Top Five #Reads of 2022- #GoodreadsChallenge @sgc58 @katherinecenter @Dwallacepeach

Happy New Year!

I don’t know about you, but the last two-three years have been a trial to the health and welfare of many and there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight. With that in mind, I want to apologize if I’m spotty on the blogs. I love this community, but life is kicking my butt and I need to focus more on mental health and less on perceived obligations.

I’ll be holding off on the sequel to The Defiant Sisters Duet, which means canceling out on my obligation to a box set I signed up for and writing a note to all my readers- something I don’t take lightly. The pressure to provide a story in a set amount of time weighed heavier and heavier with every passing year and I can’t do it anymore.

Just making this call lightens my heart. I hope I’ll recover my muse and love of writing again, but I’m not going to rush it. Instead, I’m going to rest, relax, and read- sounds good, right?

For 2022 I managed one hundred and sixteen books, with over thirty thousand pages read, and have to say, they were all great making it hard to narrow down my top five, but I’ll give it the old college try, lol

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Just an Odd Job Girl by Sally Cronin

My first review of the year

After devoting her life to her family, Imogen is replaced by a younger woman (a fast-tracker) after twenty years of marriage and must overcome her self-doubt to move on to the next stage of her life.

Just an Odd Job Girl is a highly entertaining story of a fifty-year-old’s voyage into a working world she thought herself ill-equipped to handle until a new friend shows her just how much she truly has to offer.

Hello Stranger by Katherine Center

My last review of the year

When I was gifted a copy of this book from the publisher, I didn’t know the subject matter would cut so close to home. My daughter was also diagnosed with cavernoma, a malformed blood vessel in the brain- otherwise known as a raspberry- after she passed out at work. Needless to say, it scared her mom and dad to death, but with careful monitoring, she will hopefully never go through the trauma Sadie had to live through.

My top five books of the year

D. Wallace Peach has outdone herself with a harrowing tale of war in the most sacred of lands- Heaven itself.

Rimma and her sister, Angel, are members of the chosen, picked to live and prosper in Heaven’s sanctuary. But when the electrical field begins to crackle and fade, they are tumbled into a land of poverty and desperation. One where the strongest survive and the sisters’ beliefs are challenged in ways they could never have envisioned.

When Rimma witnesses the senseless murder of her father by people known as Biters, it sets in motion a rage that burns in her soul. Angel’s sweet nature is the only thing keeping her under control. They begin to train for the day the Bone Wall protecting their home falls and they are forced to fight or die by the sword. Rimma, worried about her sister’s innocence, draws an oath from Angel.

“You must swear to let me bear all the burdens of our life in the broken world. You must swear to let me endure every suffering and evil that befalls us, allow me to be as vile and vicious and heartless as I need to be to keep you safe.”
Peach, D. Wallace. The Bone Wall: A Post-Apocalyptic Search for Truth (p. 53). D. Wallace Peach. Kindle Edition.

As broken as Rimma is, I connected most with her. She sinks into a dark hole after being violently beaten and raped, yet even as retribution lights a fire in her soul, the killings are done with good intent- to protect those she cares for. And though she is banished for the crime, she can’t quite give up the internal hope for a better life for her sister.

The author raises moral questions of right and wrong in this heartbreaking novel I won’t soon forget. How can a society decide who shall prosper and who will flounder?

I’ll leave you with this:

“All our efforts to protect our future, to bear and raise children, to rebuild a broken world…only to witness thousands more die. Are we so damaged we’re irreparable?”
The Bone Wall: A Post-Apocalyptic Search for Truth (p. 274). D. Wallace Peach. Kindle Edition

Lewis Madigan can’t believe his bad luck when, instead of the promotion he expects at a high-tech company, he’s let go do to cutbacks. Then he arrives home in time to see his partner packing up to leave saying they were drifting apart- oh yeah, he emptied their bank account, as well.

Now Lewis has to find a new job, which are few and far apart, while trying to figure out where his relationship derailed, though his homophobic senior neighbor is more than willing to explain.

Chester Wheeler is the most annoying man on the planet. He’s chased away every homecare provider his daughter has hired, leaving her no choice but to help her dad until she hears about Lewis and cons/begs him to step in so she can get home in time for the birth of her first grandchild.

Lewis would rather have his teeth pulled – without anesthetic- than stay in Chester’s house and listen to his abuse for hours on end, but he can’t resist the desperation in Chester’s daughter’s eyes. And then, Chester demands/asks Lewis to drive his jumbo motorhome across seven states so he can see his ex-wife. Once again, Lewis is forced into something he’d rather not do because he realizes this trip could be Chester’s last chance- Lewis has no choice.

This is a heartfelt story between two men with prejudices and the connection they gain during an epic road trip- a must read!

