Most Anticipated Books of 2022, Part 3

 

Because parts 1 and 2 apparently weren’t enough, please enjoy Part 3 of my most anticipated new releases of 2022!

A few reminders: I’m only including books here that have both a cover and a release date, but those release dates are of course subject to change.

 

Clean Air

Clean Air by Sarah Blake (release date 2/8/22) – I’ve only recently become able to consume books about the apocalypse again, which is good timing for Clean Air. It’s set in the far future and also involves a mystery surrounding a serial killer.

From Goodreads: The climate apocalypse has come and gone, and in the end it wasn’t the temperature climbing or the waters rising. It was the trees. The world became overgrown, creating enough pollen to render the air unbreathable.

In the decade since the event known as the Turning, humanity has rebuilt, and Izabel has gotten used to the airtight domes that now contain her life. She raises her young daughter, Cami, and attempts to make peace with her mother’s death. She tries hard to be satisfied with this safe, prosperous new world, but instead she just feels stuck.

And then the peace of her town is shattered. Someone starts slashing through the domes at night, exposing people to the deadly pollen—a serial killer. Almost simultaneously, Cami begins sleep-talking, having whole conversations about the murders that she doesn’t remember after she wakes. Izabel becomes fixated on the killer, on both tracking him down and understanding him. What could compel someone to take so many lives after years dedicated to sheer survival, with humanity finally flourishing again?

 

Jawbone

Jawbone by Monica Ojeda (release date 2/8/22) – I love the cover and the fabulist-sounding description of this book, and have been hearing good buzz so far.

From Goodreads: Fernanda and Annelise are so close they are practically sisters: a double image, inseparable. So how does Fernanda end up bound on the floor of a deserted cabin, held hostage by one of her teachers and estranged from Annelise?

When Fernanda, Annelise, and their friends from the Delta Bilingual Academy convene after school, Annelise leads them in thrilling but increasingly dangerous rituals to a rhinestoned, Dior-scented, drag-queen god of her own invention. Even more perilous is the secret Annelise and Fernanda share, rooted in a dare in which violence meets love. Meanwhile, their literature teacher Miss Clara, who is obsessed with imitating her dead mother, struggles to preserve her deteriorating sanity. Each day she edges nearer to a total break with reality.

Interweaving pop culture references and horror concepts drawn from from Herman Melville, H. P. Lovecraft, and anonymous “creepypastas,” Jawbone is an ominous, multivocal novel that explores the terror inherent in the pure potentiality of adolescence and the fine line between desire and fear.

 

Only a Monster

Only a Monster by Vanessa Len (anticipated release 2/22/22) – YA fantasy is very hit-or-miss for me, but morally gray characters and questions about who the real monsters are make me very interested in this one.

From Goodreads: It should have been the perfect summer. Sent to stay with her late mother’s eccentric family in London, sixteen-year-old Joan is determined to enjoy herself. She loves her nerdy job at the historic Holland House, and when her super cute co-worker Nick asks her on a date, it feels like everything is falling into place.

But she soon learns the truth. Her family aren’t just eccentric: they’re monsters, with terrifying, hidden powers. And Nick isn’t just a cute boy: he’s a legendary monster slayer, who will do anything to bring them down.

As she battles Nick, Joan is forced to work with the beautiful and ruthless Aaron Oliver, heir to a monster family that hates her own. She’ll have to embrace her own monstrousness if she is to save herself, and her family. Because in this story . . .

. . . she is not the hero.

 

Our Wives Under the Sea

Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield (anticipated release 3/3/22) – I liked but didn’t love Armfield’s short story collection Salt Slow, but definitely found myself intrigued by her concepts and premises. This novel sounds mysterious and haunting.

From Goodreads: Miri thinks she has got her wife back, when Leah finally returns after a deep-sea mission that ended in catastrophe. It soon becomes clear, though, that Leah is not the same. Whatever happened in that vessel, whatever it was they were supposed to be studying before they were stranded on the ocean floor, Leah has brought part of it back with her, onto dry land and into their home.

Moving through something that only resembles normal life, Miri comes to realize that the life that they had before might be gone. Though Leah is still there, Miri can feel the woman she loves slipping from her grasp.

 

Girls Can Kiss Now: Essays

Girls Can Kiss Now by Jill Gutowitz (anticipated release 3/8/22) – I tend to really enjoy listening to essay collections on audiobook, since I sometimes find it easier to pay attention to audiobooks in bite-size chunks. This also sounds like the mixture of memoir and pop culture commentary that I love in a collection.

From Goodreads: Jill Gutowitz’s life—for better and worse—has always been on a collision course with pop culture. There’s the time the FBI showed up at her door because of something she tweeted about Game of Thrones. The pop songs that have been the soundtrack to the worst moments of her life. And of course, the pivotal day when Orange Is the New Black hit the airwaves and broke down the door to Jill’s own sexuality. In these honest examinations of identity, desire, and self-worth, Jill explores perhaps the most monumental cultural shift of our lifetimes: the mainstreaming of lesbian culture. Dusting off her own personal traumas and artifacts of her not-so-distant youth she examines how pop culture acts as a fun house mirror reflecting and refracting our values—always teaching, distracting, disappointing, and revealing us.

Girls Can Kiss Now is a fresh and intoxicating blend of personal stories, sharp observations, and laugh-out-loud humor. This timely collection of essays helps us make sense of our collective pop-culture past even as it points the way toward a joyous, uproarious, near—and very queer—future.

 

In a Garden Burning Gold (Argyrosi, #1)

In a Garden Burning Gold by Rory Power (anticipated release 4/5/22) – I read Rory Power’s Wilder Girls as an eARC a few years ago, and really liked her writing style and the character dynamics she created in a creepy setting. Her newest release sounds very different: it’s high fantasy, which I don’t always gravitate towards, but it sounds like a unique take on the genre.

From Goodreads: Twins imbued with incredible magic and near-immortality will do anything to keep their family safe—even if it tears the siblings apart—in the first book of a mythic epic fantasy from the New York Times bestselling author of Wilder Girls.

Rhea and her twin brother, Lexos, have spent an eternity helping their father rule their small, unstable country, using their control over the seasons, tides, and stars to keep the people in line. For a hundred years, they’ve been each other’s only ally, defending each other and their younger siblings against their father’s increasingly unpredictable anger.

Now, with an independence movement gaining ground and their father’s rule weakening, the twins must take matters into their own hands to keep their family—and their entire world—from crashing down around them. But other nations are jockeying for power, ready to cross and double cross, and if Rhea and Lexos aren’t careful, they’ll end up facing each other across the battlefield.

 

When Women Were Dragons

When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill (anticipated release 5/7/22) – I’ve had Kelly Barnhill’s short story collection Dreadful Young Ladies & Other Stories on my TBR for years, which is embarassing, but I’m still going to add this unique-sounding alternate-history fantasy to my TBR as well.

From Goodreads: Alex Green is a young girl in a world much like ours. But this version of 1950’s America is characterized by a significant event: The Mass Dragoning of 1955, when hundreds of thousands of ordinary wives and mothers sprouted wings, scales and talons, left a trail of fiery destruction in their path, and took to the skies. Seemingly for good. Was it their choice? What will become of those left behind? Why did Alex’s beloved Aunt Marla transform but her mother did not? Alex doesn’t know. It’s taboo to speak of, even more so than her crush on Sonja, her schoolmate.

Forced into silence, Alex nevertheless must face the consequences of dragons: a mother more protective than ever; a father growing increasingly distant; the upsetting insistence that her aunt never even existed; and a new “sister” obsessed with dragons far beyond propriety. Through loss, rage, and self-discovery, this story follows Alex’s journey as she deals with the events leading up to and beyond the Mass Dragoning, and her connection with the phenomenon itself.

In this timely and timeless speculative novel, award-winning author Kelly Barnhill boldly explores rage, memory, and the limitations of girlhood. When Women Were Dragons exposes a world that wants to keep women small–their lives and their prospects–and examines what happens when they rise en masse and take up the space they deserve.

 

How to Be Eaten

How to Be Eaten by Maria Adelmann (anticipated release 5/31/22) – not only does this debut novel involve fairytale retellings, but it’s being compared to 2 of my favorite authors (Kelly Link and Carmen Maria Machado). It’s at the top of the list for me.

From Goodreads: In present-day New York City, five women meet in a basement support group to process their traumas. Bernice grapples with the fallout of dating a psychopathic, blue-bearded billionaire. Ruby, once devoured by a wolf, now wears him as a coat. Gretel questions her memory of being held captive in a house made of candy. Ashlee, the winner of a Bachelor-esque dating show, wonders if she really got her promised fairy tale ending. And Raina’s love story will shock them all.

Though the women start out wary of one another, judging each other’s stories, gradually they begin to realize that they may have more in common than they supposed…What really brought them here? What secrets will they reveal? And is it too late for them to rescue each other?

Dark, edgy, and wickedly funny, this debut for readers of Carmen Maria Machado, Kristen Arnett, and Kelly Link takes our coziest, most beloved childhood stories, exposes them as anti-feminist nightmares, and transforms them into a new kind of myth for grown-up women.

 

Always Practice Safe Hex (Stay a Spell, #4)

Always Practice Safe Hex by Juliette Cross (anticipated release 6/6/22) – I love Juliette Cross’s New Orleans-set paranormal romance Stay a Spell series, and this newest installment will finally have a love interest that’s one of the mysterious Grims that we’ve been hearing so much about.

From Goodreads: Livvy Savoie is a people person. Not only does she have the magical gift of persuasion, but her natural charisma charms everyone she meets. She hasn’t met a person she didn’t like. Until her annoyingly brilliant competitor walks through the door. No matter how hard she denies it, loathing isn’t the only emotion she feels for him.

Grim reaper Gareth Blackwater is rarely, if ever, moved beyond his broody, stoic state. But the witch he’s partnered with in the public relations contest is destroying his peace of mind. He’s convinced that the flesh-melting attraction he feels for her is merely her witchy magic at work.

But forced proximity proves there is more than magic sparking between them. Livvy learns this enigmatic grim’s abilities are beyond any supernatural she has ever known. And when Livvy becomes the obsessive target of a dangerous wizard, Gareth proves just how powerful he truly is. Because no one is going to hurt his Lavinia.

 

The Romance Recipe

The Romance Recipe by Ruby Barrett (anticipated release 6/28/22) – I’m always looking for new contemporary romance authors to try, particularly authors writing F/F romance, and my love for all things Top Chef and Food Network-related is just one more reason to pick this up.

From Goodreads: A fiery restaurant owner falls for her enigmatic head chef in this charming, emotional romance

Amy Chambers: restaurant owner, micromanager, control freak.

Amy will do anything to revive her ailing restaurant, including hiring a former reality-show finalist with good connections and a lot to prove. But her hopes that Sophie’s skills and celebrity status would bring her restaurant back from the brink of failure are beginning to wane…

Sophie Brunet: grump in the kitchen/sunshine in the streets, took thirty years to figure out she was queer.

