2022 Books in Review!

As of writing this post, I have read 518 books this year. These are my top 20 favorite books and my top 5 worst books that I read this year. These are in no particular order. Since there are so many books in this post, I will try to be brief with my reviews. With all that out of the way, onto the books!

THE BEST

First up we have The Golden Enclaves by Naomi Novik. I loved the conclusion to this trilogy. Normally, when I read books that I get from the library, I don’t purchase them for my personal collection. But I will 100% purchase this trilogy to add to my collection. I also don’t normally reread books but I finished the last book and immediately wanted to go back and reread the whole thing. I loved all the characters, the world building, the breakneck speed of the plot – all of it. I wish that I could read more about this world and all the characters in it.

Next, we have Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. This was a book that was recommended by one of my coworkers that I thought I would hate but boy was I wrong! This was one of my favorite books that I read in 2022. We follow two friends, Sadie and Sam, who meet as children and later in life become collogues that make games together. Sounds like a simple premise but I assure you, this book has so much more beneath it’s surface. Watching Sadie and Sam grow up, grow apart, and come back together was so sweet and yet complicated, because, well, people are complicated. This book is very character driven but even if you are not a fan of books set up that way I would still highly recommend that you check this one out.

Next is Hungry Ghost by Victoria Ying. So don’t hate me for this one but this graphic novel isn’t out until April of this year. But I think that it’s worth the wait. In this we follow studious Val as she deals with her disordered eating. Her mother praises her for being thin and getting good grades but little does her mom know that Val is bulimic and constantly worries about her weight. In this we see Val struggle with her weight, her relationship with her mom and food, as well as friendships. This book has some hard sections to read but I think struggling through them is worth it in the end. The book is gorgeously drawn and colored and I loved looking at it as I read through. I would recommend reading this one but be aware of the content before you dive into it.

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy was one of the saddest and best books that I read last year (obviously, it’s on my favorites list.). I cannot fathom having a mother daughter relationship like the one described by McCurdy. It made me so sad for her and so appreciative of my own mom.

What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher was such a creepy book and I mean that as a compliment. This is a retelling of The Fall of The House of Usher which is a short story by one of my favorite authors, Edgar Allen Poe. So it wasn’t really a surprise to me that I liked it. But having never read The Fall of the House of Usher I had no idea what the plot was going to be going into this. I was very pleasantly and spookily surprised by how much I loved this book. And this is a short one so if you’re looking for a goo, short spooky read I highly recommend checking this one out!

A Good Girls Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson was one of the books that I got for my birthday in July and I read it almost immediately. In it we follow Pippa Fitz-Amobi as she does a school project on the murder of high schooler Andie Bell by her then boyfriend Sal Singh. Everyone in their small town knows that he killed her. But Pippa isn’t convinced. So she starts to reinvestigate Andie’s murder. In the process of doing that, she uncovers a whole lot more than what she bargained for. This book was great! It had so many twists and turns that it really kept me interested the whole time I was reading it. My goal is to read the second book this year and see if it holds up to the first one.

This is the first manga series that I finished last year (but there are others!). Perfect World by Rie Aruga is a super sweet romance manga that centers on two people, Tsugumi and her old high school crush Itsuki. They reunite at a company party many years after they’re graduated high school. Ituki is now wheelchair bound after an accident and Tsugumi has to take a deep look inward to decide if she still has feelings for Itsuki. This series is amazing. It’s sweet but it deals with some heavy topics along the way such as familial and societal pressures, medical trauma, and disability prejudices. I really liked how it was very frank and open about certain things. Also watching Tsugumi and Itsuki grow and learn together was really sweet and adorable. I just love this series and I think that everyone should check it out.

A Bride’s Story by Kaoru Mori was another manga series that I finished last year. A Bride’s Story starts off with Amir, a young girl that has been betrothed to a 12 year old boy, who is 8 years younger than her, Karluk. There are so. many. more. characters. And they are all amazing and wonderful and everything is beautifully drawn. Seriously, the artwork in these books is absolutely insane! You could seriously take any page out of any of these volumes and frame it. The artwork is so good that I would happily frame it on my wall but I wouldn’t want to cut up any of the books. Kaoru Mori is amazing and I loved every minute of reading this series.