FBI Agents Pendergast and Coldmoon are baffled by a series of chilling murders in the ghost-haunted city of Savannah, Georgia.

“I refrain from thinking at the beginning of an investigation, Commander.”
“What do you do in place of thinking?” Delaplane asked drily.
“I become a receptacle for information.”
Delaplane gave Coldmoon a pointed glance, raising her eyebrows. Coldmoon shrugged. It was just Pendergast being Pendergast.
Bloodless- Preston & Child

When a victim is found without an ounce of blood left in his veins, and a Senator breathing down the FBI’s neck, Pendergast and his team, Agent Coldmoon and ward Constance Green, are tasked with finding the killer before the Senator’s planned campaign stop. Complicating matters, a ghost-hunting reality TV show is filming in the area, a journalist with revenge on his mind is stalking the film crew, and an eccentric old woman seems to hold the key to the investigation.

This is the twentieth book in an intriguing, ever-changing series, but can easily be read on its own. This story has a paranormal, sci-fi thread reminiscent of popular television programs like Quantum Leap and The Twilight Zone.

I don’t want to give too much away, other than to say hold on to your hat- this one is trippy!

Kristin Hannah has become one of my favorite authors. Her books tackle tough subjects through characters that grip the heart and settings that breathe life to her stories.

The Four Winds is set at the start of The Great Depression, when jobs were scarce and the prairies dried up, starving thousands of hard-working men and women across the midlands. Elsa’s life is much like the land, barren of love from a family who judges her as lacking, and a new husband who dreams of conquering the world.

One night, Elsa awakens to find Rafe is gone, leaving her and their two kids in the care of his parents. Her pre-teen daughter blames Elsa, her head full of her father’s fantasies, and makes their hardscrabble existence even tougher.

The dust storms are terrible, ravaging the land, seeping into homes, and filling the stomachs of stock and people alike. When her young son develops pneumonia brought on by the dust coating his lungs, Elsa accepts that she must leave the only real home she’s ever known and take her family west to California.

But the promised bounty of jobs and food falls short for the migrants and a whole new level of hell has just begun.

This story is heart-wrenching. And the scary thing is, much of the depression is happening again, now. We need to open our eyes to the needs of others, and to the devastation of our land before it’s too late.

A thought-provoking read I won’t soon forget.

With over 97,000 five-star reviews, The Nightingale is a life-changing story of two very different sisters and their survival during WW11.

Vianne Mauriac was a young teenager when her father came home from the war a changed man. Gone was the loving, caring man who adored his family, leaving a broken shell in his place. When her mother died shortly after, leaving Vianne to care for her baby sister, she is overwhelmed and escapes by marrying her boyfriend, Antoine.

Isabelle was only a four-year-old precocious girl when her mother died and her father began what would be years of sending her to this nanny or that finishing school in the hope of taming her spirit while avoiding the responsibility of raising her himself. Vianne was too busy with her new husband to have time for a troublesome sister, leaving Isabelle to go through her life feeling unloved.

When the Second World War begins and Germans invade France, the girls are tested in ways they could never have envisioned.

“Don’t think about who they are. Think about who you are and what sacrifices you can live with and what will break you.”

The Nightingale- Kristin Hannah

While Vianne’s husband goes off to war, she is forced to billet a German soldier while trying to keep her and their daughter alive on minuscule rations and freezing winter conditions.

Isabelle finally finds a release for her rebellious heart by joining the French Resistance, a movement to free France from German oppression. She becomes known as The Nightingale and leads daring rescue missions of allied soldiers through the Pyrenees mountains.

“I hope you never know how fragile you are, Isabelle.”

“I’m not fragile,” she said.

The smile he gave her was barely one at all. “We are all fragile, Isabelle. It’s the thing we learn in war.”

The Nightingale- Kristin Hannah

There are many heartbreaking moments in this book with atrocities I could never have imagined. This is such an important read. Many of us are too young to know much about World War 11. My mom says when her uncle returned, he refused to talk about it and often suffered horrible nightmares.

With the conflict in Ukraine and the recent fight in Afghanistan, it’s even more crucial for our generation to truly understand what WAR means. It’s brutal, demeaning, deadly, and unnecessary. Shouldn’t we have learned how to live together as one by now?

“But love has to be stronger than hate, or there is no future for us.”

The Nightingale- Kristin Hannah

These books are just a few of the many fantastic reads I enjoyed over the last year. I can’t wait to see what 2023 brings!

This is from the freak snowstorm we had on Vancouver Island the week leading up to Christmas- crazy!

