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Another a year, another almost impossible task trying to each choose our Top 10 Reads of the year! For me, the word “favorite” is an important part of this list. As I go through the last year’s worth of reading, I often found that some books would strike particular chords within me more deeply than others, even if, quality-wise, another book might be stronger. Of course, this just makes it all that much harder to put them in any order. But here it goes! Today I’m going to countdown my favorites reads, five to one. And since it’s the end of the reading year, don’t forget to enter our “12 Days of Christmas Giveaway!”
5. “The Drowned Woods” by Emily Lloyd-Jones
I’ve been waiting and waiting for another book by Emily Lloyd-Jones ever since I devoured “The Bone Houses” a few years ago. That book also featured on my Top 10 list of the year. So it’s probably no surprise that this one made it on here, and into the top five, nonetheless. This book is loosely connected to that one as well, but only in the smallest of senses. It can largely be read as a stand-alone fantasy, inspired by a Welsh Atlantis folk story, and was such a pleasure in every way! I particularly liked some of the clever ways the magical aspects were woven in. There’s also a very subdued romantic subplot that I found very sweet. But alas, now I’m back to the long wait for another book by this author! I’m giving away an ARC version of this one in our “12 Days of Christmas Giveaway!”
4. “Belladonna” Adalyn Grace
This probably goes down as one of my biggest surprise reads this year! Looking at the cover and only being passably familiar with the author as a YA fantasy author of a duology I hadn’t gotten around to yet, I picked this up on a whim. And lucky I did, cuz I loved it! On one hand, it’s fantastic to be completely taken by surprise like that, but on the other hand, I’m then left with the fear of all the other good books I could be missing simply because I pre-judged them on their cover and an over-abundance of YA fantasy! Either way, this book was a fun, fast read with, most shocking of all, a love triangle that I didn’t hate! The second book is coming out this summer, and I’m both incredibly excited and incredibly nervous. I’m also giving away an ARC version of this one in our “12 Days of Christmas Giveaway!”
3. “Circe” by Madeline Miller
This was my pick for our summer bookclub theme and my prompt was “A Book with a Map.” Well, the map itself was pretty lackluster, but the story more than made up for it! I’m probably one of the few readers who hadn’t already read Miller’s “Song of Achilles,” but what can I say? I never feel in the mood for ugly crying tragedy! But this book was so good, I might need to re-think that. I loved this take on the famous character, Circe, and how her story wove in and out of so many Greek myths. It also gives us a unique take on Odysseus and “The Odyssey.” Miller had a lot to say about women, motherhood, and the subtler sides of power. Such strong work.
2. “Nettle & Bone” by T. Kingfisher
As promised in my previous post, here’s T. Kingfisher to round out my most surprising authors of the year mini list! I’ve read a good number of books by her this year, even roping Kate into a joint review of one of her fantasy/horror stories. But this was the first one I read and still one of my favorites. It’s a short, sweet fairytale that was a perfect balance of all of my favorite things. There was romance, there was a strong female lead, there was hilarious dialogue, there were adorable animal companions (yes, plural!). I highly recommend this book (and author!), especially for fantasy readers looking for shorter, original stories.
1. “The Golden Enclaves” by Naomi Novik
I don’t think this pick will surprise anyone. Novik’s books always seem to make it on to my Top 10, and she’s been the number one pick a few times before as well. This, being the third book in what has been a super solid fantasy trilogy, was either going to bomb and cause mass despair among the many ardent fans, or end up here and on many other “best of” lists. This was a very ambitious last book, and a challenging one on top of that as Novik moves the setting out of the Scholomance, a setting that had almost been a character in its own right. The world-building continued to impress, and Novik didn’t shy away from tackling some very difficult human truths. Any fan of the trilogy will have already read it, almost guaranteed given the awful cliffhanger from the second book. But if you’re one of those fantasy fans who for some reason hasn’t read this trilogy, run, don’t walk, to your nearest library/bookstore right now!
What have been some of your favorite reads of 2022?