There are still nine days left in 2022, but I’m taking next week totally off from the blog to just enjoy time with family so my book review post is coming early this month. Today I’m sharing both my December reads and my TOP TEN books of the year (spoiler alert: one of my December reads made that list too!) I had a lot going on this year so I only read 37 books, but enjoyed so many of them that it was still hard to narrow down a top ten. Let’s dive in!
Merry Ex-Mas by Courtney Walsh
Eight years ago, Marin’s heart was broken right before Christmas and she hasn’t been home for the holiday since. When a “Christmas traditions”-style segment has the potential to launch her from field reporter to her very own show, she travels back home to surprise (and film) her parents and their holiday traditions. Turns out, the surprise is on her because it’s not her mom answering the door – on live stream! – but her ex-boyfriend Max. He’s staying with her parents for Christmas and the viewers instantly love him, forcing Marin to include him in more and more segments. They start fake-flirting to the camera, but pretty soon it becomes all too real.
Last year I read A Cross-Country Christmas from this author and loved it so I was quick to put this on my Christmas reading list. Courtney Walsh does clean, sweet, Hallmark-y books well and this was no exception. It’s a bit cheesy and predictable but not too eye-rolling – just what I was in the mood for! I liked the characters individually and got invested in their dynamic and fake-flirting relationship. The small-town-at-Christmastime setting is festive and charming. You know when you’re in the mood for just a feel-good holiday movie? This feels like that. I recommend if you’re wanting something easy and festive for the holiday!
Thank You for Listening by Julia Whelan
After a devastating incident, Sewanee Chester abandoned her dreams of being an actress and is now an audiobook narrator reading everything except romance, which she has long since given up on. That all changes with a late author’s last request and a lucrative offer – now Sewanee finds herself reading a romance novel alongside the hottest audiobook author of the moment, Brock McNight. Though they’re both using pseudonyms, she and Brock form a connection over emails and texts that builds up to one moment: when they have to reveal their true selves to one another.
This was such a unique, fun read! I adored the characters and their dynamic and I found Sewanee to be such a refreshing main character. Her feelings and struggles and triumphs are so realistic and relatable; the author doesn’t try to overly-simplify complex issues. I got very invested in this storyline and loved watching Sewanee and Brock’s relationship unfold. I will say, it is a romance book about audiobook readers reading a romance . . . so it is heavy on steam at times. To be completely honest, I thought the actual audiobook text they were reading was pretty cringe-worthy but I think that was maybe the point? It’s not a central part of the plot and can be skimmed over just fine and the rest of the plot makes up for it!
I liked this book so much that it is actually one of my top ten books of the year! As for the other nine? Let’s recap them:
TOP BOOKS OF 2022
The Measure by Nikki Erlick
HANDS DOWN my favorite book from this year. Incredibly thought-provoking with a unique plot and interesting parallels to draw in our current society. This is perfect for a book club discussion! See my full review here.
Anxious People by Fredrick Backman
Masterful, clever writing in this slow burn, character-driven work. This book is sweet, funny, deep, and entertaining. I didn’t want it to end! Full review here.
The No-Show by Beth O’Leary
Go in blind. You will hate it . . . until you love it. Full review here.
The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth
Honestly, anything by Sally Hepworth is worth reading. This domestic mystery has twists and turns that I didn’t see coming – had my jaw drop at one point! Full review here.
Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne
This book inspired me to work to create a simpler, more restful life for our family to enjoy and savor. I know it will have far-reaching impact in my family’s life and I’ll be referring to it for a long, long time. Full review here.
The Forest of Vanishing Stars by Kristin Harmel
A very unique perspective for a WWII novel, taking place mostly in a forest. Compelling, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful, this book is worth checking out. Full review here.
Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan
The most realistic and likeable romance I’ve read in a long time – a very refreshing read! Full review here.
The Office BFFs by Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey
This book was so entertaining I honestly don’t think you have to be a fan of the show to enjoy it. A relatable dynamic and a delightful read. Full review here.
Iona Iverson’s Rules for Commuting by Clare Pooley
An ensemble-cast read that is interesting, uplifting, sweet, and satisfying. I want to ride on this commuter train! Full review here.
Cheers to more great reading in 2023!