This has been a fantastic year of reading. I’ve read many books in various genres with some surprising picks in genres I don’t usually read in. My usual genres that I go to are urban fantasy, shifters, paranormal romance, steamy romance, dark fantasy, or romance. While many of these are in those categories, some are not. Check out my best reads of the year though spanning these genres and more.
Starting with book number 10, this is from an author I’ve chatted with on my Book Chat channel on YouTube, Jewels of Smoky Quarts by Anat Eliraz. Her story features a young woman with a traumatic history. Her unique abilities that help her in the world she finds herself in are her fighting skills. It made a difference in life or death for her many times. The character’s name is not revealed until later in the book but it’s a portal fantasy with a mix of romance. The character discovers a tie to the world she finds herself in that is shocking. I enjoyed reading this story and felt is sweep me away from the start.
What it does well is pull readers in immediately with an opening scene in the emergency room. The character is a nurse there and was unable to save a life that sends her into a destructive spiral. I wasn’t sure why it bothered her so much since many deaths happen in the ER but a scene later in the story revealed why it did. This story was a heart wrencher and had my emotions all over the place at times.
A world ruled by force and magic. A game which could have a fatal ending.
She is just an ordinary woman - an emergency room nurse who practices martial arts in her free time.
Teleported into a harsh, strange world and sold into slavery to the fighters' ring of Tur'an, she must use her wit and skills to survive.
On the brink of death, she wakes up in a strange room - only to meet one of her captors. Now, he acts as her protector.
Together they leave the city, but their journey will confront them with their own fears and deepest secrets.
And through it all, she finds solace in an old tune. Not knowing yet how it will impact her life - and the lives of everyone else.
Book number 9 on this list is A Machine of Blood: The Full Life of a Robot 2, by Jay Tea Moriarty. This book is the continuation of a book I read last year by this author. In this one it follows the robot modeled after a female named W-IX. She’s mentioned in book 1 in several scenes and came across as a bitch but in this book, I discovered there was more to her character. She’s got a lot going on.
She also feels more emotions like humans than the first robot but doesn’t always care. I loved seeing her caring side come out though and her vulnerability come out at times. It made her seem more human despite being made of metal. This also seemed to spark her desire to create something of her own. She was determined to create her own machine, but wow does it get a bit dark at times. There were some similarities in this story to that of Frankenstein. Very fascinating.
The full life of a robot continues, but the firey red-shelled W-ix has taken the wheel!
Jealous after finding out our robot hero had written a journal, W-ix has taken it upon herself to set the record straight, adding much that is missing to the first Full Life novella, as well as supplying a welcome injection of user-friendly reading.
Our story begins when W-ix first wakes up, becoming operational and refusing to turn back off. Full of gusto and naivety she presses forth and learns a great deal in a short time. Then she recounts her entire time meeting, befriend, and helping our robot friend from the first book, shedding more light on the situation. Finally, she concludes with the events of today, the fallout from the final chapters of The Full Life of a Robot 1, and where they're all heading off to next.
It's a safe bet that Ouilt will have his own journal out soon enough.
Jump in and continue the quest for our robot heroes family! Where the hell did they go, and who kidnapped them?
Next is book number 8, Dino Rift from the Dino Rift series by Derek Borne. This book I listened to via audio, and it was narrated by Isabella Tugman. This is officially my all-time favorite audio book. The story is full of action and adventure with a slow romance developing between two best friends. It’s the end of their senior year but Kamren and Vivienne are not ready for what comes next. They are caught sneaking into a museum with the help of new friend and are thrown into a strange portal. When they land on the ground, they realize they’ve gone back in time to a world filled with dinosaurs.
Their adventure challenged their friendship in many ways, and they faced a few near-death experiences. I loved the author’s take on the dinosaurs in his story and cringed at the giant bugs. Holy cow were they creepy. With the excellent way the narrator portrayed this story with the fun sounds, this is one of those stories I know I will listen to repeatedly.
A gateway to a prehistoric world.
