Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Best Books of 2022 Pt. 1: Backlist & 2023 Releases


Today I am presenting to you all Part I of my favorite books of 2022! I know we're already into the second week of January, but I've been weirdly busy and had a lot going on already so we are a little behind on things–but that's okay! I always feel very fortunate to be able to read so many books every year–both the good and the not so good–and always find so much joy in looking back at all the books I read in order to pick out my favorites. I really enjoy a lot of books I read, but I think we all know when we read one that just feels a little extra special to us and is one that will likely stick with us just a little more than others, and these are some of them.

Just as I split up my lists for the past couple of years, I am once again splitting up my favorites lists into a few categories because I read a grand total of 154 books and there are just too many that I loved to make only one list. Today I am sharing my favorite backlist titles (this will include any title published prior to 2022) and two 2023 ARCs I read and also loved. Part II, which consists of 2023 releases, will (hopefully) be up later this week, and my annual reading stats post will be up by the end of the month (assuming nothing drastic happens in my life to change that). As always, these lists are in no particular order. Without further ado, let's dive in!

Backlist Titles 
(pre-2022 release, in no particular order):

Hunting by Stars  The Stone Knife (Songs of the Drowned, #1)  A Dowry of Blood (A Dowry of Blood, #1)
1. Hunting by Stars by Cheri Dimaline: The Marrow Thieves was a favorite read last year, and this sequel was just as incredible. This duology is about dystopian future where Indigenous peoples of North America are the last ones able to dream, and the rest of the world begins hunting them for their bone marrow and ability to dream. Hunting by Stars is a sequel that really carried on the story in a meaningful way and served to further expand on each character's experiences, backstories, and evolutions as people throughout these books. I was captivated by the plot and moved by the stories within this book. 

2. The Stone Knife by Anna Stephens: Since I loved Anna Stephens' previous series, Godblind, I had a feeling I would like The Stone Knife–I didn't realize I'd end up loving it quite as much as I did! This is a fantasy taking place in an ancient Central American setting and it was truly incredible to explore this world in a fantasy setting. I adored all of the characters and found the magic system, political intrigue, and plotlines fascinating. I genuinely cannot wait for the sequel (which I think is coming soon!) and would urge any fantasy fan to try this one out. 

3. A Dowry of Blood by S.T. Gibson: (Quick note: This was re-released under Orbit this year, which technically makes it a 2022 release, however, I read the self-published version early in the year so am counting it as a backlist since it was initially published in 2021.) The first thing that grabbed me about A Dowry of Blood was the gorgeous, immediately captivating prose. Gibson is clearly an incredible talented writer and knows how to write a character that is impossible to look away from. I also found myself completely captured by the general story itself of Constanta as Dracula's first bride and how she moves through her life with him. This was incredible! 

The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present  The Opposite of Butterfly Hunting: The Tragedy and The Glory of Growing Up (A Memoir)  How High We Go in the Dark

4. The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee by David Treuer: This was a book I'd been meaning to read for a number of years now and I'm really glad I finally did. I read this after reading Treuer's Rez Life, which was also great, and was blown away by his immense research and insight throughout this book. The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee covers much of Native history in the Americas (to the extent that one book can) and it was an unbelievably enlightening and important read. Not to mention, if you are a history fan like me then you'll be getting tons of history to learn about. It also covers present day issues and where things currently stand, which I also found incredibly helpful in deciding what I want to read next. If you like nonfiction and/or history and haven't read The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee yet, then add this to your TBR!

