Best & Most Disappointing Books of 2022

Better late than never, right? Every year I compile a best and most disappointing books list for the previous year. I go through all of my stats and just give a quick…debrief as you will. And while I think the time might be close to passing to do this, life has just gotten away from me a bit. And to be honest, this is going to be a bit of a book heavy month on the blog…it’s what I’ve got going on over here right now haha. 

Also- I realize that I never wrapped up the books I read in December…I read 6 books and I honestly just don’t have it in me to go backwards and review them at this point. The standout reads were The Savior’s Book Café Story in Another World by Kyouka Izumi (manga), The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton ((Historical Mystery) and that’s really it. 

So, in 2022 I read a total of 31,032 pages across 85 books. I gave an average rating of 3.8 stars. My longest book of the year came in at 805 pages! I feel like I had several standouts for both good and…not good reasons. I will say- most of the books were average to good – even some great ones in there and this year it was actually hard to narrow down to the best books I read.  Let’s get into those…

Best Books of 2022

People Love Dead Jews by Dara Horn – Be prepared to hear a lot about this one this month (as I’m doing a nonfiction edition of Jewish Literature), but I’ll scream this to the rooftops- read this book. Seriously. This single handedly changed the way I looked at several things, and a lot of it was relating to how I look at what we consume and Jew Hatred. Read it. Read it. Read it.

Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes – Let me tell you, this science fiction novel took me by surprise. I enjoyed the suspense, the slow build up to the explosive ending, even if the ending felt a bit like an empty balloon (and I mean the end end, not the explosive ending). The atmosphere and that foreboding feeling was enough to make this a standout success for me. 

Neon Gods by Katee Robert – Boy did this book set me off on a course that I didn’t expect. Hades/Persephone retelling with a whole lot of smut thrown in…I guess I’m there. Now I will say, I do think that A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair is BETTER, but this one gets the props because it really set me off on the road. 

My Fine Fellow by Jennieke Cohen – You’ll hear me talk about this one again next month I believe as it features in a Jewish Literature post, but I loved this young adult novel. It talks about so many different, but very real and very similar social issues that we deal with in a historical baking setting. A gender swapped retelling of Pygmalion (by Shaw) it’s a good time that had me shouting YES throughout. 

It wouldn’t be a best of list if there weren’t some Honorable Mentions…

You Truly Assumed by Laila Sabreen – I found this book, similar to My Fine Fellow, really tackled those social issues at a YA level incredibly well. As a reader you are really able to see the modern world, where internet and reality collide and how that impacts everyone, as well as different levels of hatred. 

Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare – This was a surprise for me as I put down Cassandra Clare a long time ago and had zero interest of picking it back up. I read this on a whim and fell right back down the rabbit hole of her worlds. Looking forward to continuing on with all the series (minus the very first). 

A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair – I mentioned this earlier, but I find this Hades/Persephone retelling to be just top notch. The entire series is a great coming of age story with a fantasy romance that just makes for fun reading. 

Foul Lady Fortune by Chloe Gong – Another smash hit by Chloe Gong! I’m looking forward to just about anything she writes. 

Disappointing Books of 2022

Only two this year as, like I said, I feel like most of my stuff was average and above, so really only two notables stand out as disappointing.

The Hunting Wives by May Cobb – This was just…not great. It was supposed to be one of those fun mystery/thrillers with like bored housewives who start something, and it gets out of hand. And it is, but it’s horrible. The main character does not have any redeeming qualities, none of the side characters are developed in a way that maybe you could root or find enjoyment in them, and the story is…predictable and nothing great. 

Trouble on the Books by Essie Lang – This one wasn’t much better than the other. I was hoping for a good cozy mystery set in/around a bookstore, small town community (a la Ellery Adams) and it was just…not. The story was flimsy, the main character who was supposed to be a “detective” in the amateur sense, was horrible and she just went off the deep end so many times. The story was a bit too convenient in too many ways and it just wasn’t enjoyable. 

So, there you have it! My Best and Most Disappointing for 2022. What tops your list for the past year??? 

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – April 2022

It is once again time for another reading wrap up! Where is the year going? It feels odd to say that we’ve reached the end of April, it feels like it’s flown by but also gone so slowly. April was…a month for us. We were basically out of the game for two weeks- between catching the Flu, family visiting, and then traveling it definitely hampered some of my reading. I feel like the month started off…average but got a bit better reading wise by the end. I read a total of 7 books and gave an average rating of 3.25. 

The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper 3.5 Stars In The Wolf Den we are following a group of girls as they navigate a hard life of slave prostitution in Pompeii. Highs and lows and fighting for their own freedom, it’s a mix of a story. I have to say- I did enjoy this book partly because it’s very “day in the life” of an era we don’t get to see much from, and partly because we don’t like any single character. These girls live a hard life and make seemingly impossible choices just to move forward. 

