Team OwlCrate's Favorite Books of 2022!By: Cori Reed
It's the most wonderful time of the year! AKA: Time to share some of the best books Team OwlCrate read in 2022. Let us know some of your favs in the comments!
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
The title of “My Favorite 2022 Read” has to go to Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir, and the rest of The Locked Tomb series. I would describe Gideon as a gothic-fantasy-post-apocalyptic-sci-fi-whodunit-horror, and even that hyphen-happy description doesn’t come close to encapsulating how absolutely epic this book is. Its genius writing, dynamic plot, sardonic humor, and characters I would literally fight a giant bone construct for, made this one a new all-time favorite for me. Don’t even read the synopsis (it doesn’t do it justice) and just dive in! I guarantee it’ll be a wild ride.
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Still Life by Sarah Winman
I’m a sucker for well done historical fiction and this beautiful story sucked me in with its epic scope, multiple time lines, viewpoints, and the most fabulous bunch of characters. Equal parts heartwarming and wrenching, at its core Still Life is about a life well lived and the beauty of found family. Excellent as an audiobook.
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
I understand why this story has connected to so many readers this year because it is so utterly unique, nostalgic and full of larger-than-life characters - the kind that only Gabrielle Zevin can create. Friendship, love, obsession, and creative passion … this story is simply remarkable and perfect for those who like to linger.
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Babel by R.F. Kuang
With near flawless precision, she builds an alternative history based around Confucian China's isolationist trade practices, a fiction that pulls from very real history in a time when China would accept only one item for trade - silver.
Weaving magical realism with Kuang's obvious mastery of historical events, the author makes me question which history is the real one.
Real stakes, found family and a focus on highlighting the experiences of marginalized identities and their contributions to academia take this from a 9 to a 10.
Read it and weep. Literally.
The World We Make by N.K. Jemisin
I'm going to say it: N.K. Jemisin might be THE best SFF writer we have ever seen.
The World We Make is the long-awaited (at least by me!) sequel to The City We Became. And it's a big "eff you" to Lovecraft in the most fantastic way possible.
We follow the avatars of the recently awakened burrows of New York City as they battle the Woman in White as well as a new mayoral candidate who represents everything New York City doesn't want to be. I don't say more than that, because sequel, but this duology is now complete so I implore you to pick it up! And I am devastated it's "just" a duology.
White Horse by Erika T. Wurth
White Horse is a horror/mystery thriller like I've never experienced, and it's billed as a book for fans of The Shining and Mexican Gothic. Sign me up!
In it we follow Kari, an urban Native residing in Denver, who, to her displeasure, receives a bracelet belonging to her late mother. A late mother who is now haunting Kari's life, and perhaps forcing her to face past traumas she'd rather stay buried.
It's rare for me to give a mystery/thriller five stars, but this one sure earned it!
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Shadow Life by Hiromi Goto and Ann Xu
This wry, slice-of-life, queer story mixed with elements of magical realism is best summed up with just the actual tagline: "When death comes too soon, fight dirty." Kumiko is a powerhouse character and her insistence on maintaining her freedom in her twilight years is not only inspiring, but ultimately what gives her the strength to fight against the looming and inevitable threat of Death's shadow.
The Many Deaths of Laila Starr by Ram V. and Filipe Andrade
With humanity on the verge of discovering immortality, the avatar of Death is suddenly out of a job. What follows is an impressively fun and ambitious story that explores the complexity and depths life can take, paired with memorable characters, a gorgeous colour palette, and wildly imaginative visuals. It's just so good.
The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D. Jackson
Maddy has been an easy target her whole life, from the bullies at her small-town school to her overbearing, abusive father at home. So when the secret Maddy's been hiding her whole life is dragged into the spotlight, something deep and powerful within her awakens and suddenly, nothing will ever be the same again. This incredible story reinvigorates a horror classic with nuance, intelligence, and important conversations. Maddy is the worthy wielder of Carrie's prom queen crown.
Under The Whispering Door by T.J. Klune
My favorite book of the year was Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune! It was the first book I read in 2022 and has stuck with me the entire year. It's just so heartwarming and cozy - I wish it were possible to visit the tea shoppe in the book and meet these characters. If you're looking for something that will move you, I highly recommend this one!
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Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands by Kate Beaton
I have been a fan of Kate Beaton and her hilarious, subversive Hark, A Vagrant! comics since she first started posting them waaaaaay back in 2007. Ducks is a departure from her silly historical takes, both in tone and in the intricacy of the illustration. It is also without a doubt the most moving thing I read all year.
Ducks is Beaton’s graphic memoir of the years she spent working in Fort McMurray, the epicentre of Canada’s oil boom, in order to pay off her student loans. It was not a pleasant time. In a place where the average male-to-female ratio at any given work site was 50:1 —not ideal for workplace conduct (TW: this story does include sexual assault.) But while I was firmly in Beaton’s corner throughout, she does an incredible job of finding the humanity in everyone involved in the story. No one is thriving in this harsh, lonely environment.
I gasped at the weight and size of this stunning graphic novel when it arrived in my mailbox. She big! Beaton unpacked decades worth of stories —her own and those of many other Cape Bretoner’s before her who left in search of “a better life” away from the East Coast— resulting in an achingly beautiful account of class struggle, isolation, sexism and environmental exploitation in the Alberta Tar Sands.