Sophie just wants to cook. She doesn’t want to constantly post on social media for her dead-in-the-water reality TV career, she doesn’t want to deal with Amy’s take-charge personality and she doesn’t want to think about what her attraction to her boss might mean…

Then, an opportunity: a new foodie TV show might provide the exposure they need. An uneasy truce is fine for starters, but making their dreams come true means making some personal and painful sacrifices and soon, there’s more than just the restaurant at stake.

 

Thrust

Thrust by Lidia Yuknavitch (anticipated release 6/28/22) – I’ve never read from this author before, but I’m a sucker for a unique premise.

From Goodreads: Lidia Yuknavitch has an unmatched gift for capturing stories of people on the margins–vulnerable humans leading lives of challenge and transcendence. Now, Yuknavitch offers an imaginative masterpiece: the story of Laisve, a motherless girl from the late 21st century who is learning her power as a carrier, a person who can harness the power of meaningful objects to carry her through time. Sifting through the detritus of a fallen city known as the Brook, she discovers a talisman that will mysteriously connect her with a series of characters from the past two centuries: a French sculptor; a woman of the American underworld; a dictator’s daughter; an accused murderer; and a squad of laborers at work on a national monument. Through intricately braided storylines, Laisve must dodge enforcement raids and find her way to the present day, and then, finally, to the early days of her imperfect country, to forge a connection that might save their lives–and their shared dream of freedom.

 

The Dead Romantics

The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston (anticipated release 7/5/22) – I’m really liking the current publishing trend of contemporary paranormal romance books, and this sounds like a unique play on the term “ghostwriter.”

From Goodreads: Florence Day is the ghostwriter for one of the most prolific romance authors in the industry, and she has a problem—after a terrible breakup, she no longer believes in love. It’s as good as dead.

When her new editor, a too-handsome mountain of a man, won’t give her an extension on her book deadline, Florence prepares to kiss her career goodbye. But then she gets a phone call she never wanted to receive, and she must return home for the first time in a decade to help her family bury her beloved father.

For ten years, she’s run from the town that never understood her, and even though she misses the sound of a warm Southern night and her eccentric, loving family and their funeral parlor, she can’t bring herself to stay. Even with her father gone, it feels like nothing in this town has changed. And she hates it.

Until she finds a ghost standing at the funeral parlor’s front door, just as broad and infuriatingly handsome as ever, and he’s just as confused about why he’s there as she is.

Romance is most certainly dead . . . but so is her new editor, and his unfinished business will have her second-guessing everything she’s ever known about love stories.

 

Ruby Fever (Hidden Legacy, #6)

Ruby Fever by Ilona Andrews (anticipated release 8/23/22) – Ilona Andrews is one of my favorite authors, and I absolutely can’t wait for the third book in her second trilogy set in the Hidden Legacy world. These books are really well done paranormal romance and I enjoy the heck out of them.

From Goodreads: An escaped spider, the unexpected arrival of an Imperial Russian Prince, the senseless assassination of a powerful figure, a shocking attack on the supposedly invincible Warden of Texas, Catalina’s boss… And it’s only Monday.

Within hours, the fate of Houston—not to mention the House of Baylor—now rests on Catalina, who will have to harness her powers as never before. But even with her fellow Prime and fiancé Alessandro Sagredo by her side, she may not be able to expose who’s responsible before all hell really breaks loose.

 

Love on the Brain

Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood (anticipated release 8/23/22) – Since The Love Hypothesis was my favorite romance of 2021, I’m really excited about Ali Hazelwood’s second nerdy contemporary romance novel coming out this summer.

From Goodreads: Like an avenging, purple-haired Jedi bringing balance to the mansplained universe, Bee Königswasser lives by a simple code: What would Marie Curie do? If NASA offered her the lead on a neuroengineering project—a literal dream come true after years scraping by on the crumbs of academia—Marie would accept without hesitation. Duh. But the mother of modern physics never had to co-lead with Levi Ward.

Sure, Levi is attractive in a tall, dark, and piercing-eyes kind of way. And sure, he caught her in his powerfully corded arms like a romance novel hero when she accidentally damseled in distress on her first day in the lab. But Levi made his feelings toward Bee very clear in grad school—archenemies work best employed in their own galaxies far, far away.

Now, her equipment is missing, the staff is ignoring her, and Bee finds her floundering career in somewhat of a pickle. Perhaps it’s her occipital cortex playing tricks on her, but Bee could swear she can see Levi softening into an ally, backing her plays, seconding her ideas…devouring her with those eyes. And the possibilities have all her neurons firing. But when it comes time to actually make a move and put her heart on the line, there’s only one question that matters: What will Bee Königswasser do?

 

Nona the Ninth (The Locked Tomb, #3)

Nona the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (anticipated release 9/13/22) – This is the third book in Muir’s Locked Tomb series; I absolutely loved the first book but had some serious issues with its sequel. The bonkers-sounding premise of this third installment makes me hopeful that I’ll get back on board with the series this fall.

From Goodreads: Her city is under siege.

The zombies are coming back.

And all Nona wants is a birthday party.

In many ways, Nona is like other people. She lives with her family, has a job at her local school, and loves walks on the beach and meeting new dogs. But Nona’s not like other people. Six months ago she woke up in a stranger’s body, and she’s afraid she might have to give it back.

The whole city is falling to pieces. A monstrous blue sphere hangs on the horizon, ready to tear the planet apart. Blood of Eden forces have surrounded the last Cohort facility and wait for the Emperor Undying to come calling. Their leaders want Nona to be the weapon that will save them from the Nine Houses. Nona would prefer to live an ordinary life with the people she loves, with Pyrrha and Camilla and Palamedes, but she also knows that nothing lasts forever.

And each night, Nona dreams of a woman with a skull-painted face…

 

The Golden Enclaves (The Scholomance #3)

The Golden Enclaves by Naomi Novik (anticipated release 9/27/22) – I really can’t wait for the third book in Novik’s Scholomance series; books 1 and 2 were both 5-star reads for me. I honestly don’t know how she’s going to resolve the cliffhanger from the previous book and bring the trilogy to a conclusion, but I’ll be picking this one up the second it comes out.

From Goodreads: Saving the world is a test no school of magic can prepare you for in the triumphant conclusion to the New York Times bestselling trilogy that began with A Deadly Education and The Last Graduate.

Almost singlehandedly–although backed by an increasingly large cadre of genuine friends–El has changed the nature of the Scholomance forever. But now that she is back in the real world, how will the lessons she learned inside the school apply? Will her grandmother’s prophecy come true? Will she really spell the doom of all the enclaves forever?

As the quest to save her one true love ramps up, however, El is about to learn the most significant lesson of all–the dire truth on which the enclaves and the whole stability of the magical world are founded. And being El, she is not likely to let it lie….

 

Tread of Angels

Tread of Angels by Rebecca Roanhorse (anticipated release 11/15/22) – A novella from one of my favorite fantasy authors was an unexpected piece of great news; the premise sounds intricate and fascinating.

From Goodreads: High in the remote mountains, the town of Goetia is booming as prospectors from near and far come to mine the powerful new element Divinity. Divinity is the remains of the body of the rebel Abaddon, who fell to earth during Heaven’s War, and it powers the world’s most inventive and innovative technologies, ushering in a new age of progress. However, only the descendants of those that rebelled, called Fallen, possess the ability to see the rich lodes of the precious element. That makes them a necessary evil among the good and righteous people called the Elect, and Goetia a town segregated by ancestry and class.

Celeste and Mariel are two Fallen sisters, bound by blood but raised in separate worlds. Celeste grew up with her father, passing in privileged Elect society, while Mariel stayed with their mother in the Fallen slums of Goetia. Upon her father’s death, Celeste returns to Goetia and reunites with Mariel. Mariel is a great beauty with an angelic voice, and Celeste, wracked by guilt for leaving her sister behind, becomes her fiercest protector.

When Mariel is accused of murdering a Virtue, the powerful Order of the Archangels that rule Goetia, Celeste must take on the role of Advocatus Diaboli (Devil’s Advocate) and defend her sister in the secretive courts of the Virtue. Celeste, aided by her ex-lover, Abraxas, who was once one of the rebels great generals, sets out to prove Mariel innocent. But powerful forces among the Virtues and the Elect mining barons don’t want Celeste prying into their business, and Mariel has secrets of her own. As Celeste is drawn deeper into the dark side of Goetia, she unravel a layer of lies and manipulation that may doom Mariel and puts her own immortal soul at risk, in this dark fantasy noir from the bestselling mastermind Rebecca Roanhorse.

 

Astrid Parker Doesn't Fail (Bright Falls, #2)

Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail by Ashley Herring Blake (anticipated release 11/22/22) – I haven’t yet read Blake’s first F/F romance of 2022, Delilah Green Doesn’t Care, but that’s not going to stop me from including her second on this list, because both sound great.

From Goodreads: For Astrid Parker, failure is unacceptable. Ever since she broke up with her fiancé a year ago, she’s been focused on her career—her friends might say she’s obsessed, but she’s just driven. When Pru Everwood asks her to be the designer for the Everwood Inn’s renovation that will be broadcasted on a popular home improvement show, Innside America, Astrid knows this is the answer to everything that is wrong with her life. It’ll be the perfect distraction from her failed love life, and her perpetually displeased mother might finally give her nod of approval.

However, Astrid never planned on Jordan Everwood, Pru’s granddaughter and lead carpenter for the inn’s renovation, who despises every modern design decision Astrid makes. Jordan is determined to preserve the history of her family’s inn, particularly as the rest of her life is in shambles. When that determination turns into a little light sabotage, ruffling Astrid’s perfect little feathers, the showrunners ask them to play up the tension. But somewhere along the way, their dislike for each other turns into something quite different, and Astrid must decide what success truly means. Is she going to pursue the life that she’s expected to lead, or the one she wants?

Winter TBR Smash-Up Readathon Recap!

This past week, I really enjoyed participating in the Winter TBR Smash-Up, a low-pressure, friendly readathon hosted by @instalovewithbooks and @reluctantreader on Instagram. I decided to track my reading for motivation purposes, since I was trying to finish a certain few books before the month ended.