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley 3 Stars In this third novel by Lucy Foley we are following a young girl who is trying to escape her own life and by doing so, stumbles into a mystery her brother has been investigating. I’ve got to say, while Lucy Foley can write a very well done “locked room” mystery/thriller…it’s become almost formulaic in a sense. I wasn’t too impressed with this one, much preferring her other two. I don’t know if I’ll continue on with her books or not. 

Neon Gods by Katee Robert 3 Stars I finally jumped on this craze (from last year, I think? Not sure) and while it didn’t disappoint, it also didn’t overwhelm. A Greek G-d retelling, this modern take on mythology delivers it all, including quite a bit of smut. However, it also didn’t provide or add anything new, just an easy going easy to read smutty novel. Which isn’t a bad thing every once in a while. 

Eternal Life by Dara Horn 3 Stars After reading and loving (and highly recommending) People Love Dead Jews by Dara Horn, I decided to go back and read some of her backlist novels. Eternal Life follows a young woman who makes an obvious, but impossible choice and, because of it, will never die. Full of heart, life, and death, this book is short but powerful. Some truly incredible thoughtful moments that I really enjoyed. 

Wahala by Nikki May 3 Stars Wahala follows a group of friends at various stages of life as they come together, fall apart, and what happens when a newcomer who may not have the best intentions joins the group. Another easy-to-read thriller of sorts that I enjoyed but wasn’t overwhelmed by. 

The City of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon 4 Stars Imagine my extreme joy when I found out that my all-time favorite author had a new book posthumously published. No words. This is a collection of short stories that are much darker and more sinister than anything I’ve read of his previously. All the stories run along the same current as his famous Shadow of the Wind quartet, taking place in Barcelona and are written in that beautifully descriptive way. 

Nazis Knew My Name by Magda Hellinger and Maya Lee No Rating This was my final read of April and what a way to end the month. Magda arrived on the second transport to Auschwitz and survived not only being a prisoner in the camp, but also serving as a functionary- a leader of sorts, a go between with the prisoners and the SS. She saw it all, the move from Auschwitz I to Auschwitz II- Birkenau, the creation of the crematoria, the medical experiments, the death marches, and through it all she somehow kept her spirit, kept moving forward, and used her spirit, position and network to save countless lives. It was truly incredible to read.

And that wraps up April in reading! I already feel like May is off to a better start, after doing a little library run, and evaluating what I want to read right now. How was your reading month? Any new favorites?

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – January 2022

Ah the first month of 2022! I’ve always loved the first reading month of the year. The fresh start, everything looks bright, and I always seem to have good luck with books at the beginning of the year. This month was…no different. I had almost all wins, aka I didn’t give less than 3 stars to any book I read, and I overall enjoyed everything that I read. I read a total of 6 books and gave an average rating of 3.6. 

So, let’s talk about those books…

Jade City by Fonda Lee 4 Stars – I LOVED this book. Thinking back, I don’t know why I gave it 4 stars instead of 5, but I usually go with my first gut rating on most books. This is an Asian inspired Urban fantasy that has the perfect mix of politics, fighting, and a hinting of romance here and there. It really checks so many boxes and I can’t wait to continue with the series. 

People Love Dead Jews by Dara Horn NR – This was another great read, though a difficult one at times. This book not only covers the fascination of dead Jews, but also gives insight into so many stories that we don’t normally hear or talk about in relation to the Jewish Community. It’s such an important read for both Jews and Non-Jews and I highly recommend it. 

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey 3 Stars – I have mixed feelings about this book. This is a space melodrama that involves both political and interpersonal battles. For me, about half of the book I was really intrigued, really into what was happening, and then half of the book I was questioning why I was bothering to read it/wasting my time. I get the appeal, but there were moments that I was just bored. There was also some initial confusion about the different “sects” of space and trying to work that out in my head. 

Duke, Actually by Jenny Holiday 4 Stars – This is actually the second book in a series which I didn’t realize, but I don’t think you need to read the first to get on with the second (and I probably won’t go back and read the first). A fun, lighthearted, aristocratic romance, we follow two characters who have sworn off love only to find that maybe they just needed the right person to fall in love with. My only “negative” was towards the end I felt like the “conflict” was a little…over engineered. But this was the perfect read for a weekend.

Reprieve by James Han Mattson 3 Stars – I’m not really sure how I feel about this one. This is a murder mystery that takes place in a “famous” full contact escape house. I found this to be a really good character study that pushed a variety of characters from different backgrounds past their limits to see what would happen. It was good, but unsettling. 

Where the Drowned Girls Go by Seanan McGuire 4 Stars – This book reminded me how much I loved this series in the first place. The 6th book in the Wayward Children Series, we get to see a second school that isn’t quite like Eleanor Wests’. We follow some of our previous characters, meet some new ones, and expand the “human” world a bit more. I really enjoyed this one, which was nice after feeling meh from the past couple. 

I’m currently reading The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel, but I don’t know if I’ll finish it before the end of the month, definitely not before this blog post needs to be scheduled to go up on Wednesday. So far, I’m enjoying it and looking forward to seeing where the story goes (I’m about 75 pages in). And that’s my first reading wrap up of 2022! How has your reading started off this year?