Wow. So it’s the end of another year in this constant rollercoaster that is the roaring ’20s. Some people thought, perhaps naively, that the last two years were perhaps a mirage before our dazed subconscious, mocking our very existence, and we would wake up clearly and calmly to the first of January, 2030. Last night—December 31—it was 2019. The governments of the world deigned to make the 2020s invisible to the history books, much like that old joke about how “only 90s kids remember” the 1990s (implying that if you’re born earlier in the twentieth century, I’m sorry but that century ended for you in 1989).
2022 was definitely a year. A year with three twos. A year where we started to forget about COVID—which caused me to get it for the first time after avoiding the damn thing for the better part of three years. A year where Russia and Ukraine existed, and many Americans discovered Europe is not merely a singular country and actually full of many different, varied countries who can and will go to war with each other. Some celebrities died. The Queen also died. Brits and the British Commonwealth will have to replace their coins with Charles’ mug. Prior to this, Brits spent the first half of the year uniting in their shared love for a beloved fish and chip shop. Australia finally voted out Scott Morrison and now has a competent leader for the first time in almost a decade.
Also, for the first time in over a decade, I crushed my reading record and read 25 books this year. 25 books. I almost feel like an honorary BookTuber and their humblebragging “I’m so sorry, guys, I only read 71 books this month”. This year felt like a year in opposites. I read more audiobooks than physical books. I started way too many series, the best being the Timothy Blake series. The longest being three books into the twenty million Phryne Fisher books. Whew. It makes up for only watching a handful of movies—the best of which was the new Scream (2022), the worst being Tubi gem Marihuana. You can check out all my movie reviews if you want—I joined Letterboxd (IMDb but for film wankers) to masquerade alongside the cinephiles that lurk there.
2022. A year where I reached ten years of blogging on this beautiful website WordPress that is becoming and more and more like its YouTube-sponsorship frenemy Squarespace with every slowly inching update. I discovered some interesting blogs while perusing my WordPress Reader’s fancy “Search” feature. Jokes. I definitely already knew that, but it’s a nice way to discover new blogs, and it’s great to see people creatively trying their hands at this whole writing shtick outside of the crushing confines of social media, of which (we can only hope) Facebook and Twitter are inching to their inevitable death and destruction. I discovered the Yesterweb and web rings, a motley crew of Zoomers nostalgic for a ’90s Internet that never existed. I tried my hand at coding, at learning new things, you should do the same. Make 2023 your year to learn one new skill, even if it’s to discover the “logout” or “Delete app” buttons on your most time-sucking, soul-sucking website—whether that be TikTok, Reddit, Ol’ Musky’s Twitter, even WordPress if you don’t feel you’re getting the most of it. With all the shit that’s going on in the world and in our real lives, it’s nice to find some positives in the chaos.
Like with last year’s list, I thought I’d mention my favourite 2022 song releases, ranked, because Complete Mess is a beautiful, complete mess that was on a constant loop for me this year.
- Complete Mess – 5 Seconds of Summer
- Anxiety/Best Day of my Life – Simple Plan
- SEXDOPEGOLD/NOISE – Ocean Grove
- 10 Things I Hate About You – Leah Kate
- my ex – Chad Tepper
As a writer, music plays a huge role in keeping creativity alive. Art breeds more art. I love to listen to the right song to get me in the right mood, or to help ease—temporarily—what’s wrong. Here are some songs I played way too much, starting with Holding On by Simple Plan, which I listened to an obscene number of times in 2022. Almost all of them were influential writing songs this year. They’re listed out of order, ’cause it’s a lot harder than you might think to rank this sort of shit. Suffice to say: they’re S-tier.
