Top 10 Reads of 2022
A lofty goal of 75 books in one year was hijacked by finishing my own novel, which will release sometime in the spring of 2023, BUT! that does not mean I didn't read some stand-out fiction this year. In descending order, are my Top 10 Books of 2022:
You will guess, as the reader, what is really going on for the young protagonist in this story, but what compels the narrative is how she figures out what is really happening to her. In a year when the notion of brainwashing, conformity, and Stockholm Syndrome were all too real, this novel made for an excellent, if unnerving, reading experience.
Want just a good, old-fashioned suspense novel? Pick this one up. The entire cast is shady, and everyone's got a good reason...but there is only one villain, at the end of the day--and you likely won't guess correctly. A fun bit o' whodunit.
This one I loved for the concept--what if you were on a let's-fix-our-marriage retreat and the famous power-couple renowned for patching up messy marriages was a bigger train wreck than you and your honey? What then? And what if one of them ended up dead? Cool setting, cooler idea.
Kickin' it old-school (or maybe VINTAGE school!) with an Agatha Christie classic. The Mistress of Mystery did not disappoint. I listened to this on Audible, and it was delightful.
A betrothed friendship that spans years and stations of class. I learned so much from this heartbreaking story -- not the least of which was the barbarism of foot-binding (I had no idea females could die from this atrocity), and the agony of forced marriages. Beautifully written and so extraordinarily charactered, you will swear, once you close the last page, that you have read a real biography. You have not - but it is the mark of breathtaking talent when a writer creates characters as vivid and real as these are. Don't miss this historical masterpiece.
Another historical masterpiece written in the vein of every Russian tragedy. The action here will leave you winded. You will bite your nails to the bone, wondering how our hero will get out of each mess he finds himself in. You'll root hard for his character arc--from ardent Communist disciple to bad-ass rebel....and you will melt for the love story Leo experiences too. There is a brief prologue that features a squeamish scene about an animal...please don't let that deter you from the rest of this brilliantly crafted and tragically told story. Sensational fiction.
What a COMMENTARY on how social media has cultivated societal narcissism. If you have ever followed a YouTuber or an Instagrammer, and marvel at their fantastical life, this novel is one you cannot miss and won't put down. If you end up liking any of the characters here, let me know. This book is a gut-punch to every content creator and influencer for it outs, savagely, the lengths they go to in curating the 'perfect' image...which is all so much smoke, mirrors, and complete fakery. Fantastic mystery, page-turning suspense.
I sobbed my head off - you'll know the scene when you get there. This character-driven masterpiece is a poetically delivered coming-of-age STAR of a novel. Everything about it was pitch-perfect - from the quirky characters, to the era, to the tragedy that crushes them all. I listened to this one on audiobook and recommend you do too; the voice-acting does the story complete, poignant justice.
The last line makes this entire novel ROCK. I could not stop listening to this one on Audible. I walked around in a fugue for hours, headphones in my ears, hanging on every experience of the protagonist I rooted hardest for out of all the books I read this year. This novel - it's concept, its execution - is stand-out sensational. If suspense is your thing, and moral ambiguity makes you think, this novel is definitely for you.
Are some people just born bad?
Matt Wesolowski, I am not worthy.
This concept - a novel told in the form of a podcast - is no longer new; several writers have now jumped on this train and are executing this format. But Wesolowski is the architect and master of this sub-genre, and this book - the first in his series of "Podcast Novels" hits it so far out of the park, it circles the globe, lands back in the pitcher's hand, and the batter cracks it going-going-GONE again.
Just fantastic. I now have every one of his novels queued up on Audible - and am listening to one now as 2023 waltzes in the door: Beast. Let's see if it makes the Top 10 for next year, and....HAPPY READING!