My Top Five Reads of 2022

Okay, I lied—one two counts. If you read my post yesterday, you know I said I was going to close comments today, but I’ve decided to keep them open. I hope to pop online during my lunch break to catch up.

Secondly, this list contains more than five books, but I don’t believe I’ve ever had a harder time choosing favorites.

As usual, I did the Goodreads challenge and ended the year at 108 books read. From those 108, I’ve highlighted six. Since I’ve previously shared full reviews for most of the books listed below, I’m only resharing snippets. You can find my full reviews on BookBub, Goodreads, or Amazon along with the blurbs for each book. Click the links to connect to each book’s dedicated on Amazon.

HONORABLE MENTION
I just couldn’t fit this book into my top five, but it’s so dang good, I have to give it an honorable mention at number six.


Cover for Te Moonlight School shows woman in old fashioned gown holding lantern in field at night, full moon behind her

THE MOONLIGHT SCHOOL
By Suzanne Woods Fisher

I have a fondness for stories set in Appalachia. The setting is always so rich and the characters wonderfully authentic. In this case, the year—1911—adds to the vibrancy of the novel. I was unfamiliar with Cora Wilson Stewart prior to reading this book but am now enamored of this woman who made it her mission to bring adult literacy to the backwoods of Kentucky and beyond.

In this fictional account, woven with fact, Cora’s cousin, Lucy agrees to spend six months as Cora’s assistant, unaware of the hardscrabble conditions she’ll encounter. From its colorful assortment of characters, including Brother Wyatt, a singing school master, to Finley James, a young man unconvinced education is for him, and Mollie McGlothin, an elderly woman who knows the history of the surrounding hollers better than any other—the lives of each individual effortlessly sweeps the reader into the pages.

Cora’s defining moment is in creating “moonlight schools”—teaching geared toward illiterate adults, held in the evenings. There is a moment at the end that brought tears to my eyes.


NUMBER 5
DAISY DARKER
By Alice Feeney

Book cover for Daisy Darker shows old house on cliff overlooking sea at night

Each year on Halloween, Daisy Darker and her two sisters, along with her divorced parents, gather at Sea Glass—an old mansion cut off from the mainland every high tide—to celebrate her grandmother’s birthday.

Most of the characters (including an old friend who arrives unexpectedly by boat) detest each other and have closets full of skeletons, but they make a tantalizing melting pot. Reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None,” we’re treated to one puzzling murder after another, tension and suspicion ramping up among the surviving family members as each death occurs.

I’m usually pretty good about figuring out the killer but was caught off guard by the twisty turns at the end of this novel. Once I reached the end, I had to reanalyze what I’d read, revisiting earlier passages in order to appreciate the cleverness of the plot. I enjoyed Feeney’s Rock Paper Scissors but she outdid herself with Daisy Darker.


NUMBER 4
THE CHILDREN ON THE HILL
By Jennifer McMahon

Book cover for The Children on the Hill, shows house at top of hill on fire at night

I devour anything written by Jennifer McMahon, and consider this (along withThe Night Sister) one of her two best releases. Everything about this book appealed to me—the use of dual timelines, a mysterious treatment center, children playing at monster hunting, and a quasi-celebrity cryptid/monster hunter who scours the country in search of creatures for her podcasts.

Perhaps it’s the subject matter of monsters—real and imagined—that made this tale resonate so strongly. McMahon continues to prove she is a compelling storyteller with a deft touch for characters and atmosphere. I consider this tale, story gold!


Book cover for The Recooking at Gossamer Pond shows row boat near shore on foggy lake, tree limb in background

NUMBER 3
THE RECKONING AT GOSSAMER POND
By Jaime Jo Wright

A positively gripping story! This is my third book by Jamie Jo Wright, and it certainly won’t be my last. As usual, she’s created a complex plot spanning two timelines (1907 and present day), and characters who lingered with me long after I’d closed my Kindle. Both mysteries are intriguing, but the characters from 1907 and the strange occurrences that took place—obituaries sent to a newspaper prior to the actual deaths of two town citizens, the appearance of unorthodox twin revivalists, and a town steeped in secrets—were mesmerizing.

