My Favorite Reads from 2022

I’m a little late writing this, but better late than never!

Last year, I read 57 books. Out of those 57, I rated only seven books as 5-star reads. Another 22 made the list with 4 stars. I won’t include all of these in this post. Goodreads doesn’t allow partial stars, so many of those are 3.5-star books that I’ve rounded up to 4 stars.

Let’s start with the 5-star books.

  • At the top of the list, we have my all-time favorite book, Watership Down. What can I say? Watership Down is a story filled with adventure, a desire to seek a better life, spirituality, hope, and above all else, bunnies!
  • Lessons in Chemistry is a story of survival and challenging the status quo. Set in the 1960s, Elizabeth is not your average woman, and she is unwilling to settle for an average life.
  • The Dictionary of Lost Words is a beautiful story that mixes a love of words with a desire for more from life than what is currently expected or given to women of the time. Esme recognizes the power of words and, in her own way, fights to raise not only her own voice but the voices of all women.
  • Fairy Tale is an epic fantasy adventure. This is King’s homage to fairy tales, and despite the mixed reviews it’s received, I found it great.
  • Upgrade, on the surface, is an action-packed book about what happens when humans start genetically engineering humans. Underneath that is a story of the moral dilemmas of modern technology and the idea of whether we should trade millions or billions of lives to engineer super-humans that can withstand disease and injury or whether we should engineer more compassion and empathy.
  • Louise Penny continues to amaze me with her ability to craft delightful murder mysteries and characters with such depth and emotion. A World of Curiosities (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #18) does not disappoint and is, perhaps, my favorite of the entire series thus far. I recently learned there is also a TV adaptation, but as the actors seemed to have American accents, I was a little put off and haven’t watched it yet.
  • Last but not least, Still Just a Geek: An Annotated Memoir. I did not read Wil’s original memoir, but I have followed his life in recent years, including reading some of his fiction work and, at times, his blog. Wil Wheaton is an incredibly brave, strong person for sharing intimate details of his traumatic childhood and a role model for speaking out about mental illness to reduce the associated stigma. My only complaint here is that, in the audio version, it’s a little hard to follow what’s the original and what’s annotated.

The best of the 4-star books are:

  • I’ve already reviewed Maame. You can find my full review here.
  • Fevered Star (Between Earth and Sky, #2) is an excellent follow-up to Black Sun. This is another that I’ve already reviewed, which you can find here.
  • Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb, #1) is a story of magic, specifically necromancy, and a wild, inventive story. On negative for me here was the audiobook. With dozens of characters with complex names and nicknames, I was often lost as to who was doing what.
  • She Who Became the Sun (The Radiant Emperor, #1) is yet another book about a woman (or girl, in this case) wanting more from life than she’s been given. Set in the 1300s, this is a clever mash-up of historical fiction and fantasy about an alternate China and the Mongol rule of the time.

A Rule Against Murder

A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny

My rating:  5 / 5

This is book four in the Chief Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny. Over the last three years, I have read the first five books in the series.  I’m currently reading book six, and I believe the ninth book will be coming out this year in August.

 After years of investigating murders Chief Gamache knew one thing about hate. It bound you forever to the person you hated. Murder wasn’t committed out of hate, it was done as a terrible act of freedom. To finally rid yourself of the burden.

The series follows Chief Inspector Gamache, of the Sûreté du Québec. The Chief Inspector and his team work homicide cases, and each book focuses on a different investigation.  The novels so far are set in, or related to the characters from, the tiny fictional village of Three Pines, Québec.

In Three Pines, you will be meet Clara and Peter, the artists; Ruth, the acclaimed poet; Gabri and Olivier, the gay couple who run the B&B and the bistro, and many others.

Murder was deeply human.  A person was killed and a person killed.

The novels are mostly of the “whodunit” genre, and while I don’t read a lot of mystery-thriller type books, I am in love with this series. Oddly enough, I did not start out in love with the series. The first novel, Still Life, was very good. The second, A Fatal Grace, unfortunately, was not so good. It is, however, worth reading in the long run as it builds up the characters that we see throughout the series. After reading A Fatal Grace and not loving it, it was hard for me to continue the series. I eventually read The Cruelest Month, which is book three. Better than the second, but not as good as the first.

It’s a shame that creativity and sloth look the same.

And now, almost two years later, I decided to pick up where I left off. Guess what? Book four is amazing and so is book five. In the last four days, I read both book four and book five, and about one third of book six. I won’t be reviewing the next few novels in the series individually, but as I said earlier, the series has turned out to be fantastic.

“You have a rule against murder?” he asked.
“I do.  When my husband and I bought the Bellechasse we made a deal with the forest…Everything that stepped foot on this land would be safe.’

A Rule Against Murder is set at Manoir Bellechasse, an inn regularly frequented by the Chief and his wife for their wedding anniversary. This year, however, they must share the inn with the Finney family, who are gathered for a family reunion. Surprising guests arrive, a summer storm sweeps in and leaves a body in its wake, leaving the Inspector to sort through it all.