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Best Books of 2022 — In Which I Fail Spectacularly to Compile a “Top Ten” List.

Image: Goodreads Year in Books 2022 – 166 Books read.

I read 166 books in 2022. Yes, some of them were shorter books: several middle-grade books and a few advanced review copies of picture books. Most were novels, though few were truly giant tomes. I really enjoyed most of them.

Which is to say, trying to pick the “top ten” was excruciating and an exercise doomed to failure. So… I cheated. Or rather, I modified the goal. Thus I present to you… my top 10 42 books read in 2022 (and even that is fudging things a bit as there are a few instances here of me using a single book to stand in for the entire series if I read the entire series in 2022 and didn’t want my list to balloon uncontrollably) organized like so:

  • Top 18 (Non-Romance) Books read 2022
  • Top 9 Romances read 2022
  • Top 9 Nonfiction Books Read With Kiddo 2022
  • Top 6 Fiction Books Read With Kiddo 2022

And just for funsies:

  • Song of the Year 2022

I have linked to the goodreads page for each book (and the youtube page for the song). Obviously these are all recommendations as well.

Best (Non-Romance) Books read 2022
(Part 1)

Best (Non-Romance) Books read 2022
(Part 2)

Best Romances read 2022

Best Nonfiction Books Read With Kiddo (8) 2022

Best Fiction Books Read With Kiddo (8) 2022

Aaaaaand, just for funsies:

Song of the Year 2022

ARC Review: A Consuming Fire by Laura E. Weymouth

Publication Date: November 22, 2022


Uprooted meets The Grace Year in this dark young adult fantasy of love and vengeance following a girl who vows to kill a god after her sister is unjustly slain by his hand.

Weatherell girls aren’t supposed to die.

Once every eighteen years, the isolated forest village of Weatherell is asked to send one girl to the god of the mountain to give a sacrifice before returning home. Twins Anya and Ilva Astraea are raised with this destiny in mind, and when their time comes, spirited Ilva volunteers to go. Her devoted sister Anya is left at home to pray for Ilva’s safe return. But Anya’s prayers are denied.

With her sister dead, Anya volunteers to make a journey of her own to visit the god of the mountain. But unlike her sister, sacrifice is the furthest thing from Anya’s mind. Anya has no intention of giving anything more to the god, or of letting any other girl do so ever again. Anya Astraea has not set out to placate a god. She’s set out to kill one.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Laura Weymouth has a way with words, with turns of phrase that are simple and cutting and achingly true. Her books break me every time, and this one was no exception. I saved several quotes and I know I will revisit them. With only a few words she can conjure that aching, burning, wistful feeling better (and more consistently) than just about anyone else.

I also love the repetition of certain words and phrases throughout the book. Wetherell girl. Sacrifice. Don’t go. Don’t let anyone else go. Vengeance. Burning. Their repetition serves to heighten them and gives the story a rhythmic, chanting feel. Like a prayer. Or a vow. It gives them power.

I LOVE Anya Astraea. She has such a fire burning within her, setting her up as the perfect false sacrifice to bring down a god. The characters she meets throughout the story are wonderful (and sometimes terrible). Her choices and the path she walks and everything about her burn so brightly it hurts to look at her.

The title of the book would seem to come from the unjust god at the heart of her world, and in fact those exact words are used to refer to him at one point. But it’s not the god but Anya who burns with passion and conviction. I would say that the consuming fire is Anya’s deep-seated belief that her world is wrong and terrible and could be better – and that it is her duty to make it so.

The world she lives in is a terrible and unjust one, and her sacrifices and convictions help bring about a crossroads with the hope of a better world beyond it.

I loved the story of Matthias and the other travelers. They were so good, and when it was revealed where they had come from, who they were, and what they were trying to do, it was so satisfying.

I loved Tieran so much. He deserves so much more than he thinks – and I know Anya will do her best to make sure he gets it. Their romance was perfectly paced for me and just present enough to make itself known but not enough to get in the way of the story. They were also perfect together, and watching them grow closer and learn to trust one another was so satisfying.

I gasped at a few of the reveals – I did not see them coming – and they only made the story more impactful for me.

I actually put off reading this one for an embarrassingly long time. Once I finally buckled down and began it, however, I was sucked in and devoured it – finishing almost the entire story in one sitting.

