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The Big 2022 Bookish Review

Updated: Jan 8

2022 was a huge reading year for me. I read over 150 books, and I’ve only ever been able to get a smidge past 80 in any year before. The big difference for me this year happens to be that I started listening to audiobooks more often. I found my reading count was drastically decreasing during the first part of the year, especially in February and March, so I experimented with listening to audiobooks and found I could work them quite nicely into my daily routines without interrupting tasks, and I got to mark some books off my TBR list while accomplishing other things at the same time! I still managed to get a bunch of books physically read toward the end of the year, and the rest is personal reading record history.


In past years, I found that I had more difficulty getting through some books because they weren’t interesting to me. I’d just request any old ARC on galley sites because it was popular and not because it was compatible with my bookish vibes. 2022 was the year I started extensively researching (i.e., reading the synopsis first and checking the Goodreads shelves) books before I hit the request button. I also massively reworked my reading habits by reading more indie in the genres I like, which helped my numbers go up simply because the books I was reading interested me; consequently, my reading time went by much faster. A few reads even made me stay up waaaayy past my bedtime, and that hasn’t happened in a loooong time.


So, to wrap up my 2022 reading year, which I thought was a pretty enjoyable one, here is a list of 10 best, worst, and most “something else” from my year’s reads:


Best overall



Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier


This book made me very emotional. I’ve never read Marillier (and I still spell her name wrong and have to fix it every. time.), and at the insistence of a bookish friend, I picked this one up to read. I had not read and was not at all familiar with the German fairytale “Six Swans,” so all of the material in this book was new to me. It was amazing. Marillier writes so well and with so much emotion that I glared and snapped at anyone who interrupted me while reading it. I fully intend on completing the Sevenwaters series in 2023. I highly recommend you pick this one up and get it read. So good.


Best Indie



Call of Elespen by Missy Sheldrake


2022 was the year I finished up the Keepers of the Wellsprings series by Missy Sheldrake. One of my favorite authors, Sheldrake hosted my silly goofy self and a bunch of other fantastic bookish folk in readalongs for the entire series from 2021 to 2022. I dreaded finishing the book because I knew the whole series would be over. Sheldrake has a keen eye for detail and a knack for writing the best characters. I laughed, cried, screamed, cursed, and fell into a pit of despair because of how well these books were written. If you like epic fantasy with a fantastic cast of characters, pick these up.


Best Traditional Pub


The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh


Hands down a fantastic, lyrical book from start to finish. Reading this book was like walking through a fantasy world with a hazy, sparkly, magical veneer over my eyes. I felt like a kid again with all the wonder and magic in the tale. The romance was perfect and the plot was so intricate and well thought out. I had such a book hangover after this one.


Best series I read all the way through in 2022, from start to finish



The Ravenwood Saga by Morgan L. Busse

and

Seven Swords Trilogy by Sarah K.L. Wilson


Since I can’t choose between these two trilogies, I’ll list both of them. Busse and Wilson were new authors for me this year, and I was introduced to both of them through book boxes. These were both YA with clean romance (though the plots were not romance driven), and the plots are by no means anything to sneer at. They’re complex and action-packed, and I found them to be very appropriate for a YA audience. I loved them so much. I blew through Busse’s trilogy in less than a month, and as soon as Wilson’s installments came out, they were read in less than 24 hours each. Ravenwood is an epic fantasy with arranged marriage, found family, and choosing the right thing even when it’s not what you’ve known your whole life. Seven Swords is postapocalyptic with a swoony bodyguard and a fantastic comic relief side character. The series doesn’t end how you think it will.


Best book outside of my usual genre



Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr


This chonker was definitely not on my list of things to read in 2022. It’s not my genre at all, as it’s mainstream traditional pub fiction, but I picked it up anyway, again at the behest of a bookish friend, and wound up being wowed by it. I flew through it with reckless abandon and neglected some other life things while I read it. It was a fantastically crafted, intricate, well-plotted book with such a twist ending that left me surprised like I haven’t been in a long, long bookish time. This one definitely lived up to the hype.


Worst series I read all the way through in 2022, from start to finish



The Scholomance by Naomi Novik

After reading Novik’s Uprooted and Spinning Silver and just being completely enamored with those books, I thought her new trilogy would be just as delightful. I hated it. I finished it, though. The main character is self-righteous, stuck-up, and rude—with no personal growth to speak of. There is no change in her from the beginning to the end. She might be hanging out with more people by the time the trilogy is over, but she doesn’t treat them any better than she did at the start. I will give props for a fantastically complicated plot, though.

Most pleasantly surprising



A Dreadful Splendor by B.R. Meyers


I was a bit butthurt when I requested this as an ARC and got a big fat “no” from the publisher (or whatever entity is behind the yeses and nos of ARC requests). I still picked it up as an audiobook after publication from the library and wound up loving it so much. The gothic haunted house vibes were nearly perfect in this one, though the ending had a touch of the juvenile about it.

Books that hurt me deep



Exodus by Leon Uris

This one is an oldie but a goodie. It chronicles the plight of the Jews after the end of the Holocaust, when they were forced to live in refugee camps until they fought for the right to go where they wanted. I grew so attached to the characters in this book. By the end of it, Uris took my heart and broke it completely. I’m still sore about the ending.



Cities of Smoke and Starlight by Ali Earnest


I have messaged the author several times about what she did to me with this book. She laughs every time and rubs her hands together maniacally waiting for the next one to probably do me the same. Will I pick it up later, read it again, and relive the pain? Absolutely. I’m also a glutton for bookish punishment.


Most disappointing



The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas


I was not expecting how disappointing this book was. I think it’s because I loved the 2000 movie with Jim Caviezel and Guy Pierce so much, and while my rational mind knows that the movies are never like the books, I was not prepared for the amount of content and characters that were completely cut out, including the core character traits of Edmond Dantes. In the book, he’s not nearly as compelling as in the movie, and his ultimate redemption left a bit wanting for me. I know it was a serial novel, but that doesn’t keep my brain from complaining about all the extra stuff that bogged the plot down and got incredibly distracting. It was still a great book, I just think I had expectations that were different from reality.


Absolute worst (in my opinion)




Kingdom of the Wicked/Cursed by Kerri Maniscalco


I am not a big fan of books marketed to children with graphic sex in them. The age range for these needs to be at least NA, in my opinion. That opinion aside, the main reason I did not like these books is because they bored me half to death and frustrated me to no end. From the first book with terrible pacing and a horrid main character who never listens to wise counsel, consequently constantly putting others in danger, to the second book just being one long daydream and wandering back and forth in a castle in hell, I just couldn’t with these. I may or may not read the last one. Probably not, though.



The Never King/The Dark One by Nikki St. Crowe


I saw these dark “romances” floating around bookstagram and thought I would give them a try. I did not like them at all. The kidnapping scenario of the main character was not at all romantic to me. I was shocked how popular these are once I read them, especially with the human trafficking problem in the world today. I don’t believe I’ll be finishing this series.


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