- Holding On/I Can Wait Forever – Simple Plan
- Earth – K-391
- Blind Faith – Chase & Status
- Candy Coated Lie$ – Hot Milk
- Malibu (Simlish) – Kim Petras
- Fall Out of Love – Salem
- Built – Watermät
- Better Man – Pearl Jam
- It’s My Life – Talk Talk
And, without further ado, here’s my reading wrap-up for 2022:
Matilda by Roald Dahl was my favourite book as a child, and the audiobook didn’t disappoint. This light-hearted Carrie by Stephen King will be reread by me for years to come. Nothing below five stars is sufficient. 5/5
Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris is a book you may not have read, but you’ve definitely heard of the movie. The source material is well worth the read, and despite some flaws and niggles and a rocky, bumpy start, it’s an enjoyable psychological horror that’ll make you take a second look at your meal the next time your psychiatrist offers you a fancy dinner, or if you local tailor’s dwelling has a pungent odour and a faint screaming coming from beyond its doors. I reviewed it here. 4/5
Hannibal by Thomas Harris isn’t as good as Silence of the Lambs, but still a nice, decent read. I recalled much of the events of this from the Hannibal TV series, because Mads Mikkelsen is such an excellent Lecter, but not as much from the movie I watched a decade ago. The ending is definitely not what you should expect, but the sort of shocking ending one would expect of Lecter, always one step ahead of the FBI. Dr Chilton also receives his just desserts. 3/5
Fat Chance by Dr Robert Lustig is a dense, informative read about the dangers and lies peddled by the sugar industry, and how Big Sugar basically peddled mistrtuths to Americans about fat and fat-free foods for years to the detriment of waistlines and soaring health care costs due to the nasty addictiveness and dangers of sugar. An enlightening read, but not for the faint-of-heart or anyone wanting a quick book to breeze through in an evening, unless your evenings are typically three weeks long. Needed more of a focus on non-Americans, which it mentioned briefly in the context of the world globally adopted the Standard American diet, but I tend to expect this when reading nonfiction by American authors now. 3.5/5
Hangman by Jack Heath is a well-paced, darkly humorously, brilliant funny start of a trilogy that is so brilliant it left me wanting to reread the series, this time in physical copy so I could appreciate the riddles that preface and predict each chapter. The audiobook edition narrated by Christopher Ragland had such a charm I devoured this series over the course of less than a month. A nice cross between the Dexter series by Jeff Lindsay and the Hannibal Lecter series by Thomas Harris. The first book wasn’t my second favourite, but I still loved it. I reviewed the trilogy here. 4/5
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig is a book I took ages to get into, but once I did I finished it quickly enough. It’s a sweet little book that makes you think, but struggles to toe the line between Philosophy PhD’s thesis, with quotes purposely written with the aim of being quoted in Instagram mood boards and Tinder bios, with thought-provoking magical realism about alternate universes and living your best life with fear of the regrets of the past. I reviewed it here. 3/5
Marcie Gill and the Caravan Park Cat by Monica McInerney is such a fun read. I loved the story, and probably would have adored it if it came out when I was Marcie’s age. I know it’s hard to rank kids’ books when you’re not in that demographic, but it was charming, readable, engaging, magical, and I really loved the caravan park cat, and Danny Snell’s pictures were so cute. Being a book for children, it could grate that her siblings only have one defining personality trait, but it all works out in the end to the Gill family’s great joy. 5/5
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson is the start of a series that started so, so innocently. You wouldn’t think so, reading the premise, but by book three, I was completely attached to these characters. Worth it when I waited so long in the Borrowbox queue. I thought I was wrong with my prediction for the killer in this book, but he’s revealed to be the villain early on in As Good As Dead, so man I feel vindicated. Quaint English small town setting was perfect. Pippa grows as the books went on. A solid YA murder mystery. 3.5/5
Hunter by Jack Heath is my favourite out of the first three Timothy Blake books. A recurring theme for these 2022 trilogies. Will definitely be rereading these in 2023 in preparation for the (hopeful) audiobook release of Book 4. Please. I need me more Ragland-narrated Blake. Review here. 4/5