It took me several days to read the first half of the book (other commitments kept interrupting), but I blew through the last half in a single sitting. If you like twisty mysteries with historical overtones, amazing characters, and detailed genealogies, don’t miss this riveting novel.


Book cover for The Premonition at Withers Farm shows old barn at dusky sunset, cornstalks in front

NUMBER 2
THE PREMONITION AT WITHERS FARM
By Jaimie Jo Wright

I requested an ARC of this title because I’m addicted to dual timeline mysteries, and I loved the idea of the early twentieth century setting (for the past timeline) and the hint of spiritualism woven into the plot. Goosebumps abound! From the descriptions of carriage rides and nighttime walks on country roads lined by towering corn stalks, to the eerie use of the nursery rhyme Cock Robin, my skin prickled.

After finishing, I immediately looked up the author, signed up for her newsletter, bought the paperback copy, and ordered more of her previous books.


Book cover for The Prince and the Prodigal shows close up of Egyptian-looking man over looking setting with pyramids

NUMBER 1
THE PRINCE AND THE PRODIGAL
By Jill Eileen Smith


I read this book in February of 2022, and it had a lot of challengers during the year, but it still holds as my favorite. A retelling of Joseph’s story from the Old Testament, it parallels his life with that of his older brother Judah.

This is a story of family. Of brotherhood, forgiveness, and redemption. Strength in the face of adversity, healing, and most of all, the belief that God is ever faithful and will deliver. Old Testament fiction is one of my favorite genres. I rank this book as a favorite, not only in the genre, but among my favorite reads of all time. I will certainly go back and read this again. A superb retelling of Joseph’s story and one I highly recommended. 


I’ve already finished my first read of 2023 and am still mulling over how I feel about it. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the above.

Have you read any of these books? Do any of them appeal to you? What was your favorite read of the past year?

51 thoughts on “My Top Five Reads of 2022

  1. Mae, congratulations on your 108 books for last year – that is fantastic! I’m impressed you manage to pick just five (well, six!) to highlight and these all grab my attention. Daisy Darker particularly has me intrigued! I’ve managed to choose my top 20 out of the 80 books I read in 2022. Elif Shafak’s books are superb!

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  2. Thank you for sharing and recommending these books, Mae. I purchased The Prince and the Prodigal several months ago, and after reading your endorsement, I’ll surely read it soon. I wish I had your reading/writing prowess. Congratulations on both fronts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Dan! I grabbed a few moments before the start of my work day to hop online, LOL.
      I’m glad you enjoyed my mini reviews and found the books interesting. These all provided many wonderful hours of reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Congrats on finishing 108 books. (I was pleased that I read 78.) After reading your review, I read (and enjoyed) The Premonition at Wither’s Farm. Just picked up a copy of Gossimer Pond through KDP.

    Some great selections here, Mae!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, Joan congrats on finishing 78 books in 2022. That number is certainly nothing to sneeze at!

      I’m so glad you enjoyed Wither’s Farm. I hope you like Gossimer Pond just as much. It has such an intriguing plot. I just loved it!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Mae, these all sound fabulous, and I echo the kudos on your reading 108 books last year! These all sound great, but I have to say Daisy Darker caught my interest as I adore a good mystery. May you have a wonderful and happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Daisy Darker is a fantastic read, Maura Beth—especially if you love a good mystery. It has a strong Agatha Christie vibe to it. I just loved it.
      I do tend to devour books, LOL.

      Thanks for dropping by. I hope you have a wonderful new year as well!

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  5. I’m not surprised at your top picks. I remember your enthusiastic reviews for almost every one. I really liked The Premonition at Withers Farm, too! I have way too many faves of 2022 to list them all, but two that immediately come to mind are Chouette by Claire Oshetsky (mothering an owl baby), and A God for All Seasons by Cecilia Marie Pulliam (a devotional). Both books taught me things, both affected my heart.

