Keeping with traditions, we will post our separate top 10 reads of 2022 lists throughout January. Well, it might be top 5 in some cases, but all 4 of us had books we’d like to shout about and that’s what’s important.
Our only rule was that any book on these lists has to be read during 2022, regardless of when they were published and by whom. And we had to love them, obviously. Maybe. I mean, when you keep shouting at the author in private for things they did, it’s surely a sign of love, right? Even if you call said author names… *ahem* Anyway. The first to go is Timy with her Top 10 Reads of 2022!
Before I get to my list, let me bore you with some statistics. I just like to take a look back at my year, so there you go. 2022 was an interesting year reading-wise. Going back to working full-time sure put a damper on my already struggling reading mood. And I don’t think that’ll change much in 2023. But on the other hand, after a year off, I returned to SPFBO, which required a lot of my reading attention, even if I have a team. I also didn’t include any of those books in my statistics.
I’ve read (fully or partially) 45 books in 2022 (14 less than in 2021, but SPFBO books are not included). 1 of those was a DNF and 8 I put aside for later. These were mostly audiobooks I wasn’t in the mood for right then. Out of the 37 books I did read (again, SPFBO books aren’t included), 27 were traditionally published (6 rereads) and 10 were indie or self-published. And not counting the DNFs, and SPFBO, my average rating was 4.2. I was slightly less nice.
As for audiobooks vs ebooks/paperbacks, audiobooks took over for sure. 21 vs 16 (2 paperbacks!). This surprises me because I thought I finished fewer audiobooks (which is true), but I didn’t expect I read so few books in other formats. Yikes. Then again, I did all of my SPFBO reading in ebooks, so I guess that changes things.
As for reviews… well, this is shocking, but I only reviewed 15 out of 37 books. Wow. I should do better in 2023. On the plus side, I read 3 SPFBO books fully and read 8 partially, and reviewed them all, so I feel slightly better.
A quick word about how I did with reading challenges – I set my GR challenge to 50, but only managed 40, but that was pretty much expected. I at least had better luck with The Sound of Madness 2022 edition, which I was able to complete!
But enough about the numbers, I know you are all here for the books. I’ve read many excellent ones this past year, despite my setbacks. I collected 10 of my favorites before, although not all of them were 5 star reads. It wasn’t intentional, but I got to make a nicely balanced list with 5-5 trad and indie/self-published books, so I’m quite happy about that.
Now, without further ado, here are my top 10 reads of 2022 more or less ordered with my absolute favorite at the bottom:
Book Lovers by Emily Henry
I’ve read quite a few Romance novels this year, I find that they work well for me as audiobooks when I want to get away from Fantasy. Plus this year I was definitely looking more for cozy/fluffy reads than dark stuff. Out of the romcom books I’ve read, Book Lovers was my favorite definitely. Sure, it didn’t have many surprises, but it had some laugh-out-loud moments and it featured two editors who love and breathe books.
One summer. Two rivals. A plot twist they didn’t see coming…
Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.
Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute.
If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.
The Castle Doctrine by Craig Schaefer
Craig Schaefer pretty much has a permanent place on my top 10 lists, and since I still need to catch up with her Daniel Faust series and she has some more books coming next year, that’s probably not going to change for a while. This year she made it with book 6 of the Daniel Faust series, The Castle Doctrine. It’s a great UF series, so if you like the subgenre, I definitely recommend it!
Out of prison and back on the streets, Daniel Faust returns home to a city on fire. The Chicago mob is making their play for control of Las Vegas, with an army of gunmen and a lethal shapeshifter on their side, while Daniel’s friend Jennifer marshals the forces of the Vegas underworld. Staying on the sidelines isn’t an option, especially when a Metro detective orders him to get the war under control — and if he can’t, he’ll expose Daniel’s secrets to the FBI.
It’s a bad time for ghosts of the past to come calling, but Damien Ecko is on his way with a hit list and a legion of walking corpses. Marked for death by the courts of hell, the mad necromancer plans on making sure that everyone who framed him, Daniel first and foremost, dies along with him.
Hunted by the living and the dead, pushed to his limits, Daniel will have to be smarter, faster, and more ruthless than he’s ever been. He’ll need to call upon new, dark powers, and darker allies. His enemies thought they took everything he had. They couldn’t take his hunger. When this war is over, Daniel Faust will rise like a phoenix…or go down in flames.
“It’s also interesting to witness how Daniel transits from a morally grey antihero into a kind of villain. Maybe. I’m not sure I’m expressing myself well here. It’s not that he is an entirely bad person – he cares about his family and friends and at least tries not to hurt innocents – but he also develops a bit of ruthlessness as things escalate and lines start to blur. I find myself fascinated by his character, and that’s a big reason why I’m sticking to the series. He is definitely not a hero, he’s got snark and a good heart. I really would like to see him have a companion other than Caitlyn. A cat, say. I’m sure that would be fun.”
