I hate it when people ask you what your favorite book is. It’s really a terrible question. It’s like trying to choose your favorite song or which dog you love most. There are just too many great options to choose one.
I love reviewing my favorite fiction books of 2022 because it reminds me of all the amazing books I read, and there were a lot of them. One thing you’ll notice on this year’s list is a lot more romance than usual. I blame TikTok book reviews.
My Favorite Fiction Books of 2022
I read 132 books in 2022. Of those, I gave 32 fiction books (Isn’t that tidy?) perfect grades. Check out my reviews below, including my pick for the best book I read this year. You’ll also note that I seem to have a favorite author of the year.
1. All Good People Here
If you listen to Ashley Flowers’s podcast, Crime Junkie, you know she’s a storyteller, so it’s no surprise that her debut fiction novel, All Good People Here, is fabulous. But it does seem she borrowed some plot concepts from true crime. Specifically, the JonBenet Ramsey case.
The book is about the murder of a beautiful 6-year-old little dancer, January Jacobs. January’s murder haunts the small town of Wakarusa, Indiana, and everyone has a theory about who killed her, probably because the case was never solved.
Margot Davies knew January better than most, even though she also was only 6 when the girl died. She lived across the street, and January was her best friend. Now Margot, a journalist, has returned home to care for the ailing uncle who raised her. But as soon as she returns, another little girl goes missing. Can Margot help find her and solve January’s murder?
2. Are You Sara?
I love a unique storyline! When you read as much as I do, you start feeling like a lot of books are the same. It’s challenging to find a book that doesn’t read like something you’ve already read or isn’t easy to figure out almost immediately. Are You Sara? by S.C. Lalli wasn’t one of those books.
Sara and Sarah meet in a bar. Sara works there, and Sarah is a drunk customer that she is trying to help back home at the end of the night. The two hit it off, uniting over sharing a name. Sara orders them both rides, but when the other girl ends up dead in Sara’s neighborhood, she questions whether she actually was the target. Either way, who wanted one of them dead?
3. Ask for Andrea
Readers in one of the thriller book groups I’m part of on Facebook were raving about Ask for Andrea by Noelle West Ihli. They weren’t wrong in their praise.
The book is told from the perspective of three victims of a serial killer. James Carson, or whatever name he used at the time, met them through an online dating app. Then he drugged them and murdered them.
The women are now caught in some kind of justice purgatory, and they refuse to let James kill again. But how can they save the women he’s going after, including his wife and two daughters, when no one can see or hear them? And how can they help police solve their murders and catch James before it’s too late.
4. Book Lovers
If I had to name my single favorite book of 2022, it would be Book Lovers by Emily Henry. The book is just way too cute — like a Hallmark movie for nerds.
Nora Stephens, a literary agent, goes with her sister, Libby, to a tiny town in North Carolina. She thinks she’s spending quality time with her sister, who is about to have a third child and seems to be on the brink of divorce. But what when she keeps running into Charlie Lastra, her book editor nemesis from the city, she learns how small the world really is and that things aren’t always what they seem.
5. Every Summer After
I read Every Summer After by Carley Fortune after seeing readers raving about it on TikTok. I’m not a big romance reader, although TikTok reviews resulted in me reading more in the genre this year than I have in a long time. Here’s one thing I remembered quickly. Romances often make you cry.
Persephone Fraser returns to the lake town where she used to spend summers when she learns that a woman she was close to and used to work for died. She thinks she’s prepared to see her first love, Sam Florek, at his mother’s funeral, but she’s not. The flame she thought extinguished is still burning strong.
6. Final Girls
Final Girls by Riley Sager has such a unique storyline. “Final girls” is what people call the three women who were the only ones left alive in mass killings.
Quincy Carpenter is a final girl. She went to a cabin in the woods with a group of five college friends 10 years ago. She was the only one who survived slaughter by a mental patient.
Quincy is trying to live her life without acknowledging that she’s a final girl. She’s doing OK. She has a baking blog, a fiance, and a friendship with the police officer who found her all those years ago. She also has terrible nightmares and anxiety.
Then Sam, another final girl, shows up to meet Quincy after the third in their group is found dead. Quincy has to figure out what’s motivating Sam and learn what she’s kept blocked from her memory all these years.
7. Home Before Dark
I’m not sure why I love Riley Sager’s books. I’m not really the type for science fiction or ghost stories. But Sager writes in such a way that has you questioning whether the spirits in his books are real or if there is another explanation. I always enjoy trying to figure them out. Home Before Dark was no exception.