Here are my weekly tracking stats and overall readathon summary:

Sing Anyway by Anita KellySkye FallingGet It Right (Love at Knockdown, #1)How High We Go in the Dark

Day 1

Pages read: 96 pages of Sing Anyway, 41 pages of Get it Right

Audiobook time: 2.5 hours of Skye Falling

Books started: Get it Right

Books finished: Sing Anyway

Day 2

Pages read: 42 pages of How High We Go in the Dark, 10 pages of Get it Right

Audiobook time: 1 hour of Skye Falling

Books started: None

Books finished: None

Day 3

Pages read: 16 pages of Assembly

Audiobook time: 1.5h Skye Falling

Books started: Assembly

Books finished: None

AssemblyHouse of Sky and Breath (Crescent City, #2)

Day 4

Pages read: 70 pages of Get it Right

Audiobook time: None

Books started: None

Books finished: Get it Right

Day 5

Pages read: 58 pages of How High We Go in the Dark

Audiobook time: 1/2 hour of Skye Falling

Books started: None

Books finished: None

Day 6

Pages read: 86 pages of How High We Go in the Dark, 32 pages of House of Sky & Breath

Audiobook time: 2.5 hours of Skye Falling

Books started: None

Books finished: How High We Go in the Dark

Day 7

Pages read: 161 pages of House of Sky & Breath

Audiobook time: 2 hours of Skye Falling

Books started: None

Books finished: Skye Falling

 

Overall stats:

Total books finished: 4

Sing Anyway by Anita KellyGet It Right by Skye KilaenHow High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia NagamatsuSkye Falling by Mia McKenzie

Total pages read: 612

Audiobook time: 10 hours

Books started, but not finished: 2

AssemblyHouse of Sky and Breath (Crescent City, #2)

Favorite Books of 2021 (in every category I could think of)!

I wanted to highlight a lot of favorites in this post, and I ended up with not only a top 10 for the year but also a runner-up top 10, as well as many different genre and category favorites. I’m still working on my stats post, so that will come later, but first I wanted to talk about as many of the fantastic books I read this past year as possible.

Top Ten Favorite Books of 2021:

The Office of Historical CorrectionsPlain Bad HeroinesLegendborn (The Legendborn Cycle #1)Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky, #1)

The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans – fantastic debut short story collection focusing on themes of racism, with some fabulist elements

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth – genrebending horror with timelines in the past and present, a story within a story with a unique structure and a trio of compelling main characters

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn – the book that restored my faith in YA fantasy this year

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse. – a fascinating new fantasy world from a past favorite author

Writers & LoversThe Atlas Six (The Atlas, #1)TenderA Deadly Education (The Scholomance, #1)

Writers & Lovers by Lily King – an emotional coming-of-age story about writing, grief, and love

The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake – a dark academia fantasy that sets up a fascinating world and cast of characters

Tender by Sofia Samatar – a unique short story collection inspired by folklore and mythology

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik – an incredibly darkly funny YA dark academia fantasy with a memorable main character

The Vanishing HalfMediocre by Ijeoma Oluo

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett – an immersive historical fiction following the diverging paths of two sisters and their daughters

Mediocre by Ijeoma Oluo – a fascinating nonfiction book exploring racism and misogyny

 

Runner-Up Favorites of the year:

Winter's Orbit by Everina MaxwellRosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis HallDisfigured by Amanda LeducWhat We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons

Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell – a slow burn science fiction romance featuring an arranged marriage

Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall – a big-hearted and wonderful contemporary romance set around a Great British Baking Show-esque competition

Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space by Amanda LeDuc – a nonfiction book combining discussion of fairy tales and folklore with memoir

What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons – a short, powerful novel about grief and belonging

A Cathedral of Myth and Bone by Kat HowardThe Love Hypothesis by Ali HazelwoodThe Last Graduate by Naomi NovikThe Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson

A Cathedral of Myth and Bone by Kat Howard – a short story collection from an author I’ve really enjoyed in the past, featuring a fantastic Arthurian-myth inspired novella set on a college campus

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood – my favorite romance of the year, which was originally written as fanfiction and featuring women in STEM

The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik – the second book in Novik’s Scholomance trilogy, which hit me hard with emotion particularly at the end and made me need the final book ASAP

The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson – literary science fiction dealing with climate change, overconsumption, and AI, heavily leaning on the concept that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah JohnsonTranscendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson – science fiction featuring an indomitable main character in alternate universes on the same world plagued by deep inequality, that I read near the beginning of the year but has stuck with me ever since

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi – a thoughtful, introspective book dealing with science and religion

Favorite contemporary romance:

The Love Hypothesis by Ali HazelwoodRosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis HallAct Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia HibbertThe Heart Principle by Helen HoangSecond First Impressions by Sally Thorne

I read a LOT of amazing romance in 2021, but these 5 were the best of the best. 4 were from authors I’ve previously read and loved, and 1 (The Love Hypothesis) is a debut from an author I can’t wait to read more from.

Favorite UF/PNR:

Witches Get Stitches by Juliette CrossBlood Heir by Ilona AndrewsFables & Other Lies by Claire Contreras

I didn’t read nearly as much UF/PNR compared to contemporary romance, but I enjoyed the heck out of reading these three.

Favorite historical romance:

A Rogue of One's Own by Evie DunmoreThe Queer Principles of Kit Webb by Cat Sebastian

2021 was not a big historical romance reading year; I kind of thought it would be after devouring tons of the genre in 2020. However, I did read 2 new favorites, and am looking forward to picking up the next installments in these series in 2022.

Favorite nonfiction:

Mediocre by Ijeoma OluoDisfigured by Amanda Leduc

I read a lot of nonfiction in 2021, mainly on audiobook, but Mediocre by Ijeoma Oluo and Disfigured by Amanda LeDuc really stood out.

Favorite science fiction:

Winter's Orbit by Everina MaxwellThe Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

Favorite fantasy:

Black Sun by Rebecca RoanhorseThe Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

Favorite debut novels:

Winter's Orbit by Everina MaxwellThe Space Between Worlds by Micaiah JohnsonWhat We Lose by Zinzi ClemmonsThe Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

Favorite YA:

Legendborn by Tracy DeonnA Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

Like I said earlier, I was pretty shocked to discover 2 amazing new YA favorites in 2021, after some disappointing YA reads over the past few years. Not only are these favorites for 2021, but they’re also all-time YA favorites for me.

Favorite sequel or next-in-series:

The Last Graduate by Naomi NovikWitches Get Stitches by Juliette Cross

I absolutely loved The Last Graduate, a 5-star read and the sequel to A Deadly Education, and had so much fun reading the third book in Juliette Cross’s Stay a Spell series, Witches Get Stitches.

Favorite novella:

A Cathedral of Myth and Bone by Kat Howard

This is a great short story collection overall, but my favorite piece was the novella, Once, Future, which is a modern-day King Arthur retelling set on a college campus that also ruminates on the enduring power of myth.

Favorite short story collection:

The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle EvansTender by Sofia Samatar

Most disappointing reads of 2021:

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky ChambersFates and Furies by Lauren Groff

I’ve loved several of Becky Chambers’s books, so the fact that her newest novel was underwhelming was a disappointment. And I’ve ranted a lot about the issues I have with Fates & Furies, which I think could have been a really great novel but it had too many serious flaws.

Worst books I read in 2021:

Talk Bookish to Me by Kate BromleyThe Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon

I unfortunately really, really disliked both of these contemporary romances from new-to-me authors. Both had premises that really interested me, but both had extremely unlikable characters and romances that I just couldn’t root for.

Favorite covers of 2021 reads:

Fables & Other Lies by Claire ContrerasA Certain Appeal by Vanessa KingFlyaway by Kathleen Jennings

New-to-me authors I can’t wait to read more from:

The Love Hypothesis by Ali HazelwoodFortuna Sworn by K.J. SuttonA Certain Appeal by Vanessa King

There are a lot of authors who could fit this category, but I wanted to highlight Ali Hazelwood, who has a bunch of books coming out in 2022; K. J. Sutton, whose Fortuna Sworn series I’m looking forward to continuing; and Vanessa King, whose Pride & Prejudice-inspired book A Certain Appeal was a great surprise.

 

What were some of your favorite books of 2021? Let me know in the comments!

January Reading Wrap-Up!

 

I started 2022 off strong with 2 five-star reads and read several more review copies than I normally do in most months. Let’s get into the stats and reviews!

Stats

Total books read: 12

ARCs/Review copies: 4

ebooks: 3

Audiobooks: 3

#readmyowndamnbooks: 6

A Marvellous Light (The Last Binding, #1)Never Say You Can't Survive by Charlie Jane AndersLove & Other Disasters by Anita KellyA History of Wild Places by Shea ErnshawCount Your Lucky Stars by Alexandria BellefleurWhere the Drowned Girls Go by Seanan McGuireMy Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole JohnsonAlways Only You by Chloe LieseForged in Fire by Juliette CrossThe Sum of Us by Heather McGheeOut Front the Following SeaElectric Idol (Dark Olympus, #2)

My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson (5 stars) – Consisting of 5 short stories and the titular novella, My Monticello is written in a way that’s incisive and impactful. Many of the stories center around themes of racism and use uncommon voices (second person, first person collective) to convey their messages. Although all 5 of the short stories were excellent, my favorite part of this collection was its novella, which is, hands, down, the best novella I have ever read. Set in the near future after climate disasters have disrupted the central government and infrastructure, a group of white supremacists drives members of a Virginia community out of their homes. They’re then forced to seek refuge in the only safe place they can find–Monticello. While there, they deal with both the house’s racist history and the threats that they are facing in the present; it’s devastating and so well-crafted.  I’ve been recommending this book like crazy, and I think it’s one that everyone should read.

Love & Other Disasters by Anita Kelly (5 stars) – This is only the third book I’ve read in 2022, and the first romance, but I don’t see how it won’t be my favorite romance of the year.

Love & Other Disasters is incredibly sweet, well-written, inclusive, and big-hearted, and it made me cry several times (to clarify, these were happy tears due to how absurdly cute it is). It’s a contemporary romance following two contestants on a Top Chef-esque reality show who, after an awkward first meeting, develop a friendship and begin to fall for each other. Our protagonists are at very different places in their lives: Dahlia is recently divorced and struggling with her direction in life and self-confidence, and plans to use the prize money to help pay off her student loan debts; London, the show’s first openly non-binary contestant, is happy with their life and career in Nashville, but dreams of using the prize money to start a charity for LGBTQIA+ youth. Dahlia is outgoing and quirky, whereas London exudes quiet confidence, and their opposite personalities complement one another from the start.

I really can’t overstate how much I loved this one. Dahlia and London have a very sweet and supportive foundation, but also fantastic chemistry. Since I love Top Chef, I liked the cooking show premise, but it never overshadows the development of their relationship; I’d say that it takes up exactly the right amount of the story. I don’t know the last time I read a romance where I felt that the characters fit together so well on both an emotional and a romantic level, and where I loved both protagonists and their perspectives equally. More than anything else, this book just made me really, really happy to read, and I’ll be recommending it to everyone all year.

I received a free copy of Love & Other Disasters from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee (4 stars) – An extremely informative and well-researched look at economic inequality and its roots in racism that discusses how racist policies negatively impact not only Black Americans, but all of society. I felt like I learned so much while reading this book; I don’t have much background knowledge in economics, so there was a bit of a learning curve while reading this book, but it’s still accessible.

