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Tuesday, January 03, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite Reads of 2022


Happy New Year! I've been working hard over the past few days to transition everything on my blog from 2022 to 2023. 2022 was kind of a ho-hum reading year for me. I'm hoping for better in 2023. May all of us find some great books to enjoy this year and share with each other.

For today's TTT topic, we're looking back at our favorite reads of 2022. I didn't read a lot of five-star, A-grade books last year, but I did manage to come up with ten that I loved. We'll get to that in a sec.

Before we do that, be sure to click on over to That Artsy Reader Girl and give our lovely hostess, Jana, some love. While you're there, get all the details about TTT so you can join in the fun!

Top Ten Favorite Books of 2022
- in no particular order - 


1. The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan—I've read most of Ryan's novels and enjoyed them all. This one features four English women from different walks of life who find themselves vying for an alluring prize in a BBC-sponsored baking competition. This is a warm book filled with likable characters and a whole lot of heart. Since the contest is focused on making appetizing food from ration book ingredients, it's one food-centered book that did not make me hungry! LOL.


2. I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys—Sepetys is one of my favorite writers of historical YA novels, so it's no surprise this book, her newest, was my most memorable read of 2023. I Must Betray You tells a grim story about a Romanian teenager living in poverty under the tyrannical reign of President Nicolae Ceausescu. When he is caught by the secret police for a minor infraction, Cristian is forced to become an informer. He tries to use his unique position to undermine the government instead, but joining the revolution just might cost him everything he holds dear. Is it worth it? 

The stark tone of this novel deftly echoes Cristian's gut-wrenching experiences with fear, paranoia, helplessness, and desperation. It's not a happy book with a neat ending, but it is illuminating, powerful, and important.


3. Buried in a Good Book by Tamara Berry—I loved this first installment in a new cozy mystery series becuase it's just so much fun. It stars a bestselling thriller writer who's in desperate need of a getaway after her divorce. Tess drags her unhappy teenaged daughter with her when she retreats to her grandfather's rustic cabin in the woods for a summer of off-the-grid relaxation. The duo has barely stepped through the door when an explosion rocks the forest, shattering any R&R illusions, and propelling them into an intriguing real-life murder investigation.


4. Any Other Family by Eleanor Brown—This novel features three women who have all adopted children from the same birthmother. Although the adoptive mothers are very different from one another, Tabitha—the pushiest of them—insists they, their children, and their partners should be one big, happy family so that their kids can remain close to their biological half-siblings. Tensions are already high as they all gather for a long summer getaway, but things get even more complicated when the birthmother calls with the news that she is pregnant again and wants one of them to adopt the baby.

Brown is an adoptive mother herself, so Any Other Family feels especially intimate and authentic. I saw myself and my own experience with adopting a child in each of the three birthmothers. At the same time, the novel helped me see adoption in new ways. For these reasons and more, I quite enjoyed this heartwarming story.


5. The Girls With No Names by Serena Burdick—In Gilded Age New York City, the Tildon sisters live lives of wealth and privilege. When they accidentally stumble upon a shocking secret about their father, Luella, the oldest sister, becomes smug, acting out as she pleases. When the young woman mysteriously disappears from home one day, Effie fears Mr. Tildon has made good on his threat to admit Luella to the House of Mercy, an asylum for wayward girls that looms not far from the Tildons' luxurious home. Desperate to free her sister, Effie gets herself committed. It doesn't take her long, however, to realize that she has made a grave miscalculation which leaves her stuck in the cold, unloving embrace of a stark institution that is no kind of home. How can she save herself, let alone her sister?

Grim and heartbreaking, The Girls With No Names is also illuminating, empowering, and moving. Despite its harsh subject matter, it's also surprisingly hopeful.


6. New From Here by Kelly Yang—I've read a few children's books lately about the COVID-19 pandemic and this one captured the experience best for me. The story concerns Knox Wei-Evans, a 10-year-old boy from a mixed-race family (his mother is Chinese-American and his father is a white American) that has been living in Hong Kong. As things worsens in Asia, Knox's parents make the difficult decision to move most of the family to their summer home in California to be on the safe side. Knox's father has to stay behind in Asia to work, while his mother herds him and his two siblings back to the U.S. Divided across two continents, the family has to deal with food shortages, financial problems, missing each other, job loss, quarantine, etc. As Asian-Americans, they also experience targeted racism that frightens and angers them. Will the all the conflict and division tear their family apart completely?

Based on the author's family's own experience during the pandemic, New From Here is a very intimate portrayal of how COVID-19 affected families, especially those with Asian roots. There are some far-fetched scenes in the book that stretched my willing suspension of disbelief, but for the most part, I found this novel to be tender, moving, engrossing, and thought-provoking.