The book is about Baneberry Hall, a Victorian estate in Vermont, and the families that have lived there. In my mind, it was the Amityville Horror house, and it had that kind of mystique with the locals. Bad things happened to every family that lived in the house, including the Holts, the home’s final residents.
When Maggie Holt’s father dies, she discovers that he still owned the house, and it’s now hers. Maggie and her family left the house one night 25 years ago and never looked back. She doesn’t remember much about her time there, only that her entire life was lived in the shadows of her father’s book about their time there, House of Horrors. Maggie has always been the weird girl who saw ghosts due to the book. And her parents made her swear she’d never go back there.
With her father dead and her mother, his ex-wife, off on vacation, Maggie decides it’s time to return to the house. She wants to fix it up and sell it. But first, she has to listen to the house and what it’s trying to tell her. Will Maggie make it out of Baneberry Hall alive the second time?
8. Love and Other Words
Mark this one down as a book I didn’t want to read or love. I can only say that, once again, TikTok made me do it. Book Tokkers couldn’t stop raving about Love and Other Words, so I reluctantly decided to give it a go. Let me tell you that I ugly cried. It was that brilliant.
Macy Sorensen is a pediatric resident with a fiancé, living a good life. Then she runs into Elliot Petropoulos, her first love.
The rest of the book is the super sweet story about how she grew up and fell in love with the nerdy boy who lived in the house next to her and her father’s weekend house on the lake. It also unravels how Macy and her father tried to cope after her mother’s death and how Elliot helped her deal with the grief.
The whole book you’re left wondering what tore the soulmates apart. Why didn’t they end up together? And when you find out, it’s devastating.
Even if romance novels aren’t necessarily your thing, chances you’ll love this book are great.
9. Mad Honey
I could have done without all of the beekeeping in Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan. But the story about how the book came to be and the narrative itself are absolutely amazing. And I’m sure someone with a literary mind more tuned in than mine would take special note of how the bees represent the bigger plot.
Lily Campanello has found the boy of her dreams, at least, she thinks so. Then Lily winds up dead, and Asher is charged with her murder. Can Olivia McAfee, Asher’s mother, help prove her son’s innocence in the small town she grew up in? Does Olivia really believe her son is innocent, or does she think he inherited his abusive father’s tendencies?
10. My Darling Husband
I have no idea why My Darling Husband by Kimberly Belle reminded me of the Sopranos, but it did. For some reason, Cam Lasky, the main character, was Tony Soprano in my mind. But never mind all that.
After picking her children up at school, Jade Lasky comes home only to be met in her mansion’s garage by a masked intruder. The man tells Jade and the kids that they need to do exactly what he says and no one will get hurt. His orders include calling Jade’s famous chef husband, Cam Lasky, and asking him for an oddly specific amount of cash to save his family.
But what Jade doesn’t know is that Cam doesn’t have the money, and he can’t get it. He’s already in debt up to his eyeballs and already borrowed money from some rather unsavory characters.
The longer the intruder holds Jade and the kids, the more she realizes he knows a lot about her family. He may even know some things she doesn’t. Can Jade figure out who he is and save her family? Can Cam figure out how to get enough cash with the clock ticking?
11. Never Lie
Freida McFadden is quickly becoming one of the authors I read everything from. I don’t adore everything she writes, but I give many of her books perfect grades. If she writes it, I’m gonna read it from here on out. Never Lie has more twists and turns than a rollercoaster ride.
Dr. Adrienne Hale, a renowned psychiatrist, vanished without a trace four years ago. Her boyfriend was the most obvious suspect in her disappearance, and people assume she’s dead, even though they never found her body.
Dr. Hale’s gorgeous home is on the market. When newlyweds Tricia and Ethan go to look at it, they stuck because of a massive snowstorm. But something is literally hiding in the house. Maybe more than one thing. And the couple being stranded there seem to increasingly seem like less of an unfortunate accident and more like someone’s plan.
12. No One Can Hear Your Scream
There’s a reason I don’t like camping or remote vacations. OK, it’s because I’m terrible at roughing it, not because I’m scared of isolation. Regardless, No One Can Hear You Scream by A.B Whelan will make you think twice before going off the grid.
Jennifer Parker is a social media influencer who takes a remote holiday in the Montana mountains with her boyfriend and two children. She’s not too thrilled about it (and neither are the kids), but she wants to show the boyfriend (and her ex) that she’s adventurous. But then an online stalker she didn’t know she had follows them on the holiday, and there’s no one for miles to save them.