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend is a book I’ve reviewed before, back in August 2016. Unfortunately, while this edition was narrated by Steven Mangan, who voiced Aidy in The Cappuccino Years TV series, it’s abridged, and I didn’t realise that until I was too far in to stop. Something-something-sunk-cost plus Mangan was brilliant for Aidy, considering he portrayed him. Probably means I’m due for another reread of the physical books come next year? Methinks too. 4/5
Hideout by Jack Heath is a very explosive ending to the original Timothy Blake trilogy. It gets very dark, but is an apt send-off for Blake and his love interest Reese Thistle. Review here. 3.5/5
The BFG by Roald Dahl is another childhood favourite. Technically another book about cannibals. Not as perfect as Matilda, but still such a charming, engaging read about orphan Sophie kidnapped by the Big Friendly Giant into frightening Giant Country, perfectly narrated by David Walliams, the funny guy from Little Britain. 4.5/5
Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson is probably the best of the Pippa Fitz-Amobi trilogy. I love the parallels to the James Bulger case, and this book makes me like Pippa more as a character. Ravi, her love interest, is as awesome as ever. This sets up the third book well, and she’s slowly losing the Good Girl part of her moniker, and it’s nice to see her grey morality portrayed instead of a black-and-white empty slate protagonist. 4/5
As Good as Dead by Holly Jackson is a conclusion I was totally not expecting. Brutal, raw, shocking. The plot took a sudden change almost halfway through, and I was for it. My God, I was stunned. How the hell was Pippa going to get through this? Her revenge on the overarching asshole since the first book is…well, it’s something. A nice conclusion to Pippa’s story. 3.75/5
You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao is a contemporary romance that I don’t think I would’ve read in most circumstances, but thanks to Soneela Nankani’s narration and the eerie, fascinating premise, I am glad I did read it. It’s a story about characters, about grief, an ode to moving on while still remembering those who have passed, and a magical realism tale that really tugs at your heartstrings. While most of it was sad for sad’s sake, the ending was wonderfully written, and I must admit there were perhaps some tears vaguely forming at the edges of my eyelids. I loved the characterisation, the characters, and it was a nice surprise of a read, but not a genre I’ll make my main, at least not at this point in my life. I reviewed it here. 3/5
Kill Joy by Holly Jackson is a prequel to the Pippa Fitz-Amobi series, and a light-hearted prequel with some dark nods to the trilogy, but fine for a standalone if you want a book about some friends trying a live-action roleplaying murder mystery. 3.5/5
The Secretary by Renee Knight is your generic unreliable narrator 2010s psychological thriller. I read it because the protagonist has some crossover traits (at least the blurb implied so) with a specific character in my manuscript, and she’s a character who’s grown on me and I’d like to expand on her in the future. Fine for what it is, shocking ending perfectly indicative of the obsessive, perfectionist character and this book’s mimicry of Gone Girl. 3/5
Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney is a mystery thriller I wasn’t expecting to love as much as I did. Lovely narration, fascinating characters, predictable killer reveal, but the ending is worth it. I’ll definitely be looking into more by Alice Feeney, because if you give me a good character-driven story inspired by the likes of Daphne du Maurier and heavily influenced by Agatha Christie, I am all for it. I reviewed it here. 4/5
Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood is the start of a series I’ve been intending to read since I bought the prequel included in a collection of short stories impulsively at a book sale almost twenty years ago. It was my introduction to YA crime fiction as a preteen, and probably helped inspire my love of the genre. This book is pretty decent, well-crafted, and masterfully narrated by Stephanie Daniel, who has the perfect voice for Phryne (FRY-nee) Fisher. Love the characters, and will keep me going into 2023, since there are over twenty Miss Fisher books. 3.25/5