The Crew by Sadir S. Samir
Sadir S. Samir‘s debut novel, The Crew, the first book in The God Dust Saga, wasn’t among my top-rated books, and yet… I felt like it deserved a spot on my top 10 reads of 2022 because it’s unadulterated fun. Samir definitely has something here, and I’m really looking forward to reading more from him. He also gave me one of my favorite bookish characters this year, Zuba. And Dog Man. I probably was a bit harsher in my review than I should have been, but rest assured, I really enjoyed my time with the crew!
Kings of the Wyld meets Deadpool in this action-packed fantasy adventure set in an Arab-inspired landscape.
Varcade fled to the deserts of Harrah to escape his past as an Educator, a member of an order of zealot warrior-monks that aims to shape the world according to their sacred Teachings by force. Varcade makes his living as a reckless sword-for-hire, caring only about himself, until his self-centered lifestyle is turned on its head when he is contracted to recruit a misfit team of unruly assassins and take out the mighty Bone Lord of Akrab.
But the Bone Lord is aware of the plot and sends her band of Dusters to stop them; individuals who have gained bizarre and lethal magical powers by snorting the pulverised bones of dead gods. Hunted by Educators and Dusters in a city-state where an escalating conflict between the human and demon population threatens to boil over in a civil war, will Varcade and his ragtag crew save Akrab from the cruel Bone Lord, or will they make things even worse?
“The Crew is a noteworthy debut novel. It’s a bit rough around the edges, and it shows the signs of being a debut, but it also shows that Sadir S. Samir got skills (and some sick sense of humor that I absolutely love) and we better watch out for him in the future. The Crew is one hell of a fun book, one I didn’t encounter in a long time. If you like action-packed fantasy novels and have a certain sense of dark humor, then I would definitely recommend giving this a read.”
Dyer Street Punk Witches by Phil Williams
I’ve known Phil for a few years now, but I only just read my first Phil Williams book in 2022. Actually, I read 2 books from him at that, and both had the potential to make my list, but I wanted to feature each author only once, and between Kept from Cages and Dyer Street Punk Witches, the latter made a more lasting impression on me. I mean, come on, punk witches, what else would you want?! Being friends with Kit, that’s what.
Kit hung up her brass knuckles, but the shadows of her past always lingered. Now they’re back to claim her.
Kit “Fadulous” Hamley, magazine editor, activist and former punk rocker, is a well-known loudmouth in St Alphege’s. She works tirelessly to hold local authorities to account. Some say she’s making up for her criminal youth. Others spread rumours of witchcraft. Only a handful of people know how dark her secrets really are.
When an old friend warns Kit that a former rival has resurfaced, those secrets start to resurface. People have gone missing, with body parts and strange symbols left behind, and someone is stalking Kit. The gang she abandoned are scared stiff and her magic-wielding bandmates are long gone. Kit herself is a target, and if she can’t unravel exactly how this new feud connects with her past mistakes, it could kill her.
Decades older, a little wiser, and contrary as ever, Kit’s going to remind them all what a punk witch can do.
Get ready for a riotous ride into the seedy underbelly of St Alphege’s, where gang warfare and occult conspiracies tear ordinary lives apart. Dyer Street Punk Witches is a standalone urban fantasy thriller, packed with tough, subversive characters and tense twists – you won’t be able to put down.
“Dyer Street Punk Witches is one of the very good examples of why I love the Urban Fantasy subgenre – without using the usual tropes. It also shows how a good UF/thriller should work. It’s gritty, it’s rough around the edges, it has a touch of supernatural and well-written character dynamics that makes this book unputdownable. This was definitely not the last Phil Williams book I’ve read and I look forward to seeing what he comes up with next!”
Incy Wincy by RJ Dark
RJ Barker planted himself on my favorite authors list in the last couple of years, even if he sometimes writes under pen names, such as RJ Dark. But he can’t deceive me and he also can’t stop me from gushing about the pair of Mal and Jackie. Incy Wincy is the second book in the pair’s adventures, and I already can’t wait to read more. I said in my review that it’ll be on my top reads of 2022 list, and here we go.
Malachite Jones is a pretend psychic medium and an unwilling detective.
He certainly doesn’t want anyone bringing him a missing persons case.
Definitely not two.
When the a body turns up he knows life is only going to get harder.
Blades Edge premier gangster, Trolley Mick, owes a favour to a family who’s son, Daniel Jerrings, has vanished. He wants Mal to pay it. Jackie’s friend from the military, Spider, is also missing. And though Jackie doesn’t really do friends, he does do loyalty and that means Mal does too.
