Top 7 Reads of 2022 So Far

Can you believe we’re halfway through 2022? It’s crazy! This year has been a great year of reading for me, it’s looking possible that I might hit 100 books in this year – which has been a dream of mine for YEARS! It would be so exciting to read that much.

So I wanted to pause and look back at the top books for the first six months of the year that I’ve read as a reflection.

Gideon the Ninth

Coming in hot at the top is Gideon the Ninth, which I think might be my new favourite book EVER. Okay, nothing will actually oust Tiger’s Curse from the top spot in my heart, but this was GOOD. This is paranormal fantasy in which the magic that is front and centre is necromancy. It’s Agatha Christie-esque in it’s own way, with a big mysterious plot and a queer romance to boot.

I listened to this one via audiobook and the narration was excellent. If you’re an audiobook listener then I highly recommend getting yourself a copy of it to enjoy the performance.

Blurb (click to see)

The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit.

Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.

Of course, some things are better left dead.

The Diamond Eye

I am newly obsessed with Kate Quinn after reading The Rose Code last year – and my excitement over her latest book, The Diamond Eye, was well justified. This book was phenomenal; the way that Quinn writes is truly unparalleled and I loved the way she captured sexism, from the nuanced micro-aggressions to the blatant misogyny.

This was also a super interesting part of history, following a female Russian sniper during WWII, who was a bit of a war hero. I couldn’t get enough of this story! Cannot wait to see what she writes next.

Blurb (click to see)

The New York Times bestselling author of The Rose Code returns with an unforgettable World War II tale of a quiet bookworm who becomes history’s deadliest female sniper. Based on a true story.

In 1937 in the snowbound city of Kiev (now known as Kyiv), wry and bookish history student Mila Pavlichenko organizes her life around her library job and her young son–but Hitler’s invasion of Ukraine and Russia sends her on a different path. Given a rifle and sent to join the fight, Mila must forge herself from studious girl to deadly sniper–a lethal hunter of Nazis known as Lady Death. When news of her three hundredth kill makes her a national heroine, Mila finds herself torn from the bloody battlefields of the eastern front and sent to America on a goodwill tour.

Still reeling from war wounds and devastated by loss, Mila finds herself isolated and lonely in the glittering world of Washington, DC–until an unexpected friendship with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and an even more unexpected connection with a silent fellow sniper offer the possibility of happiness. But when an old enemy from Mila’s past joins forces with a deadly new foe lurking in the shadows, Lady Death finds herself battling her own demons and enemy bullets in the deadliest duel of her life.

Based on a true story, The Diamond Eye is a haunting novel of heroism born of desperation, of a mother who became a soldier, of a woman who found her place in the world and changed the course of history forever.

The Nurses’ War

The Nurses’ War is one of the biggest surprises to make it onto this list. I hadn’t been sure this would actually be my thing when I first picked it up, but I quickly fell in love. I certainly want to read more of Purman’s other works after finishing this.

Whilst this book was huge, it brilliantly captured the peaks and troughs of the female experience of WWI working on the frontlines of first responders. This is set in a hospital and it’s about how the nurses cope with the stress and pressure of wartime. It’s truly incredible and well worth the read.

Blurb (click to see)

There is more than one way to fight a war… An extraordinary story of grit, love and loss, based on the true history and real experiences of Australian nurses in World War 1.

In 1915, as World War 1 rages in Europe and the numbers of dead and injured continue to grow, Australian nurse, Sister Cora Barker, leaves her home in Australia for England, determined to use her skills for King and country. When she arrives at Harefield House – donated to the Australian Army by its expatriate Australian owners – she helps transform it into a hospital that is also a little piece of home for recuperating Australian soldiers.

As the months pass, her mission to save diggers lives becomes more urgent as the darkest months of the war see injured soldiers from the battlefields of France and Belgium flood into Harefield in the thousands. When the hospital sends out a desperate call for help, a quiet young seamstress from the village, Jessie Chester, steps up as a volunteer. At the hospital she meets Private Bert Mott, a recovering Australian soldier, but the looming threat of his return to the Front hangs over them. Could her first love be her first heartbreak?

Cora’s and Jessie’s futures, their hearts and their lives hang in the balance as the never-ending wave of injured and dying soldiers threatens to overwhelm the hospital and the hopes of a nation rest on a knife edge. The nurses war is a war against despair and death, fought with science and love rather than mustard gas and fear – but can they possibly win it? And what will be the cost?

Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone

This was an unexpected but golden find for the year. I was sent Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone for review unexpectedly and I quickly devoured the story. This is funny, spooky and totally unique. It’s a murder mystery akin to And Then There Were None, in which characters are slowly being killed off one by one.

