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Friday, 16 December 2022

Best Books of 2022

 

Dear friends.  As the year heads to a close, I've rounded up my favourites of 2022, and a few of my reading stats. Thrilled to be joining Deb and other blogger friends in the southern hemisphere for #WhatsOnYourBookshelf. 

I read an average of 4 books a month with a spike in July when I was reading voraciously on a Greek beach. Most of what I read was fiction. There's usually more non-fiction. I put it down to the fact that for certain non-fiction books, I prefer a hard back  (definitely for gardening and cookery) but I don't want to pay hard back prices! 

FAVOURITE BOOKS OF 2022

FICTION

Small Things Like These by Clare Keegan 

Short listed, quite rightly, for the 2022 Booker Prize.  The beauty of Keegan's writing takes my breath away.  It's a short novel but memorable. It's the 1980s and Bill Furlong, a coal and timber merchant, is dealing with his busiest season, Christmas. Everyone knows each other in the small Irish town but Bill finds that miseries and injustices of the past are still with us, and the people of his town are complicit with the Church in perpetuating them. 

Alone With You in the Ether by Olivie Blake

There was nothing worse than being predictable. Nothing smaller than feeling ordinary. Nothing more disappointing than being reminded she was both.

Two people find each other, but this is not a conventional love story.  He is a doctoral student who manages his destructive thoughts with compulsive calculations about time travel; she is a bipolar counterfeit artist undergoing court-ordered psychotherapy. Tender, biting, fascinating.

Again, Rachel by Marian Keyes

25 years after Rachel's Holiday, we catch up with Rachel and find she's working as a counsellor with a family and a great life. But when a man reappears in her life, complications arise. 

Marian Keyes is under-rated in my view: why? Her books are so beautifully written, so funny and so wise. 

At the Table by Claire Powell

Set in 2018, Claire Powell's beautifully observed debut novel follows each member of the Maguire family over a tumultuous year of lunches, dinners and drinks, as old conflicts arise and relationships are re-evaluated. A gripping yet tender depiction of family dynamics, love and disillusionment. 

Acts of Desperation by Megan Nolan

Short listed for the Sunday Times Best Young Author of the Year. Nolan belies her young age with this searing and memorable account of a love affair between a 23 year old woman and a controlling older man. 

I'm Sorry You Feel That Way by Rebecca Wait

Hilarious - full of dead pan one liners.  A sharp, wise comedy that explores difficult family dynamics, from all-too-relatable emotional patterns to the inexplicable agonies of mental illness.

Other Parents by Sarah Stovell

The worlds of vaxxers and anti-vaxxers collide in this novel about school gate parent politics. 

NON-FICTION

Written in Bone by Sue Black

Winner of the CWA Gold Dagger Sword for non-fiction. Forensic anthropologist Prof Dame Sue Black presents an eminently readable account of the bones of the body and the stories they tell when we have died. What we eat, where we go, everything we do leaves a trace, a message that waits patiently for months, years, sometimes centuries, until a forensic anthropologist is called upon to decipher it.

The London Boys: David Bowie, Marc Bolan and the 60s Teenage Dream by Marc Burrows

As a lifelong David Bowie fan, I read all the books about him with a feverish eagerness to find new tidbits. And this book delivered, through its unorthodox comparisons with the careers and lives of two icons born in the same city, in the same year.  Bowie and Bolan knew each other, although I would hesitate to call them friends. 

What else have I been reading?

The Real Enid Blyton by Nadia Cohen


Like many children I adored the stories of Enid Blyton, one of the most prolific writers ever. I loved The Faraway Tree and then the schoolgirls of St Clares. Not to mention the Famous Five.  I was aware, even at a young age, that teachers and academics looked down on Blyton. 

Over the years many of her books have been rewritten or even cancelled because some of the content is no longer suited to our times.  But she is still a publishing phenomenon. 

I was interested to learn more about the woman.  Traumatized in childhood when her beloved father left his wife and family, Enid was a rebel and early feminist who refused to take on domestic chores when her brothers didn't have to do them. 

Her sunny stories and happy endings belied a complex life of infidelities and unconventional friendships. She was sometimes cruel and callous towards her family and friends as a defensive mechanism. 

Enid was a successful businesswoman, ahead of her time.  She wrote books until she could not physically write another word, famously producing thousands of words a day hunched over her manual typewriter. 

The Narrator by K L Slater


I enjoyed and reviewed The Girlfriend by this author just a few weeks ago. She is the writer of 19  psychological crime thrillers. She has sold over two million copies of her books worldwide. 

An audio book narrator becomes involved in the search for the author whose books she has been narrating.  The author has been missing for months and police aren't making much progress. 

As with all good crime thrillers, there are numerous red herrings, and as we gallop towards the ending there's a surprise in store which even I hadn't envisaged.  Justifies the "twisty" acclaim it will no doubt be given!

This book is published on 6 January 2023. Thanks to Netgalley and Bookouture for the advance reader copy.

The Daughter-in-Law by Fanny Blake


Mother-in-law Hope is persuaded to come on holiday with son Paul and wife Elodie to help look after the young children.  Hope is eager to get to know Elodie, who, although perfectly polite, seems to hold her at arm's length. 

Meanwhile Elodie, a barrister, is finding that two young children and dependable Paul is not the recipe for contentment and happiness that she expected.

Both women have secrets they don't want Paul to know.  But they're moving further apart.

An engrossing read, perfect for holiday reading.

This book is published on 1 May 2023. Thanks to Netgalley and Simon Schuster UK for the advance reader copy.

The New Wife by Amanda Brittany & Karen Clarke

From mothers-in-laws we turn to new wives and stepmothers, another popular "enemy" for writers of psychological thrillers. 

Nell married her husband just months after meeting him. She has a successful career. But her stepdaughters Poppy and Ruby are determined to see the back of Nell and have their father reuniting with their mother, who has become depressed and reclusive.

Are the two girls behind everything that starts to go wrong for Nell?  Her husband starts spending more time away from home and gets suspicious when he sees a rogue text on her phone from an admirer. 

Plenty of twists and shocks along the way. 

Intermittent Fasting for Women Over 50 by Dr. Steve Kringold

I'm a big fan of intermittent fasting, which doesn't involve long periods without food, as many think. 

Dr Kringold's book shows how IF, time-restricted eating ,can help us lose weight, feel more energized, and improve our general health.

Thankfully there are no gimmicks, fads, or ‘miracle’ pills involved. Intermittent fasting is an uncomplicated way to shrink the waist, improve our health markers, and add years to our life without  discomfort.

A good one for menopausal women as Dr Kringold talks about how IF has been scientifically proven to help get women through menopause and out the other side smiling. And a good one for January if you have a resolution to gain energy and lose fat. 

I hope you enjoyed this month's round-up.  In January I'll be sharing the books I can't wait to read in 2023.  See you on the third Friday of the month!

Sharing this post with:  #Linkup on the Edge at Shelbee on the Edge, #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings, Rena at Fine Whatever,, #Neverendingstyle at The Grey Brunette, Talent Sharing Tuesdays at Scribbling Boomer,  Traffic Jam Weekend at Marsha in the Middle Fabulous Fridays at Lucy Bertoldi, #WOYBS with Deb's World

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