For years, SauraCorps has kept its existence confidential while touting themselves as a run-of-the-mill dinosaur museum.
For two Utah teens, Kamren and Vivienne, a care-free night to themselves quickly turns into a daunting trek through an exotic, unfamiliar time.
Not only do they stumble upon SauraCorps’ nefarious agenda, they also encounter major discrepancies concerning the past that would rewrite history books as we know them.
Kam and Viv’s reliance on each other through the primeval environment also tests their friendship in unexpected ways.
Will they survive and make it home…together?
Number 7 on the list is The Paige Papillon Paranormal Mysteries Series books 1-3 by Lily Luchesi. This group of books follows Paige as she’s thrust into the world of the paranormal. What she thought was only from stories becomes real as she’s pulled into a case regarding strange deaths. The culprit attempts to frame another and it’s up to Paige to get to the bottom of it. As she solves one case, she’s catapulted into many more. She has become the new go to for the magical society.
I loved how exciting and creative these stories were. I found it easy to relate to Paige with the way she handled getting overwhelmed. I also loved the various beings the author brings into this world. They weren’t all typical creatures. Check this series out to see them all.
Book 1 Daunting Darkness: A Supernatural Cozy Mystery (Paige Papillon Paranormal Mysteries Book 1)
Following your dreams can become a nightmare.
Paige Papillon has always loved mysteries. So much so, she enlists in the Police Academy to one day become a detective.
But when she washes out of training, her Sergeant inspires her to go another route: become a private investigator.
After a few boring cases, she receives an envelope full of cash and mysterious clues that lead to the discovery of a cover up of paranormal proportions.
Worse, the Sergeant's wife is at the center of it. Can Paige solve the mystery and stay alive, or will she become a midnight snack for a monster?
Number 6 is a detective series, The Werewolf PI series by Wane Turmel, books 1 &2. These books were hilarious, filled with action, and fun to read. Johnny is hired by someone to find a mystical item not knowing what the item is. He wants to get it legally but his other, harry half, makes that complicated at times. When he does get the item, he discovers how deadly it is and how important it is that it never see the light of day again. He also has another issue with someone hunting him for revenge. Book two is even better and was harder to put down.
Johnny is a caring guy with a rough exterior. He takes in a former employee’s daughter after she shows up traumatized from where he rescued her. She glimpsed Shaggy and can’t figure out what the hell happened. Despite her annoying presence she fills an important role later in cases. Johnny literally has a heart of gold though and helps more than this sweet girl in the series.
Synopsis for Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk, book 1:
Johnny Lupul is riding high. He’s got a PI license, a concealed carry permit, his first big payday and a monster of a secret. After rescuing a bookie’s daughter from Russian mobsters, the newbie PI catches the attention of a rich, mysterious client.
At first, it’s easy money. After all, magic isn’t real and those “occult” objects have to be fakes. But while chasing an ancient relic, an obsessed enemy from his past emerges. Johnny learns that the world is much stranger—and more dangerous—than he ever suspected.
Malignant forces dwell in Egyptian artifacts, Romani superstition is fact, and being a werewolf may be the most normal thing he has to face on this case.
Here we are at book 5, which was an insane emotional roller coaster of a read. I Let You Fall by Sara Downing pulled at my heart strings from page one. The author crates a character, Eve, who finds herself in a mysterious coma. She’s having an out of body experience and can see herself in the hospital bed. Why is this happening? She doesn’t know but she discovers that she’s not the only one floating around like that. She meets and falls for another person in this strange state of being but with a boyfriend back on the other side falling in love with someone else is taboo. Also, what happens when they’re no longer in this strange state of being.
This book pulled me in so easily. Eve can sense stuff with her real body but nothing she experiences in the floating out of body transfers over. Her family visits regularly and there is betrayal by some close to her but her body in the bed is clueless. Some of her experiences hurt my heart terribly and I hated what those close to her did. Excellent and engaging read though.
A contemporary tale of tragedy, selflessness, love, and renewal.