Electric Idol by Katee Robert (4 stars) – I think I liked the second book in Katee Robert’s Dark Olympus series even more than the first. It’s a marriage of convenience story between Eros, who for years has been doing the dirty work to keep his mother, Aphrodite, in power, and Psyche, a strategic and good-hearted daughter of Aphrodite’s mother Demeter. When Aphrodite asks Eros to kill Psyche, he finds himself drawn to her and marries her for her protection instead. I really liked the way their romance developed quickly from fake to genuine, and this book seems to also set up several possible subsequent romances. As a Greek mythology and romance fan, these books are a lot of fun; I’ve seen critiques saying that they stray too far from the original stories, but that’s very intentional–they’re inspired by the gods’ characters and power struggles rather than direct retellings.

Out Front the Following Sea by Leah Angstman (4 stars) – One of my 2022 reading goals is to pick up more historicals (fiction, fantasy, and romance alike) and I’m glad to have started off with a book that I loved.

Out Front the Following Sea’s protagonist Ruth is a smart, indomitable survivor and a feminist in a time where it wasn’t safe for women to be anything close to one. The story begins with her trapped in a small New England town that considers her a witch and blames her for the deaths of her parents, and Ruth’s dreams of escape manifest in a twisted sense when she’s forced to flee for her life. Ruth’s saga, and her quest for not only survival but to live without having her intelligence and ambitions quashed, is a twisted path full of different types of danger and occasional unexpected friendship. There’s also a very human love story at the center of the narrative between Ruth and her childhood best friend, half-French sailor Owen, although rising tensions between the English and French threaten to divide them more than societal norms already do. The incredible historical details of life in late-1600s New England keep the story rooted in a deep sense of place, even as its themes still resonate in today’s society. I’d definitely recommend this one; it’s fast-paced and full of both action and emotion, and I really enjoyed it despite not being an avid historical fiction reader.

I received an ARC of Out Front the Following Sea from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Count Your Lucky Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur (4 stars) – I really enjoyed this third installment in Alexandria Bellefleur’s Written in the Stars series, which is centered around a group of friends living in Seattle. Count Your Lucky Stars is an estranged childhood best friends-to-lovers romance between recently divorced Olivia, who is struggling with anxiety and and her tendencies to prioritize others’ needs over her own, and prickly Margot, who after seeing her best friends fall in love is starting to yearn for her own deeper romantic connection.

As teenagers, Margot and Olivia found their friendship deepening into a brief romantic connection, which quickly ended due to miscommunication and lead to their separation for many years. They reunite as twentysomethings when Olivia becomes the wedding planner for Margot’s best friend’s wedding, and find that their chemistry and love for each other is still alive and well. I’m not normally the biggest fan of second chance romance, but I found Margot and Olivia’s connection really beautiful and believable, and I liked how they encouraged and brought out the best in each other by continually advocating for one another. I also liked the reappearance of Darcy and Elle, one of my favorite fictional couples, from the first book in Bellefleur’s series. It’s a very sweet story about friendship and love, and I’d recommend it to any contemporary romance reader.

I received an eARC of Count Your Lucky Stars from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Where the Drowned Girls Go by Seanan McGuire (4 stars) – I liked this installment in the Wayward Children series much better than the previous one; we learn about the second, sinister rival school to Eleanor West’s, where the previous books are based around, and a new, large-scale, real-world conflict is introduced. It isn’t my favorite book in the series, but I read it in one setting and very much enjoyed the read.

Never Say You Can’t Survive by Charlie Jane Anders (4 stars) – I really enjoyed this nonfiction audiobook focused on how to write and be creative during difficult times. It’s read by the author, who I’ve been following since she ran the science and science fiction site io9 and who I’ve been lucky enough to see speak at BookCon, and has a lot of really solid writing advice as well as inspiration.

Forged in Fire by Juliette Cross (3.5 stars) – Forged in Fire is the first book in a UF/PNR trilogy that was re-released this month and originally published in 2015. I’m a huge fan of Juliette Cross’s Stay a Spell series, so I was excited to be able to check out one of her earlier works.

Set in New Orleans, Forged in Fire follows Gen, a college student who’s thrown into an underworld of demons and demon hunters when she discovers that she’s a Vessel, meaning that she has access to a variety of magical powers that make her a target for powerful demons looking to use her for evil. Helping to train and protect her is Jude, a powerful demon hunter with a mysterious past, and who Gen immediately finds herself falling for.

I didn’t love this book quite as much as Juliette Cross’s Stay a Spell series, but I really loved Gen as a main character. She’s strong yet flawed, and you can’t help but root for her. She’s determined to hang on to some form of normalcy while being thrust into a world that she doesn’t understand, and she keeps the story grounded through its introduction of more and more otherworldly elements. I also liked the concept of the Vessel and the worldbuilding of a demonic underworld hiding in plain sight.

What I didn’t love quite as much, unfortunately, was the romance between Gen and Jude, which developed a bit too quickly for my taste, and felt too unbalanced in terms of age and experience level. I’d also caution readers that there are several scenes of sexual assault in this book (perpetrated by the villains), which I did at times find difficult to read.

I received an eARC of Forged in Fire from the author in exchange for an honest review.

A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw (3.5 stars) – I’m very hit or miss with mysteries, and I was hoping that this book, with its mild infusion of fantasy, would hit the sweet spot for me. Instead, it was more of an up and down reading experience; I was really interested in the first viewpoint character, a private investigator with the power to see a person’s past by holding an object they interacted with, who was searching for a missing author of disturbing children’s books. Unfortunately, the middle of the book, where we spend time in the forest cult where we believe the author to have disappeared, really dragged, and the three new viewpoint characters didn’t have very interesting personalities. The ending of the book did add more interest, and my investment in finding out the book’s twist kept me reading rather than DNF-ing, but I’m not sure that I’d recommend this one.

Always Only Yours by Chloe Liese (3.5 stars) – I read my first Chloe Liese contemporary romance at the end of 2021, and decided that I wanted to pick up more from her. I generally steer clear of sports romances, but for some reason (probably because I’m from Buffalo), hockey tends to be a bit of an exception, so I enjoyed most of this romance between a prickly social media manager and a cinnamon roll hockey player. It did get a bit too sweet for me at times, as did my previous Chloe Liese read, but I do think I’ll try her again in the future.

A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske (3 stars) – My first read of January was, unfortunately, my most disappointing of the year so far. I really thought I’d love this historical fantasy romance, but despite the great premise, I found that the characters and the plot both fell very flat for me. I needed more dimension in the characterization and more intrigue in the plot; I’ve seen so many glowing reviews of this book, and I wish that mine was one of them.

December Reading Wrap-Up!

It’s my last monthly reading wrap-up of 2021!

At the beginning of December, I went on vacation with my family for Hanukkah and got a bunch of reading done at the beach. When I got back, though, I was really struggling to finish books, particularly towards the end of the year. I did, however, manage to sneak in one more 5-star read in December, and read 3 holiday romances, despite never having read one previously.

Stats:

Books finished: 9

ARCs: 1

Audio: 3

ebooks: 2

#readmyowndamnbooks: 4

Payback's a Witch by Lana HarperWrapped Up in YouThe Atlas Six by Olivie BlakeComfort Me With Apples by Catherynne M. ValenteMurder Most Actual by Alexis HallThe Matzah Ball by Jean MeltzerWhat We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat by Aubrey GordonThe Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava ReidThe Mistletoe Motive by Chloe Liese

The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake (5 stars) – OK, I get it now. I get the BookTok hype, and I get why this indie book was picked up by Tor. I loved it so much. Like a lot of my 5-star reads, I also totally get why it might not be everyone’s cup of tea–it’s very character-focused, and not at all plot-heavy. If that doesn’t bother you, and if you like dark academia, read this book. The Atlas Six has so many things I love in a book: dark academia, a group of misfits forced to band together by circumstance, alliances and strategic machinations. It’s about six people with different magical abilities and backgrounds who are tapped to enter the Alexandrian society, a secret magical organization that holds the knowledge of the supposedly lost Library of Alexandria–except only five of them will actually be able to join, after a year-long trial period. I absolutely can’t wait for the sequel, which comes out in October 2022.

What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat by Aubrey Gordon (4 stars) – An excellent nonfiction book that combines the author’s personal experiences with statistics and broader information that I think is a very beneficial read for people of all sizes. I heard of Aubrey Gordon through her podcast Maintenance Phase, which debunks myths about health and wellness, and her book is a great extension of that.

Comfort Me With Apples by Catherynne M. Valente (4 stars) – I was really excited for this novella from one of my favorite authors, and although it was good, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. This novella seemed less creative and less intricately written than Valente’s works that I’ve read previously, although it did have very interesting themes.

The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid (4 stars) – I’ve seen mixed reviews of this historical fantasy, but personally I really enjoyed it. The Wolf and the Woodsman is set in a world heavily influenced by Hungarian and Jewish history and mythology; it’s a world that contains several different and competing forms of magic, and one that is battling civil unrest primarily stoked by prejudice. Although it’s inspired by history, this world is very relevant to the issues our society still faces today, including xenophobia, misogyny, and anti-Semitism.

Our protagonist Evike is an outsider in a small pagan village, and she’s forcibly removed by the feared Woodsmen who believe her to be a seer. She’s not–to her continual shame and frustration, she’s the only wolf-girl in her village born without magical gifts, and although the Woodsman who takes her eventually discovers her secret, she discovers his as well–he’s not merely a Woodsman, but the country’s crown prince, himself an outsider as his mother is from the country they’re currently at war with. They’re natural enemies and both hold prejudices against the other’s people, but they’re forced into a reluctant alliance and eventually begin to develop romantic feelings for one another while striving to somehow save their torn-apart land.

I really enjoyed Evike, who’s an “unlikable” heroine with her prickly attitude, impulsiveness, and bad temper; she’s scrappy and feisty, and never perfect, which I like in a protagonist. I also liked the enemies-to-allies-to-lovers relationship that developed between her and the prince, which never felt rushed, and was built on working towards a common goal and eventually to mutual understanding. The writing of this book is very strong, with visceral descriptions that may be too graphic for sensitive readers; it’s a dark and difficult world that our characters inhabit, and the grittiness of the writing reflects that. At times I did feel that the pacing was slower than it could have been, and that certain concepts and images tended to feel repetitive, particularly when Evike is talking out decisions in her own mind and reviewing what she thinks different people she knows would do in her situation and why. However, I really enjoyed the read overall, and will look to pick up more from Ava Reid in the future.

I received a free copy of The Wolf and the Woodsman from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wrapped Up in You by Talia Hibbert (4 stars) – I’m on a mission to read through Talia Hibbert’s backlist, and even though I’m not typically a holiday romance reader, this one was very cute and I’m glad I picked it up. It’s a childhood friends-to-lovers romance featuring a Chris Evans-esque famous actor love interest and a very guarded protagonist who reunite at her grandmother’s isolated house for Christmas and finally realize that they’ve both been harboring feelings for each other.

