It’s that time of year again, when things are drawing to a close and we’re thinking about all the things we’ve done (or not done), and all the goals we hit (and those we missed). I’ve been thinking about my year of reading, and how on earth to sum it up in a few short paragraphs.
So – as will surprise precisely nobody – I read a lot. Probably not as much as some people, but certainly more than average. I’m a fast reader; I get sent a lot of proofs (advance reading copies) from colleagues in the publishing world, and I like to be able to read them and get back to the person who sent them to me as quickly as I can, but sometimes being a fast reader can have its drawbacks – particularly at times like this, when you want to draw up your top ten books of the year, and you find you’ve got fourteen, and then you’ve taken the photo before you realise you missed a pile over here too, and oh! what about this one? And how could I have forgotten this one, etc.
So, basically, what I’m trying to say is: here’s a photo of my top
ten fourteen books of the year, but they aren’t the only brilliant books I read in 2022. I’ll try to remember to mention them all.
So! Here we have, from the bottom up:
TERCIEL AND ELINOR by Garth Nix
A prequel to the world-bendingly brilliant Old Kingdom books, bringing us back to the days of Sabriel’s parents. A must-read for Old Kingdom fans.
DAY OF THE WHALE by Rachel Delahaye
A thrilling eco-themed story about Cam and his friends, who live on Cetacea, an island where whales are worshipped like gods – but is the whale whisperer, Byron Voss, telling the full truth? A brilliant, unforgettable book.
Bren has lost his sister, and the only place he can find comfort and refuge is in Furthermoor, an otherworld where his sister is still alive – and where everything runs on clockwork. But when a threat arrives both in Furthermoor and Bren’s ‘real’ world, how can he survive?
MAGGIE BLUE AND THE DARK WORLD by Anna Goodall
Maggie sees her arch-enemy being taken into another world – and when she follows, Maggie realises she’s stumbled onto a plot to steal something precious from everyone on earth… unless she can stop it.
THE EXTRAORDINARY VOYAGE OF KATY WILLACOTT by Sharon Gosling
My favourite book this year, Katy Willacott follows our titular heroine on the voyage of a lifetime to the Amazon rainforest and beyond – and what she uncovers is truly life-changing. A must-read.
DEAD GOOD DETECTIVES by Jenny McLachlan (Chloe Dominique, illustrations)
Laugh out loud and zany, with a deep emotional heart, this brilliant new book from the ever-excellent Jenny McLachlan is a perfect 8+ read. Ghost pirates, a hapless (but courageous) heroine, and a race against the clock make this unputdownable.
THE HOUSE OF SHELLS by Efua Traoré
With Traoré’s signature mix of modern-day life and folkloric myth, this Nigerian-set story is unique and gripping. It features genuinely spooky spirits, family dynamics, and a heart-pounding mystery to be solved.
FIRESONG by Vashti Hardy (George Ermos, illustrations)
The epic conclusion to Hardy’s Brightstorm trilogy sees her twins, Arthur and Maudie, off on an adventure to the volcanic North where they face the villainous Eudora Vane in a final showdown.
THE STRANGEWORLDS TRAVEL AGENCY: SECRETS OF THE STORMFOREST by L.D. Lapinski
The perfect ending to Lapinski’s masterful Strangeworlds trilogy sees Flick and Jonathan unravelling the secrets of the Travel Agency – but can they do it in time to save the universe from collapse?
ZO AND THE FOREST OF SECRETS by Alake Pilgrim
Zo is lost in the forest at night – and what was a familiar space now becomes a place of darkness and danger. She meets a boy, lost in mysterious circumstances, and together they must try to make sense of the terrifying truths they’re discovering.
YESTERDAY CRUMB AND THE STORM IN A TEACUP by Andy Sagar
A book that feels like a warm hug, this story has danger, adventure, intrigue, magic, and an abundance of tea and cakes. Perfect comforting holiday fare!
TWICE WE MAKE MAGIC by Sarah Driver
The second of Spel and Egg’s adventures, where they must delve into the depths of their magical potential to save the world – an absolute feast of imagination and storytelling skill.
THE SPELL TAILORS by James Nicol
A warm-hearted fairytale about a family of tailors with the power to stitch magic into the garments they make – but when a long-forbidden spell is uncovered, can Hen get to the bottom of the mystery, as well as save his family business?
THE CHESTNUT ROASTER by Eve McDonnell (Ewa Beniak-Haremska, illustrations)
Piaf is a girl who can’t forget – and when everyone else in Paris appears to have forgotten an entire year, it’s up to her, and her twin brother Luc, to unravel the reason why.
And absent from the photo – due to nothing more than my own innate bungling – are books such as:
A GLASSHOUSE OF STARS by Shirley Marr
OUR SISTER, AGAIN by Sophie Cameron
THE VALLEY OF LOST SECRETS by Lesley Parr
THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF ALICE TONKS by Emily Kenny
THE MOUNTAIN RESCUE DOG by Juliette Forrest
BIG BAD ME by Aislinn O’Loughlin
THE BURNING SWIFT by Joseph Elliott
BEYOND THE FROZEN HORIZON by Nicola Penfold
WAR OF THE WIND by Victoria Williamson
THE BOOK OF SECRETS by Alex Dunne
SECRET OF THE SHADOW BEASTS by Diane Magras
And, to be honest, so many more. This year (as is increasingly the case) was a brilliant year for books, stories, and reading (though not so much for bank accounts and shelf space). I’m always of the firm opinion that books are the best presents to get everyone during the festive season, if gift-giving is part of your traditional celebration (I mean, there’s a reason why books are so easy to wrap, right?), so I strongly urge you to go down to your local bookshop armed with this list of recommendations, and if you have anyone in your life who enjoys a brilliantly-written story, you can’t go wrong.
Happy Holidays – and, from me, a hearty Merry Christmas. I hope you’re taking some time off to relax over the next few weeks, and do make sure to find a quiet corner in which to curl up with a book.
I’ll be back in 2023!