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Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown
One of my favourite reads this year has been Atlas of the Heart - I’m a huge Brene Brown fan and this book really digs into the heart and soul of the human experience - It gives words to a lot of the feelings floating around inside of many of us, and provides a fresh perspective to reflect on. Bonus Content: Once you’ve read it, I highly recommend the follow up Netflix special of the same title!
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
When I joined OwlCrate in March of 2022, I had a lot of amazing YA content to catch up on - And the team insisted I dig into The Raven Boys! With the upcoming 10th Anniversary box, I had to add it to my list. In the early onset of the book, it definitely gave me Outsiders vibes in the best possible way. The depth of the story, the way the characters mix together, and some truly amazing “side” characters with their own personalities leaping off the page - This is a must read! I’ll be back in a future blog to talk about the next book in the series!
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The Ballad of Never After by Stephanie Garber
The sequel to the bestselling Once Upon a Broken Heart by the amazing Stephanie Garber (spoilers ahead for those who haven’t read OUABH.)
Not every love is meant to be….. After Jacks, the Prince of Hearts, betrays her, Evangeline Fox swears she'll never trust him again. Now that she's discovered her own magic, Evangeline believes she can use it to restore the chance at happily ever after that Jacks stole away. But when a new terrifying curse is revealed, Evangeline finds herself
entering into a tenuous partnership with the Prince of Hearts again. Only this time, the rules have changed. Jacks isn't the only force Evangeline needs to be wary of. In fact, he might be the only one she can trust, despite her desire to despise him. Instead of a love spell wreaking havoc on Evangeline's life, a murderous spell has been cast. To break it, Evangeline and Jacks will have to do battle with old friends, new foes, and a magic that plays with heads and hearts. Evangeline has always trusted her heart, but this time she's not sure she can.
Icebreaker by Hannah Grace
A hockey x figure skater spicy romance 18+
Anastasia Allen has worked her entire life for a shot at Team USA. It looks like everything is going according to plan when she gets a full scholarship to the University of California, Maple Hills and lands a place on their competitive figure skating team.
Nothing will stand in her way, not even the captain of the hockey team, Nate Hawkins.
Nate's focus as team captain is on keeping his team on the ice. Which is tricky when a facilities mishap means they are forced to share a rink with the figure skating team-including Anastasia, who clearly can't stand him.
But when Anastasia's skating partner faces an uncertain future, she may have to look to Nate to take her shot. Sparks fly, but Anastasia isn't worried… because she could never like a hockey player, right?
Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff
18+ for sure on this one too. A dark epic adult fantasy!
From holy cup comes holy light; The faithful hands sets world aright. And in the Seven Martyrs' sight, Mere man shall end this endless night. It has been twenty-seven long years since the last sunrise. For nearly three decades, vampires have waged war against humanity; building their eternal empire even as they tear down our own. Now, only a few tiny sparks of light endure in a sea of darkness.
Gabriel de León is a silversaint: a member of a holy brotherhood dedicated to defending realm and church from the creatures of the night. But even the Silver Order couldn't stem the tide once daylight failed us, and now, only Gabriel remains. Imprisoned by the very monsters he vowed to destroy, the last silversaint is forced to tell his story. A story of legendary battles and forbidden love, of faith lost and friendships won, of the Wars of the Blood and the Forever King and the quest for humanity's last remaining hope: The Holy Grail.
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Only a Monster by Vanessa Len
Vanessa did an amazing job world building within our own world. She wrote twists and turns that I never saw coming and had me on the edge of my seat the entire book. I couldn't put it down! I was so enthralled from beginning to end with this story that shows how coming of age can be messy, confusing and hard. I genuinely cannot wait for what's in store with this series.
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Mister Miracle by Tom King
I read a lot of graphic novels this year and Tom King’s Mister Miracle is by far the stand-out. It has All-Time Top Five status.
Though familiar with the universe they exist in, and some of the secondary characters, I went into this knowing very little about Mister Miracle/Scott Free. It was an absolute delight to get to know this character, his history and see behind-the-scenes of superhero life. Scott and Big Barda have the strongest, most genuine relationship in comics and I am here for it. As someone who watches Young Justice ad nauseum, I enjoyed seeing other characters I know (Granny Goodness, Darkseid, Orion) within this story, who, for me, provided a bit of a touchstone within the universe at large. Mitch Gerads artwork is stunning and creative, and sometimes I take the book off my shelf to just look at it. It has charm, humour, action, and heart. I loved it.
All About Me! by Mel Brooks
As I movie lover, I have read a lot of entertainment industry-based memoirs and listening to Mel Brooks (the audiobook is where it’s at!) tell stories of his early days, his career and all his films was a delight. It is the Hollywood era and the types of films I really love. It also lead to a fantastic movie marathon where I visited some old favourites and watched new-to-me films. The audiobook was like giving your grandfather a tumbler of whiskey and asking them to tell you stories of their life. The fact he is 96 years old and wrote this book during the pandemic is mindblowing. I loved the audiobook so much, I bought a hardcover copy for references in the future. The man is an legend.
What great books did you read in 2022? Let us know in the comments!
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