On a summer night in London, art teacher Eve Chapman finds herself in a hospital emergency room. She watches surgeons desperately operate on a young woman with a terrible head injury. But when the bandages are removed, Eve is horrified to find her own body on the operating table.
Trapped in a coma, Eve struggles to cope with the fact that no matter how hard she tries, her family and friends cannot see or hear her. But then she meets Luca Diaz, a handsome and comatose lawyer who can see her. He takes Eve under his wing and teaches her how to use her new abilities to help the living.
As the weeks pass, Eve struggles to find a way back to her body and to Nathan, the man she loves. But the more time she spends with Luca, the more she wonders if her old life is worth going back to at all.
Book number 4 was what I like to call a mix of Hunger Games and Iron Man. The Path of a Titan: The Proving, by John Bennett was so much more than I expected. I expected a typical Sci-Fi read when I got my copy but was blown away. I was immediate pulled in by the main character and his sister losing their parents and getting sent to an orphanage. That place was terrible and after a near death experience for Kylie, Carson gets him and his sister out of there. They live in a junk yard for a time until Carson takes a chance to get into the Proving.
Things happen and the two are thrust into a different life, but secrets hover just out of reach for them. Are their parents really dead? Who is helping Carson mysteriously? This book was such a fun read and one I couldn’t put down. The proving itself was very much like the hunger games but even more brutal. Families pushed for their kids to enter for these things in the story and many of them are killed. Like holy cow, the insanity. I can’t wait for the next in the series.
“Proctor Torvin is elated for the first choice. This man has demonstrated nearly superhuman abilities during the Proving. A man I have certainly come to adore myself, and one who will certainly give Fox Legion a run for their credits. I would like to announce the first pick of Class 239’s draft..."
The Proving is a fifty mile race through predator infested woods, harsh waters, and worst of all, the other competitors. People from all over the world travel to the capital territory of Alannah to compete for the chance of a lifetime, to be chosen by one of the four legions of the global military and enter the sacred grounds of Atlantis University. This specialized military academy was built to train the proven into a Titan, a highly decorated soldier.
Harmony born, and outcast to the world, Carson Paul, is a young sixteen year old high schooler living in the slums of Redding. Built around a set of gangs that run the streets, stores, and its people, life is a free-for-all. One night after the mysterious disappearance of his parents, Carson and his sister, Kylie, are forced into a crowded orphanage to rot for the foreseeable future. With vengeance and anger coursing through his veins, and a list of questions needing to be answered, Carson must choose to either take action or live the rest of his life in question. He must find a way to escape Harmony and smuggle himself into the capital to attend the Proving. If he is chosen, he will learn the skills and resources to find the answers to the disappearance of his parents and learn the secrets of his father's secret project, Project SPINE.
Book selection number three is books 1&2 of the Empire of Ruin series by Irish author David Green. This series is a high fantasy series filled with adventure. It’s told from several POV but easily flows together. The characters are fantastic and addictive. So much happens in these two books and I felt like I couldn’t get it all in fast enough. This is one of those series you want to rush to know what happens but at the same time you don’t because the story is so good.
From betrayal, new love, loss, regrets, and more, this story will leave you with a massive book hangover. The fight scenes are brutal and descriptive making the story feel real. I found myself lost in a fog as if I were in the book. With each person’s POV I found myself moving a long at their side seeing the world through their eyes. I felt the emotions, the pain, the loss, and just all of it as the group prepared to face what was coming. I can’t wait to see where the story goes in the next release.
Book 2, Path of War, Synopsis:
The Banished have made their move, now Haltveldt answers back.
Reeling from the events at Solitude, Calene Alpenwood embarks on a journey to find meaning in all that she's seen and discover the answers she so desperately seeks. Finding herself more alone than ever, Calene is trapped between doing what's right, and doing what needs to be done.
Meanwhile, Kade Besem continues his search for his son, Arlo, and the strange warrior-monk Tilo. His hunt takes him deep into Banished territory and into the jaws of danger.