Payback’s a Witch by Lana Harper (3.5 stars) – I really enjoyed this F/F contemporary paranormal romance set in a small magical town and featuring a magical competition between the scions of rival witch families. I thought that the plot and romance were both well-crafted, and it was a nice surprise to see a protagonist with the same name as me (Emmy!). I’ll look forward to picking up more from this author.

The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer (3.5 stars) – As a Jewish woman who celebrates both Hanukkah and Christmas, I was so glad to be able to read a Hanukkah romance this year featuring a Jewish, Christmas-loving romance novelist protagonist with a chronic illness. I really liked this one overall, although the enemies-to-lovers romance was a bit too enemies-focused at the beginning, considering that its roots were in a childhood romance that took place many years ago at summer camp and it seemed as though both protagonists should have matured beyond their grudges as adults.

The Mistletoe Motive by Chloe Liese (3.5 stars) – A cute holiday romance set in an indie bookstore and featuring a Hating Game-esque enemies-to-lovers romance with an autistic protagonist. I liked the premise of this one a lot and thought it was a very sweet novella overall, but it got a bit too cutesy for me towards the end. Still, I’m definitely interested to pick up more from new-to-me author Chloe Liese.

Murder Most Actual by Alexis Hall (3 stars) – Although I LOVED Alexis Hall’s Boyfriend Material and Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake, this cozy mystery with elements of parody and references to other classic whodunits was a bit too silly for me; I also didn’t find myself at all invested in the murder plot. I did really like Liza, our true crime podcaster main character, and I thought that her relationship with her wife and their efforts to revive their marriage were the most compelling parts of the book.

Most-Read Authors of 2021 (and 2022 Predictions)

Last year was the first year I started tracking how many books I read per author in a given year, and I find the resulting stats really interesting. It’s fun to try to predict my most-read authors of the year and how that could change next year, and what factors go into determining which authors top my list. I think I predicted my most-read author of 2021 back in 2020, since she’s a romance author with a substantial backlist that I started getting into towards the end of the year, but several other authors who appear on my most-read list were new-to-me in 2021 and therefore definitely not predicted.

Let’s get into my most-read authors of 2021!

Winner: Lucy Parker – 4 books!

Headliners by Lucy ParkerAct Like It by Lucy ParkerPretty Face by Lucy ParkerBattle Royal by Lucy Parker

Lucy Parker writes contemporary romance, and in 2021 I read 3 books in her London Celebrities series, which is set around London’s West End theater community, and her newest release, which is a take on a Great British Baking Show-esque competition with a royal connection.

Tie: 3 books each

Talia Hibbert

The Princess Trap by Talia HibbertAct Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia HibbertWrapped Up in You by Talia Hibbert

I actually had predicted that contemporary romance author Talia Hibbert might tie Lucy Parker for my most-read author of 2021, but she ended up in second place instead. I plan to read even more from her in 2022!

Claire Contreras

Fables & Other Lies by Claire ContrerasHalf Truths by Claire ContrerasTwisted Circles by Claire Contreras

Claire Contreras was a new-to-me author in 2021; she’s an indie author who writes in many different genres of romance. The books I picked up from her last year included Gothic romance and dark academia combined with romantic suspense.

Tie: 2 books each

Naomi Novik

A Deadly Education by Naomi NovikThe Last Graduate by Naomi Novik

You’d think that I’d have more authors like Novik on this list, where they make the most-read authors list because I discover a new series. I wouldn’t say I did a lot of series reading in 2021, but I definitely became obsessed with Novik’s Scholomance series.

Carol Anderson

White Rage by Carol AndersonOne Person, No Vote by Carol Anderson

It’s not common for me to pick up multiple nonfiction books from one author in a given year, but that’s what ended up happening with Carol Anderson, another new-to-me author.

Juliette Cross

Witches Get Stitches by Juliette CrossWalking in a Witchy Wonderland by Juliette Cross

Juliette Cross made this list last year as well, because she writes and publishes her books in the Stay a Spell series quite quickly and I immediately need to read them because I love this series so much.

Alexis Hall

Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis HallMurder Most Actual by Alexis Hall

I fell in love with Hall’s writing style after reading Boyfriend Material at the end of 2020, so I knew I wanted to pick up more of his work in 2021. Rosaline Palmer was one of my favorite romances of the year, but I wasn’t really a fan of Murder Most Actual.

Ilona Andrews

Blood Heir by Ilona AndrewsSweep with Me by Ilona Andrews

Ilona Andrews is one of my favorite authors, so I was glad I had 2 new releases of theirs to read in 2021. Both are parts of series, with Blood Heir being the first book in a spinoff series of one of my favorite series of all time.

Becky Chambers

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky ChambersThe Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers

Becky Chambers has written a few books I’d consider favorites, so I picked up her 2 newest books in 2021. Unfortunately, neither will be making any of my favorites lists.

Annabeth Albert

Conventionally Yours by Annabeth AlbertOut of Character by Annabeth Albert

I was intrigued by Conventionally Yours, a nerdy contemporary romance by a new-to-me author, and enjoyed it so much that I also picked up Albert’s 2022 release, Out of Character.

Matt Haig

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt HaigThe Humans by Matt Haig

I’d had Matt Haig’s books on my TBR for years before I finally picked them up in 2021; I thought that Reasons to Stay Alive was a really important and empathetic read, but I didn’t really like The Humans.

 

Predictions for my most-read authors of 2022!

It’s hard to make predictions right at the beginning of a reading year, but last year I did a pretty good job anticipating that Lucy Parker and Talia Hibbert would make my 2021 list, so I’m going to give it a try. Also, it’ll be fun to see how right or wrong I am a year from now!

There are several authors I think I’ll probably read 2 books from in 2022:

Sarah J. Maas – I’m about halfway done with ACOSF right now, and I’d be pretty surprised if I didn’t end up picking up her 2022 release, the second book in her Crescent City series, this year.

A ​Court of Silver Flames (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #4)House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City, #2)

Talia Hibbert – I really like her, and I want to read even more from her in 2022, including the first book in her new Skybriar series that will hopefully be released this year.

The Roommate Risk

And for my prediction for my most-read author of 2022…

Alexis Hall!

Something Fabulous (Something Fabulous, #1)Husband Material (Boyfriend Material, #2)

(2 other Alexis Hall 2022 releases, Paris Daillencourt is About to Crumble and A Lady for a Duke, don’t have covers yet)

I think Alexis Hall might be my most-read author of 2022 because he has so many new releases slated to come out this year. Of course, release dates are always subject to change, but if these all do come out I think there’s a really good chance I pick them all up within the year. I could always be wrong, though!

OR…

Ali Hazelwood!

Under One RoofStuck with YouBelow Zero

Since Ali Hazelwood has 3 novellas and 1 novel planned to come out in 2022, and since she wrote my favorite romance of 2021, she also has a great chance of taking home the crown.

2022 Reading Goals

 

  1. Read all 10 of the books on my Top 10 TBR/5 Star Predictions for 2022

 

We Ride Upon SticksSeed to Harvest (Patternmaster, #1-4)Oranges Are Not the Only FruitSooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea

We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry – field hockey and witchcraft in the Salem area in 1989

Wild Seed by Octavia Butler – first book in a scifi series from a past favorite author

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson – semi-autobiographical story of growing up and coming out in a strict religious household, from a past favorite author

Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea by Sarah Pinsker – fabulist short story collection from a favorite indie press

Or What You WillLight from Uncommon StarsIn the Night Garden (The Orphan's Tales, #1)All's Well

Or What You Will by Jo Walton – meta story about an author’s character who attains consciousness, from an author of a past favorite book (Among Others)

The Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki – unique debut science fiction that I have a great feeling about

In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente – stories within a story from an all-time favorite author

All’s Well by Mona Awad – newest release from the author of my all-time favorite book (Bunny) involving Shakespeare and chronic pain

The Actual StarMy Monticello

The Actual Star by Monica Byrne – epic science fiction with a Cloud Atlas-like structure

My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson – debut short story collection with themes surrounding racism

2. Increase my ratio of 5 star reads from my Top 10 TBR – In 2021, 4 books from my Top 10 TBR/5 star predictions stack ended up being actual 5 star reads, which is pretty good. And even though you can’t really control whether a book is a 5 star read or not, I’m hoping that my 2022 stack performs even better, with 5 or more 5-star reads. I have so many picks that I’m really excited for and many from past favorite authors that I think it’s a definite possibility.

3. Buy more of my books from independent bookstores. It’s not that I never shop at indie bookstores, but my book buying comes from many different areas, and I’d like a greater percentage of my new books to come from my local indie.

4. Read a classic, which has been an unaccomplished goal for the past several years. In 2022, I’d like to actually get this done. I used to read lots of classics when I was younger, but it’s tapered off significantly as I’ve gotten older.

The Tenant of Wildfell HallAnna Karenina

5. Finish (or decide to DNF) books I started in 2021 but didn’t finish. Normally, when I’m entering the new year I prefer to do so with a clean slate and to start an all-new currently reading shelf. This year, I’m still in the middle of 4 books I started last year, and I also have several books that I “paused” throughout the course of 2021.

The Memory TheaterRestless Slumber (Fortuna Sworn, #2)Just Last NightA Marvellous Light (The Last Binding, #1)A ​Court of Silver Flames (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #4)The Spanish Love Deception

6. Read at least one poetry collection. I’ve gotten more interested in poetry over the last few years, but I don’t actually pick up poetry collections as often as I want to.

DearlyDon't Call Us DeadApocrypha

7. Read more short story collections than last year. I love short story collections, but I tend to read them slowly, which means that I don’t always pick up that many over the course of a year. In 2021 I read 4 short story collections; I’d like to read at least 5 in 2022.

My MonticelloSooner or Later Everything Falls Into the SeaOf This New WorldA Guide to Being BornI'm Waiting for You and Other StoriesFive Tuesdays in Winter

Most Anticipated Books of 2022, Part 2!

It seems like not very much time has elapsed since I posted Part 1 of my most anticipated book releases of 2022, but since then I’ve found out about a ton more enticing upcoming reads. Again, these are listed in order of anticipated release date (which is subject to change!) and I’m only including books that already have covers, descriptions, and tentative release dates available.

 

The Latinist

The Latinist by Mark Prins (anticipated release 1/4/22) – The academic setting and Greek mythology retelling elements of this one have really caught my eye; I was also lucky enough to be sent a free copy of this early 2022 release, so be on the lookout for an upcoming review.

From Goodreads: Tessa Templeton has thrived at Oxford University under the tutelage and praise of esteemed classics professor Christopher Eccles. And now, his support is the one thing she can rely on: her job search has yielded nothing, and her devotion to her work has just cost her her boyfriend, Ben. Yet shortly before her thesis defense, Tessa learns that Chris has sabotaged her career—and realizes their relationship is not at all what she believed.

