My Favourite Books of 2022: Part 2

*Contains Spoilers*

Hi, so glad you could join me once again as I go through my favourite books of 2022. You’ve already read (I hope) my favourite books of January through to June, and now you’ll see July through to December. So, without further ado, I present my favourite books for the second half of 2022, as well as my top favourite of the year.

JULY

Carrie Soto is Back – Taylor Jenkins Reid

By the time Carrie Soto retires from tennis, she is the best player the world has ever seen. But six years after retiring, she finds herself watching her records be taken by British player Nicki Chan. At 37 years old, Carrie makes the decision to come out of retirement in the hope she can once again climb to the top.

My first TJR book but it won’t be my last, it was brilliant. I am obsessed with tennis so this was always going to be a good book for me, I just didn’t realise how good. It’s a powerful book, so joyful and surprisingly emotional. You will shed tears of sadness, of happiness, of anger and pride.

That Bonesetter Woman – Frances Quinn

Meet Endurance Proudfoot, clumsy, strong, tactless and ordinary. She just wants one thing in life: to be a bonesetter like her father. But this is a time when women didn’t do that sort of work. It’s an uplifting tale about finding the courage to go your own way when everyone says you can’t.

I am in awe at Frances Quinn’s ability to write about historical events – whether true or fictional. She makes them fun and modern and approachable. She is one of the best storytellers around at the moment. I will certainly be recommending this to all my family and friends.

AUGUST

The Last Party – Clare Mackintosh

On New Year’s Eve, Rhys Lloyd has a house full of guests. On New Year’s Day, Rhys is found dead, and it’s up to DC Ffion Morgan to find out who killed him, and why.

I read this in one sitting as I just couldn’t put it down until I’d found out who’d done it. There are twists and turns, red herrings at every corner. Everyone has a motive and it could conceivably be any of them. And just when you think you’ve got it figured out, Clare doesn’t just throw the spanner into the works, but the whole toolbox.

Ledge – Stacey McEwan

After being randomly selected as a human sacrifice, instead of death, Dawsyn finds herself on a quest to save her people from their icy prison.

It seems trivial to just say this book is really, really, really good, and I really, really, really liked it. It’s got a bit of everything, romance, adventure, action, humour, fantasy, terror and magic. This is the first of a planned three-book series, but I already know I could read it forever.

All The Broken Places – John Boyne

1946. 3 years ofter a cataclystic event tore their lives aprt, a mother and daughter flee Poland for Paris, shame and feat at their heels. Nearly 80 years later and Gretel lives a life that is a far cry from her traumatic childhood. As she tries to bury her past, there’s someone who is doing all they can to expose it.

The sequel to ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’, this isn’t nearly as traumatic or explicit, but it is just as heart-breaking. This is more character heavy than its predecessor and John has really managed to capture the range of emotions Gretel has carried throughout her life.

SEPTEMBER

It’s safer for Mia to play the part everyone expects. She’s a good wife, a doting stepmother and good at her job. But beneath the surface, there’s another woman clawing to get out. When a shocking event alters her conventional life, Mia has to decide if she’s going to live for society, or for herself.

This is everything I have come to expect from Dawn’s books – crude, rude, engaging, charismatic, moving, touching, witty and hilarious. Dawn has a knack of portraying the seemingly mundane daily life but with added spice. It is a rollercoaster of emotions. You’ll find yourself crying and laughing in the same paragraph, but overall you will find yourself full of hope and joy.

Mad Honey – Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan

Olivia took over her family beekeeping busniess when her son Asher was 6. In the blink of an eye, Asher is now 6 foot tall, in his last year of high school and has a new girlfriend, Lily. But when Lily is found dead and Asher arrested for her murder, Olivia realises he has hidden more from her than she thought. It’s true that we rarely know the people we love as well as we think we do.

I have read 24 of Jodi Picoult’s books (and sadly, none of Jennifer’s – something I aim to change), and this very quickly went to the top of her books. Between the two of them, they have brought their own nuances and beauty to create an unbeatable tale of love and family. It is heart-breaking in so many ways. Whilst predominately a piece of entertainment, I think this could be one of the most important books I’ve ever read.

OCTOBER

Forever Home – Graham Norton

Irish teacher Carol is relishing in her second chance at love. But when Declan becomes ill, things start to fall apart. His children are cruel and she is forced out of the home. Soon, Carol’s mother starts uncovering Declan’s secrets.

Graham Norton has a wonderful ability to create flawed characters. He captures humanity at its best and worse; captures human vulnerability and loneliness and passions and flaws.
This is his best book yet.

