I am baffled that March has ended and spring has arrived. Here in the northeast, we’ve had a few glimmers of warmth, but it is still a bit chilly for my liking. I am beyond ready for long sunny days filled with picnics in the park or lounging on the balcony, curled up with a novel. As quickly as this year has gone, it will surely be here in no time.
As of this writing, I have completed 42% of my goal for the 2022 Goodreads Challenge. I’ve powered through 19 of 45 books from January to March and have been considering bumping up my goal to 50 book minimum. I read 50 books in 2021 after all, and if the speed with which I’ve been going through novels is any indication, I think it is a goal I can easily attain. I’ll decide on that later, though!
Anyway, let’s get into the books I read in the first quarter of 2022. If you’ve read any of these or have them in your reading stack, let me know!
2022 Q1 Reads Recap
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
Cussy Mary Carter is a “blue” woman, who works for the Pack Horse Library Project in Kentucky, delivering books to the furthest reaches of remote terrain so that the locals can have reading material. The story depicts her travels and life in the face of fear and discrimination. While the main character is fictional, her job and blood disorder were both inspired by true events.
This was the Book Club selection for December. We meet the first week of each month to discuss the prior month’s book, so it just happened to be completed in January. I really enjoyed this novel, even more so because there is some truth to the story.
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Mexican Gothic features many classical elements, as well as supernatural. When Noemí Taboada receives an alarming letter from her cousin, she travels to High Place to ensure her safety. Upon her stay, Noemí is pulled into the mysteries that accompany the area and begins to uncover chilling stories about the region’s history.
This was my favorite read in January and is still the contender for the best read book of 2022 (I keep a score on my Instagram account, linked below). I only read Wuthering Heights for the first time last year, and couldn’t help but feel like it was a version of that story, combined with The Haunting of Hill House. I absolutely loved it. Since I read this via audiobook, I may actually re-read it with a physical copy.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
This was a wonderful fable about the power of following your dreams. Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy, travels from his home in Spain to the deserts of Egypt in search of treasure. Along the way, he meets various people along the way that direct him on his quest.
I read this via audiobook and worked through a puzzle, completing both in the same evening. I liked this book, but I also think it was over-hyped. To each their own, though.
The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse
Another audiobook read, The Sanatorium was a mystery/thriller about a detective on leave, considering whether she wants to return to her career after she suffered a traumatic experience. While at a remote resort with her husband, a murder occurs during a massive snowstorm. The main character is quickly wrapped up in helping find the killer and finds herself in danger at many points. I found this to be engaging and I couldn’t wait to find out the identity of the culprit.
Bacchanal by Veronica G. Henry
Instead of a traveling circus, Bacchanal is about a sinister traveling carnival. Orphaned in the depression-era South, Eliza Meeks finds her ticket out of Baton Rouge by joining the carnival, showcasing her unique ability to speak with animals. What she doesn’t know yet, is that the carnival is operated by a soul-eating demon. Eliza soon learns she must defeat the evil lurking in her newfound home, saving her friends and humankind in the process.
This was in my ebook to-be-read pile for a long time and I am so glad I finally read it. I was about 8% through and reading a couple of other books at the same time, and decided I needed to focus solely on reading this one. So, I put the others to the side and powered through. It was also the first Veronica G. Henry book I read. I enjoyed it so much, that I read another of her towards the end of March, The Quarter Storm.
The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
Nella Rogers is an editorial assistant at a publishing house and notably, the only Black employee. When Hazel is employed, Nella is excited to have someone she can relate to in the office. That is until Hazel quickly becomes a favorite of their coworkers, including Nella’s boss, and Nella is left wondering where it all went wrong. Then, Nella starts receiving threatening letters, telling her to leave her job.
A thriller unlike any other that I’ve read, this book kept me on my toes the entire time. I was constantly trying to guess who the culprit was, and what the ulterior motive was. This was a close second behind Mexican Gothic for my top read of January.
Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall
Mikki Kendall discusses all things feminism in this moving piece of literature, specifically targeting individuals like myself (cis, white women). Kendall shares facts and numbers, as well as her personal experience, covering multiple aspects of inequality and insecurity across multiple sectors; ones that must be implemented into the discussion when it comes to equality for all women – not just rich, privileged white women.
A fantastic example of intersectional feminism and the need to do more, this was a can’t-miss read. This was January’s Book Club pick.
The Searcher by Tana French
Cal Hooper, a retired detective, moves to a remote area in Ireland, content to fill his days remodeling the cottage house he just acquired. That is, until a boy appears, asking for his help in finding his missing brother. This is a story about a community full of secrets, and Cal will soon uncover what is really happening in his new home. I listened to this via audiobook and was enraptured the entire time.
Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins
Stuck in a dead-end job in Hawaii, Lux longs to begin traveling the world with her boyfriend Nico on their boat. When an opportunity presents itself to have the repairs they need to be completed, with a journey to a remote island to boot, the two set off with their passengers, two college best friends looking to travel off the beaten path. A week-long trek to a secluded island sounds like a dream. That is until things take a sinister turn.
I received this through the Book of the Month Club and I read it so fast. It was exactly what I needed at the time and I enjoyed the few twists throughout. I love an empowered woman who figures her shit out no matter the circumstance, and I found that here. There were times I felt the MC was a bit gullible, but she made up for it in the end.
Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
Klara is an Artificial Friend with exceptional observation skills unlike many of the AFs that accompany her in the store. While she remains in the store for some time, she continues to be hopeful that a customer will pick her up and take her home. Finally, a young girl chooses Klara as her AF and she is able to leave the store, her circumstances forever changed.
I almost didn’t read this book, but I am so happy I did. I am not a big fan of AI, however, I absolutely loved Klara and her story. There were moments when I was unsure what was going on, but it all fit together eventually. I was a bit disappointed by the ending, but they can’t always be perfect.
Half a Lifelong Romance by Eileen Chang
Shen Shijen and Gu Manzhen are two young lovers living in Shanghai during the 1930s. Despite their love for one another, family matters and other events force the two apart. Yet, they remain hopeful that one day they will be together.
This was a fantastic piece of classical literature and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a story of both love and loss, passion and sorrow. Definitely a novel you want to have on your shelves if you enjoy classical romance.
The Maid by Nita Prose
Molly is a maid at a grand hotel, and she thoroughly enjoys her job. With her gran having recently passed, she throws herself into her work and returning the rooms she tends into a state of perfection. That is until she discovered Mr. Black dead in his suite and Molly is targeted as a suspect in his death.
I chose this book as February’s Book Club pick and am so glad I did. It was refreshing to read a story from a neurodivergent character’s perspective, and I always love a good mystery. I especially loved the cliches and idioms throughout.
Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed by Saraciea J. Fennell
Featuring 15 different voices from the Latinx community, this anthology was well-made and exceptional to read. Despite the heavy topics discussed, the telling of each unique story was enthralling and necessary.
I listened to this via audiobook and found myself emotional at multiple points throughout while hearing each of the writer’s essays. Absolutely recommend this to everyone.
From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Poppy is The Maiden, chosen at birth by the Gods to bring salvation to her kingdom. She is never to be looked at, spoken to, or even touched except by those of the highest royal standing and her closest guards. She thinks she knows what awaits her on her Ascension day. That is until Hawke becomes her duty-bound guard and makes her question everything she thought she knew about herself and the kingdom she’s lived in all her life.
This definitely started slowly as many of the reviews I read stated, but boy did it pick up. Every moment I could spare within a 3-day timeframe was directed toward devouring this lengthy novel. I woke up early, eating up the words alongside my morning coffee. I came home after a night of birthday celebrations for a friend and continued reading long into the night. When I wasn’t reading, I was thinking about it. I can’t wait to start the sequel in April.
Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon
Vern is a young, pregnant black woman that has escaped from the religious compound her mother brought her to as a child. She gives birth to twins in the forest and raises them in the seclusion of the woods. Yet, she is still being hunted by those from the compound she escaped from, and her body begins making changes she can’t explain. Vern must learn the truth about her situation by facing her past and uncovering the secrets of the place she grew up.
This book was incredible. I was initially intrigued by the synopsis but it was so much more than I ever expected. Vern’s kids made me laugh often with their antics and innocence, and it definitely helped balance out all of the darker aspects occurring throughout the story. I listened to this via audiobook and will likely re-read it again with a physical book (anyone else sensing a pattern here?).
The Quarter Storm by Veronica Henry
Mambo Reina is a Vodou practitioner in New Orleans, gifted with water magic by her ancestors. When a murder occurs in the French Quarter – what appears to be a ritual sacrifice – and another Vodou priestess is charged with the murder, Mambo Reina gets involved, determined to find the real killer.
This book was everything I love in one – magic, mystery, and thrill. There were some parts that were a bit dull, but not enough to keep me from finishing it. I probably won’t actively seek out reading the sequel, but I can’t say I won’t read it.
Women of Sand and Myrrh by Hanan Al-Shaykh
Told from four perspectives, Women of Sand and Myrrh is about the lives of Arabic women living in an unnamed desert state (our Book Club concluded likely Saudi Arabia). Each perspective was from a different socioeconomic class, and all had very different lives, both growing up and as adults.
This was March’s Book Club pick and our group ordered takeout from a Mediterranean restaurant when we met to immerse ourselves a bit into the culture (it was delicious – I love a kebab). A powerful story about feminism, identity, and sexuality, this fits right into the sort of novel we usually read together. I was surprised at some of the sexual encounters the women experienced because of the restrictions within the society, but perhaps that made it all the more scandalous. I was confused by some of the storylines, but from what I read in the reviews, the English version was heavily edited and not totally reliable. While I felt a lot of the time that the women were annoying, I can most certainly chalk that up to boredom and the limitation set upon them. I would probably be just as annoying too without much freedom.
Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman
In 1600s rural England, Maria Owens is abandoned as a baby. She is found in a snowy field by Hannah Ownes, who takes Maria in as her own and raises her. Over the years, Maria learns the practice of the Nameless Art and taps into her own talents as a gifted witch. When she falls in love with a man and becomes pregnant, she follows him to Salem, Massachusetts despite his attempts to abandon her. Invoking a curse on her bloodline, Maria truly learns the rules of magic and the lessons she will carry with her for the rest of her life.
I selected The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman as a Book Club pick last year when the author was brand-new to me. This book just so happened to be available to listen to via audiobook, and I couldn’t bypass it. I enjoyed this prequel so much and am looking forward to reading the remainder of the series.
The Wives by Tarryn Fisher
A wild ride from start to finish, The Wives is about a woman married to a polygamist. She doesn’t know the other wives, but curiosity eventually gets the best of her. The more she learns about her husband and his other lives, the more uncertain she becomes about the man she is with.
I read the first half of this book in one sitting and proceeded to finish it the following evening. I needed a book I could devour quickly to round out the last few days of the month before I got into some of the larger books in my stack. Whew, this one did not disappoint. I will say that I wished the plot hadn’t gone the route it took, but I still enjoyed it.
Next On the Schedule
In April, I will be taking part in RealmAThon and representing Bayle in the battle of the realms. This will be my first time participating in something like this, and I am looking forward to this fun reading challenge. Book Club won’t be meeting again until May, so it couldn’t have come at a better time to dedicate myself to this unique activity.
I will simultaneously be participating in Camp NaNoWriMo and have a goal of 10,000 words to add to my work in progress. Fingers crossed that Eva will be further along on her journey in the next quarterly recap.
If you want to say hello to me on social media, I have an Instagram page dedicated to books and writing, as well as a Twitter page where I primarily post my daily Wordle score. I’ll also be posting about the reading challenge and other fun happenings. Can’t wait to hear from you!
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