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The BEST and WORST Books I Read in 2022

*I have excluded my favorite fantasy books of 2022 from this list because they will be appearing in next week’s blog.


MY BEST BOOKS OF 2022


1. Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby (Adult Thriller)

WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

After their two sons (who were married) are murdered Buddy Lee and Ike, who never accepted their sons’ sexualities when they were alive, team up to avenge them.

WHY IT’S THE BEST:

I tend to be drawn to morally grey characters and both Buddy Lee and Ike fit that description perfectly. The guilt and grief the two experience feels palpable and cutting. The way their alliance morphs into a genuine friendship captured me. These two also grew so much as characters throughout the story, overcoming their prejudices. This novel has break neck pacing and leaves you dizzy but the raw emotion is never lost. This is a very heavy novel with a lot of trigger warnings (including racism, homophobia and transphobia, misogyny, and violence) but none of it is out of place. Still, I do caution you to think carefully before picking up this book. As amazing as it is I don’t think it’s for everyone.


2. Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Adult Historical Fiction)

WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

Retired tennis champion Carrie Soto returns to the game to defend her title from up and coming star Nicki Chan.

WHY IT’S THE BEST:

I have always given Jenkins Reid’s historical fiction novels 5 stars. I wondered if this one would be the expectation as I am not a sports person and so the subject matter didn’t interest me one bit. This is a character driver story, though, and so I still found myself being invested. Carrie is an abrasive protagonist as she’s cocky, cold, and often cruel. Jenkins Reid is such a talented writer, however, that she managed to make me root for her still. This is due both to her amazing character arc but also getting to read about her backstory which helps the reader to better understand her. A character doesn’t have to be nice to be well written, after all. The other characters shine as well. I in particular want to shout out love interest Bowe who makes Carrie a better person and rival Nicki who is the only one capable of standing her ground against Carrie.


3. We Deserve Monuments (YA Contemporary)

WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

Avery Anderson’s family moves to Bardell, Georgia to care for her ailing grandmother. While there she falls for local Simone but things are complicated by the fact that Simone isn’t out.

WHY IT’S THE BEST:

This novel covers a wide variety of topics from racism to generational trauma to grief and sexuality. It manages to juggle all of these well with all the time and care they deserve. There is pain and darkness in this novel but there is also healing and hope. Avery is a character that I imagine many young readers will find relatable as she struggles to redefine herself after a bad breakup and a move to a new town. Her relationship with her grandmother, Mama Letty, is the beating heart of this story. I no longer read much YA contemporary, but I will be picking up whatever this author writes next (this is her debut).


4. The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun (Adult Romance)

WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

A disgraced tech genius (Charlie) becomes the star of a reality TV dating show in order to revamp his image. He ends up falling in love with crew member Dev.

WHY IT’S THE BEST:

Accurate mental health representation is so important and to get to see two well rounded characters who had the same conditions as me (anxiety disorder and depression) meant the world to someone like me. I was so emotional reading this book because for so long I believed I couldn’t have love in my life because I would be a burden to a partner. This book speared through those insecurities. Charlie and Dev’s love story is so beautiful because it is filled with passionate moments, dramatic ones, and ones where they are supporting each other through their struggles. This is a book for all those who never get to see themselves in romance books because the truth is we deserve these stories too.


5. The Resting Place by Camilla Sten (Adult Thriller)

WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

Eleanor has prosopagnosia (face blindness) which renders her incapable of identifying her grandmother’s murderer despite seeing them. She and her boyfriend travel to her grandmother’s estate which her grandmother left her, but they may not be alone there.

WHY IT’S THE BEST:

When it comes to mysteries and thrillers the number one thing that can draw me in is a spooky setting. In particular, I look for houses/manors that have that haunted feeling to them. It’s great if you like to be unsettled and on edge but not outright scared. This book also features the common but for a good reason trope of isolation (there’s a snowstorm trapping them at the estate). Something I only recently discovered this year is how I also like unreliable narrators. Eleanor has PTSD and this leads to a sense of disquiet and unreality in her POV. The icing on the cake was the ending which had my jaw dropping. I definitely didn’t see it coming!


MY WORST BOOKS OF 2022


1.The Overnight Guest by Heather Gudenkauf (Adult Thriller)

WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

While writing in an isolated farmhouse during a storm, Wylie Lark discovers a child whose been in an accident. She brings the child inside but it soon becomes clear someone is after them.

WHY IT’S THE WORST:

This novel is genuinely the most disturbing book I’ve ever read. I should have DNF’d it because it left me feeling sad and disgusted upon finishing it. The past timeline follows a traumatized child who discovers the bodies of her family members and that is NOT what I signed up for. Even if you could look passed all of that then there still isn’t anything worth reading here. The plot and character identities were predictable and Wylie’s decisions made no logical sense for her character.


2. Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins (Adult Thriller)

WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

Lux and her boyfriend are hired to take two girls on vacation to a deserted island. When they arrive they find another couple already there. Things devolve when a body is found. Is there a murderer on the island with them or is one of them the killer?

WHY IT’S THE WORST:

The premise sounds so good, right? An isolated setting with a haunting history, strangers, dead bodies. The problem lies with the fact that there is very little of anything that could remotely be considered actual plot to be found in this book. About 90% of the book is shallow characters drinking, relaxing, and partying on a beach. There was none of the tension and mystery and unsettling scenes that I was anticipating. I was bored reading the book and that isn’t how one should feel reading a thriller.

2. They Never Learn by Layne Fargo (Adult Thriller)

WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

Dr. Scarlett Clark kills a man who sexually assaults/abuses women on her college campus every year. Student Carly becomes obsessed with revenge after her roommate is sexually assaulted at a party.

WHY IT’S THE WORST:

In my experience the thriller genre is in the dark ages when it comes to mental health representation. Oftentimes they perpetuate that idea that those with mental illness are all dangerous. Scarlet, a killer, is portrayed as growing up an awkward outsider with society anxiety. This is so harmful to the mental health community and sickens me. This novel also tries to paint feminism in a very twisted light that is far from favorable. Additionally, there are unnecessary scenes of women being assaulted and abused. I understand what Fargo’s intentions were, but she missed the mark big time.


3. Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots (Adult Sci-fi)

WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

Anna is a hench, which means she works for supervillains. When she is fired from her job after a work-related injury she soon finds employment with the most dangerous villain there is.

WHY IT’S THE WORST:

The concept of this book had so much promise and I liked how Anna took her pain and turned it into her power. Yet somehow Anna was the most boring main character ever. She’s bland personality wise and is sidelined during the climax of the novel. The pacing is too meandering and the world building is lacking. Finally, the novel’s conclusion was too open ended for a book that is supposed to be a standalone.


5. Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones (YA Fantasy)

WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

After her time in the underground falling in love with the Goblin King in Wintersong, Liesel has returned to the surface in this sequel. The underground might not be ready to let her go, though, as the barrier between above and below ground is breaking down.

WHY IT’S THE WORST:

Liesel was the least compelling character in this story. In the first book, she is not always likeable but still had her redeeming qualities. Her bad qualities much outweigh her good ones in this book, though. The romance was a main part of the plot of the first book but that’s nonexistent here. The Goblin King as a character doesn’t really have much of a role at all in this sequel. The overall plot is also just quite boring despite having such promising material to work with. For as much as I liked the first book this wasn’t a good sequel and series conclusion.

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