You’re My Pet/Tramps Like Us by Yayoi Ogawa is yet another manga series that I finished last year. This is a pretty old manga series but I just started reading it at the recommendation from one of my BFFs. In this we follow Sumire who has a pretty good life until she finds out that her boyfriend is cheating on her (AND GOT SOMEONE PREGNANT) and she gets demoted at work. Her life continues to spiral until she meets Momo, a homeless guy who worms his way into her life and heart. This series was really cute BUT you can tell that it’s an older series. Some of the artwork wasn’t my favorite but I loved the story so much that I put up with it so that I could find out what happened in the end. If you like slice of life or romance manga then check this one out!

Sweetness and Lightning by Gido Amagakure is the last (I think) manga series that I finished last year. This is one series that I’ve been reading for a few years and I have loved every minute of the story. We follow Kouhei Inuzuka who is a math teacher who has recently lost his wife. He is now a single father to his precocious daughter, Tsumugi, and really doesn’t know how to cook very well. But his one of his students, Kotori Iida, happens to own a small restaurant with her mom. She offers to teach him how to cook for Tsumugi so that he can improve and provide better meals for his daughter. Thus the series of cooking lessons begins! Throughout the series we get to see not only Tsumugi grow up but Kotori as well. I loved seeing the cute relationships between all the characters (AND THERE IS NO CREEPY STUDENT TEACHER RELATIONSHIP THANK GOD). I loved this series so much and I would highly recommend checking it out if you are looking for some wholesome slice of life content.

Next up is Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata. This was a WILD ride. I loved this book and it’s a short one so you could easily read this in one sitting. Our main character is Keiko Furukura. She is a 36-year old woman who works at a convenience store called Smile Mart. Keiko doesn’t fit in very well but working at Smile Mart is easy for her. The manual pretty much lays out all of the interactions with the customers and how she is supposed to respond to them. This makes things easy for her. But she still gets pressure from friends and family to quit her job, settle down, get married, and have kids. But she loves her job! It makes sense! I don’t want to spoil anything so you’ll have to read this one for yourself to see what happens. But if you want to read something on the strange side of slice of life, then check this out!

For this one I’m going to let Goodreads explain the synopsis because there is a lot going on in this one: Lock In by John Scalzi starts off with a new, highly contagious virus that makes its way across the globe. Most who get sick experience nothing worse than flu, fever and headaches. But for the unlucky one percent – and nearly five million souls in the United States alone – the disease causes “Lock In”: Victims fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus. The disease affects young, old, rich, poor, people of every color and creed. The world changes to meet the challenge.

A quarter of a century later, in a world shaped by what’s now known as “Haden’s syndrome,” rookie FBI agent Chris Shane is paired with veteran agent Leslie Vann. The two of them are assigned what appears to be a Haden-related murder at the Watergate Hotel, with a suspect who is an “integrator” – someone who can let the locked in borrow their bodies for a time. If the Integrator was carrying a Haden client, then naming the suspect for the murder becomes that much more complicated.

But “complicated” doesn’t begin to describe it. As Shane and Vann began to unravel the threads of the murder, it becomes clear that the real mystery – and the real crime – is bigger than anyone could have imagined. The world of the locked in is changing, and with the change comes opportunities that the ambitious will seize at any cost. The investigation that began as a murder case takes Shane and Vann from the halls of corporate power to the virtual spaces of the locked in, and to the very heart of an emerging, surprising new human culture. It’s nothing you could have expected.

This was so good! I found out this this type of sci-fi is called Speculative Science Fiction – which is apparently the kind of sci-fi that I like. I always just called it sci-fi light. But I really enjoyed this and I’m working on reading the second one! Hopefully, it’s as good as the first one. I’ll let you guys know!

