Anticipated Reads for Winter 2022

Wow, there are a lot of great books coming out this year! I don’t know if it’s just that I’m in a good reading place right now, but I feel like there’s a lot more new releases coming out than normal! I’d love to make a list for all of 2022, but it’s too hard to narrow it down and I’m sure there will be so many more great books in the latter part of the year as well, so here’s a few of my anticipated reads for January, February, and March!

Fiction

Olga Dies Dreaming

Author: Xochitl Gonzalez

Pub. Date: January 4

“A blazing talent debuts with the tale of a status-driven wedding planner grappling with her social ambitions, absent mother, and Puerto Rican roots, all in the wake of Hurricane Maria.”

Fiona and Jane

Author: Jean Chen Ho

Pub. Date: January 4

“A witty, warm, and irreverent book that traces the lives of two young Taiwanese American women as they navigate friendship, sexuality, identity, and heartbreak over two decades.”

Brown Girls

Author: Daphne Palasi Andreades

Pub. Date: January 4

“A blazingly original debut novel about a group of friends and their immigrant families from Queens, New York–a tenderly observed, fiercely poetic love letter to a modern generation of brown girls.”

Wahala

Author: Nikki May

Pub. Date: January 11

“An incisive and exhilarating debut novel of female friendship following three Anglo-Nigerian best friends and the lethally glamorous fourth woman who infiltrates their group—the most unforgettable girls since Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda.”

Black Girls Must Be Magic

Author: Jayne Allen

Pub. Date: February 1

“In this highly anticipated second installment in the Black Girls Must Die Exhausted series, Tabitha Walker copes with more of life’s challenges and a happy surprise–a baby–with a little help and lots of love from friends old and new.”

Black Cake

Author: Charmaine Wilkerson

Pub. Date: February 1

“In this moving debut novel, two estranged siblings must set aside their differences to deal with their mother’s death and her hidden past–a journey of discovery that takes them from the Caribbean to London to California and ends with her famous black cake.”

Mystery/Thriller

The Maid

Author: Nita Prose

Pub. Date: January 4

“A Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different—and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.”

Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead

Author: Elle Cosimano

Pub. Date: February 1

“Finlay Donovan is—once again—struggling to finish her next novel and keep her head above water as a single mother of two. On the bright side, she has her live-in nanny and confidant Vero to rely on. With her next book’s deadline looming and an ex-husband to keep alive, Finlay is quickly coming to the end of her rope. She can only hope there isn’t a noose at the end of it…”

Girl In Ice

Author: Erica Ferencik

Pub. Date: March 1

“From the author of The River at Night and Into the Jungle comes a harrowing new thriller set in the unforgiving landscape of the Arctic Circle, as a brilliant linguist struggling to understand the apparent suicide of her twin brother ventures hundreds of miles north to try to communicate with a young girl who has thawed from the ice alive.”

Historical Fiction

To Paradise

Author: Hanya Yangihara

Pub. Date: January 11

“From the author of the classic A Little Life, a bold, brilliant novel spanning three centuries and three different versions of the American experiment, about lovers, family, loss and the elusive promise of utopia.”

An Impossible Impostor

Author: Deanna Raybourn

Pub. Date: February 15

“While investigating a man claiming to be the long-lost heir to a noble family, Veronica Speedwell gets the surprise of her life in this new adventure from the New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award-nominated author Deanna Raybourn.”

The Diamond Eye

Author: Kate Quinn

Pub. Date: March 29

“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.”

Romance

Yinka, Where Is Your Husband?

Author: Lizzie Damilola Blackburn

Pub. Date: January 18

“Meet Yinka: a thirty-something, Oxford-educated, British Nigerian woman with a well-paid job, good friends, and a mother whose constant refrain is ‘Yinka, where is your huzband?'”

Running Wild

Author: K.A. Tucker

Pub. Date: January 25

“From the internationally bestselling author of The Simple Wild comes the story of a woman at a crossroads in her life, struggling between the safe route and the one that will only lead to more heartbreak.”

Science Fiction

The School for Good Mothers

Author: Jessamine Chan

Pub. Date: January 4

“In this taut and explosive debut novel, one lapse in judgement lands a young mother in a government reform program where custody of her child hangs in the balance.”