Driven by what he mistakes as love for Tessa, Chris has ensured that no other institution will offer her a position, keeping her at Oxford with him. His tactics grow more invasive as he determines to prove he has her best interests at heart. Meanwhile, Tessa scrambles to undo the damage—and in the process makes a startling discovery about an obscure second-century Latin poet that could launch her into academic stardom, finally freeing her from Chris’s influence.

A contemporary reimagining of the Daphne and Apollo myth, The Latinist is a page-turning exploration of power, ambition, and the intertwining of love and obsession.

 

How High We Go in the Dark

How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu (anticipated release 1/18/22) – This book has comparisons to two other novels I loved, so I’m willing to overlook the fact that it does involve a pandemic aftermath. I was also sent a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, so hopefully I’ll be posting that early in the new year.

From Goodreads: For fans of Cloud Atlas and Station Eleven, a spellbinding and profoundly prescient debut that follows a cast of intricately linked characters over hundreds of years as humanity struggles to rebuild itself in the aftermath of a climate plague—a daring and deeply heartfelt work of mind-bending imagination from a singular new voice.

 

Love & Other Disasters

Love and Other Disasters by Anita Kelly (anticipated release 1/18/22) – I’m constantly looking for appealing-sounding romances from new-to-me authors, and this one involves a plot element I really enjoy (a cooking competition show!) and a nonbinary main character. Hoping to discover a great new romance author with this one.

From Goodreads: The first openly nonbinary contestant on America’s favorite cooking show falls for their clumsy competitor in this delicious romantic comedy debut “that is both fantastically fun and crack your heart wide open vulnerable.” (Rosie Danan, author of The Roommate)

Recently divorced and on the verge of bankruptcy, Dahlia Woodson is ready to reinvent herself on the popular reality competition show Chef’s Special. Too bad the first memorable move she makes is falling flat on her face, sending fish tacos flying—not quite the fresh start she was hoping for. Still, she’s focused on winning, until she meets someone she might want a future with more than she needs the prize money.

After announcing their pronouns on national television, London Parker has enough on their mind without worrying about the klutzy competitor stationed in front of them. They’re there to prove the trolls—including a fellow contestant and their dad—wrong, and falling in love was never part of the plan.

As London and Dahlia get closer, reality starts to fall away. Goodbye, guilt about divorce, anxiety about uncertain futures, and stress from transphobia. Hello, hilarious shenanigans on set, wedding crashing, and spontaneous dips into the Pacific. But as the finale draws near, Dahlia and London’s steamy relationship starts to feel the heat both in and outside the kitchen—and they must figure out if they have the right ingredients for a happily ever after.

 

Manywhere: Stories

Manywhere by Morgan Thomas (anticipated release 1/25/22) – When Roxane Gay blurbs a book, I listen. The fact that this is a short story collection, one of my favorite kinds of books to read, is just a bonus.

From Goodreads: The nine stories in Morgan Thomas’s shimmering debut collection, Manywhere, witness Southern queer and genderqueer characters determined to find themselves reflected in the annals of history, at whatever cost. As each character traces deceit and violence through Southern tall tales and their own pasts, their journeys reveal the porous boundaries of body, land, and history, and the sometimes ruthless awakenings of self-discovery.

A trans woman finds her independence through the purchase of a pregnancy bump. A young Virginian flees their relationship, choosing instead to immerse themselves in the life of an intersex person from Colonial-era Jamestown. A young writer tries to evade the murky and violent legacy of an ancestor who supposedly disappeared into a midwifery bag. And in the uncanny title story, a young trans person brings home a replacement daughter for their elderly father.

Winding between reinvention and remembrance, transition and transcendence, these origin stories rebound across centuries. With warm, meticulous emotional intelligence, Thomas uncovers how the stories we borrow to understand ourselves in turn shape the people we become. Ushering in a new form of queer mythmaking, Manywhere introduces a storyteller of uncommon range and talent.

 

This Woven Kingdom (This Woven Kingdom, #1)

This Woven Kingdom by Tahereh Mafi (anticipated release 2/1/22) – Mafi wrote a trilogy that helped me to an absurd degree with my stress levels in grad school (the Shatter Me trilogy; I’ve never read any of the newer books because I love the original ones too much) and her newest YA fantasy sounds like it could have an interesting enemies-to-lovers romance element.

From Goodreads: To all the world, Alizeh is a disposable servant, not the long-lost heir to an ancient Jinn kingdom forced to hide in plain sight.

The crown prince, Kamran, has heard the prophecies foretelling the death of his king. But he could never have imagined that the servant girl with the strange eyes, the girl he can’t put out of his mind, would one day soon uproot his kingdom—and the world.

 

Not the Witch You Wed

Not the Witch You Wed by April Asher (anticipated release 2/8/22) – I love that paranormal romance is becoming more mainstream alongside contemporary romance, and it’s been awhile since I’ve read a good werewolf book. I was approved for an eARC of this one via NetGalley, so it’s going on my January TBR for sure.

From Goodreads: Magic-less witch Violet Maxwell wants nothing to do with alpha wolf shifter Lincoln Thorne—the man who broke her fragile, teenage heart. But when the two of them are forced by arcane Supernatural Laws to find mates, Violet and Lincoln agree to fake-date their way to a fake-mating in order to conjure themselves some time.

The joke’s on them. When old feelings make a reappearance—along with Violet’s magic—they both realize there’s nothing fake about their feelings. But there are old secrets and looming threats that could snatch away their happily ever after, again. One thing’s for sure: magic doesn’t make dating and love any easier.

 

Under One Roof

Under One Roof by Ali Hazelwood (audio anticipated release 2/8/22, ebook anticipated release 5/3/22) – The great news for 2022 is that Ali Hazelwood, author of my favorite romance of 2021, is publishing 3 contemporary romance novellas starting in Feb, which will first come out as audiobooks and then as ebooks. I don’t want to speak too soon, but might this make her one of my most-read authors of 2022? Either way, I’m extremely excited for these novellas, which follow three women scientists and best friends.

From Goodreads: Mara, Sadie, and Hannah are friends first, scientists always. Though their fields of study might take them to different corners of the world, they can all agree on this universal truth: when it comes to love and science, opposites attract and rivals make you burn….

As an environmental engineer, Mara knows all about the delicate nature of ecosystems. They require balance. And leaving the thermostat alone. And not stealing someone else’s food. And other rules Liam, her detestable big-oil lawyer of a roommate, knows nothing about. Okay, sure, technically she’s the interloper. Liam was already entrenched in his aunt’s house like some glowering grumpy giant when Mara moved in, with his big muscles and kissable mouth just sitting there on the couch tempting respectable scientists to the dark side…but Helena was her mentor and Mara’s not about to move out and give up her inheritance without a fight.

The problem is, living with someone means getting to know them. And the more Mara finds out about Liam, the harder it is to loathe him…and the easier it is to love him.

 

Stuck with You

Stuck With You by Ali Hazelwood (audio anticipated release 3/8/22, ebook anticipated release 6/7/22) – the second of Ali Hazelwood’s three 2022 contemporary romance novellas!

From Goodreads: Logically, Sadie knows that civil engineers are supposed to build bridges. However, as a woman of STEM she also understands that variables can change, and when you are stuck for hours in a tiny New York elevator with the man who broke your heart, you earn the right to burn that brawny, blond bridge to the ground. Erik can apologize all he wants, but to quote her rebel leader—she’d just as soon kiss a Wookiee.

Not even the most sophisticated of Sadie’s superstitious rituals could have predicted such a disastrous reunion. But while she refuses to acknowledge the siren call of Erik’s steely forearms or the way his voice softens when he offers her his sweater, Sadie can’t help but wonder if there might be more layers to her cold-hearted nemesis than meet the eye. Maybe, possibly, even burned bridges can still be crossed….

 

The City of Dusk (The Dark Gods, #1)

The City of Dusk by Tara Sim (anticipated release 3/22/22) – I enjoy books with unlikely friendships and alliances formed by people who should otherwise be enemies, and this first book in a new fantasy series sounds like it’s going that route.

From Goodreads: Set in a gorgeous world of bone and shadow magic, of vengeful gods and defiant chosen ones, The City of Dusk is the first in a dark epic fantasy trilogy that follows the four heirs of four noble houses—each gifted with a divine power—as they form a tenuous alliance to keep their kingdom from descending into a realm-shattering war.

The Four Realms—Life, Death, Light, and Darkness—all converge on the city of dusk. For each realm there is a god, and for each god there is an heir.

But the gods have withdrawn their favor from the once vibrant and thriving city. And without it, all the realms are dying.

Unwilling to stand by and watch the destruction, the four heirs—Risha, a necromancer struggling to keep the peace; Angelica, an elementalist with her eyes set on the throne; Taesia, a shadow-wielding rogue with rebellion in her heart; and Nik, a soldier who struggles to see the light— will sacrifice everything to save the city.

But their defiance will cost them dearly.

 

The Bone Orchard

The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller (anticipated release 3/22/22) – This sounds like an extremely weird and unique fantasy from Tor, a publisher I’m always following, and I’m hoping it will be a surprise hit with me the way that Gideon the Ninth was.

From Goodreads: Charm is a witch, and she is alone. The last of a line of conquered necromantic workers, now confined within the yard of regrown bone trees at Orchard House, and the secrets of their marrow.

Charm is a prisoner, and a survivor. Charm tends the trees and their clattering fruit for the sake of her children, painstakingly grown and regrown with its fruit: Shame, Justice, Desire, Pride, and Pain.

Charm is a whore, and a madam. The wealthy and powerful of Borenguard come to her house to buy time with the girls who aren’t real.

Except on Tuesdays, which is when the Emperor himself lays claim to his mistress, Charm herself.

But now–Charm is also the only person who can keep an empire together, as the Emperor summons her to his deathbed, and charges her with choosing which of his awful, faithless sons will carry on the empire—by discovering which one is responsible for his own murder.

If she does this last thing, she will finally have what has been denied her since the fall of Inshil — her freedom. But she will also be betraying the ghosts past and present that live on within her heart.

Charm must choose. Her dead Emperor’s will or the whispers of her own ghosts. Justice for the empire or her own revenge.

 

Comeuppance Served Cold

Comeuppance Served Cold by Marion Deeds (anticipated release 3/22/22) – One of two 2022 Tor fantasy novellas whose covers and synopses immediately caught my eye!

From Goodreads: A respected magus and city leader intent on criminalizing Seattle’s most vulnerable magickers hires a young woman as a lady’s companion to curb his rebellious daughter’s outrageous behavior.

The widowed owner of a speakeasy encounters an opportunity to make her husband’s murderer pay while she tries to keep her shapeshifter brother safe.