95 Replies to “Top Five #Reads of 2022- #GoodreadsChallenge @sgc58 @katherinecenter @Dwallacepeach”

  1. You had snow? You can also keep it for the future, Jacquie! Lol I wish you a happy new year and I’m so sorry about the ongoing trouble with the illness. Take care! Thanks for the great book list, and the great reviews. Best wishes, Michael

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Sorry, I’m late again, Jacquie! Now a repetition through Sally’s blog. 😉 Oh, I love snow if someone else and not I shovel it away. A neighbor was upset a few weeks ago because I had used specially produced wood ash as a scatter. She always had to clean the hallway. This is exactly why I use this stray to move the pedestrians to use the street side opposite. Lol xx Michael

        Liked by 2 people

  2. You managed to read many books last year. Well done. Sometimes we need to just sit back and let things play out for us. I hope the health issues in your family are resolved soon. Sending good wishes for 2023! (That was a lot of snow!)

    Liked by 5 people

      1. That last snowfall was difficult and caused some issues like eaves troughs coming down etc. Houses on the west coast are not built for that sort of weather, are they? Hopefully, the rest of the winter is back to rain only.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. My goodness, Jacquie, I’m so impressed by your reading prowess. Bravo! Your reviews are top-notch, and I’m headed to Amazon to pick up several of the books. I loved Just An Odd Job Girl. It brings a smile just thinking about it. As for the weather, what a mess. When you write about your area, I travel back to my experience on Salt Spring Island. The entire surrounding area is magnificent. I hope you can set aside publication expectations and pressures, and just absorb beauty this New Year. Blessings on you and yours. ❤️

    Liked by 6 people

  4. Happy 2023 Jacquie. Wishing you all the best as you find your centre and get yourself back on track where you want to need to be. Enjoy the year and time reading. That storm in Vancouver was such a shock, glad you are none the worse for wear. Happy New Year!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Wow! I’m so jealous of your reading time, Jacquie! You’ve read some great books. I have Sally’s on my Kindle and I hope to read it soon. It sounds like a fun read. You all are tough! I could never handle that much snow. An inch that melts the next day is enough for me! Happy New Year, my friend! xo

    Liked by 5 people

  6. Diana is always a winner, and I have several friends who keep recommending Preston & Child. Excellent list, Jacquie.

    I completely understand the “life kicking you down” thing. Take all the time you need to be well. Hugs. 💕

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I think many of us are feeling the effects of our current situations more than expected. Maybe because of the war, maybe Covid. Regardless, I find it’s harder to bounce back these days.
      Take care of yourself and enjoy that sweet little baby ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Great selections, Jacquie. I’ve never read Kristen Hannah, but both of her books interest me. I had an uncle who was a prisoner of war during WWII. He never spoke of it or the war. Diana’s books are always wonderful.

    Sorry you’re going through some difficulties. We’ll be here when you’re ready.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. My Great-uncle was a prisoner as well. Grandma said he was never the same after- it’s so sad.
      Kristin’s books are unforgettable. I’m sure you’d enjoy them, Joan.
      Thanks for the kind words, it means a lot ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Such temping reviews, Marsha. Thank you! You certainly get some reading in… Do hope that good health stays with you in this New Year, and happiness. Hugs. Cheers and virtual hugs. xx

    Liked by 3 people

  9. No one can blame you for taking care of your health, Jacquie. I praise you for realizing it. ❤ I've read multiple blogs recently from authors and bloggers stepping back for a break, including myself. I'm amazed at your "pages read" count and the amount of books. You go girl. Two books from above are waiting in my TBR pile. I'm reading a lot of non-fiction at the moment. Wow, all that snow!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s tough to admit to depression but there’s no shame in knowing when to step back and reevaluate your goals. I want writing to be fun, and it’s not right now- hopefully, that will change with time.
      I haven’t really tried much in the non-fiction category, but maybe I should!
      The snow was crazy. Hubby has to travel over a mountain pass for work and the storm kept him home for almost a week- not that he was complaining, lol

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Great top list, Jacquie 🙂 I agree about Bone Wall, that was a fantastic read. I have a couple on my reading list and some new ones to look at. Glad you are taking care of yourself and sending a ton of hugs your way. Xo

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Wow! 116 books! That is some amazing reading, Jacquie.

    I love your recommendations. Diana Wallace always tells an amazing tale, I’ve heard The Four Winds is a powerful book, and you know I ADORE Pendergast. I thought Bloodless was exceptional, especially the ending.

    I am so sorry you’re struggling to find that life/writing balance, but I am right there with you. Sometimes we just need to re-evaluate priorities and contemplate what brings us happiness. Blogging and writing shouldn’t be about pressure and stress. Breaks are essential, and we will all be here when you’re ready to return. Your health, both mental and physical should be your focus. Sending you lots of well wishes and BIG HUGS.