Non-Fiction

An Abolitionist’s Handbook

Author: Patrisse Cullors

Pub. Date: January 25

“In An Abolitionist’s Handbook, Cullors charts a framework for how everyday activists can effectively fight for an abolitionist present and future. Filled with relatable pedagogy on the history of abolition, a reimagining of what reparations look like for Black lives and real-life anecdotes from Cullors.”

Top 7 Reads in 2021

Every year I try to identify my top 15 reads of the year. Usually I dedicate the top 10 to my best books from 2021 and the other 5 are books published in other years, but I read a few more this year that I loved that weren’t new releases. So this year I have my Top 7 reads in 2021, ordered in terms of how much I loved them:

7. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

I love Lisa See’s writing and I’ve slowly been trying to make my way through her backlist books. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan seems to be the most popular of all her novels, so I decided to add it to my TBR for this year. Like her other books, I ended up loving it. It’s a hard read about the Chinese culture of foot binding, but it’s about so much more than that. More accurately, it’s about women’s culture and the friendship and comradery that develops between two girls that come from different socio-economic backgrounds, but grow up together and develop a strong bond.

6. We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

We Are Okay is from another repeat author, Nina LaCour. This is only my second book by her (although arguably her most popular) and I really liked it. It’s a young adult/new adult book about a young girl named Marin starting University after the loss of her grandfather. It’s a simple book about guilt, grief, and friendship. It has a small setting, which the author uses to explore the impacts of grief while we learn more of Marin’s backstory. LaCour is a wonderful writer and I really appreciated the hard honesty in her storytelling.

5. Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

Brooklyn is a rare book that I read after seeing the movie. I loved the movie and didn’t expect that I would like the book quite as much, but fortunately, I did! It differs a little bit from the movie, but mostly I just think this is a timeless tale of what it means to leave home. The tenderness you feel for it, the pain of saying goodbye to your loved ones, and the conflict you feel when you develop those same feelings of love for a new place and new people. I loved both the book and the movie and you can’t go wrong with either one!

4. A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

A Curious Beginning is the first book in the Veronica Speedwell series, a historical mystery set in London in the late 1800’s that captured my heart this year. It’s been on my TBR for a long time and I flew through the first 5 books in 2021. Veronica Speedwell is such a fun character and I love how the author blends so many different genres in this laugh-out-loud series. I debated stopping after book 5, but I think I’m going to continue on and read the next 2 books in 2022.

3. In My Own Moccasins by Helen Knott

This is another book that was on my TBR for a while that I read in 2021 with my book club. It’s a memoir about healing from addiction and trauma that is incredibly impactful. Helen Knott has experienced years of multi-generational trauma, racism, and sexual violence that leaves her addicted to alcohol and drugs, before finally finding the help she needs to heal her spirit. This is a book that matters because Knott is incredibly honest in her storytelling and highlights that she shares her story predominantly for other indigenous women.

2. Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

I haven’t seen a lot of press about this book, but it is so deserving. Elatsoe is a debut novel from Lipan Apache writer Darcie Little Badger. It’s an excellent blend of genres: mystery, fantasy, and young adult, that feels like the most wonderfully wholesome read. It reads a bit more like middle grade to me, but it features teen Elatsoe, who is investigating the suspicious death of her cousin. It blends traditional Lipan Apache myth with fantastical elements and makes for such a fun book!

1. The Wild Heavens by Sarah Louise Butler

The Wild Heavens was one of my first reads of 2021 and it has stuck with me ever since. It’s a character driven story set in remote British Columbia and has the most atmospheric mood throughout the book. It evokes similar feelings to my top pick from my other 2021 list, Once There Were Wolves, as well as other favourites like The Great Alone, so I’m not surprised I loved it. I love remote settings, character driven stories, and local authors, so this was a slam dunk. Intriguingly, Bigfoot is featured in this book, but it’s primarily a book about growing up and growing old – those that we’ve loved and lost and how they influence our lives.

Top 8 Books from 2021

This is usually one of my favourite posts of the year, but I haven’t done it since 2018, so I’m thrilled to return again this year! Almost the entire year of 2020 was a book slump for me and while I didn’t do much reading through summer of 2021, overall this was a much better year and I’m a lot more excited about the books I read.