My one criticism is that the very painfully obvious reference to Christianity – Ilva’s pendant – is jarring and feels out of place within the story. Without it, this reads as an alternate fantasy world. With it, and with the references to the Romans who had previously settled there, it reads as a weird, twisted, alternate history / fantasy. It lessens the impact of the story for me. That could be a purely personal preference thing, though. Even the barest hint of Christianity in a story is enough to sour it for me somewhat. But it isn’t necessary and doesn’t add anything to the story. It feels like an author-self-insert.

Weird Christianity insert aside, this was a gorgeous book and I definitely recommend it if you enjoy Laura Weymouth’s other books. I also think you’d enjoy it if you like Margaret Rogerson or Maggie Stiefvater or Laini Taylor.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Margaret K. McElderry Books for providing an early copy for review.

Favorite Quotes:

“You think you been treated poorly,” he said. “And maybe you have, a bit. But it can always get worse.”

A Consuming Fire by Laura E. Weymouth

“Sometimes, Weatherell girl” — Tieran’s voice was low and unexpectedly earnest, his words spoken so close that Anya could feel as well as hear them, warm against her skin where the knife had been cold — “life’s easier if no one knows who you really are.”

A Consuming Fire by Laura E. Weymouth

“You both like to keep your truths close and your ways out wide open, don’t you?”

A Consuming Fire by Laura E. Weymouth

However powerful her wish for vengeance, she’d been brought up in peace and bred for one thing — sacrifice. She was made to shatter and made to suffer, and it was foolishness to grasp for anything else.

A Consuming Fire by Laura E. Weymouth

“Trying not to be a monster doesn’t mean I been good. Don’t know if I ever can be.”

A Consuming Fire by Laura E. Weymouth

Inside Anya Astraea, the flame that had plagued her all her life grew into a towering inferno. It sent rage scorching through every inch of her, and perhaps the god of the mountain and Tieran the thief burned visibly, but Anya was no less a living fire because her fury burned unseen.

A Consuming Fire by Laura E. Weymouth

*Note: This last one is a bit longer than I usually quote, but it’s my favorite passage in the book, I think. It’s gorgeous and really shows off Laura Weymoth’s skill and genius as a writer. I’ve come back to it several times times since finishing the book because it captures that wistful, happy/sad, joyful/painful emotion I love that is so hard to find.

When you come back down,” Tieran said stubbornly.

Anya reached up and cupped the side of his sharp, clever face with one hand, running her thumb from the corner of his mouth to the line of his jaw.

“I choose what happens to me,” she whispered.

“You do.” Tieran answered, his voice a raw and wanting thing.

And Anya chose. She rose up and kissed Tieran the thief the way a dying girl kisses a boy — with hunger and regret and desperation. She kissed him like a sacrifice, holding nothing of herself back, her hands on his shoulders and on the stubble of his shorn hair. And Tieran, despite his sharpness and his lies and his leaving, kissed her like a worshipper, as if he would lay all of himself out at her request, and count it glory just to be looked upon by his god. They came together and did not part for a long while, and when at last they did, it was Tieran who moved back first. His hands were trembling, shifting from shape to shape, and Anya took them in her own and pressed them to her lips.

“I want to be a knife,” she told him.

“You are,” Tieran swore.

“Make me believe it.”

“Anya Astraea, you could cut me open with a look.”

“With a touch?”

Anya glanced up at her thief. She put a fingertip to his chin and ran it down his neck, his chest, the travel-lean stretch of his abdomen, and before she could go further, Tieran let out a sound that set every part of her alight. He took her by the wrist and pulled her closer and they were kissing again, a wildfire between them, but the burn of it did not feel like blasphemy or vengeance or anger. It felt, to Anya, like shackles cast off. Like the first bright day of a journey that could lead only to joy.

So Anya knew as she kissed Tieran that her heart was a worse liar than the rest of her, and selfish as well. There could be no joyous ending for them, and if she were righteous and fair, she’d pull back now, for the journey she’d set herself up on would only lead to devastation. But Anya could not bear to think of that or to pull away. Instead, she carried on, tangling herself and the thief together, and it was a mystery to her how she could all at once feel so tainted by guilt and radiant with glory.

A Consuming Fire by Laura E. Weymouth