    P.S. The amount of snow you got is crazy!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m not sure why I’ve lost my way, maybe Covid/real-world issues, maybe because my kids are so far away now. All I know is it’s like pulling teeth to pick up the figurative pen and it shouldn’t be that way.
      I love everything Diana writes and thanks to you I’m now a Pendergast fan, too- can’t wait for the sequel to Bloodless!
      The snowfall wasn’t a record, amazingly enough, but it was enough for me, lol

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You take care of yourself, Jacquie. Wishing you better days in 2023. The muse will return when you’re ready. In the meantime, enjoy the downtime. It’s perfect for reading. ❤️💕

        Liked by 2 people

  12. Going into the new year, it seems we are all having to make some hard choices for our own well-being. You do what you have to. What a great selection of books for the year. I know how hard it is to choose. I’m faced with doing that today, if possible. 🙂 The snow looks beautiful from this viewpoint. Happy New Year, Jacquie! I with you a healthy and prosperous one!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The snow was beautiful, especially since it was short-lived, lol.
      I seem to have lost my mojo over the last couple of years. Hopefully, a break will make a difference.


  13. I’m impressed with the amount of reading you managed over the year, Jacquie. I intend to pick up my pace this new year. You’ve posted a fine crop of writers here today. Congratulations to those authors.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Oh, Jacquie. I’m so honored and delighted that you enjoyed The Bone Wall, and your review was wonderful. I’m almost teary with gratitude for your kindness. And thrilled to be in the top 5! I loved Sally’s book. It was the first of hers that I read, and I was so hooked. The others are all new to me. My kindle is feeling greedy indeed.
    And I’m glad you’re taking care of yourself and cutting back to a manageable level of pressure. That’s awesome and essential, especially when the world is reeling with stress. I hope you had a lovely holiday (despite all that snow!) and I wish you a beautiful, peaceful new year. Hugs ❤

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Thank you for the wonderful comment, my friend. But I think it’s probably a result of the way you intentionlly look for beautiful passages in any books you read (which I do with my trusty highlighter). I DO notice exquisite imagery in your writing. Letting Go had lovely scenes, so your efforts are paying off. Another reason why reading is so vital. Enjoy!

        Liked by 2 people

  15. I’m sorry to hear you’ve lost your mojo – but not at all surprised. I think if you are sensitive enough to write that moving book Love, Me, then you’re finely attuned and sensitive to feelings and situations and it’s bound to take its toll. Congratulations on taking a step back – and on that truly impressive tally of book reviews! Go with the flow and I’m absolutely certain that your creative juices will be stirring again. Here’s to a gentle, healthy and kind 2023. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Wow good on you for reading so many books Jacquie. I know the last few years have been tough on many of us. Good for you for not putting demands on yourself. After all, we have only to answer to ourselves, and sometimes we need to take a beat.
    Your Vancouver got the crap we here in Toronto are used to getting, yet we haven’t had it that bad yet. Hoping not to tempt the fates on that statement lol. But I’ll be heading south in two weeks and will be glad to miss the brunt of winter. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Debby. I decided it was better to take a break and concentrate on my health than push out books that lack the depth I want to show.
      I’m happy you are going to your happy place soon but be careful. Those cartel guys are riled up!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. HI Jacquie, life has been tough for the past couple of years, I absolutely agree. A fabulous list of reads and I am delighted to see one of Diana Peach’s books featured here. I didn’t realise your daughter had a malformed blood vessel in her brain although I knew she’d had health issues. My husband collapsed last week following 7 days of headaches and illness. He has meningitis which caused a blood clot in the membrane of the brain. I have a good idea of what you and hubby went through with your daughter. The worry is excruciating. Hugs.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Hi Jacquie, they don’t operate for blood clots. The treatment is to dissolve them with blood thinners. The treatments are working and he is improving. The meningitis is causing most of his symptoms now. He’s been in ICU for ten days, today.

        Liked by 2 people

          1. Hi Jacquie, he moved out of intensive care and onto a general ward. His blood tests showed an elevated infection rate so he has to stay and continue with the intravenous antibiotics. He had another CT scan today but I haven’t heard the results as yet. Thanks for asking, Jacquie. Hugs.

            Liked by 1 person

  18. A fantastic list, Jacquie – congrats to these wonderful writers. You must focus on your health – I’ve had to do the same thing over the past year, but trying to pick myself up this year. Do whatever is best for you. Toni x

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Thanks for sharing! I’m excited for Hello Stranger to come out and can’t wait to get a copy for myself. I read The Bodyguard this past year and it was my first Katherine Center book. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. It had early 2000s romcom vibes and I really enjoyed that.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. The war stories sound harrowing and yes we are living it again, incredibly, in Europe. And we are sering many Refugees here from Ukraine while still trying to cope with those from the Middle East theatres of conflict. America will know about all this from its own southern borders.

    Liked by 1 person

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