If you have been falling my blog or any of my social media, I don’t think any of the books on this list will surprise you. It feels as though I talk about these ten books all of the time, and I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon!
Pachinko is probably my favourite book of the year so far, and it is going to be a difficult book to beat. It was everything I had built it up in my head to be and more! It was a great reminder of how much I enjoy multi-generational family sagas and I appreciated that it taught me about a time in Korean history I knew next to nothing about. I always look for historical fiction that encourages me to learn more, and that was definitely the case with Pachinko. It was also beautifully written with memorable characters. Don’t let the size of this one scare you- it reads fast!
It wouldn’t be a “best books of the year so far” list if I didn’t include at least one of Akwaeke Emezi’s books. You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty is their first romance and I hope that they continue to write more in the genre. The romance itself will be divisive for readers, but I completely understood what brought them together. I appreciated the explorations of grief and the power of art. The tropical setting also makes it the perfect summer read, so now is the time to give it a chance!
I didn’t realize I needed light fantasy as much as I did until I read Legends and Lattes. It felt like a warm hug and just made my heart happy. It is a slice of life story following a retired orc barbarian who opens a coffee shop in a town where no one even knows what coffee is. This leads to some shenanigans and some endearing moments. It is also a slow-burn romance!
Siren Queen is such a vibe and it worked for me. There is something so beautiful about the way that Nghi Vo writes a sentence. I could have annotated this entire book, though I listened to it on audio and loved that experience. There is dark magic and sinister characters and the entire story takes place in 1930s Hollywood. Luli Wei is a strong lead and I felt myself cheering her on. It seems to be a love letter to movies while also a critique of Hollywood. It is brilliant!
Nettle and Bone was my first experience with T. Kingsfisher, so I had to include it on this list because I was so surprised by it. I don’t typically love quest stories, but there was something special about this one. The characters are the highlight of this book and I am in awe of how Kingfisher managed to find the perfect balance between light and dark. There are trigger warnings for domestic abuse, so be aware of that going into this one. I also read What Moves the Dead recently and debated which one was my favourite of the two because I didn’t want to have two of her novels on this list!
This Vicious Grace caught me by complete surprise and made me realize that I do love certain tropes that I had been avoiding. The “her touch kills” trope is nothing new, but I loved what Emily Thiede did with it. Also, this was my first bodyguard romance and now I want to read it all! I appreciated the politics in this story and thought the magic itself was interesting. Also, the found family vibes are strong in this one!
I went into Yerba Buena not knowing what I was getting into and I was not prepared for just how emotional it would make me. At its heart, it is a romance, but it is also a story of these two women working through their trauma while also falling in love and how that ultimately affects their relationship. I thought that this was moving and I hope that Nina LaCour continues to write adult romances!
Everyone seems to love If We Were Villains, and everyone is right! This gave me everything that The Secret History gave me when I read it years ago and it was so satisfying. I typically hate pretentious characters, unless I am reading dark academia. I was so invested in this story and I found myself falling down the rabbit hole of Reddit threads when I finished it. I love books that create discussions like that!
The Golem and the Jinni had been on my shelves for a while and it was one I was always curious about, but I never really knew when I would get to it. That is why I am so happy that Kristen from Kristen is Fully Book’d reached out to me and asked me if I wanted to buddy read it! I completely fell in love with this historical fiction story about a Golem and a Jinni making their way in New York in the late 1800s. You can tell that Helene Wecker did a lot of research when writing this book! I have the sequel, The Hidden Palace, and have plans to read it this summer.
Firekeeper’s Daughter was one of the first books I read in 2022, and, though the impact of it has faded for me over time, I still really love it. There are a lot of content warnings for this one and it is heartbreaking at times, but I loved Daunis as the main character and seeing the world through her eyes. There is a lot of great character growth!