A notorious thief slips into the city to complete a delicate and dangerous job that will leave chaos in its wake.

One thing is for certain—comeuppance, eventually, waits for everyone.

 

Below Zero

Below Zero by Ali Hazelwood (audio anticipated release 4/5/22, ebook anticipated release 7/8/22) – This is the third and final Ali Hazelwood contemporary romance novella coming out next year, and it sounds like it could be my favorite of the three, based on the enemies-to-lovers premise.

From Goodreads: Hannah’s got a bad feeling about this. Not only has the NASA aerospace engineer found herself injured and stranded at a remote Arctic research station—but the one person willing to undertake the hazardous rescue mission is her longtime rival.

Ian has been many things to Hannah: the villain who tried to veto her expedition and ruin her career, the man who stars in her most deliciously lurid dreams…but he’s never played the hero. So why is he risking everything to be here? And why does his presence seem just as dangerous to her heart as the coming snowstorm?

 

Woman, Eating

Woman, Eating by Claire Kohda (anticipated release 4/5/22) – This literary vampire novel sounds fascinating and like it may be an interesting take on feminism through the concept of vampirism.

From Goodreads: A young, mixed-race vampire must find a way to balance her deep-seated desire to live amongst humans with her incessant hunger in this stunning debut novel from a writer-to-watch.

Lydia is hungry. She’s always wanted to try Japanese food. Sashimi, ramen, onigiri with sour plum stuffed inside – the food her Japanese father liked to eat. And then there is bubble tea and iced-coffee, ice cream and cake, and foraged herbs and plants, and the vegetables grown by the other young artists at the London studio space she is secretly squatting in. But, Lydia can’t eat any of these things. Her body doesn’t work like those of other people. The only thing she can digest is blood, and it turns out that sourcing fresh pigs’ blood in London – where she is living away from her vampire mother for the first time – is much more difficult than she’d anticipated.

Then there are the humans – the other artists at the studio space, the people at the gallery she interns at, the strange men that follow her after dark, and Ben, a boyish, goofy-grinned artist she is developing feelings for. Lydia knows that they are her natural prey, but she can’t bring herself to feed on them. In her windowless studio, where she paints and studies the work of other artists, binge-watches Buffy the Vampire Slayer and videos of people eating food on YouTube and Instagram, Lydia considers her place in the world. She has many of the things humans wish for – perpetual youth, near-invulnerability, immortality – but she is miserable; she is lonely; and she is hungry – always hungry.

As Lydia develops as a woman and an artist, she will learn that she must reconcile the conflicts within her – between her demon and human sides, her mixed ethnic heritage, and her relationship with food, and, in turn, humans – if she is to find a way to exist in the world. Before any of this, however, she must eat.

 

Sea of Tranquility

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel (anticipated release 4/19/22) – I haven’t yet picked up another Emily St. John Mandel book since loving Station Eleven, but this one sounds fascinating (and possibly Cloud Atlas-esque?).

From Goodreads: Edwin St. Andrew is eighteen years old when he crosses the Atlantic by steamship, exiled from polite society following an ill-conceived diatribe at a dinner party. He enters the forest, spellbound by the beauty of the Canadian wilderness, and suddenly hears the notes of a violin echoing in an airship terminal—an experience that shocks him to his core.

Two centuries later a famous writer named Olive Llewellyn is on a book tour. She’s traveling all over Earth, but her home is the second moon colony, a place of white stone, spired towers, and artificial beauty. Within the text of Olive’s bestselling pandemic novel lies a strange passage: a man plays his violin for change in the echoing corridor of an airship terminal as the trees of a forest rise around him.

When Gaspery-Jacques Roberts, a detective in the black-skied Night City, is hired to investigate an anomaly in the North American wilderness, he uncovers a series of lives upended: The exiled son of an earl driven to madness, a writer trapped far from home as a pandemic ravages Earth, and a childhood friend from the Night City who, like Gaspery himself, has glimpsed the chance to do something extraordinary that will disrupt the timeline of the universe.

 

From Bad to Cursed (The Witches of Thistle Grove, #2)

From Bad to Cursed by Lana Harper (anticipated release 5/17/22) – I really enjoyed Harper’s contemporary paranormal romance Payback’s a Witch, and think I’d enjoy picking up another book set in the magical small town next year.

From Goodreads: Wild child Isidora Avramov is a thrill chaser, adept demon summoner, and—despite the whole sexy-evil-sorceress vibe—also a cuddly animal lover. When she’s not designing costumes and new storylines for the Arcane Emporium’s haunted house, Issa’s nursing a secret, conflicted dream of ditching her family’s witchy business to become an indie fashion designer in her own right.

But when someone starts sabotaging the celebrations leading up to this year’s Beltane festival with dark, dangerous magic, a member of the rival Thorn family gets badly hurt—throwing immediate suspicion on the Avramovs. To clear the Avramov name and step up for her family when they need her the most, Issa agrees to serve as a co-investigator, helping none other than Rowan Thorn get to the bottom of things.

Rowan is the very definition of lawful good, so tragically noble and by-the-book he makes Issa’s teeth hurt. In accordance with their families’ complicated history, he and Issa have been archenemies for years and have grown to heartily loathe each other. But as the unlikely duo follow a perplexing trail of clues to a stunning conclusion, Issa and Rowan discover how little they really know each other… and stumble upon a maddening attraction that becomes harder to ignore by the day.

 

You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty

You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi (anticipated release 5/24/22) – I’ve heard a lot of great things about Emezi’s books, and this appears to be their take on a romance novel. Although I’d also like to get to Freshwater in the near future, I’m probably more intrigued by the description of this one, their newest release.

From Goodreads: Feyi Adekola wants to learn how to be alive again.

It’s been five years since the accident that killed the love of her life and she’s almost a new person now—an artist with her own studio, and sharing a brownstone apartment with her ride-or-die best friend, Joy, who insists it’s time for Feyi to ease back into the dating scene. Feyi isn’t ready for anything serious, but a steamy encounter at a rooftop party cascades into a whirlwind summer she could have never imagined: a luxury trip to a tropical island, decadent meals in the glamorous home of a celebrity chef, and a major curator who wants to launch her art career.

She’s even started dating the perfect guy, but their new relationship might be sabotaged before it has a chance by the dangerous thrill Feyi feels every time she locks eyes with the one person in the house who is most definitely off-limits. This new life she asked for just got a lot more complicated, and Feyi must begin her search for real answers. Who is she ready to become? Can she release her past and honor her grief while still embracing her future? And, of course, there’s the biggest question of all—how far is she willing to go for a second chance at love?

 

The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes

The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes by Cat Sebastian (anticipated release 6/7/22) – The Queer Principles of Kit Webb was a surprise historical romance hit for me in 2021, and this book is a companion piece to Kit Webb, with most of the action taking place (I believe) contemporaneously to the other book.

From Goodreads: Marian Hayes, the Duchess of Clare, just shot her husband. Of course, the evil, murderous man deserved what was coming to him, but now she must flee to the countryside. Unfortunately, the only person she can ask for help is the charismatic criminal who is blackmailing her—and who she may have left tied up a few hours before…

A highwayman, con artist, and all-around cheerful villain, Rob Brooks is no stranger to the wrong side of the law or the right side of anybody’s bed. He never meant to fall for the woman whose secrets he promised to keep for the low price of five hundred pounds, but how could he resist someone who led him on a merry chase all over London, left him tied up in a seedy inn, and then arrived covered in her husband’s blood and in desperate need of his help?

As they flee across the country—stopping to pick pockets, drink to excess, and rescue invalid cats—they discover more true joy and peace than either has felt in ages. But when the truth of Rob’s past catches up to him, they must decide if they are willing to reshape their lives in order to forge a future together.

 

Juniper & Thorn

Juniper & Thorn by Ava Reid (anticipated release 6/7/22) – I’m actually in the middle of Reid’s debut historical fantasy The Wolf and the Woodsman at the moment, and am finding her writing a mixture of history, mythology, and fantasy very compelling; I’ll be interested to check out her next book as well.

From Goodreads: Marlinchen and her two sisters live with their wizard father in a city shifting from magic to industry. As Oblya’s last true witches, she and her sisters are little more than a tourist trap as they treat their clients with archaic remedies and beguile them with nostalgic charm. Marlinchen spends her days divining secrets in exchange for rubles and trying to placate her tyrannical, xenophobic father, who keeps his daughters sequestered from the outside world. But at night, Marlinchen and her sisters sneak out to enjoy the city’s amenities and revel in its thrills, particularly the recently established ballet theater, where Marlinchen meets a dancer who quickly captures her heart.

As Marlinchen’s late-night trysts grow more fervent and frequent, so does the threat of her father’s rage and magic. And while Oblya flourishes with culture and bustles with enterprise, a monster lurks in its midst, borne of intolerance and resentment and suffused with old-world power. Caught between history and progress and blood and desire, Marlinchen must draw upon her own magic to keep her city safe and find her place within it.

 

A Prayer for the Crown-Shy (Monk & Robot #2)

A Prayer for the Crown-Shy by Becky Chambers (anticipated release 7/12/22) – I liked A Song for the Wild-Built, the first novella in Chambers’ new philosophical, solarpunk science fiction series, and will be curious where Chambers takes her tea monk and robot protagonists next.

From Goodreads: After touring the rural areas of Panga, Sibling Dex (a Tea Monk of some renown) and Mosscap (a robot sent on a quest to determine what humanity really needs) turn their attention to the villages and cities of the little moon they call home.

They hope to find the answers they seek, while making new friends, learning new concepts, and experiencing the entropic nature of the universe.

Becky Chambers’s new series continues to ask: in a world where people have what they want, does having more even matter?

 

Just Like Home

Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey (anticipated release 7/19/22) – This book sounds weird, intriguing, and weirdly intriguing.

From Goodreads: “Come home.” Vera’s mother called and Vera obeyed. In spite of their long estrangement, in spite of the memories — she’s come back to the home of a serial killer. Back to face the love she had for her father and the bodies he buried there.

Coming home is hard enough for Vera, and to make things worse, she and her mother aren’t alone. A parasitic artist has moved into the guest house out back, and is slowly stripping Vera’s childhood for spare parts. He insists that he isn’t the one leaving notes around the house in her father’s handwriting… but who else could it possibly be?

There are secrets yet undiscovered in the foundations of the notorious Crowder House. Vera must face them, and find out for herself just how deep the rot goes.

 

Spells for Forgetting

Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young (anticipated release 8/2/22) – I don’t read very much mystery, but this one, which involves isolation, a years-old murder, and a possible romantic subplot, really interests me.

From Goodreads: A rural island community steeped in the mystical superstitions of its founders and haunted by an unsolved murder is upended by the return of the suspected killer in this deeply atmospheric novel.