Under the Skin by Michel Faber is not what you think it is when you read the description of the book. I honestly don’t want to say much about this because I DO NOT want to give away any of the plot of this book. I will give you the very bare bones of a description. This is about a woman who picks up male hitchhikers. That’s all I’m telling you. Go check it out if you want to know what’s going on in this book!

Dearly is a book of poetry by Margaret Atwood. I’m not usually a poetry fan but I was flipping through this at work and a few of the poems caught my eye. Of course there are the normal subjects of poetry such as love, loss, life, blah blah blah. But she also writes about zombies! And climate charge, the environment, birds, so many interesting topics that really grabbed me and held on. I loved reading this and reading Atwood’s wit and humor. I think that’s really what drew me into and kept my attention in this collection of poetry. If you’re a fan of poetry, or not like me, I would highly recommend checking this collection out.

The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells was one of my favorite series that I read last year. I ended up listening to this series on my drives to and from work. Most of the books in this series are pretty short so I was able to listen to them pretty fast. I LOVE the voice actors for the audiobook series. Especially the voice actor for Murderbot, Kevin R. Free. He is one of the best narrators that I’ve come across. Looking at his catalog, I really want to listen to more books narrated by him. But anyway, back to the series. We start off getting to know our lovely Murderbot (which is a name that he gives himself). He is a security android (called SecUnits) that accompanies people on planetary missions to keep them safe. While on a routine planetary mission with some scientists, Murderbot does some heroic things and saves some of the humans. That’s all I’m giving you plot-wise because I want you to experience this wonderful series for yourself. But I love all of these characters and I can’t wait for the next book in the series to come out. It’s supposed to come out this year!!

Stray Dogs by Tony Fleecs is a graphic novel

Listen, I know a lot of people hate on this book series. But I love it. Ice Planet Barbarians by Ruby Dixon is seriously one of those book series that starts off slow and with each book it just gets better and better. I have read NINETEEN of the books in this series. It also mixes in with another of Ruby Dixon’s series called Ice Home (of which I have read eleven). This series involves a bunch of women who get kidnapped from Earth by aliens and crash land on an ice planet and have to try and survive. That’s it, that’s the premise for this series. These ladies of course meet up with some other aliens that inhabit this planet and chaos eventually ensues. There’s a lot that happens in these books so if you want to know what’s going on you’ll have to read them to find out. I also really liked this because my coworkers and I were all reading it at the same time so it was fun to come into work and talk about the books.

Chainsaw Man by Tatsuki Fujimoto is one of most bonkers manga that I have read in recent history. We follow Denji who is a super poor, and his dog Pochita. Denji will do anything to make some money so that he and Pochita can eat. Something happens and Denji suddenly has the power of a devil and gets recruited to hunt devils. Along with a ragtag team of handlers and other devil-people like Denji, they travel all over fighting horrible, gross, evil devils that are trying to eat and kill normal people. There’s a lot more going on in this series but that pretty much covers volume one. If you like supernatural manga and aren’t squeamish, give this one a try!

The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi was my favorite sci-fi book that I read last year. Our main character Jamie loses his job during the beginning of the Covid pandemic and becomes a food delivery driver. While making deliveries one day, he runs into an old friend named Tom. Tom offers him a job as pretty much a gopher, for an animal rights organization, but he has to leave fast. Which is fine with Jamie because he doesn’t really have anything else going on at the moment. One thing that Tom neglects to tell Jamie is that the large animals that this animal rights group cares for are not of Earth. They travel to an alternate dimension where they care for KAIJU!! Now if anyone knows anything about me, I love dinosaurs, Godzilla, and anything kaiju. So this was an absolute hit with me. I didn’t want this to end, I want more from this world!! I loved every minute of reading this book and I will gladly read it over and over.

THE WORST

GOOD GOD WHY. I HATED THIS SO MUCH. IT WAS JUST GORY TO BE GROSS.

Autism is not a plot device!!

You don’t need to sexually assault someone to punish them. This plot device was gross and I hated it so much.

God this was so boring.

This was somehow more boring than the Einstein book.

That’s it for 2022! I hope you all had a good year and I also hope that your 2023 is great too.

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