The directness of the narrator addressing the reader made this something else – and it’s just so damn hard to put down because you keep telling yourself, one more chapter.

Blurb (click to see)

Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle meet Knives Out and The Thursday Murder Club in this fiendishly clever blend of classic and modern murder mystery.

I was dreading the Cunningham family reunion even before the first murder.

Before the storm stranded us at the mountain resort, snow and bodies piling up.

The thing is, us Cunninghams don’t really get along. We’ve only got one thing in common- we’ve all killed someone.

My brother.

My step-sister

My wife

My father

My mother

My sister-in-law

My uncle

My stepfather

My aunt

Me

Sense & Sensibility

I didn’t think this would ever be on this kind of list! After struggling through Pride & Prejudice ten years ago, I thought classics just might not be my jam. But I finally plucked up the courage to try another Jane Austen, this time via audiobook, and I completely fell in love.

This story is beautiful, and I’ve always loved the film with Emma Thompson dearly. So it was amazing that the book, narrated by Rosamund Pike, lived up to that for me. I’m actually really excited at the prospect of rereading this in physical format sometime in the future.

Blurb (click to see)

‘The more I know of the world, the more am I convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much!’

Marianne Dashwood wears her heart on her sleeve, and when she falls in love with the dashing but unsuitable John Willoughby she ignores her sister Elinor’s warning that her impulsive behaviour leaves her open to gossip and innuendo. Meanwhile Elinor, always sensitive to social convention, is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her. Through their parallel experience of love—and its threatened loss—the sisters learn that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find personal happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love.

Daughter of the Moon Goddess

Again, another serendipitous find for me this year. I hadn’t intended to read this one quite so soon, but a friend of mine lent me a copy, so I ended getting around to it sooner! And I’m so glad I did. Daughter of the Moon Goddess deserves all and any hype that comes its way. I don’t understand how this hasn’t taken off even more than it has.

The story is irresistible to fall in love with, and Xingyin is such a powerful female lead. There are so many amazing themes in this inspired by mythology that you just get swept away in the incredible narrative. Cannot wait for book two!

Blurb (click to see)

A captivating debut fantasy inspired by the legend of Chang’e, the Chinese moon goddess, in which a young woman’s quest to free her mother pits her against the most powerful immortal in the realm.

Growing up on the moon, Xingyin is accustomed to solitude, unaware that she is being hidden from the feared Celestial Emperor who exiled her mother for stealing his elixir of immortality. But when Xingyin’s magic flares and her existence is discovered, she is forced to flee her home, leaving her mother behind.

Alone, powerless, and afraid, she makes her way to the Celestial Kingdom, a land of wonder and secrets. Disguising her identity, she seizes an opportunity to learn alongside the emperor’s son, mastering archery and magic, even as passion flames between her and the prince.

To save her mother, Xingyin embarks on a perilous quest, confronting legendary creatures and vicious enemies across the earth and skies. But when treachery looms and forbidden magic threatens the kingdom, she must challenge the ruthless Celestial Emperor for her dream—striking a dangerous bargain in which she is torn between losing all she loves or plunging the realm into chaos.

Daughter of the Moon Goddess begins an enchanting, romantic duology which weaves ancient Chinese mythology into a sweeping adventure of immortals and magic—where love vies with honor, dreams are fraught with betrayal, and hope emerges triumphant.

Only a Monster

This was just addictive to read and I did it within a day. There was something about this book that had me utterly hooked and landed it as spot on this list. This is a Romeo & Juliet retelling done with monster hunters and time travel. There’s a lot going on in this story and I think it’s best to go in blind.

All I can say is that the London setting made for fun, the sense of adventure is acute and wonderful, the plot twists are delightful and the romance is bittersweet.

Blurb (click to see)

With the sweeping romance of Passenger and the dark fantasy edge of This Savage Song, this standout YA contemporary fantasy debut from Vanessa Len, is the first in a planned trilogy.

It should have been the perfect summer. Sent to stay with her late mother’s eccentric family in London, sixteen-year-old Joan is determined to enjoy herself. She loves her nerdy job at the historic Holland House, and when her super cute co-worker Nick asks her on a date, it feels like everything is falling into place.

But she soon learns the truth. Her family aren’t just eccentric: they’re monsters, with terrifying, hidden powers. And Nick isn’t just a cute boy: he’s a legendary monster slayer, who will do anything to bring them down.

As she battles Nick, Joan is forced to work with the beautiful and ruthless Aaron Oliver, heir to a monster family that hates her own. She’ll have to embrace her own monstrousness if she is to save herself, and her family. Because in this story . . .

. . . she is not the hero.

What are some of your favourite reads from the first half of 2022?

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