Sticks and Stones by Katherine Firkin is a book I read for research, from the perspective of Melbourne detective Emmet Corban and his photographer wife Cindy, and how the the disappearance and murders of seemingly different women come to effect them in shocking ways. Written by a former Herald Sun journalist, and you can tell. It was nice reading a modern novel set in Melbourne—in contrast to Miss Fisher, set in 1920s Melbourne—and I didn’t predict the killer, which was nice. I started the second book, The Girl Remains, in December, so hopes for an early 2023 finish. Nothing groundbreaking in this story, but perfectly decent and readable enough for me to continue the series. 3/5
I Catch Killers by Gary Jubelin with Dan Box was probably my least favourite book of 2022. Doesn’t mean too much, because one star reads tend to be DNFs. Perhaps because I listened to nine hours of it in a single day, and also perhaps because this is a perfect account of a book showing the negatives of police bro culture. Interesting to learn about how Homicide Squad works in New South Wales, but also a lovely confirmation of the alleged corruption of the NSW Police Force, as evidenced by Jubelin’s bitterness in the last few chapters as politics reigns supreme over catching “crooks”. Protip: If you hear the word “crook” mentioned in a book more than fifty times, you’re in for a bumpy ride. 2.5/5
Flying Too High by Kerry Greenwood is the second Phryne Fisher book, and tread much the same path as the first one, except it had an interesting reveal for the “killer” that I definitely wasn’t expecting. 3/5
Everyone in my Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson is a book everyone seems to be clawing at, with a waiting list that now extends on Borrowbox well into the new year, but I was attracted to it based on its title alone. Man, that title. It’s an eyecatcher. Was the book worth it? The first half, yes. The second-half was long-winded dialogue, like a screenplay for a Netflix adaptation. I thought it very Joss Whedon Cabin the Woods, a movie I didn’t particularly like because it doesn’t work from a storytelling perspective, and Whedon is so wanky in his “Oh look, I’m so much smarter than those other horror movies”, conveniently forgetting Scream kinda is the reason for his tripe existing. Never mind. I preferred this book more than that movie. I liked the character progression, especially Michael and Lucy. Ern reached his conclusions too movie-scripty. I didn’t predict the killer, even though all the hints were there. Ern’s revelations were complex and intriguing, and I liked his deduction skills even though it should have had a more logical progression. A good story about a complex family dynamic. And no, technically, not everyone in his family has killed someone, the lying wanker. 3.5/5
I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy is worth the hype. I wasn’t going to read it, but I kept seeing it everywhere, and went fuck it, and requested it out. It was worth the hype. I don’t have nostalgia for iCarly, but it’s a shocking look into Hollywood’s disgusting child acting industry, and McCurdy’s relationship and slow discovery of the toxicity of her relationship with her mother Debra. Certain elements of McCurdy resonated with me—I wasn’t an outgoing kid at all, but other parts of McCurdy’s autobiography made me reflect and I was emotional like McCurdy herself at times. Read it. 4/5
Murder on the Ballarat Train by Kerry Greenwood was my final read of 2022, finished in the early hours of the day this blog post was written. Much like the second book, it’s probably slightly better, but not groundbreaking. I’m enjoying these for the quick read, the characters (Phryne, Bert, Cec, Dot, oh the list is endless), the familiar settings, and Phryne’s brilliant deductive skills, which are more realistic at any rate than Ern in Everyone in my Family Has Killed Someone. 3/5
And for 2023? I’ve got a few I’ve started and a few borrowed out, namely The Girl Remains by Katherine Firkin, Tampa by Alissa Nutting, The Girl in the Castle by Emily Raymond, the slow continuation of the Phryne Fisher series, and I will finally finish My Cousin Rachel. There’s the new Timothy Blake book, which I discovered on Libby—Headcase. Hannibal Rising by Thomas Harris. More Agatha Christie. Junji Ito’s manga. Cherry by Nico Walker. The rest of the books on my TBR. Phew. The list is endless.
Have you read any of the same books as me this year? Any books that you loved? Any that made you as annoyed as I Catch Killers by Gary Jubelin? Anything that’s got you excited for the new year? Let me know! 🥂🥂Here’s to a new year 🥂🥂