As usual, I’ll be doing 2 posts that collectively feature my top 15 reads of the year. This post is dedicated to my favourite books of the year that were actually published in 2021 (because I read a lot of new releases) and the second post will feature my Top 7 Reads of 2021 that were published in other years. So without further ago, let’s get into it – these are intentionally ordered in terms of how much I loved them.

8. What’s Mine and Yours by Naima Coster

What’s Mine and Yours snuck on to my list this year. It was an impulse purchase on Audible that I ended up really enjoying. It has low ratings on goodreads, but I felt it was such a meaningful story that touched on huge number of social issues: race, class, status, family, grief, and of course, love. It features a large cast of characters and I liked how the author examines nature versus nurture and how blinding privilege can be to another’s experience.  

7. Where Hope Comes From by Nikita Gill

Where Hope Comes From is a short poetry anthology by Nikita Gill that I cannot stop thinking about since I read it. I find her poetry a bit hit or miss, but picked it up when I saw it was about the pandemic. I wasn’t really looking forward to the pandemic starting to show up in books, but I couldn’t deny that it was exactly what I needed. Reflection is an important part of processing things that happen to you and it was cathartic to read about someone else’s experience with the pandemic and to feel solidarity and acknowledgement of some of the crap we’ve all been through in the last year.

6. If I Tell You the Truth by Jasmin Kaur

I’m sensing a bit of a theme, but If I Tell You The Truth was another impulse buy from my local bookstore. Jasmin Kaur is a local author (to me) and this story is written in prose and set in the BC Lower Mainland. I ended up loving it. The writing is fantastic and features a young Indian girl who moves to Vancouver for university to find herself pregnant. The author explore a lot of themes, particularly family and gender dynamics in Indian culture and the struggles of immigration. The writing is incredibly honest and heartfelt and I felt so connected to the characters.

5. The Strangers by Katherena Vermette

The Strangers was my second read by Katherena Vermette and was nominated for the Giller Prize this year. This book gutted me within the first chapter and I couldn’t stop reading about the 4 female members of the Stranger family. It’s a multi-generational story that examines the circular nature of trauma and the racism that still exists in Canada’s family and social services. Vermette is an excellent writer and I connected deeply with each of her characters.

4. Finlay Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano

This is book that I had no right to enjoy as much as I did! It’s a mystery/thriller about a crime writer who is mistaken for a hired killer when overheard talking about her latest book plot with her publicist. When she’s offered a huge sum of money to off a woman’s husband, things quickly get out of control and spiral into a fast paced train wreck of epic proportions. It’s an easy-to-read style that translated so well to audiobook. It’s not a literary masterpiece in any way, but I had a lot of fun with it and couldn’t put it down!

3. Infinite Country by Patricia Engel

Infinite Country was yet another surprise read that I picked up on Audible and ended up loving. It’s a very short book, but succinct.  It’s a beautifully written immigration story split between America and Colombia that captures the heartache of having your family separated and your kids growing up as part of two different cultures. The struggle to make a living in a hostile environment and the dream of one day reuniting your family. We all just long to be together.

2. Please Don’t Sit on my Bed in Your Outside Clothes by Phoebe Robinson

If you’ve been reading my reviews for a while you probably know I love Phoebe Robinson. She consistently gets better with every novel she publishes and this audiobook was easily my best of the year. It’s a collection of essays written for a large audience and I love how she seamlessly blends humour with her astute observations on social issues. She is so relatable and an important voice for black women. I still think about essays from her last novel and I loved her reflections on the pandemic, on her decision not to have children, and her thoughts on the white saviour complex.

1. Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy

Without a doubt this was my favourite book of the year. Once There Were Wolves is a haunting story about Inti Flynn and her determination to re-introduce wolves into the Scottish Highlands. The townspeople are vehemently opposed to the wolves out of fear and when one of the villagers go missing, Inti is worried her wolves will take the fall. It’s a wonderful blend of literary fiction and mystery and has the most lonesome atmosphere of grief and sadness that permeates the entire novel. Inti is trying to come to terms with the traumatic events of her shared past with her twin sister and McConaghy uses the loveliest prose to explore themes of loss, abuse, feeling, and sisterhood. Can’t recommend enough!

Every Book I Read in 2020

It’s that time of the year again where I catalogue all the books I read in the previous year. I like to track my yearly reading list here, and then every year I make a post of all the books I read the previous year. I’m a little bit behind this year, but better late then never right?

