12 Months of Five Star Reviews!
Happy New Year! I started a new tradition last year, where I spend time over the holidays reviewing the stories I had the honour of enjoying in the previous year. I do this for two reasons. One, I sometimes forget to share about the amazing journeys words have taken me on, and two, the least I can do for these stunning authors is give a tiny bit of my time to boost their own writing journeys. So here are twelve of the best books I read this past year.
Caveats: I do not write lengthy reviews, but they are all glowing and highly recommended. Also, I have read more than 50 books this past year, so these really are la creme de la creme, or however, the saying goes!
In no particular order:
A Town Called Solace, by Mary Lawson: This book is everything I hope to aspire to as an author! Stunning prose, emotionally deep and resonant characters, lesser-known settings, and such a satisfying but equally haunting ending. Mary Lawson has become one of my favourite authors. I am so excited to discover her backlist with stunners like Crow Lake!
Every Summer After, by Carley Fortune: I had the joy of interviewing Carley as part of the romance panel at the Eden Mills Writer's Festival. She was such a sweet and genuine person. By the second chapter of this dualish-timeline novel, I was immediately transported back to my own lazy summers in cottage country. Mind you, my summers were nowhere near as romantic or tense as Sam and Percy's ... but maybe that's a good thing? *tear*
This is How we Love, by Lisa Moore: Such an affective and perfectly woven narrative. I love how Moore can describe the perfect moments in a character's life to pull a reader in and take seemingly inconsequential moments and make them permanent memories for not only her characters but her audience. We read this at our book club and the discussion was so rich!
Meet Me in the Margins, by Melissa Ferguson: Ack! Ferguson's voice jumps off the page in this one. Despite having a clear idea of the trajectory of the story (i.e., the expected HEA), there were some delightful plot twists and so many memorable moments to keep the pages turning. Having awareness of the backstory and inspiration of this novel, through our interview with Melissa, made it all the more fun to read! Can't wait for the next one!
Together, by Vivek H. Murthy: I came across this book through Copper, an author-oriented social media platform started by Allison Trowbridge and fellow GoodLit alumni. Vivek H. Murthy is a gifted writer who blends both personal stories and factual knowledge together into a necessary and insightful read. So poignant in this post-pandemic and tech-laden world we live in.
The Theory of Crows, by David A. Robertson: I dare you to read the opening chapter and not fall in love with Roberston's storytelling genius! The dual POVs were beautifully balanced. The letters made me weep. The teenage angst made me stressed about the future, but the journey...so hopeful! Such a powerful adult debut! Can't wait for more!
Lucky, by Marissa Stapley: SO much FUN! I had come off reading some heavier literary novels, so this was such a breath of fresh air! Although there are still damaging backstories and serious issues at hand, the pacing and plotting of this novel were easy and fluid and kept me turning pages way past my bedtime! Great dual timeline, where I found myself equally interested in the past and the present.
Cloud Cuckoo Land, by Anthony Doerr: By far my favourite novel of the year! This sweeping woven story, within a story, took some time to fully embrace and understand, but with each new chapter, the connections with Doerr's characters became deep and powerful. The themes are vital and necessary. The prose is vivid and musical. I'm still thinking about it months later.
The School for Good Mothers, by Jessamine Chan: This was such a jolting reality check for someone who is a mother and has experienced the toxicity of comparison and perfection. I loved the premise and only slightly dystopian take on reality. The characters were strong and who knew I could feel so much for AI!? I always want a more hopeful ending, but I respect what Chan was offering and it definitely stayed with me!
Dandelions by Jamie Chai Liew: A stunning and heartfelt debut. There were so many aspects of Lily that I related to and even now I still remember and continue to grow as a human through reading her story. A beautiful window into the immigrant experience, motherhood, and all our strengths and faults.
The Maid, by Nita Prose: This was such a fun and uplifting mystery that went so much deeper than the crime and suspects, but to the observer who is often never noticed within her daily life. I loved Molly so much and found a lot of Eleanor Oliphant in her character, which was one of my favourite reads from last year. Highly recommend.
Us Against You, by Fredrik Backman: As the second installment to Beartown, I felt like I was returning to a favourite place and people. I loved Benji and Kiera from book one, so to have them back in prominent roles made my heart soar. Backman managed to find even more poetic and wise takes on life in this novel, and now I can't wait to read The Winners! (2023 TBR list already started!)
What were some of your favourite reads from 2022? I missed a few chart-toppers, like Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, and Remarkably Bright Creatures. I also have Klara and the Sun on my nightstand, but I'll need more suggestions, so please do share!
Public Service Announcement: Authors spend years writing these stories (and in the case of Anthony Doerr, a decade). So, please take some time this January to share some love for your favourite authors, and yet-to-be-discovered authors, because they need your encouragement. Thank you to everyone who has left reviews for my debut novel, Fade to White. It really does mean the world.