As I sat down to pick out my top reads of the last quarter of 2022, I looked at my list and thought to myself, “Well, this looks a lot more like me.” And yet, as I write this, I feel less like myself than I ever have. Aren’t people funny paradoxes? Funny isn’t the right word, but we use it like that all the time. Funny can mean can mean odd, unsettling, and uncomfortable. But at face value, it’s just … funny.
My last list of reads for the year is decidedly not so funny. I’ve strayed away from rom-coms and clever, quirky fantasy novels back to familiar territory, but with a sprinkling of something new (spoiler alert: it starts with science and ends with fiction). I’ve recently started using the app The StoryGraph to track the books I read throughout the year, and it likes to remind me that I tend to read adventurous, mysterious, and dark reads. (If you want to flee the clutches of the Bezos, but you really like Goodreads for one reason or another, I recommend checking this app out. Free, and oh, so clever!)
So, without further ado, here are the top three picks from the last three months, in the order that I read them, not the order that I enjoyed them, because that just wouldn’t be fair.
- Little Thieves (fantasy)
This one was ✨fun✨:
- 🥸 impersonation
- 💎 thievery
- 💕 awkward romance (the kind that makes you laugh more than making you cringe)
- 🦆 alleged retelling of The Goose Girl fairytale
Vanja leads a double life: one part Princess Giselle, one part jewel thief who raids the coffers of the most prestigious nobles around. You can see how impersonating a princess gives her access to those coffers. But when she’s cursed by a god for her greed, and as her identity as princess seems to be getting her trapped into a marriage with a horrible nobleman, plans change. Now she has to get out of her predicament with the deadline of her own impending death hanging over her head on top of it all.
The audiobook narrator for this one was an absolute delight 🎧 and all the sneaking around, magical creatures, goddesses, and curses just brought this world to life. I’ll be reading book 2 at my earliest convenience, which is whenever it comes out, which is not convenient for present me in the slightest. Anyone with a time machine, speak now.
- A Psalm for the Wild-Built (sci-fi)
Becky Chambers caught my attention with this short little book, and its sequel, A Prayer for the Crown-Shy, and I devoured both in short order. They’re not long, but they’re heart-felt and adorable and relatable in a way I wasn’t expecting. Follow a tea-serving monk on his bicycle cart through a world that has come out on the other side of a robot-powered world and climate change with a vastly altered perspective. Then, meet Mosscap: one of the robots who became sentient and walked out on that world, transforming the lives of humans and nature forever. I love me a good robot side-kick, but Mosscap is so much more than that. As a very prominent character, this curious, adventurous little robot does a stunning job of leading a human back to themself while learning quite a bit about itself along the way.
- A Darker Shade of Magic (fantasy)
And finally, meet V.E. Schwab. I’ve read a couple others of her books — The Invisible Life of Addie Larue and Gallant — and while Addie Larue wasn’t for me, Gallant was, which would have been the third title on this list if I hadn’t picked up the audiobook for A Darker Shade of Magic next. This title was a stunning ride through cross-dimensional travel, multiple Londons, and incredible characters. Kell, a royal magician and unofficial smuggler who travels between worlds, and Delilah Bard, another dazzling, delightful thief. (If you see a trend in this list, don’t read too much into it, yeah?) Getting to know Kell and Lila on their separate and then entertwining journeys was an absolute treat. While Kell is just trying to hold his freedom, and his kingdom, intact, Lila is searching for more — for a new way to live — and it surprises her, as much as Kell, that she finds it in a newfound affinity for magic.
I’m nearly finished the second book in the Shades of Magic series already (it will likely be my last read of 2022!) and I’m already looking forward to the third, which is blessedly published already. I just have to wait for Libby the library app to deliver!
In the meantime, I wish you a happy new year. My wish for you is that you enter 2023 with big dreams, measurable goals, and hope. Hope that you have the strength to take each next step that comes, that you have the resources to take rest as you need it and care for yourself, and that you’ll find your own way — one way or another.
Happy new year 🥂