For the first time ever, I not only met, but surpassed my Goodreads reading goal by reading 52 books in 2022!
I thought 50 books in a year was a lot, but after discovering BookTok and Bookstagram, I realized that I was wrong. Because holy pages, Batman, those girls can read!!!
However, I’m still extremely proud of myself for reading a book a week for a whole year!
My toxic trait is being a chronic 3-star book rater. In fact, it’s not unusual for me to completely forget about books after I read them.
Seriously, two weeks after reading a book, I can’t tell you the names of the characters, what it’s about, what happened, etc. (I’ve read over a hundred pages of a book before realizing that I’ve already read it!)
The first requirement for me to hand out a 4- or 5-star review is for the book to have a memorable plot, characters, or setting. It has to be something extraordinary, something memorable.
I’m particularly drawn to historical fiction, mysteries, and psychological thrillers. But I’ll read pretty much anything (except horror – it’s just not for me).
So, of the 52 books I read last year, here are the ones that earned a 4- or 5-star review.
It’s not shocking that this one made the list. Or that it’s my only 5-star book of the year. Everyone was talking about this book and for good reason. You won’t be able to look away. It’s shocking, it’s spicy, and utterly unbelievable. Just read it!
But also know that after you read it, you’ll have a book hangover. Nothing will seem as fast-paced or as shocking as Verity. The first couple of books that you read after this one will seem dull….even if they are excellent.
Warning: This book is IMPOSSIBLE to put down. Verity‘s story keeps you turning page after page, and Lowen’s story keeps you on the edge of your seat. This book is the definition of a gripping thriller with a bit of romance (it is a Colleen Hoover novel, after all) and an ending that will have you simply stunned.www.barnesandnoble.com
The Inheritance Games
The Inheritance Games (The Inheritance Games, 1)
Young Adult books aren’t the first thing I reach for, but some of my all-time favorite books are from that genre. The Inheritance Games was a fun, fast-paced read. An interesting plot, an incredible setting, and a unique cast of characters made this a 4-star read for me.
Avery Grambs is a relative nobody when she learns that an eccentric billionaire she never knew has died and named her the largest beneficiary to his massive estate. The only catch? She must move into his sprawling home with the extended family that he just disinherited, including his four charming, mysterious and good-looking grandsons. Filled with riddles, puzzles and high stakes twists all leading to a thrilling conclusion, this one will leave you reeling long after you’ve finished.www.barnesandnoble.com
The Girls in the Stilt House
The Girls in the Stilt House: A Novel
Always a sucker for a Southern novel and a good murder story, this book gave me major “Where the Crawdads Sing” vibes. It’s one that I’m sure to remember for a long time.
Set in 1920s Mississippi, this debut Southern novel weaves a beautiful and harrowing story of two teenage girls cast in an unlikely partnership through murder.www.barnesandnoble.com
Daisy Jones and the Six
Daisy Jones & The Six: A Novel
You might have seen this one making waves on TikTok and Instagram, but for good reason. This is the second book I’ve read by Taylor Jenkins Reid and honestly, I’m ready for more! This novel is technically historical fiction, but unlike any I’ve ever read before.
Reid creates such vivid and compelling characters that you’ll be scouring Spotify to listen to any song recorded by the fictional Daisy Jones and the Six. Revved up on sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, Daisy Jones and the Six is a must for any music lover.www.barnesandnoble.com
The Alice Network
Historical Fiction is my all-time favorite genre, especially WWII novels. Maybe it’s because I’m a military spouse or because I’m a history nerd, but I find myself drawn to this genre over and over again. And The Alice Network was no exception. Then when I got to the end of the book and found out that the Alice Network was a real network of female spies…my mind was blown!!!
Two women living through two world wars, separated by time and space, find their lives colliding in this thrilling historical novel based on a real female spy ring in wartime France.www.barnesandnoble.com
The Hate U Give
The Hate U Give: A Printz Honor Winner
I’m always tardy to the party when it comes to books that are trending. But this is one that will stand the test of time. I honestly didn’t expect to like it as much as I did, but it’s as good as everyone says it is!
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.www.barnesandnoble.com
This Tender Land
It’s not surprising that another historical fiction made the list, but this one wasn’t WWII. Set during the Great Depression, I learned so much about that era from the novel. And the children floating down the river without adults gave me Tom Sawyer vibes. It was an adventure story, with a sad, but hopeful undercurrent.
The unforgettable story of four orphans who travel the Mississippi River on a life-changing odyssey during the Great Depression.www.barnesandnoble.com
The Paper Palace
This book frustrated me in the way that only family dramas and love triangles can. I went back and forth between a 3- and a 4-star rating. But the fact that this book had me thinking about it so much made me give it 4 stars.