Emery Blackwood’s life was forever changed on the eve of her high school graduation, when the love of her life, August Salt, was accused of murdering her best friend, Lily. Now, she is doing what her teenage self swore she never would: living a quiet existence among the community that fractured her world in two. She’d once longed to run away with August, eager to escape the misty, remote shores of Saiorse Island and chase new dreams; now, she maintains her late mother’s tea shop and cares for her ailing father. But just as the island, rooted in folklore and tradition, begins to show signs of strange happenings, August returns for the first time in fourteen years and unearths the past that no one wants to remember.

August Salt knows he is not welcome on Saiorse, not after the night that changed everything. As a fire raged on at the Salt family orchard, Lily Morgan was found dead in the dark woods, shaking the bedrock of their tight-knit community and branding August a murderer. When he returns to bury his mother’s ashes, he must confront the people who turned their backs on him and face the one wound from the past that has never healed—Emery. But the town has more than one reason to want August gone, and the emergence of deep betrayals and hidden promises that span generations threatens to reveal the truth behind Lily’s death once and for all.

 

High Times in the Low Parliament

High Times in the Low Parliament by Kelly Robson (anticipated release 8/9/22) – This Tor novella sounds super fun and unique–I enjoy books that involve fairies, and this sounds like it could be funny as well.

From Goodreads: Lana Baker is Aldgate’s finest scribe, with a sharp pen and an even sharper wit. Gregarious, charming, and ever so eager to please, she agrees to deliver a message for another lovely scribe in exchange for kisses and ends up getting sent to Low Parliament by a temperamental fairy as a result.

As Lana transcribes the endless circular arguments of Parliament, the debates grow tenser and more desperate. Due to long-standing tradition, a hung vote will cause Parliament to flood and a return to endless war. Lana must rely on an unlikely pair of comrades—Bugbite, the curmudgeonly fairy, and Eloquentia, the bewitching human deputy—to save humanity (and maybe even woo one or two lucky ladies), come hell or high water.

 

The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy

The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy by Megan Bannen (anticipated release 8/23/22) – Speaking of unique books, this one sounds like a very interesting mix of fantastical and romantic elements, with a world that I don’t think I’ve heard of anything like before.

From Goodreads: Hart Ralston is a demigod and a marshal, tasked with patrolling the wasteland of Tanria. The realm the exiled old gods once called home is now a forsaken place where humans with no better options or no better sense come seeking adventure or spoils, but more often end up as drudges: reanimated corpses inhabited by the souls of those who’ve died in Tanria before. Hart tells himself that his job is simple: neutralize the drudges with a quick zap to the appendix and deliver them back to polite society at the nearest undertaker’s, leaving the whys and hows of the drudge problem for men without the complexities of a god in their family tree. But working alone, Hart’s got nothing but time to ponder exactly those questions he’d most like to avoid.

Too much time alone is the opposite of Mercy Birdsall’s problem. Since her father’s decline, she’s been single-handedly keeping Birdsall & Son undertakers afloat in small-town Eternity—despite definitely not being a son, and in defiance of sullen jerks like Hart Ralston, who seems to have a gift for showing up right when her patience is thinnest. The work’s not the problem—Mercy’s good at it, better than any other Birdsall—but keeping all her family’s plates spinning singlehandedly, forever, isn’t how Mercy envisioned her future.

After yet another run-in with the sharp-tongued Mercy, Hart considers she might have a point about his utter loneliness being a bit of a liability. In a moment of sentimentality, he pens a letter addressed simply to “A Friend,” and entrusts it to a nimkilim, an anthropomorphic animal messenger with an uncanny connection to the gods, (and in Hart’s case, a bit of a drinking problem). Much to his surprise, an anonymous letter comes back in return, and a tentative friendship is born.

If only Hart knew he’s been baring his soul to the person who infuriates him most–Mercy. As the two unlikely pen pals grow closer, the truth about Hart’s parentage and the nature of the drudges creeps in. And suddenly their old animosity seems so small in comparison to what they might be able to do: end the drudges forever. But at what cost?

 

 

Are any of these books on your 2022 TBR? Are there any 2022 releases you think should be on my list? Let me know in the comments!

November Reading Wrap-Up & Reviews

I’m really happy about the fact that in November I read from a wide variety of genres and also managed to finish 2 of the remaining books from my Top 10 2021 TBR list (meaning that now I only have 1 left to read in December!). Let’s get into some reviews and stats…

Stats

Total books read: 10

#readmyowndamnbooks: 5

Audiobooks: 4

ebooks: 1

A Deal with the Elf King by Elise KovaThe Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi WaxmanThe Stone Gods by Jeanette WintersonWell Matched by Jen DeLucaThe Heart Principle by Helen HoangThe Anthropocene Reviewed by John GreenThe Story of More by Hope JahrenA Certain Appeal by Vanessa KingThe Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky ChambersWhen the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson (4.25 stars) – The Stone Gods is my third read from Jeanette Winterson, who so far does something very different with each book of hers I pick up. On the surface, The Stone Gods is literary scifi set in a future where humans have devastated the planet so much that our only hope for survival is to move to a newly discovered planet that resembles ours in the time of the dinosaurs. Its themes of environmentalism, the cyclical nature of history, and our ability or inability to learn from the mistakes of the past are chilling and permeate the narrative at every turn, and the plot never takes the direction you think it will. It’s a short novel, but saturated with lasting images and concepts. Recommended to literary scifi fans, and I’m looking forward to picking up even more from Winterson in the future.

The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang (4 stars) – I wasn’t expecting to find another contemporary romance favorite this late in the year, but I never should have doubted. Helen Hoang is fantastic at character development, and despite the fact that she had fans excited for a romance featuring Quan since the release of The Kiss Quotient, The Heart Principle introduces us to Anna and makes us fall in love with her almost immediately. While still managing to be a very sweet romance based on empathy and understanding, this is still very much about Anna and her character growth. It’s emotionally devastating at times, but very much worth it.

A Certain Appeal by Vanessa King (4 stars) – A super cute contemporary Pride & Prejudice retelling set in New York and revolving around a found family working at a burlesque club. It’s lower on angst and has a more quickly progressing romance than the original P&P, but still stays very true to its spirit. I really enjoyed this one!

The Story of More by Hope Jahren (4 stars) – A nonfiction book focusing on climate change and different aspects of human life that contribute to its progression, as well as changes we can make to help slow the process. I really enjoyed Jahren’s memoir Lab Girl; this audiobook was just as well-written and very informative.

The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green (4 stars) – A thoughtful essay collection where the conceit is that Green is commenting on society’s penchant for rating things on a 5-star scale by rating various things about the world as he simultaneously discusses more personal topics like his mental health and how the pandemic affected him. It’s well-written, with a good mixture of fun facts and introspection, and I really liked Green’s voice as an audio narrator.

A Deal With the Elf King by Elise Kova (3.5 stars) – The first in a fantasy romance series called Married to Magic that’s set in a world where the human world borders the land of immortal creatures such as elves, fairies, and vampires. It was an enjoyable read, although it didn’t have a lot of depth, and I plan to continue in the series when I’m next in a fantasy romance mood.

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers (3 stars) – Unfortunately, this was a disappointment for me. Becky Chambers can be a hit-or-miss author for me; I’ve given a few of her books 5 stars, but some just don’t quite hit the mark. This is a very quiet science fiction story about unlikely friendships and learning about people from different backgrounds and cultures while being stranded on an unfamiliar planet due to an atmospheric disaster, and although I often enjoy quiet, character-focused stories, this one was a bit too slow and the characters themselves not all interesting enough to hold my attention.

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman (3 stars) – A cute, sweet read about a young woman working at a bookstore and dealing with anxiety who suddenly finds herself part of a dynamic extended family she’s never met before after the death of her estranged father. I enjoyed this audio listen but wouldn’t say that I loved it; I liked Nina discovering and getting to know her new siblings/nieces/nephews/cousins and her various friendships/book clubs/activities that she uses to help keep a rigid schedule to manage her anxiety, but I wasn’t as invested in the romance and felt it was not really necessary to the plot.

When the Moon Was Ours by A.M. McLemore (3 stars) – I really, really wanted to love this book–it was on my Top 10 2021/5 Star TBR Predictions list for the year. And I did think that the premise, characters, and even broadly the plot were very well-done, but the book’s writing and pacing just did not work for me at all. The writing style is very repetitive; it’s not just that it’s metaphor-heavy, which is something I often enjoy in fabulism, but it’s that the exact same metaphors are used every time certain elements or characters appear, and sentences and phrases quickly became overused. I think that this story would have worked really well as a novella or even a short story, but as a novel there just wasn’t enough content to fill that many pages.

Well Matched by Jen DeLuca (3 stars) – A friends-to-lovers contemporary romance with a fake dating plotline, this one was just OK for me. I felt similarly about Well Met, the first book in this series set around a small town that hosts a yearly Ren Faire; I skipped the second book in the series because reviewers all seemed to agree it was their least favorite. I was looking for an easy audio listen and this one fit the bill; I enjoyed the listen, but it didn’t have much of an impact on me.

December TBR!

I know it’s a bit early for a December TBR post, but I’ve been thinking/strategizing a lot about what books I want to finish before the end of the year and I think I’ve finally got at least some of it mapped out. Also, I’m leaving for vacation in less than a week, and I’m thinking I’ll likely not finish very many more books in November before that happens.

My December TBR seems to be falling into 2 categories:

Books from my physical TBR that I really need to finish before the end of 2021:

All the Birds, SingingOut Front the Following SeaA ​Court of Silver Flames (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #4)Comfort Me With Apples

All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld (literary fiction) is the final book from my Top 10 2021 TBR list; Out Front the Following Sea by Leah Angstman (historical fiction) is an ARC that comes out very early in 2022, so I want to make sure I read and review it well before its release date; A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas (fantasy romance), which was one of my most anticipated releases of 2021 but I’m having a hard time actually reading it because I hate one of the main characters; and Comfort Me with Apples by Catherynne M. Valente (mystery?), because I aim to read one Valente book per year.

Holiday-themed books that I’d like to pick up since I’m only really drawn towards these at a certain time of year:

Wrapped Up in YouThe Mistletoe MotiveThe Matzah BallMurder Most Actual

I’m Jewish, so I don’t really ever tend to read holiday romances, but this year there are 2 Christmas romance novellas that sound really cute and fun (as well as a Hanukkah romance!), so I’m going to give them a try: Wrapped Up in You by Talia Hibbert (contemporary romance), because Talia Hibbert is one of my favorite romance writers and I’m trying to delve more into her backlist; The Mistletoe Motive by Chloe Liese (contemporary romance), which is being recommended for fans of one of my favorite romances, The Hating Game; The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer, which is the first mainstream Hanukkah romance I’ve heard of so far; and Murder Most Actual (mystery) by Alexis Hall, which isn’t actually holiday-themed but is a cozy winter mystery that seems like a great December pick.

I write about nontraditional beach reads for nontraditional readers