Revelations are revealed, ancient secrets are uncovered and those who stand in the Empire's way can't hope to win when Haltveldt walks the Path of War.
Please be advised this book contains trigger warnings for self-harm, violence, death, mention of drug use, deadly magic, violence and heartbreak.
Now for book number 2, which was my number 1 Indie Published Book in 2022, The Summoning. This book was composed by different authors. I was fascinated by how well it seemed to flow together and the method they used to create it. It is not an anthology as most would expect but features four different characters. The story switches POV and we see through each of the characters eyes.
The four individuals of this story are chosen to travel and compete in a writing contest. They are required to use old typewriters for this challenge and must stay in a mansion together. Things happen as the story progresses and it easily falls into the category of horror. It had me at the edge of my seat more times than not and the ending blew me away. The short stories these characters created were written by different authors and I’ve never seen that done in a book before. This caused this book to stand out and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it because of that.
The Summoning Synopsis:
You’re cordially invited to LaVey House…
The reclusive Howard LaVey has presented writers Frederick Brandis, Aster Callahan, Rhiannon Hughes, and Mikhail Orlov with the opportunity of a lifetime: a chance to spend a week at his ominous estate and collaborate on a horror anthology.
Each of them hopes to get something out of it, ranging from riches to recognition, but egos flare and co-existing becomes a struggle as each writer battles against their own demons and self-doubts.
Soon enough, LaVey House turns out to be much more than they bargained for, and the chance of a lifetime quickly becomes a living nightmare as ancient spirits awaken and torment them at every turn.
Four writers, four stories, but the true horror lies buried within the dark hallways and forgotten secrets of LaVey House just waiting to live again!
The Summoning is an intense horror collaboration from the minds of Dr. Stuart Knott, Harriet Everend, and Jessica Huntley and featuring contributions from Alice Stone, Shantel Brunton, Tom Schnipke, and Daria Lavrenteva.
TRIGGER WARNINGS FOR: Violence, supernatural horror, depictions of abuse (domestic, physical, and emotional), trauma, suicide, depression, panic attacks, and general terror.
Finally, we have reached my number 1 for the year, and this was also the first book I read for the year of 2022. Legendborn, The Legendborn Cycle book 1, is my top pick. It’s a retelling of King Arthur and his knights of the round table but this book has an interesting twist to it. It brings in the darker aspects of time bringing to light the things these privileged individuals did that weren’t good. This story shattered my heart but at the same time a young girl of color becomes the star of the show. She puts everyone in their place with interesting abilities. Not only does she have traits of one of the knights but also of another stronger being. Ancient power courses through her veins and it rocks the world of those in the secret society. I freaking loved it.
Bree is the most epic young adult character I’ve ever come across. I loved how the author created her and how she used Bree to bring about change. I can’t wait to dive into the next book in the series to see where it goes.
After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories of childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC–Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.
A flying demon feeding on human energies.
A secret society of so called “Legendborn” students that hunt the creatures down.
And a mysterious teenage mage who calls himself a “Merlin” and who attempts—and fails—to wipe Bree’s memory of everything she saw.
The mage’s failure unlocks Bree’s own unique magic and a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. Now that Bree knows there’s more to her mother’s death than what’s on the police report, she’ll do whatever it takes to find out the truth, even if that means infiltrating the Legendborn as one of their initiates.
She recruits Nick, a self-exiled Legendborn with his own grudge against the group, and their reluctant partnership pulls them deeper into the society’s secrets—and closer to each other. But when the Legendborn reveal themselves as the descendants of King Arthur’s knights and explain that a magical war is coming, Bree has to decide how far she’ll go for the truth and whether she should use her magic to take the society down—or join the fight.
This concludes my list for the year of 2022. This was not an easy thing to put together because there are a ton of good books out there in the world. I hope you will check some of these out and read them for yourself. I’d also love to hear your thoughts on them if you have read them. Drop me a comment and let me know what you thought of them.
-Madilynn Dale, The Chapter Goddess