Despite all the spare time I had, 2020 was not a good reading year for me. In fact, it was my worst reading year since 2015. But we all survived 2020 in different ways. With everything else going on I found my reading motivation low and instead turned to hiking and baking to keep my spirits up. That said, I did still read 63 books in 2020, which is still a huge success. I wrote less reviews than usual and lost my motivation to write special interest posts (I didn’t even do a top books of 2020 blog!), but I’ve still be plugging along and have been a lot more engaged to date in 2021.

So here’s the compilation list of all the books I read in 2021!

  1. Lord of the Rings Location Guidebook – Ian Brodie
  2. Bloodlust & Bonnets – Emily McGovern
  3. Flamecaster (Shattered Realms #1) – Cinda Williams Chima
  4. Shadowcaster (Shattered Realms #2) – Cinda Williams Chima
  5. Stormcaster (Shattered Realms #3) – Cinda Williams Chima
  6. Dual Citizens – Alix Ohlin
  7. The Giver of Stars – Jojo Moyes
  8. Deathcaster (Shattered Realms #4) – Cinda Williams Chima
  9. The Simple Wild (Wild #1) – K.A. Tucker
  10. Wild at Heart (Wild #2) – K.A. Tucker
  11. The Silent Patient – Alex Michaelides
  12. Disappearing Earth – Julia Philips
  13. When the World Didn’t End – Caroline Kaufman
  14. Greenwood – Michael Christie
  15. Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens
  16. The Glass Hotel – Emily St. John Mandel
  17. The Tattooist of Auschwitz – Heather Morris
  18. American Dirt – Jeanine Cummins
  19. The Dutch House – Ann Patchett
  20. Son of a Critch – Mark Critch
  21. Such a Fun Age – Kiley Reid
  22. Maybe in Another Life – Taylor Jenkins Reid
  23. Rick Mercer Final Report – Rick Mercer
  24. Anxious People – Fredrik Backman
  25. Cape Scott and the North Coast Trail – Maria Bremner
  26. The Beekeeper of Aleppo – Christy Lefteri
  27. Once You Go This Far (Roxane Weary #4) – Kristen Lepionka
  28. A Very Punchable Face – Colin Jost
  29. The Diviners (Diviners #1) – Libba Bray
  30. Catch and Kill – Ronan Farrow
  31. She Said – Meghan Twohey, Jodi Kantor
  32. Fence: Rivals – C.S. Pacat
  33. Migrations – Charlotte McConaghy
  34. Wade in the Water – Tracy K. Smith
  35. The Last Story of Mina Lee – Nancy Jooyoun Kim
  36. Kim JiYoung, Born 1982 – Cho Nam-Joo
  37. One by One – Ruth Ware
  38. Beyond the Trees – Adam Shoalts
  39. Solutions and other Problems – Allie Brosh
  40. The Pull of the Stars – Emma Donaghue
  41. Check Please!, Book 2: Sticks & Scones – Ngozi Ukazu
  42. The Vanishing Half – Brit Bennett
  43. Nevermoor (Nevermoor #1) – Jessica Townsend
  44. Wundersmith (Nevermoor #2) – Jessica Townsend
  45. Hollowpox (Nevermoor #3) – Jessica Townsend
  46. Transcendent Kingdom – Yaa Gyasi
  47. Conditional Citizens – Laila Lalami
  48. Punching the Air – Ibi Zoboi, Yusef Salaam
  49. Mexican Gothic – Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  50. Hood Feminism – Mikki Kendall
  51. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue – V.E. Schwab
  52. The Lifting Dress – Lauren Berry
  53. Betty – Tiffany McDaniel
  54. Tell the Wolves I’m Home – Carol Rifka Brunt
  55. Where the Forest Meets the Stars – Glendy Vanderah
  56. Happily Ever After – Debbie Tung
  57. Rock Recipes Cookies – Barry Parsons
  58. Forever Wild (Wild #2.5) – K.A. Tucker
  59. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  60. Watch Over Me – Nina Lacour
  61. Persuasion – Jane Austen
  62. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
  63. Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen

Bookish Academy Awards 2019

I did this tag for the first time last year and really enjoyed it, so I decided to do it again this year! It’s basically a list of all the awards at the Academy Awards, but for the books I read in 2019. I’ll be picking my winners from all the books I read in 2019, not just the ones that were published in 2019. So I have a total of 91 books to pick from and you can see my full list here if you’re interested. I’ve done my best to avoid selecting the same book for multiple categories, but in some cases I felt the same book really was the best pick for both awards. Here we go:

Best Male Protagonist (Best Actor)

Winner: Han Allister from The Demon King

Reason: Street Lord turned wizard and hero! Han is clever and quick on his feet, but also kind.

