Book Review Week

The week after Christmas is a week I mostly dedicate to reading (if I can).

So, I thought I would share some of my 2022 reads with you, from picture books here at the top to older reads and author books near the end. I read all over the age and content spectrum, although I think you’ll see some strong trends toward speculative fiction. These are a sampling of what I read, because I actually read beyond what I have here, but I’m trying to be cognizant of time.

Picture books

The Jolly Postman and Other People’s Letters by Janet & Allan Ahlberg
This delightful book of letters delivered by post from one to the other is simply wonderful. Each letter is included and can be pulled out of their page envelopes for reading. This is a sweet, hands-on book for young, picture book readers, but as a grown up, I loved it, too.
Recommended for all the young at heart.

Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett: A reread for 2022, but I hadn’t put it into my lists until now, so I’m counting it for this year. The first time I read it was in 2006/7 and typically I reread it every year at Christmastime.

My Heart by Corinna Luyken: Gorgeous illustrations with a message full of heart for young readers, and older ones, too.

Middle Grade Books

The Problem with Prophecies by Scott Reintgen: I enjoyed the story thoroughly, laughing, crying (yep, there is a scene that requires a hankie), and smiling. I hugged the book afterward. It’s a keeper and I will definitely not only read certain parts I bookmarked but the whole book. I recommend it to readers of middle grade books, teen books, and up. (General fantasy with underlying Christian themes.)

The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend : This engaging and fun Middle Grade read caught my attention one day in a bookshop, and unlike my normal purchasing habits, I bought it on a whim – not really sure if I would like it. I did like it, very much.
Action, intrigue, and a wonderful character arc with a heart made this book one of my late favorites this year.

Young Adult Books

The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry: Gorgeous prose, beautifully flawed characters, and an intriguing story – one of the best books I’ve read this year. (Christian Themes)

The Portal by Shana Dow: In this epic, satisfying end to this portal-based fantasy trilogy, the teen characters grow into adults, through outer and inner challenges. I don’t want to give too much away, but anyone who is a fan of epic battle scenes will enjoy this book, and anyone who loves to see characters develop emotionally will love this book. Marston, as the main character, grows in emotional depths and in his ability to fight his enemies, but the plot has twists and turns which fit with the series, but also surprise and entertain in ways that are unexpected. The plot as a whole is a satisfying conclusion to a page-turning, fantasy-adventure series, and I highly recommend it! (Christian Indie Author)

The Last Graduate by Naomi Novak: I enjoyed this second book in the scholomance series, but there was something holding me back from loving it. I loved seeing El grow in her friendships and alliances, in understanding who she really wants to be and the choices only she can make, but her relational growth with Orion felt intermittent, and while I loved the mice, I wanted there to be “more” of something, some aid from them at the end? I’m not sure what it was I had hoped for, but while yes, I will definitely read the next book, and yes, I enjoyed this one, I can’t quite give it five stars. (Secular fantasy.)

Legacy of the Curse by Deborah Grace White: Adventure, intrigue, dragons, and unexpected magic become a part Jocelyn’s life when she accidentally loses control over her “curse” at a gathering of strangers. Drawn into a new land, delving into her fears, Jocelyn will discover new horizons and new heights, while also getting to know a dreamy adventurer who is the opposite of the composed prince she’s supposed to be meeting on her journey. I loved this book and highly recommend it to all fans of clean romantic fantasy adventure! (Christian Indie Author)

Fiction, Eclectic (General Readership)

The Progeny by Tosca Lee: Riveting, action-packed, exciting, resonant character growth – all these things are in The Progeny! So good! (Christian speculative suspense.)

Constance Verity Saves the World by A. Lee Martinez: Mix nerd fun-entertainment, references to ancient history mashed up with fantasy and science fiction, with a heroine who wants to somehow keep her relationships and her adventure life apart and you have a light-hearted spy-novel-esque page-turner. (Secular fiction)

The Color of God by Grace E. Running-Nichols: With a huge cast of characters, The Color of God offers up a kaleidoscope of human experience and emotion, lost connections and deep connections, bitterness, and forgiveness. This beautifully written novel includes mystery, friendship building, love, and people from diverse backgrounds. God’s providence and love binds them all together within the pages of this compelling, page-turning read. (Christian contemporary romantic suspense.)

Poetry

Whale Day: And Other Poems by Billy Collins: This accessible, enjoyable, and thought-provoking book of poems was a really fun read. I recommend it for poetry readers and non-poetry readers.

Newspaper Blackout by Austin Kleon (The only author in two categories this year): Brilliant, bold, thought-provoking, and fun.

In Case I Live Forever by Emma McCoy: In this skillfully woven, mythological retelling of world events in poetic form, the story is center around a woman who lives forever and who breathes new life into ancient myths, legends, faiths, and events. The emotions of the woman invite the reader to sing, laugh, triumph, sorrow, wonder, wander, and wrestle with what it means to be human, to be alive.
Highly recommended for lovers of narrative poetry.

Dog Songs by Mary Oliver: a sweet group of odes to the furry friends in our lives.

Water & Salt by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha: Beautiful, haunting, comforting, inspiring, creative – each poem evokes different images and emotions. This chapbook of poems creates a bridge between worlds, between communities, and an invites the reader to have an awakened understanding of what it means to live, and to live between worlds.

Non-fiction, Eclectic

Living with Pain by Joel Price: In this book, humor counteracts the tough subject matter, gives breathing space for the reflections within, and points to community and God, the guides for finding comfort and walking in our lives, knowing there is pain and will be pain, but there is also joy, humor, love, community, and the presence of God.

Still Sideways: Riding the Edge Again after Losing My Sight by Devon Raney: an unexpected find at the library. I enjoyed this narrative of surviving and thriving during/after a tough change of circumstances.

Planting for Honeybees: The Grower’s Guide to Creating a Buzz by Sarah Wyndham Lewis: One of my favorite non-fiction books of the year. I found this at the library, then purchased my copy. Full of information in a beautiful book.

DEVOTIONS

Seeing Beautiful Again: 50 Devotions to Find Redemption in Every Part of Your Story By Lysa Terkheurst – I started my year with this book and I kept finding it fitting my circumstances at every turn.

Embraced: 100 Devotions to Know God Is Holding You Close by Lysa Terkheurst – I am ending my year with this devotional book and, again, it keeps fitting each day and each circumstance with what I needed to read.

Books for Writers (I’ll be giving more extensive reviews of these throughout the year)

Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury: I loved 90% of this wonderful, small book of wisdom on the craft of writing by Ray Bradbury! Excellent reading, especially for anyone who writes speculative fiction.

The Steal Like an Artist Audio Trilogy by Austin Kleon: This is one of the best audible books I’ve ever listened to, and I plan to listen to it on repeat, and then go buy the second and third books in print. Great stuff for any writer or artist.

The Business of Short Stories: Writing, Submitting, Publishing, and Marketing by Shannon Lawrence. I can’t say enough good things about this book. I’ve read it twice. I’ve reviewed it three times now. Go, read it! (Indie Author, IWSG author)

Business for Authors: How to Be an Author Entrepreneur by Joanna Penn addresses specific strategies and details to help authors who want to improve their business practices. (Indie Author)

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