But it seems that there are plenty of other people out there looking for Spider, and everything is spiralling down the drain in a wash of designer drugs, UFOs, racists, violent youth gangs and a group of evangelical Americans with their own agenda. Somehow, it all involves a missing teenager but nothing adds up, and violence lurks around every corner.
Discovering the truth means sinking deeper into the grimy world of organised crime where dangerous people have an awful lot to lose, and a way out for Mal and Jackie is getting harder and harder to see.
Incy Wincy picks up where A Numbers Game left off. Gritty, good hearted and laugh out loud funny. Mal and Jackie are back!
“Incy Wincy is pure high-octane entertainment, the kind you don’t know you needed until it hits you in the face. A fast-paced murder mystery with genuine laugh-out-loud moments and themes that makes you think this world just sucks. A book that wouldn’t work without the pair of Mal and Jackie and the obvious sheer enjoyment RJ Dark must have had while coming up with these characters. I can’t recommend this series enough even though it has some pretty dark themes going on within the pages. I mean, it is a murder mystery/thriller novel after all.”
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
I had no idea I needed The Thirteenth Tale in my life until it came up in a conversation with T. Frohock. It was on sale at the time so I got my hands on it and I also happened to have some free time so read it too pretty soon. Boy, was it a ride. It’s a dark tale about family and a search for a lost story. I should check more of Diane Setterfield‘s work out in the future.
Everybody has a story…
Angelfield House stands abandoned and forgotten.
It was once home to the March family: fascinating, manipulative Isabelle; brutal, dangerous Charlie; and the wild, untamed twins, Emmeline and Adeline. But the house hides a chilling secret which strikes at the very heart of each of them, tearing their lives apart…
Now Margaret Lea is investigating Angelfield’s past, and its mysterious connection to the enigmatic writer Vida Winter. Vida’s history is mesmering – a tale of ghosts, governesses, and gothic strangeness. But as Margaret succumbs to the power of her storytelling, two parallel stories begin to unfold…
What has Angelfield been hiding? What is the secret that strikes at the heart of Margaret’s own, troubled life? And can both women ever confront the ghosts that haunt them…?
The Thirteenth Tale is a spellbinding mystery, a love letter to storytelling, and a modern classic.
The Great Witch of Brittany by Louisa Morgan
I love, love, loved this book. OMG. I read it back in February when it was released and damn, I did not expect to fall in love with Louisa Morgan‘s prose. The Great Witch of Brittany was my first book from her, but definitely not the last. It was everything I needed then – historical fiction with great characters, and the story of a life full of tender moments and tragedies as well.
Return to the world of A Secret History of Witches with the bewitching tale of Ursule Orchiere and her discovery of magical abilities that will not only change the course of her life but every generation that comes after her.
There hasn’t been a witch born in the Orchière clan for generations. According to the elders, that line is dead, leaving the clan vulnerable to the whims of superstitious villagers and the prejudices of fearmongering bishops.
Ursule Orchière has been raised on stories of the great witches of the past. But the only magic she knows is the false spells her mother weaves over the gullible women who visit their fortune-telling caravan. Everything changes when Ursule comes of age and a spark of power flares to life. Thrilled to be chosen, she has no idea how magic will twist and shape her future.
Guided by the whispers of her ancestors and an ancient grimoire, Ursule is destined to walk the same path as the great witches of old. But first, the Orchière magical lineage must survive. And danger hovers over her, whether it’s the bloodlust of the mob or the flames of the pyre.
“The Great Witch of Brittany is a love letter to what it means to be a woman, moreover a witch, especially in those times – late 18th, early 19th century during the fall of the French kingdom. To find one’s place and follow their destiny no matter where it leads. It was also really fascinating to read how her “gypsy ways” collided with Christianity and how it affected Ursule. I could go on singing praises about how much I loved this book, but instead, I’ll just urge you to read it for yourself! It’s a great mix of slice of life, historical fiction, and fantasy, and the perfect escape in these times when we all need to get away from reality for a couple of hours. Just be careful, because it’s addictive.”
The Lord of Stariel by A. J. Lancaster
2022 was all about cozy fantasy books, among which one of my favorites was the Stariel series by A. J. Lancaster. Well, the first two books anyway, but I totally need to get back to the other two. The series is now finished, so I don’t even have any excuses. Geez. The Lord of Stariel caught me by surprise because I didn’t expect to love a Fantasy Romance novel, and yet… I clearly am craving books that aren’t epic or dark, and after the past couple of years that’s not much of a surprise…
The Lord of Stariel is dead. Long live the Lord of Stariel. Whoever that is.
