It is that time of year when every book site puts out their list of the best books of the year, and ViewsonBooks.com is not to be outdone. But there will be a few differences in my list. First of all, I have personally read and reviewed each book. Secondly, I am not one who pays a lot of attention to NYTimes lists, Goodreads charts, National Book or Pulitzer prizes. No friends, my books are books that you will most likely pick up to read, and will have an interest in the genre or topic. Also, many of my books are not to be found in your local bookstore or national chain. Yet all of these are available on Amazon.com and each of these books will contain a link to their Amazon site in the event that you wish to purchase the book for holidays, birthdays, or just for the fun of reading a good book. So, without any more delays here are my top books that I read in 2022.
“Oranges for Magellan” is one of my favorite novels in years, as it tells the story of a man who is trying to break the World’s Flagpole Sitting record back in the1980’s. Author Richard Martin gave us a superb interview about the book and this look into obsession and how it affects the lead character and his family made this a page-turner for me.
“West with Giraffes” by Lynda Rutledge is a marvelous novel based upon the real life effort of the San Diego Zoo to have two giraffes transported across country by truck during the depression. We get to see all sorts of people and places and meet fascinating minor characters which really helps make this travel epic come to life. And don’t forget the stars of the book – the Giraffes!!
I move over to Australia and one of their leading authors, Judy Nunn, who gave us the moving story “The Spirits of the Ghan.” This book tells us about the completion of the transcontinental railroad in Australia, and how aboriginal beliefs helped reroute the tracks around sacred locales. Plus the books title is a tribute to the Afghans who brought camels to Australia.
H.W. Brands is my go-to Historian, and his newest effort “The Last Campaign” vividly recounts the final stages of the Indian Wars in the West. Brands always gives it to us straight, no revisionist history for him, and we see the good and the bad in the politicians, the US Army, as well as the Native American Indians. This book grabbed me from the Intro and I learned a lot about these Indian Wars, and some of the incorrect myths of what we have been taught, as well as what is currently being passed off as history by the revisionists out there. Always happy to have Brands set us straight!
“Blood and Treasure” tells us the story of Daniel Boone, the open of the West (at that time it was Kentucky!), and all the early efforts to expand the territory of the United States beyond the Appalachian Mountains. Bob Drury and Tom Clavin have tackled this topic in a book that is well-researched and easy to read. Plus, Daniel Boone was born in my hometown of Berks County, PA.
Mystery and Thrillers:
One of the most popular genres regularly produces many books from established reliable authors who year after year put out books that are always on the NYTimes Top 10 list and assault you the minute you enter your big box book store. Most of the books on my list don’t fit that pattern, but instead rely on quality plots, good character development and most times transport me to foreign lands and past times. This year is no different.
England plays a big part in two of my favorites, “The Bullet that Missed” by Richard Osman, and “The Marlow Murder Club” by Robert Thorogood. Both of these are relatively new series, with Osman’s book being the third in his marvelous Thursday Murder Club series in which a group of senior citizens help the local police solve crimes. They all live in a retirement community and all of them have special talents and are not your normal collection of residents. “The Bullet that Missed” branches out into new characters in order to solve the mystery and when you get a former KGB agent working with a cryptocurrency mastermind, as well as a former MI5 agent there is tons of fun and excitement throughout the book. This is a great series that is more than a cozy, but not quite an action adventure. Gotta use your brain to stay ahead of things in this short and fast-paced book.
“The Marlow Murder Club” is a first effort by Thorogood and brings together three different women, of various ages and stages of life. They are thrown together due to being related to three totally unrelated murders. Gosh this is a good book, with a well devised plot and relatable characters. This too is the first of a series of books with the next book already scheduled for publication in early 2023.
James Ziskin has won many awards for his Ellie Stone mystery series, but here he takes a break and his newest book takes us to India in 1975 during the time of the State of Emergency in “The Bombay Monsoon.” Here we follow the exploits of newly arrived journalist Dan Jacobs who manages to find himself in the middle of monsoon season, a political crisis and trying to avoid a terrorist who is trying to kill him. Oh, and he also falls for his neighbors girlfriend. Things are lethal for Jacobs as he tries to stay alive, get a story for his newspaper and help the police as they try and crack a criminal enterprise. Great interview with James on my website and you will love the book and learn a lot at the same time
“Die Around Sundown” by Mark Pryor takes us to Paris during the early days of the Nazi occupation in the first of his Paris Police Detective Henri Lefort series. This is Pryor’s first book and I had no idea what to expect and it blew me out of the water with solid writing, very well drafted characters and a plot that was entirely plausible for a book set in 1940. We find suspects in a robbery being killed, an ever deepening mystery, and to make things more pressurized Lefort must resolve the matter within one week or he will be tortured and killed by the Nazi military. Book 2 in this series will be coming out in 2023.
Last but not least is by one of my favorite new authors, Kevin Doherty, who puts together a really cracking good story in “Landscape of Shadows.” Also set in France during WW2 we follow the intrigue of when the Paris branch of the French Resistance send two people to a small town to kill German soldiers. The Paris resistance views the town as collaborators with the Nazi’s until they realize, too late, that the town is a way station for Jews, downed British pilots, and other important people to escape to England. Wonderful plot and characters that grow on you page by page, until a climax that is sudden, violent and unexpected. We also learn the meaning of the phrase, “Too many assassins.” Just a wonderful book.
As I get older I find myself reading more and more non-fiction, and this was a very good year for this interest. I recently reviewed Brian Earl’s new book “Christmas Past” and it is a winner to put it mildly. So many aspects of the Christmas holiday are covered in this wonderfully researched book. How good is it? Despite getting a free advance copy, I went ahead and ordered the hardback copy for my permanent library. Enough said as to how I feel about this book!
Canadian author, Dean Jobb, is not that well known but I find all of his works fascinating as he delves into the true crime genre. Nothing too gory in his newest book, “The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream” but rather an extremely well researched and written book. Jobb follows the life of Thomas Cream who poisoned at least 10 people to death in Canada, the US and England. He even has a place in Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. A medical school graduate, Cream turned his knowledge into crime and this book also covers how Scotland Yard was able to track him down in 1892.
One of my favorite books, as well as one of my most read reviews is “About Time” by David Rooney. Rooney takes us on a historical journey through the world and history of clocks. Utterly fascinating how clocks have been used throughout history and what clocks have come to portray. Solid research by the former curator of Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, and one of the most fascinating and informative books I have read.
Thomas Hager tells the wonderful story about the unsuccessful collaboration by Henry Ford and Thomas Edison to bring energy, power, economic development to Muscle Shoals, Alabama in “Electric City.” Quite the visionary, Ford had great plans to damn the Tennessee River long before the US government created the TVA. Filled with larger than life figures, and a hidden history that few of us ever heard of, this book is an interesting read for anyone interested in little known history of the US.
Finally Michael Smith & Jonathan Franklin take us inside what would become known as the Pariah Ship in “Cabin Fever” which highlighted all the worst there was with Covid on a Holland America cruise ship that should never have departed Buenos Aires, and instead was stuck at sea while Covid reigned both on land and on the boat. So little was known of Covid at the time, and nobody wanted to boat to dock in their country, including the US where the boat is based and where most of the passengers came from. As an avid cruiser, as well as one who has developed a few cases of flu and norovirus during my past cruising, this is an eye-opener for one and all.
And there you have it my friends, the ViewsonBooks.com top reads of 2022. I can tell you that my queue is filled for 2023, as I already have receive advance copies of over 160 books and just from the titles and descriptions it appears that 2023 is also going to be a great year for reading, so keep coming back for more books, blogs and interviews!