Jenny and TBR game

Confession time: I have not been reading very much this year.

Honestly, it just hasn’t been a priority over the past couple of months with a newborn baby. I had hoped that maybe I would have used audiobooks a bit more or read e-books on my phone during night time feeds. But, sadly, no. As well as the practical challenges that motherhood brings to reading. My brain is also just slightly fried and hasn’t had the energy or focus to concentrate on anything like a book.

But I do still love reading. I do want to get back into the swing of reading now that Georgia is four months old. She has slightly more of a routine, and is even starting to love books herself!

To help me ease back into reading, I won’t be setting myself monthly TBR’s. But will instead be doing seasonal TBRs (so quarterly, basically!) and therefore also seasonal book review blog posts. But, we need to catch up! So today, I’m sharing all the books I’ve read so far in 2022 – most of them in January…

The books I’ve read so far this year:

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The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

Mystery / Thriller – 4 stars

We kicked off the year really well with this book! In this story we meet Anne and Marco. They go for a dinner party at their next door neighbour’s house, leaving their baby behind at their house to sleep. But, when they come home – she’s gone.

Throughout this story, we follow different people, trying to piece together all the different elements of what happened. I found this so interesting and kept suspecting different people. I thought that I’d solved it, then kept having something else be thrown into the mix!

Find this book here!

Esther and the Very Brave Plan by Tim Thornborough

Children’s Bible Storybook, 5 stars

If you’ve read of my blog posts talking about Christian book recommendations before, you’ve probably heard me talk about the ‘Very Best Bible Stories’ series by Tim Thornborough. Because I love them. A lot. They are wonderful children’s books. They stay really true to the biblical account, and have absolutely gorgeous illustrations (by Jennifer Davison).

Personally, I have never seen the story of Esther written as a children’s book. So I LOVE that they included this story. I can’t wait to read all of these stories with my daughter. Because they are also so well written for reading to children. They draw on repetition, sounds, counting and other elements to really create a fun reading experience.

Find this book here!

The Lie by Helen Dunmore

Historical fiction, 2 stars

I’m not going to talk too much about this book. Because I really didn’t get on with it and honestly can’t remember too much about it now, 5 months later.

But, as a basic premise, we are following a man who has returned from WWI. As well as flashbacks to his time during the war. This is a very slow moving book, trying to uncover the secrets that the man is hiding. This was just a bit too slow for me, and somewhat predictable. I also didn’t really grow to love any of the characters.

See You in September by Charity Norman

Contemporary fiction, 4 stars

I was really excited to read this book, and was so pleased that I loved it! In this story we follow Cassy who, whilst travelling in New Zealand, is drawn into a mysterious community (read: cult).

This book really explores how people are drawn into cults. The tactics and methods that people use to keep others in cults. The impact of cults on both those trapped in the cult and their family left behind. And the difficulties that come with trying to leave a cult. It was so fascinating, and didn’t seem to over simplify the subject. (Although I’m sure those who have experienced this could add many more layers!).

I grew to love so many characters, and really felt the emotions from all sides. Which was both really powerful and so frustrating!

The Wrong Suitcase by Laura Jane Williams

Romance Novella, 3 stars

This is the first romance/contemporary novella that I’ve read and I think that part of the problem with this book was just me not being used to this format. It just felt too short, and like I didn’t get enough of anything.

Naturally, you can’t get to know the characters too well. The storyline is very limited, and I just felt very “oh” when it ended.

Thanks to NetGalley & Harper Collins UK Audio for letting me listen to this audiobook for review.

Find this book here!

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Contemporary Fiction, 5 stars

My favourite of all the books I’ve read this year so far! I wasn’t sure how I would get on with this book, as I had heard it was very character focused. But this was so well written that even though we were exploring the characters in-depth, it felt like you were constantly moving forwards with the story too.

In this book we are following a whole cast of characters who become trapped in a hostage situation, in the middle of an apartment viewing. We explore the characters responses, their history and how they came to be there, as well as the secrets they are hiding.

The story covers such a wide range of subjects, particularly mental health and suicide. Yet it is also written with a great sense of humour, lots of emotion, an interesting and unexpected storyline, and plenty to think about. Even some of the elements that felt a bit cheesy and forced at the beginning really grew on me by the end.

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

Young Adult Fantasy, 4 – 5 stars

In 2022, I finished off re-reading the Harry Potter series – from the Prisoner of Azkaban to the Deathly Hallows. I know that this series has sparked a lot of discussion and controversy in Christian circles, but personally I think we can enjoy fiction like this, whilst recognising that it is fiction and being perfectly aware of the dangers of genuine witchcraft. There are also some really great and interesting topics covered in these books – we’ve used them in many a sermon illustration!

To find out the books I’m planning to read this Summer, check out my latest TBR game: Penguins choose my Summer TBR!

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