Everyone knows who the magical estate will choose for its next ruler. Or do they?
Will it be the lord’s eldest son, who he despised?
His favourite nephew, with the strongest magical land-sense?
His scandalous daughter, who ran away from home years ago to study illusion?
Hetta knows it won’t be her, and she’s glad of it. Returning home for her father’s funeral, all Hetta has to do is survive the family drama and avoid entanglements with irritatingly attractive local men until the Choosing. Then she can leave.
But whoever Stariel chooses will have bigger problems than eccentric relatives to deal with.
Winged, beautifully deadly problems.
For the first time in centuries, the fae are returning to the Mortal Realm, and only the Lord of Stariel can keep the estate safe.
“The Lord of Stariel mostly focuses on the Valstar family and their current problems but we also get a peek at what’s coming. The Fae make their appearance and we get enough background about their current politics to build upon later in the series. It being the first book of a series, it has to lay down some foundations and it does that brilliantly while keeping the reader thoroughly entertained with a mystery. And a bit of romance on the side.”
Small Miracles by Olivia Atwater
And if we are talking about cozy fantasy, my favorite in that category couldn’t be anything else but Olivia Atwater‘s Small Miracles. I had Atwater on my radar for a while and was super happy that her book landed in our pile for SPFBO. It was my semi-finalist and eventually, the team advanced it to the finals! I’m not saying I was super pleased with myself, but… well, I totally was. I had a really great feeling about it from the first page and it did deliver to the end. If you only check out one book from this list, this really should be it!
A little bit of sin is good for the soul.
Gadriel, the fallen angel of petty temptations, has a bit of a gambling debt. Fortunately, her angelic bookie is happy to let her pay off her debts by doing what she does best: All Gadriel has to do is tempt miserably sinless mortal Holly Harker to do a few nice things for herself.
What should be a cakewalk of a job soon runs into several roadblocks, however, as Miss Harker politely refuses every attempt at temptation from Gadriel the woman, Gadriel the man, and Gadriel the adorable fluffy kitten. When even chocolate fails to move Gadriel’s target, the ex-guardian angel begins to suspect she’s been conned. But Gadriel still remembers her previous job… and where petty temptations fail, small miracles might yet prevail.
Olivia Atwater explores love, grief, and the very last bit of chocolate in this sweet modern fantasy, full of wit and heart. Pick up Small Miracles, and enjoy a heavenly faerie tale from the author of Half a Soul.
“Small Miracles is a short book with 250 pages that can be easily read in a day or over a weekend. What I found refreshing about it is that it has a bit of a slice-of-life feel to it. The conflicts are small scale, there is no world-threatening big baddy, no imminent war on the horizon. It’s about the life of a family who knew grief and has no idea how to mend the gap between them. It’s about love and friendship and self-discovery and acceptance of others. In short, it’s a book that pushes all the right buttons for me.”
Priest of Crowns by Peter McLean
Despite my newfound craving for lighter reads, there was no question in my mind which book will the get top place on my top 10 reads of 2022 list. And that’s Priest of Crowns, the fourth and last book in Peter McLean‘s War for the Rose Throne series. I basically devoured this book. What a series finale! I loved the whole series, from start to finish, but the last book was an absolute emotional rollercoaster ride. It’s just amazing, and I’ll never stop recommending this series. I can not only thank my nickname to McLean, but he even wrote me into Priest of Crowns as a side character!! Terrible Timy is real! It made my whole year for sure.
‘Praise be to Our Lady of Eternal Sorrows, and blessed be the Ascended Martyr.’ Those were the words on lips of the faithful: Blessed be the Ascended Martyr, and woe betide you if you thought otherwise. The word Unbeliever had become a death sentence on the streets in those days.
Gangster, soldier, priest. Governor, knight, and above all, Queen’s Man.
Once, Tomas Piety looked after his men, body and soul, as best he could. Then those who ran his country decided his dark talents would better serve in the corridors of power.
Crushed by the power of the Queen’s Men and with the Skanian menace rising once more on the streets of Ellinburg, Tomas Piety is forced to turn to old friends, old debts and untrustworthy alliances.
Meanwhile in the capital city of Dannsburg, Dieter Vogel is beginning to wonder if the horror he has unleashed in the Martyr’s Disciples might be getting out of control.
With revolution brewing and tragedy and terrorism running rife in the cities, Piety and Vogel must each weigh the cost of a crown.
“Peter McLean brings the War for the Rose Throne series to a gut-punching end with Priest of Crowns, one that will be remembered for a long time coming. One of the best books of 2022 for sure. Praise be to Our Lady.”
And that concludes Timy’s part of our Top 10 Reads of 2022 series.
Let us know which of these books you’ve read or would like to read and what you think about them!