7. The Maid by Nita Prose—Molly Gray loves nothing more than order and tidiness, which makes her perfect for her job as a housekeeper at a grand hotel. She doesn't relate well to people, though, so when a murder occurs at her workplace, her odd behavior immediately makes her a suspect. Her keen eye for detail makes her especially good at detecting, a skill she will need if she hopes to clear her name.

This fun, engrossing murder mystery deserves all the hype it has received. It's clever, entertaining, hopeful, and just all-around enjoyable.


8. Only the Beautiful by Susan Meissner—I love Meissner's immersive, dual-timeline novels and this one, her newest, is one of my favorites. It takes place at a vineyard in California, where a young vinedresser is living and working after her parents are killed in an accident. The owners of the vineyard are raising Rosanne as something between a daughter and a housekeeper. When she becomes pregnant, the vineyard owners throw her out, leaving her to find her own way. A decade later, a concerned relative comes looking for Rosanne and her child. Horrified by what she discovers, Helen Calvert is determined to make things right.

With a focus on eugenics and special needs children, Only the Beautiful is both heart-wrenching and thought-provoking. It asks important questions while telling an engrossing, moving story.


9. Ghost by Jason Reynolds—I've been meaning to read Reynolds for years, but it took me until the end of 2022 to finally do it. Ghost is the first book in Reynolds' middle-grade Track series, which concerns a group of kids who come together to compete on an elite, inner-city track-and-field team. Castle "Ghost" Cranshaw knows how to run. Having a violent, alcoholic father taught him that. He's never run on a team, though, so when he happens upon a track practice, he's fascinated. When the coach takes Ghost under his wing and allows him to walk on to the team, Ghost gets the chance to channel all his pent-up anger into becoming a star athlete. Can he learn enough self-mastery to earn a real place on the team?

Ghost is so full of heart that you can't help but love it. I especially enjoyed listening to the book (and the whole series, actually) on audio. The narrator, Guy Lockard, brings a fun and poignant Will Smith-like voice to the story that adds an appealing layer to an already excellent novel.



10. Yonder by Ali Standish—Set in Appalachia during World War II, this middle-grade novel is about the friendship between Danny Timmons and Jack Bailey. Jack has been the town hero ever since his heroic efforts saved two children from drowning. Danny has always looked up to the older boy, so when Jack mysteriously vanishes, he's concerned. Did Jack's father beat him one too many times? Has Jack run away to Yonder, the magical town he always talked about where everyone is friendly and there's no war? As Danny desperately searches for answers to his friend's disappearance, he begins to wonder if he ever really knew Jack at all.

Yonder is a beautiful, contemplative novel that asks important questions about courage, heroism, war, and friendship. 

There you are, ten of my favorite books from 2022. Have you read any of them? Which titles did you enjoy reading most last year? I'd truly love to know. Leave me a comment on this post and I will return the favor on your blog.

Happy TTT!

71 comments:

  1. Nice list! It remined me that I wanted to read I Must Betray You and Any Other Family. Guess I should get on that!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They're both great reads, but with totally different feels, of course. I MUST BETRAY YOU is grim, but that's a reflection of the setting. ANY OTHER FAMILY is much warmer. I hope you enjoy them both when you read them.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Deanna!

      Delete
  2. Sounds like it was a great reading year! I hope to read New From Here sometime this year — glad to hear you enjoyed it.

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    Replies
    1. I did enjoy NEW FROM HERE. I think it covers some important territory while also just being an interesting story. Like I said, there are some situations in the novel (the mother's actions with her children, not COVID-related) that didn't really ring true. Overall, though, I thought it was a great read. I hope you enjoy it when you read it.

      Thanks for popping in, Victoria!

      Delete
  3. So many of my friends have read The Maid and loved it. I need to check my library for it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a fun little mystery! I usually avoid really hyped books, but I'm glad I read this one.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Tanya!

      Delete
  4. The Girls With No Names sounds super interesting!

    My post: https://lydiaschoch.com/top-ten-tuesday-favorite-books-of-2022/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know why, but I'm fascinated with historical novels about mental asylums, homes for wayward girls, etc. The institutions were so horrible that they make for really interesting settings. Plus, I always like a triumph-over-tough-circumstances story.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Lydia!

      Delete
  5. My book club read THE MAID in November. Unfortunately, I didn't get to it. I want to read it, though, so maybe this year! :D Great list, Susan!

    My TTT

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    Replies
    1. I think you'd like it. It's a quick, fun read with a unique voice/premise.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Jenni!

