I’ve done a version of this post idea in video form for the past two years, and I think it’s finally time to put it down in writing so I can refer back to it throughout the year. So, here are my writing goals for 2023 and a reflection on what I achieved last year in 2022!
I’m still working on a post about my favourite books of 2022, so here I am instead to write a recap of the year! I haven’t done one of these big round-up posts since last year, but Goodreads has shown me all of my reading statistics for the year, and I am still a number nerd.
Reading-wise, this year has been… something. It’s been a little underwhelming as last year was my most ambitious reading year to date, and this year has been spent handling university and life and health rather than reading. However, I’ve still fallen in love with the works of many new authors, and I’ve been making the most of my local library’s app for eBooks.
This year has also been pretty tough. My mental and physical health has been at its worst and I’m yet to fall back in love with writing, the one thing I’ve loved for a huge proportion of my life. And ongoing Covid. We won’t forget about that.
But this blog isn’t going to focus on that: it’s going to focus on all the good books I’ve read this year and how I suddenly need to buy a new bookshelf because the Waterstones half price hardcover sale continues to demolish my bank account.
I will begin this review by saying that I probably shouldn’t have requested the ARC based on how little I enjoyed The Atlas Six, but I was intrigued by the ending and wanted to know more. This was a mistake. I’m breaking this review down into categories based on thoughts I had while reading this book.
0.48% “my arc is missing every third “th” this is infuriating” My camera roll is full of screenshots of sentences that are fully unreadable because the letters are missing which killed the mood of some of the more serious discussions in the book. I wanted to put down the book the second that I noticed the mistake wasn’t a one-off, but I stuck with it and suffered through every page. However, this wasn’t even the biggest reason why the book was such a struggle to read.
This was one of my most anticipated books of the year because I completely adored To Kill a Kingdom back when I read the ARC in 2018, and I think that was one of the books that sparked my love for fairytale retellings. However, four years later, I no longer agree with a majority of the points in that review and the things that made me fall in love with the book have faded, and reading Princess of Souls really reminded me of the flaws. I think it’s going to be difficult for me to write a detailed review of the book without comparing it to To Kill a Kingdom, so I am just going to commit to the comparisons.
Content warnings: blood, violence, murder, weapon use, needles, description of human experimentation, descriptions of war, descriptions of head injury.
I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, but I was already intending on buying this book. Specifically the pretty Waterstones edition with the pink foil cover.
Foul Lady Fortune is the first book in Chloe Gong’s new duology following an ill-matched pair of spies posing as a married couple to investigate a series of brutal murders in 1930s Shanghai. It is a speculative historical thriller inspired by Shakespeare’s As You Like It and can also be pitched as a Chinese period drama meets a Marvel movie. The author says you can read this book without reading the original These Violent Delights duology as all the events that have already happened are explained in the text, but I think not reading those books first will negatively affect your reading experience.
I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve read so far this year, and I’ve been making reviews for the advanced copies and did the Mid-Year Book Tag for YouTube, but I wanted to spend a little more time talking about my favourite reads of the year so far and collect those thoughts in one place. I did a video version of this last year for what I believed to be the best books of the year (so far), but since then I’ve accepted that some of the books I love to read may not necessarily be the best of books. This list will be in no particular order, just vaguely chronological, so let’s begin!
This is the first book this year that I’ve rated five stars and not had a single doubt about that rating. I finally dipped into reading Frances Hardinge this year after years of having her on my shelves and I regret that I didn’t start sooner. I received an advanced ebook copy of this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, but I already preordered a copy of this and I will be rereading it the second it arrives.
In a world where anyone can create a life-destroying curse, Kellen has the power to unravel them. He doesn’t fully understand his talent but helps those transformed maliciously – including Nettle, who recovered from entrapment in bird form and is now his constant companion and closest ally. But Kellen has also been cursed, and unless he and Nettle can remove his curse, Kellen is in danger of unravelling everything – and everyone – around him.
She could not slay her own fears. But as for the men who’d made her afraid – they could bleed.
The Drowned Woods is another book that I’ve fallen completely in love with due to it hitting so many of my niche interests. A water diviner girl (the last of her kind), a fae-cursed boy, a chaotic-good heir to a thieves guild, and a corgi who may or may not be a spy. Along with three other characters, they’re on a quest to destroy a magical well that keeps the prince’s lands safe. It’s a story about folklores and magic and heists. It’s wonderful.
The Worlds We Leave Behind is a story about friendship, retribution, and finding the strength to face down monsters, aimed at younger readers who enjoyed Stranger Things.
Enraged at how unfair life is, Hex runs into the woods and finds himself in a strange clearing that can’t possibly exist where a strange old woman offers him a deal: she’ll rid the world of those who wronged him. All he has to do is accept and they’ll be forgotten, forever. But what Hex doesn’t know is that someone else has been offered the same deal. When Hex’s best friend Tommo wakes up the next day, half-whispered memories make him think that something-or someone-is missing from his life. He sets out to find a way to put the world back the way it was, or find a way to make a new world that could be better for them all.
This is an idea I’ve been considering for a while, but I’ve seen that Rainbow Rowell has done annotated playlists for Eleanor & Park and Wayward Son, so I’ve been convinced to do one for myself.
I’m not usually someone who listens to music while writing – I’m so easily distracted that I need full silence – but I make these book playlists as a soundtrack to the finished story, like a soundtrack to a film. Most songs are picked because they sound a way that fits a scene in my head. Some are picked because they have specific lyrics that fit perfectly to the characters. In this post, I’m going to try and explain some of my choices. It’s a shortened version of the playlist, but still a long post.