folks.xo

Now that is a list that should give everyone something to add to their reading list. I know I would enjoy reading Life Begins When The Kids Leave Home And The Dog Dies.

Anything Barb Taub writes is laugh out loud hilarious!!

Thank you for all of these great suggestions Darlene. I’ve really been enjoying reading this year so will add these to my never ending list!

I know. So many books, so little time. Here are two more to add, The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes and The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier. Both excellent.

I recently read the Giver of Stars and agree. I’ll add the other to the list.

Cheers for an equally (or exceedingly) wonderful second half of the reading year! 🙂

Thanks for the book tag. It was fun to take part in. Second half is going very well!

A great first half of the year, and I’ve enjoyed your selection, Darlene. I know some of the books and the authors, but I’ll make sure I check the rest. I hope the next 6 months are at least as good!

Thanks, Olga. I’ve already read some good books this half. xo

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