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    • I’m so glad you enjoyed Withers Farm, too, Priscilla. I thought it was a brilliant read. I’m not familiar with the titles you mentioned, but I’m going to check them out. And as it stand, I need a new devotional, so the timing on that couldn’t be better!

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  6. After reading your earlier review for The Premonition at Withers Farm, I read it, and I liked it, but I really think that you do dual timelines better than she did. Her Molly plot slowed me down a little, but I loved Perliett and George. And I’m not trying to earn brownie points, but The Haunting of Chatham Hollow, the book you co-wrote with Staci Troilo, is one of my favorites for this year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow! Thank you, Judi! What a wonderful compliment. You have me blushing 😊

      Something I’ve discovered about Jaime’s books (I’ve read three of them now). I always enjoy the “past” timeline more than the present timeline. That’s been true of all three that I’ve read. Hmm…maybe I just like historical settings, LOL!

      And I’m over the moon that The Haunting of Chatham Hollow rated so highly for you! 🤗❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  7. 108 books is great, Mae. I think I ended up around there too. I haven’t read any of your favorites, but with that kind of ranking, they must be stellar. Thanks for the recommendations! I hope your 2023 is full of wonderful reads.

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  8. Thanks for the heads up about The Moonlight School. I’ve read several others about bringing books to Appalachia and the subject intrigues me since I live in Appalachia. Much has changed, but not enough. Poverty is still an obstacle here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • HI, there! Thank you so much for popping in to say hello and to let me know my review of The Moonlight School has you intrigued. I think you will love the book. It positively brims with setting and fantastic characters. Knowing that it’s based on fact made it that much more amazing. Given you live in Appalachia, I suspect it will truly resonate with your heart. It’s saddening poverty remains a problem. It seems such a wondrous place. If you pick up the novel, I wish you happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. You beat me on your reading list lol and no one reads as much as me. But here is the thing. In January I was reading crime novels (JD Kirk, Ian Rankin etc.). On average three a week and so would have beat you, but I did not. By May it was Scandi Noir, Longer and darker (check out “The Crow Girl” by Erik Axl Sund”) and so I slowed. By October It was horror, Sci-fi (David Brins “Existence” is one of the best books ever written) and fantasy. I decided to revisit Robert Jordans “The Wheel of Time” (I read it many years ago but had forgotten most of it) Fourteen, thousand-to one thousand three-hundred-page novels (in small print). I am only on book seven. So, there will be no challenge from me in the coming year.
    It is only now that I recall heaving a sigh of relief when I had finished it as a boy. I think I will be the same this time. On the positive side I am currently spending a small fraction of what I normally do in books.
    I have also added a couple of those you mentioned to my TBR list. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love how very diversified your taste in reading is, Ray. I do enjoy crime novels as well, and am often known to stray to sci-fi or fantasy. I’ll check out some of your recommendations. I remember reading most of the Harry Dresden series (starting with book 1) by Jim Butcher a few years ago. Each novel was 500-600 pages, and it severely slowed my book count but did wonders for my pages read. I suspect yours is the same with The Wheel of Time.

      It’s wonderful to revisit old favorites. The Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett is one I often revisit, and those books are 600+ each. Even writing about them has me wanting to read them again, LOL.

      I’m glad I added some possible candidates to your TBR. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • You Have.
        Oh, I loved those Dorothy Dunnett books. But I enjoy those things in general. Have you ever read Naomi Mitchesons “Travel Light” or Karen Blixen’s wonderful sad tales? I would heartily recommend them.

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      • Wow, you’re going to be loading up my TBR, Ray. I’ll have to check those out,too.
        And so glad you hear you enjoyed Dorothy Dunnett’s books. I think you’re the first person I’ve mentioned it to, who read it. Such a great saga!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I read some fantastic books last year, and it would take me a while to narrow down the list. Not even sure that I could. I’ve read a couple of McMahon’s books, but somehow I missed this one. Thanks for the recs, Mae!

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  11. I love your top-five list, Mae! The only book I’ve read of this is “The Premonition at Withers Farm.” I’m struggling to select my top ten for the year. There is NO way I could narrow it down to five. 🙂 Thank you for sharing!

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