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 – June 2022

Hello! Long time no post! Not really, only a couple weeks, but it was a good, very much needed break away. We had our annual summer holiday and, once again, had a really nice time! We traveled to seven different spots (so look forward to seven blog posts coming your way with all the details) and just really enjoyed the time together, away from work, phones, and computer screens. Somehow, I managed to read 8 books in the month of June, with an average rating of 3.85. A win of a month for sure! Let’s get into those- please keep in mind the reviews might be shorter as it’s been a minute since I’ve read/thought about them so things might slip through the cracks. 

Rivals by Katherine McGee 3 Stars This the third book in this series and I found it…fine. I always enjoy this American Royal reimagining, even if I feel like sometimes, it gets a little dragged out. It’s young adult and there will be a fourth book coming (that I will be purchasing and reading). An average to good book to start the month with!

Tokyo Dreaming by Emiko Jean 3 Stars This is another royal re-imagining, though if I had to pick, I might have enjoyed this one slightly more than Rivals. I think it’s a bit…fresher and the insight/view into a different culture is wonderful. 

Wicked Beauty by Katee Robert 4 Stars Another hit from Katee Robert’s Dark Olympus series. This pushed the boundaries a bit and definitely re imagined Greek Mythology (in a sense, who knows though), but I really enjoyed it!

The Vanishing Type by Ellery Adams 4 Stars I was really in the mood this month for light and fun, so I read two Ellery Adams, this one being her Book, Tea & Scone Society series. I’m not quite sure which I really prefer- I love and relate to both so much. Anyways, another really enjoyable cozy mystery, plus a smattering of romance. 

I Hope This Finds You Well by Kate Baer NR I swung in the complete opposite direction with this one, a black out poetry collection designed to take “hate” or “negative” messages and turn them into a positive argument. And, once again, Kate Baer did an excellent job not only with the poetry, but with the collection as a whole. 

The Sprite and The Gardener by Rii Abrego 5 Stars This was a short, fun graphic novel about a Sprite trying to get back to her…roots of sorts. She’s new to town and she befriends and helps a human with a small garden. It was just quaint and fun to read. 

All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody 4 Stars Ok, I was unsure about this one for a long while, but somewhere it hooked me and I really enjoyed it! We’re following “villains” (at least in their communities’ eyes) as they compete against each other for the final bit of magic left. It’s reminiscent of The Hunger Games, but if every victor trained like they lived in District 1. It was good and I’ll definitely be reading the next one (I think it’ll only be a duology). 

Murder in the Reading Room by Ellery Adams 4 Stars I ended the month on a high note with another Ellery Adams cozy mystery. I don’t have much to say about these, but they’re always just really nice to read in a day or two. 

All in all, it was a great reading month- especially for having traveled the last week or so of it! We are also at the halfway point in the year, so I might be posting a little…mid-yearbook freak out towards the end of this week, so keep an eye out for that bonus post before all the travel content begins!

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – May 2022

Another month has come to an end and it’s time to talk about the books that I’ve read! I kind of wandered all over the place in terms of stories and genres. Part of it was not really know what I wanted to read, part of it was just life throwing curve balls all over the place. I went from wanting comfort to needing expansive stories, to wanting simple romance. It was all over, but it was also great fun and full of some good reads. I read 9 books and gave an average rating of 3.75. So, let’s just get into those books, shall we?

Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune 5 Stars Much like the first book of T.J. Klunes that I read, this is a feel good, life lesson in a soft cute way kind of book. We are following a man as he’s just died. In his path to “the final door” he learns about the meaning of life, love, and what really makes him happy. It was adorable and meaningful, and I definitely cried at the end. 

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim 5 Stars In a completely different direction, this is a court room murder thriller following the lives of several families after a massive tragedy. It is a unique look at parenthood with children who suffer from varying levels of disability as well as the immigrant experience in a small town. I found this to be incredible and I cried at the end. 

Book Lovers by Emily Henry 4 Stars This might have been the cutest, chinchiest book I’ve read this month. We follow to high powered editors who have one goal in mind for their lives, their careers. Of course, life never goes to plan, and they find themselves fighting against what they thought was impossible.  

Electric Idol by Katee Robert 3 Stars Look- I couldn’t help myself, especially after reading the first book in the series last month. This is the second book in the Dark Olympus series, which, at its core, follows four sisters as they live and fight in the city of Olympus. It’s a fun, smutty, reimagining of Greek g-ds that makes for light, but compelling reading. 

The Mayfair Bookshop by Eliza Knight 4 Stars My first proper historical fiction in a while, The Mayfair Bookshop follows two different women in different eras at crossroads in their lives. We see how a family, broken by different viewpoints in WW2 exists and leaves a legacy that intersects with our modern-day protagonist. I really enjoyed this one and would highly recommend it. 

Even If We Break by Marieke Nijkamp 4 Stars, I’ll be honest, this book freaked me out in so many ways, but also left me a bit confused (in a good way) by the end. We are following 5-6 friends as they are closing a chapter of their lives. Things are changing and we are seeing how they fall apart, come together, and fall apart again. All this on the back of a haunting, thrilling, mystery that you (as a reader) never quite know what is real and what is not. I found this to be incredibly well done and atmospheric as all. 

The Palace Papers by Tina Brown NR Here’s another one that…well I just couldn’t help myself when I saw it on sale. I’m a royal fan, and am fascinated by all the scandal, intrigue, and the dynamic of the family and the firm. It’s important to know that the woman who wrote the book has a background of tabloid sensationalism, so that’s good to keep in mind regarding some of her criticism and praise, but still…just soaking all the dynamics and drama. 

Snow White with the Red Hair Volume 1 by Sorata Akiduki 4 Stars I ended the month with a couple Manga options. This is a genre that I dip my toes in to from time to time, just when I need something quick, but storytelling and easy. I found comfort in this selection- even though absolutely nothing happens. It’s very much a slice of life manga, and it’ll be good for when you just want to read something comforting, but easy.

Spy X Family Volume 1 by Tatsuya Endo, translated by Casey Loe 5 Stars Ok, I loved this. I get the “mainstream” hype around it. We are following a spy as he forms this unconventional family with two people, he thinks are normal. But, as with anything else, not all is what it seems and, in this family, everyone has secrets. This is great- it’s easy and approachable for people just getting into manga, but if you’ve read and loved manga before it’s also great. 

And that’s it! Quite the variety to offer and I have a good sense for what I want to read moving forward. Any stand outs for you this past month of reading? Let me know!  

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?