5. The Opposite of Butterfly Hunting by Evanna Lynch: I had a feeling that this would be a really thoughtful and well-written memoir, but I didn't expect it to resonate with me as much as it did. There are a lot of personal reasons I connected so much with this book, but I especially liked hearing her talk about a consistent theme that plagued her through life regarding what she was meant to do and what was expected of her–I think these are very common themes many of us can understand. I loved hearing about her perspectives on life dealing with all the anxieties and obstacles that plague us all. This was 

6. How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu: This book hit me hard in all the best ways possible. I believe it's considered a novel, but it reads much more like a series of interconnected short stories set in over hundreds of years throughout the future after a climate plague has wreaked havoc upon humanity. It's an intense read that includes a variety of different settings and characters, but that all maintain a very cohesive theme and thread of humanity, dreaming for something more, and the resilience that humans always display. It was deeply moving, beautiful, and I still think about it fairly regularly. 

The Starboard Sea  The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story  Leave the World Behind

7. Starboard Sea by Amber Dermont: This book is one I'd been wanting to read for a number of years and finally got around to it... and was immediately taken aback by how much I really loved it. This entire book has a melancholy air to it that fits so well with the teenage experience in a way that is very deep and relatable and gives validity to these experiences. None of the characters in it are perfect, but that's the point to some extent, and this book covers so many of the things we all struggle with, from guilt to loss to much more. This is a beautiful story. 

8. Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston: I read some great nonfiction this year, and Lost City of the Monkey God was one of my favorites that involved exploring one of my favorite settings. I've never read any of Douglas Preston's books, but I really enjoyed reading about his experiences researching and visiting the archaeological site known as The White City in the La Mosquitia region in Honduras. I loved all of the historical information he provided, as well as the nuance and care given to the topic of relics and idea of "discovery" regarding past civilizations. I think this would be a great read for anyone who loves adventure and exploration, as well as someone interested in history or who is curious about how to tackle topics around "lost" civilizations and how we look at the past. 

9. Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam: This was a very unexpected horror novel that I loved. It seems to have a fairly low average rating on Goodreads and I can actually understand why because it's a little odd and a little... lacking in action? But everything weird about it worked incredibly well for me and I really loved how this author played with tension and atmosphere. I didn't love every aspects, such as some of the weird things thought by the male characters, but I liked the overall story and that's why I've included it on this favorites list. 

2023 Advance Reads:

Untethered Sky  Sister, Maiden, Monster

1. Untethered Sky by Fonda Lee: Although I won't have a review up until closer to the release of Untethered Sky in April, I had to include a brief note about it in this list since I loved this novella and I did read it in 2022. Untethered Sky is one of the best novellas I've read for so many reasons: it has adventure, rocs (awesome large birds of prey), ruhkers (riders of rocs), family, revenge, loss, hope, and much much more. I already knew Fonda Lee was an incredible writer, but getting to see her write something so different from The Green Bone Saga has really cemented for me just how talented she is and how she is clearly capable of writing in many different genres. This makes me even more excited for future work from Fonda Lee!

2. Sister, Maiden, Monster by Luca A. Snyder: I don't even know what to say about this novella other than what the actual f@ck just happened. This was an unhinged level of bananas and I loved it. Seriously, I was more glued to this book than I've been glued to any book in a very long time. It starts off as a pandemic story, only this pandemic is a million times worse than Covid (in my opinion, and especially as someone who is emetophobic) and things go completely sideways as the story progresses. I don't know how I feel about how this went but I know it was crazy and awesome and very thought-provoking and I think you are all in for a huge treat this year when it releases. I'll have a review up closer to its publication, but for now just know it was a favorite 2022 read for me and it will keep you hooked and dying to know what's going to happen next. 

Have you read any of these books? What backlist titles and/or 2023 ARCs did you read and love last year? Feel free to link any of your favorites lists below!


  1. I was just offered a copy of SISTER MAIDEN MONSTER today in fact, and I am beyond excited to read it! And I'm impressed with how many backlist books you read. Something I'm aiming for this year:-)

    1. Ooh awesome, I hope you have fun with it! It's very intense and weird but the cosmic horror aspects make me think you'd really like it!

  2. Killer list! I'm SO excited to see Sister, Maiden, Monster on there for 2023. I have that one heading my way soon! :)