It is a perfect August morning, and Elle, a fifty-year-old happily married mother of three, awakens at “The Paper Palace”—the family summer place which she has visited every summer of her life. But this morning is different: last night Elle and her oldest friend Jonas crept out the back door into the darkness and had sex with each other for the first time, all while their spouses chatted away inside. Now, over the next twenty-four hours, Elle will have to decide between the life she has made with her genuinely beloved husband, Peter, and the life she always imagined she would have had with her childhood love, Jonas, if a tragic event hadn’t forever changed the course of their lives. As Heller colors in the experiences that have led Elle to this day, we arrive at her ultimate decision with all its complexity. Tender yet devastating, The Paper Palace considers the tensions between desire and dignity, the legacies of abuse, and the crimes and misdemeanors of families.www.barnesandnoble.com
This one got a 4-star review because it made me so nostalgic for my own childhood best friend. It made me consider what I would do in the situations of Kate and Tully. It also made me cry. Of course, the book is WAY BETTER than the Netflix show!
Firefly Lane is for anyone who ever drank Boone’s Farm apple wine while listening to Abba or Fleetwood Mac. More than a coming-of-age novel, it’s the story of a generation of women who were both blessed and cursed by choices. It’s about promises and secrets and betrayals. And ultimately, about the one person who really, truly knows you—-and knows what has the power to hurt you . . . and heal you. Firefly Lane is a story you’ll never forget . . . one you’ll want to pass on to your best friend.www.barnesandnoble.com
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder
Another Young Adult book that had me hooked from the first chapter. It was like listening to a true crime podcast, but without having to endure the endless vocal fry.
For fans of the hit show Only Murders in the Building, this murder mystery will have you obsessed. The true crime lover in everyone will revel in joining Pip as she attempts to solve a cold case involving her childhood friend. If you’re a true crime podcast junkie, you’ll devour this YA mystery.www.barnesandnoble.com
Rock Paper Scissors
This was the first thriller that kept my attention after reading Verity. It kept me guessing until the end and had me up late trying to finish it!
When Adam and Amelia win a weekend away to Scotland, it might be just what their marriage needs. Self-confessed workaholic and screenwriter Adam Wright has lived with face blindness his whole life. He can’t recognize friends or family, or even his own wife.
Every anniversary the couple exchange traditional gifts—paper, cotton, pottery, tin—and each year Adam’s wife writes him a letter that she never lets him read. Until now. They both know this weekend will make or break their marriage, but they didn’t randomly win this trip. One of them is lying, and someone doesn’t want them to live happily ever after.
Ten years of marriage. Ten years of secrets. And an anniversary they will never forget.www.barnesandnoble.com
Message From Nam
A romance novel from 1990 made the cut…really? Just hear me out! This book was given to me by my Granny a couple of years ago and it had been sitting on the shelf untouched because I just didn’t think I would be interested in anything written by Danielle Steele. But I was wrong. This book was excellent. It made me extremely emotional and probably wasn’t the smartest thing to read while my husband was deployed, but there’s a reason it was made into a movie….because it’s damn good.
How do you tell someone what it’s like to kill a man hand to hand, run a bayonet through his guts, or shoot a sniper in the face who turns out to be a woman? How do you explain the nine-year-old boy who throws a grenade and kills your best friend? How do you tell them what it’s like? Or about the sunsets on the mountains or the green of Viet Nam, or the sounds and the smells, and the people, and the girl who can’t even say your name, but you know you love her. There was nothing any of them could say. So most of them rode home in silence.www.barnesandnoble.com
Outlander: A Novel (Outlander, Book 1)The Outlander Series Bundle: Books 1, 2, 3, and 4: Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn (Outlander Bundle)
Tardy to the party…again, I know. But this is such a massive series that I just couldn’t bring myself to commit. Each book is at least 600 pages and there are 8 books in the series so far.
Over the summer, I committed and read the first 4 books of the Outlander series and I am hooked! I will admit that by the 4th book I was getting a little burned out on Claire and Jamie, but the first book was utterly riveting. I’ll eventually get around to reading the next 4 books, because I MUST know how it ends.
Scottish Highlands, 1945. Claire Randall, a former British combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding clans in the year of Our Lord . . . 1743.www.barnesandnoble.com
Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of a world that threatens her life, and may shatter her heart. Marooned amid danger, passion, and violence, Claire learns her only chance of safety lies in Jamie Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior. What begins in compulsion becomes urgent need, and Claire finds herself torn between two very different men, in two irreconcilable lives.
I realize that this is a fairly eclectic list, but I try to read a variety.
I hope that you enjoy these books as much as I did! Happy reading!