      Delete
  6. Of your list, I was only aware of The Maid, so I've added a few more to my TBR. Wishing your a Happy New Year filled with joy and many great reads!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you found some titles to pique your interest! I hope you enjoy them when you read them. Happy New Year to you as well.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Ethan!

      Delete
  7. Great list! The only book I've read is Buried in a Good Book but I really enjoyed it and really want to read the Jennifer Ryan book. I've only read one book by her but loved it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've read two of Ryan's four books and loved them both. I've got copies of the other two; I just need to make time to read them!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Katherine!

      Delete
  8. Great list! I still need to read I Must Betray You!! I hope we all have a wonderful 2023!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a really good book! Not easy reading by any means, but eye-opening and memorable. I hope you enjoy it when you read it.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Leslie!

      Delete
  9. I have not read Susan Meissiner yet but I own The Nature of Fragile Things and hope to get to it this year.

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    Replies
    1. I really like Meissner and THE NATURE OF FRAGILE THINGS is actually my favorite book of hers. I hope you love it when you get to it!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Cindy!

      Delete
  10. You've certainly read several interesting, thought-provoking books this year, Susan. Thanks for sharing!

    Mary @ Notes in the Margin

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I really did. I try to alternate heavy and light reading so I don't get too much of either, but I do like a good, thought-provoking story.

      Thanks for stopping by, Mary!

      Delete
  11. The Maid was so good. It didn't quite make my top 10, but it was close!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really enjoyed it! It made me smile :)

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Wendy!

      Delete
  12. I also really enjoyed Kitchen Front, have The Maid and I Must Betray You on my tbr (from you I think) and from this list added Girls With No Names which sounds heartbreaking but good.
    Terrie @ Bookshelf Journeys

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've loved both the books I've read by Ryan. She's a great writer. And that's a perfect description of THE GIRLS WITH NO NAMES. I hope you enjoy all these!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Terrie!

      Delete
  13. So many interesting books! I'm adding The Maid by Nita Prose to this years TBR. Thank you for posting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a good one! I hope you love it.

      Thanks for popping in, Rebecca!

      Delete
  14. I loved Ghost too. And you've made me want to read Yonder.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    Replies
    1. I've enjoyed the whole Track series. I'm listening to SUNNY right now because I thought it was the fourth book instead of the third. Oops!

      Thanks for stopping by, Nicole!

      Delete
  15. I have seen Any Other Family on other blogs and I think it sounds so good. I hope this year is a good year for books!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really liked it. I related to so much of it, but it also gave me some new perspectives on adoption that I hadn't necessarily thought about deeply before. It's also just a readable, engrossing novel.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Tammy!

      Delete
  16. I'm soooo behind on Septys books but so glad this one was a hit for you -- I'm looking forward to it, and I hopefully backed it in Goodreads Choice on faith.

    Also glad to hear The Maid was so good -- maybe because I was away from TTT, I didn't really hear any hype about it, until suddenly it was on all the best-of lists and the wait list was so long at the library they added 3 rental copies.

    But I'm definitely going to check out Yonder, which I hadn't heard of before now, not least because WOW what a cover.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. IF I BETRAY YOU isn't my favorite of Sepetys' books, but it's a really good one. I like SALT TO THE SEA and OUT OF THE EASY best, but everything she writes is excellent.

      THE MAID is just a fun read. It's a traditional murder mystery, but it's also unique. I hope you enjoy it!

      YONDER is a very underrated book, in my opinion. I thought it was just gorgeous all around, including that stunning cover.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, RS!

      Delete
  17. I own two novels by Ruta Sepetys and have yet to read them despite them being everything I love in a historical fiction book. And now I may be about to own a third... haha. Yonder also sounds amazing so that is definitely going on my TBR.

    I hope you have a wonderful reading year in 2023!

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    Replies
    1. Ha ha. I have the same problem. As soon as I buy a much-anticipated book, I seem to lose all motivation to read it. I know it's on my shelf so I can read it whenever I want and then I just...don't. The struggle is real! I hope you love Sepetys' books and YONDER when you get to them.

      Thanks for popping in, Holliehocks!

      Delete
  18. Happy TTT! Looks like you read some great books this year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did read a handful of great ones among all the just good ones :)

      Thanks for stopping by. Next time, let me know who you are so I can make sure I've visited your blog!

      Delete
  19. I Must Betray You was one of my favorite reads last year as well. Great list!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's definitely been the 2022 read that has stuck with me most. The book is just so atmospheric, haunting, and thought-provoking that I've continued to think about it.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Kami!

      Delete
  20. I haven't read any of the books on your list, but I do have THE MAID on my Kindle for future reading. Yes, 2022 reading for me was OK and then not at all OK. 2023 is bound to be better, right? Happy New Year, Susan!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you'll like THE MAID. It's a quick, fun read.