Home – Cailean Steed

Zoe thought she’d left him behind along with the cult of the Children and their isolated Home. But now he’s found her, and she has to go back to save her sister. But going back will make her question everything, as well as risk her freedom. Can she break free again?

This is definitely going to be on the bestsellers list come 2023. Right from the off it is heart-in-your-mouth stuff; it’s full of twists and turns and you’ll find yourself perched on the edge of your seat throughout.

What We Remember – Sarah Echavarre

It’s been 2 years and 2 months since trauma shattered hospital chaplain Isabel Myles’ world. Since then, she has stopped answering calls, shut out her family and friends and has lost her faith. And then she takes on a role as a caregiver for Opal and she finds herself remembering what she had tried so hard to forget.

This is one of the most sensitive, beautiful, caring books I’ve ever read. The combination of dementia, illness, stress, grief etc. could be so overwhelming but it’s handled so well. I read it in one sitting and hopefully it will warm you up as much as it did me.

NOVEMBER

The Vanishing of Margaret Small- Neil Alexander

75-year-old Margaret Small is a huge Cilla Black fan; shortly after the icon’s death, Margaret starts receiving money in the post from ‘C’. She is convinced it is Cilla. But why? To solve this mystery, Margaret must revisit her memories – the ones she has been so desperate to forget.

Margaret is such a gorgeous character, I instantly fell in love with her. The young and the old Margaret just leap off the page.
Neil has created a fabulous, multi-layered, exciting, moving, touching and joyful book. It is such an accomplished piece of writing and storytelling.

A Fire Endless – Rebecca Ross

The conclusion to the epic Cadence Duology; in the West, Adaira struggles to adapt to the more brutal way of living, whilst in the East, Jack is adrift until he is summoned by the fire spirit to go on a deadly mission. Together, they must find a way to reunite their island and its people, whilst keeping the spirits on their side.

This is such a good sequel. I loved the first one – A River Enchanted – and this definitely held a candle to that. Everything just feels more accomplished, she’s put them up a notch. It will grab you and you’ll find it impossible to walk away from.

The Direction of the Wind – Mansi Shah

After 22 years of believing her mother Nita is dead, Sophie Shah finds the proof that she isn’t. What follows is an extraordinary journey from the familiar of India to the glamour of Paris. Determined to find out what happened, we follow a dual timeline of both Sophie and Nita, and what we would sacrifice for the truth.

This is emotional right from the get go. It’s heartwarming and heartbreaking, tearful and joyful, uplifting and hopeful. If I had to sum this book up in one word, it would be ‘gorgeous’. When I finished it, it was like having to say goodbye to an old friend.

DECEMBER

Weyward – Emilia Hart

2019: Kate flees London for Weyward Cottage, inherited from her great-aunt.
1942: Violet is more interested in climbing trees than finding a husband
1619: Known for her unnatural affinity for wildlife, Altha is on trial for witchcraft.

But Weyward women belong to the wild. And they cannot be tamed…

This is worthy of being one of the most anticipated 2023 books. I find myself falling in love with every single character. It’s gripping right from the off, twisting and turning, and giving you an exhilarating and powerful ride.

The Vintage Shop of Second Chances – Libby Page

After the death of her mother, Lou opens a vintage clothes shop in Somerset. In New York, Donna is told some news which uproots her. For Maggy, she is newly divorced and alone. Together, they need to hope for a second chance at a new life.

This was the first of Libby Page’s books I’ve read and it’s stunning. The characters are all gorgeous and the plots engaging and thrilling. It is chock-a-block full of emotion – the highs are high and the lows are low.
It’s so gorgeous that I just wanted to keep reading it forever.

Strange Sally Diamond – Liz Nugent

Sally Diamond cannot understand why what she did was so strange. Sher is now the centre of attention from the media, the police, and a sinister voice from the past. As she begins to discover the horrors of her childhood, Sally steps into this new world for the first time.

There’s no beating around the bush – this is a dark book, with dark scenes and dark themes. But it is also hopeful and moving, and strangely humerous. Sally Diamond is a real-life diamond of a character, and just from the one book, I can tell Liz Nugent is going to be on my list of go-to authors.

My favourite book of 2022….

Okay, I confess, I couldn’t pick just one. In 2021, whilst I read a number of good books, there was a clear winner as soon as I read it, and nothing came anywhere close to it. I was hoping for similar this year, but no such luck. Instead, we’ve been treated to some of the best books I’ve ever read and I just couldn’t narrow it down to one. I tried. I really did. I had one, but that quickly changed to two, and then three. And if I’m brutally honest, there were dozens of books I could have picked for this because 2022 has been such an amazing year for books, we’ve really been spoilt for choice. So whittling it down was incredibly difficult but I’m happy with the three I’ve settled on.

In no particular order, they are:

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