Whitney’s Top Five
Asking someone who loves to read to name their favorite book is an impossible question. It simply can’t be done. So, for my 2022 “Five Best” list, I decided to dig into my GoodReads and pull directly from there. Now, in all honesty, I am TERRIBLE at including physical books in my GR list and as such, it only reflects the ebooks I’ve read. Fair enough. Those are my initial, measurable parameters. Ebooks as shown on GoodReads purchased and read in 2022. Still quite a few to choose from. Mkay, how about five I get excited about possibly reading again and have recommended to friends? Admittedly, this is an immeasurable standard, but it’ll have to do. Here we go.
Powerless by Vicky Ball (Read January 2022)
Powerless is an outlier when it comes to my usual reading choices. That said, it is a powerful, fast-paced suspense novel with an incredible climactic twist which took me entirely by surprise. I was enthralled from page one and breathless at the last. When a missing child returns, years’ worth of questions aren’t answered easily. And sometimes, those answers break your heart. Ball is a truly talented writer and I hope to read more of her work.
The Witch’s Knight by Paula and Trevor Brackston (Read March 2022)
Paula’s books are always a hit for me, so I leapt at the opportunity to read an ARC of The Witch’s Knight, a collaborative effort between Paula and her brother, Trevor. I was not disappointed. The authors’ distinct voices can be heard on every page and while different, they work together beautifully. Disparate narratives coalesce perfectly to tell the story of a medieval priestess, Rhiannon, and a modern-day bodyguard, Tudor. Neither time nor distance can keep them apart. It’s what happens in the middle that truly matters.
Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree (Read April 2022)
Have you ever been hugged by a book? If not, go get a copy of Legends & Lattes and prepare to be squeezed. When an orc mercenary finally scrapes together enough coin to retire from the merc game and pursue her dream of opening a coffee shop, you can guarantee difficulties lie ahead. Baldree’s glorious cast of colorful characters (both good guys and bad) is charming, engaging, and wildly entertaining. This is a gem of feel-good fantasy and deserves a spot in every bookstore coffeeshop. Also worth mentioning, Baldree originally self-published Legends & Lattes only to have it picked up by Tor. Talk about a one-in-a-bazillion opportunity.
The Living Waters by Dan Fitzgerald (Read May 2022)
When I saw The Living Waters being touted as “sword-free fantasy,” I wondered how that was even possible and whether it could possibly be any good. Oh my, good doesn’t begin to describe this book. Beautifully written, Waters delivers a captivating tale of discovery and growth, friendship and wonder, comfort and grief. I’ve never read anything like it, not even close. If I ever get to teach a creative writing class (ahem, if anyone can hook me up, I’d appreciate it), The Living Waters will be required reading for my students. It is truly a lesson in breaking the mold and creating something new out of the best pieces.
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (Read December 2022)
When I’m not reading fantasy, you can bet I’m reading historical fiction. Lessons in Chemistry was recommended by a new friend and after reading it, I will forever trust her recommendations without reservation. Lessons is a fascinating, multi-layered, master class examination of one woman’s personal struggle for equality. It doesn’t focus on one large event but rather the systemic oppression and devaluation of women in the early 1960’s. Elizabeth Zott, a brilliant chemist in a field where men make the rules while women make coffee, is a heroine like no other and her message is crystal clear, “There’s no such thing as an average woman.” She is determined to change those rules – from the inside out. Zott may be fictional, but her story is exceptional and inspirational.