      Bummer about your reading slump. I've never really experienced that, but I can imagine it would be super frustrating. 2023 will definitely be better!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Kay!

      Delete
  21. Great selection of books. I read Buried in a Good Book Last Year, too. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a fun one, isn't it? It made me smile and laugh over and over again :)

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Meezan!

      Delete
  22. I've not read any of these books, but I Must Betray You is on my TBR and it's made me very happy to see it on quite a few lists this week. Clearly one I need to try to get to soon!
    My TTT: https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2023/01/03/top-ten-tuesday-401/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, you definitely need to prioritize it! It's memorable in so many ways. I hope you enjoy it when you read it.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Jo!

      Delete
  23. Buried in a Good Book sounds like one I should check out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You should! It's a lot of fun.

      Thanks for popping in, Louise!

      Delete
  24. Great list! I haven't read any of these yet, but a couple are on my TBR. Glad to see you enjoyed them so much!

    My TTT: https://bookwyrmknits.com/2023/01/03/top-ten-tuesday-favorite-books-of-2022/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you enjoy the ones on your TBR when you read them.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Nicole!

      Delete
  25. Great list! I haven't read any of these, but I've really been wanting to read Buried in a Good Book and Only the Beautiful. :)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. They're both great reads. Very different, of course, but both are engrossing and memorable. I hope you enjoy them!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Ashley!

      Delete
  26. I am very interested in I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys, because of the setting. I liked The Maid a lot, but it did not make it to my top twelve. I think it is a wonderful book about people who don't fit in. Plus the setting in the hotel is a favorite of mine.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. The setting of I MUST BETRAY YOU is definitely unique. I knew nothing about Romania's plight going in, so I learned a lot from the book. It's eye-opening for sure. I agree about THE MAID. It's a great read for lots of reasons.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Tracy!

      Delete
  27. Great list of books. I really enjoyed The Kitchen Front too. I like WW2 books that are about women and not in the front line but behind the scenes.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Same. I also like WWII books that are uplifting and heartwarming without being sappy. Ryan's books (at least the two I've read) fit that bill for me.

      Thanks for stopping in, Kathryn!

      Delete
  28. My comments keep disappearing from your blog, Susan! Hopefully this one will go through. I love your list of favorites! Both Kitchen Front and Buried in a Good Book were books I read and loved, too. And Molly from The Maid is such a memorable character. :D

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    1. Dang! I wonder why your comments disappeared? I'm glad this one got through. KITCHEN FRONT and BURIED IN A GOOD BOOK are both so good and, I agree, Molly is definitely memorable. I love unique characters!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Lark!

      Delete
  29. It looks like there's some unusual books here! The Girls with No Names and Buried in a Good Book look fabulous!

    I know what you mean, this week has been really busy for me so far trying to re-organise things in the background and settings things up on the blog in the background that I didn't think of before. I'm taking the opportunity to do it while I can! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Refreshing my blog for the new year is a lot like taking down the Christmas decorations in my house after the holidays. Everything feels naked, but also refreshing, almost like a blank slate! It's energizing for me.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Amy!

      Delete
  30. Good list! My favorites that overlap are Ghost and I Must Betray You

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    1. I've been meaning to read Jason Reynolds for years, but your rave reviews of his work really pushed me to actually do it! I loved the Track series, of which GHOST is my favorite installment. And I MUST BETRAY YOU was such an immersive read for me that I've thought a lot about it since I read it.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Helen!

      Delete
  31. Yay for The Maid! I really enjoyed that one too. Only the Beautiful looks really good. I'm going to have to look for that one.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. THE MAID is such a fun read! It made me smile. ONLY THE BEAUTIFUL is sad, but really good. I hope you enjoy it if you read it.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Wendy!

      Delete
  32. Nice list Susan. I have read some of these and loved them as well. Now to check out a couple that are calling to me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh good, I'm glad you found a couple to pique your interest!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Carla!

      Delete
  33. I need that Susan Meissner book!!!

    ReplyDelete
  34. As usual, I didn't read any of your books but I loved seeing which ones were your favourites. I didn't participate here this week but did my Statistics instead.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Buried in a Good Book sounds so good. I do enjoy a cozy mystery.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Great list! I haven't read any of these myself but I sure do love the look of these books.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I mean to read both New From Here and Yonder and didn't get a chance to read either. Glad to hear you liked them so much, though! Might need to make sure I read them in 2023. :D

    ReplyDelete
  38. I've seen I Must Betray You on a lot of lists this month. I love Ruta Sepetys, so I'm super excited for it.

    ReplyDelete
  39. It looks like you had a wonderful reading year in 2022! What a delightful list.

    ReplyDelete

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