Runner ups: Trevor Noah from Born a Crime

Best Female Protagonist (Best Actress):

Winner: Jo March from Little Women

Reason: Jo is stubborn and has a wild temper, but she’s also brave and tenacious and ready to make her own way in the world!

Runner ups: Raisa ana’Mariana from The Demon King, Jane Sinner from Nice Try Jane Sinner, Kamzin from Even the Darkest Stars

Best Male Sidekick (Best Supporting Actor):

Winner: Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the Rings

Reason: Sam is a hero masquerading as a sidekick. One of my all time favourite characters in any book!

Runner ups: There are no runner ups, there is only Sam

Best Female Sidekick (Best Supporting Actress):

Winner: Beth March from Little Women

Reason: It’s impossible not to love Beth March with her quiet and caring demeanor and big heart!

Runner ups: Melissa Yule from Lands of Lost Borders, Nisha from Ember and the Ice Dragons

Best Writer you discovered for the first time (Best Director):

Winner: Cinda Williams Chima

Reason: Cinda knows how to write a clever plot and a large cast of engaging characters.

Runner ups: Andrea Gibson (Lord of the Butterflies), Candice Carty Williams (Queenie), Angie Kim (Miracle Creek), Mary Beth Keane (Ask Again, Maybe)

Best Plot Twist (Best Cinematography):

Winner: Verity by Colleen Hoover

Reason: Verity is a wild and messed up ride. I didn’t see the plot twist coming and it completely blew my mind!

Runner ups: The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware, Miracle Creek by Angie Kim, Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Best Action in a Book (Best Visual Effects):

Winner: Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

Reason: I re-read the series in 2019 and there is really nothing quite like the final action scenes in Return of the King.

Runner ups: The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black, The Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima, Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke

Best Book Cover (Best Costume Design):

Winner: All the Wandering Light by Heather Fawcett

Reason: I have a thing for starscapes on book covers and the covers of this series are just perfection and match the fantasy world perfectly!

Runner ups: Lands of Lost Borders by Kate Harris, Ember and the Ice Dragons by Heather Fawcett, The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

Best Audiobook (Best Musical Score):

Winner: Full Cast in Daisy Jones & The Six

Reason: You couldn’t ask for more from a full cast! This is a masterpiece in character development and the voice actors do a stellar job!

Runner ups: Trevor Noah in Born a Crime, Shvorne Marks in Queenie, Full Cast in The Golden Compass

Most Unique Plot/World (Best Original Screenplay):

Winner: The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman

Reason: A fascinating world where people have daemons, can walk between worlds, and there are armoured polar bears and witches!

Runner ups: The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima, Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett

Best Book to Movie Adaptation (Best Adapted Screenplay):

Winner: Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Reason: It’s been a few years since I actually read the book, but the movie captures all the same hilarity without the awkward plot points at the end, which I preferred!

Runner ups: Little Women

Best Graphic Novel (Best Animated Feature):

Winner: Book Love by Debbie Tung

Reason: I admit I didn’t read many graphic novels this year, but Book Love was a cute find!

Runner ups: The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill

Best Novella or Short Book (Best Short Film):

Winner: Lord of the Butterflies by Andrea Gibson

Reason: Gibson is an incredible spoken word poet and this anthology is an important commentary on identity and social justice.

Runner ups: Wishtree by Katherine Applegate, My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Best Historical Fiction (Best Documentary):

Winner: The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

Reason: A moving story about a little known Korean island and an important part of history.

Runner ups: The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway, The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

Best Standalone (Best Picture):

Winner: Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

Reason: A layered and nuanced story about culture, immigration, disabilities, motherhood, and more, presented as an intriguing courtroom drama.

Runner ups: Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Lord of the Butterflies by Andrea Gibson