13. No One Will Miss Her
There were parts of No One Will Miss Her by Kat Rosenfield that weren’t super believable, but I loved the book despite its flaws. I stayed up late reading it two nights in a row because I had to know what happened next. When I give up sleep for a book, you know it’s worth reading.
Lizzie Oullette has always been an outcast in her small town in rural Maine. Even after marrying the town’s baseball star. So when she sees her chance to get out, she takes it. Even if it means assuming the life of Adrienna Richards, a beautiful, rich, social media influencer. But can she get away with it? It certainly seems like Det. Ian Bird is catching up with her.
14. November 9
Colleen Hoover became one of my favorite authors this year. November 9 probably is my favorite book I’ve read of hers.
I’m not even sure what I would call this book. It’s not a thriller, for sure. But it’s also not totally a romance novel. There’s some mystery about it, which you pick up on pretty quickly. But the plot twists keep coming until the end.
It starts (sorta) when Fallon, the daughter of a famous LA actor, meets Ben. Ben pretends to be Fallon’s boyfriend and rescues her from another terrible conversation with her narcissistic dad. Then the two spend the day together — Fallon’s last in LA before she moves to New York. They are quite taken with each other but decide not to exchange information. Instead, they vow to meet up at the same restaurant every year on November 9. The story of their lives (separate and together) plays out from there. Trust me, you don’t want to miss it.
15. It Ends with Us
Partner abuse isn’t an easy subject for a book, but Colleen Hoover handles it beautifully in It Ends With Us. She helps the reader understand the whole “Why doesn’t she just leave” stereotype by giving a candid look into some of the myriad of reasons that women stay in abusive relationships.
Rylie Kincaid doesn’t usually do relationships. Maybe there’s a reason for that. When Lily meets the gorgeous neurosurgeon, she tries so hard not to fall in love. After all, she knows from the beginning that Rylie is married to his work, doesn’t want a relationship, and there’s no future to expect between them. But then the unexpected happens. Rylie falls for Lily as hard as she falls for him. They look like the perfect couple. And most of the time, they are. But when they aren’t, things are terrible, and Lily is afraid she’s repeating the cycle of abuse her mother experienced with her father.
16. It Starts With Us
A lot of readers in my social media groups didn’t like Colleen Hoover’s It Starts With Us. The book is the sequel to It Ends With Us, which was a powerful, important read on domestic violence. It seems a lot of readers didn’t think this next book did the first one justice. I disagree.
The new book picks up the story of Lily and how she’s making her own life for herself and her daughter after divorcing Ryle. Of course, because of their child together, Ryle is still part of Lily’s life, and she’s working to set boundaries and establish ways for him to be with his child safely.
As Lily is working to manage Ryle’s hopes of reconciling and doing what’s best for their daughter, her first love, Atlas, enters her life again. Will they finally get their happily ever after?
17. Reminders of Him
Reminders of Him by Colleen Hoover was super strange for me because the main character’s name is Kenna. When you have a unique name like mine, you don’t see it around too often. I’ve never read a book with a Kenna character before. It was a bit shocking each time the Audible narrator used the name.
A name is all the Kenna character and I share. She was just released from jail for killing her boyfriend. After her release, Kenna returned to Scottie’s hometown to reunite with her 4-year-old daughter, who his parents got custody of because she was in jail. Of course, the first person she bumps into (and falls in love with) is Scotti’s best friend, Ledger, who she’d never met. Ledger is a constant in Kenna’s daughter’s life. Now both of them have some decisions to make as Scottie’s parents grapple with their grief and how to do right by their granddaughter.
18. Run on Red
I hope Run on Red by Noelle West Ihli becomes a movie because I felt like I was watching a great suspense/horror film the entire time I was reading.
Laura and Olivia are headed up in the hill to a party in a field when they think they notice headlights following them. They’re right. Two masked men are following them and end up running them off the road. The women manage to escape, but one of them gets caught. The other probably could get away, but she can’t bring herself to leave her friend, so she decides to stay and fight.
Who are these men? They seem to know the women. What do they want from the women? More importantly, how can they get away?
Sadie by Courtney Summers is written in part from the point-of-view of a podcast host who is reluctantly reporting on the case of a missing girl.
The girl is 19-year-old Sadie Hunter. West McCray’s producer is a lot more interested in him following the case than he is. But then McCray discovers that Sadie went missing after someone murdered her younger sister, Mattie.
McCray begins to suspect that Sadie may be out to avenge her sister. And he’s correct. He needs to find her before she makes a decision that results in her fate mirroring her sister’s.
20. Saving Noah
What if your son does an unspeakable thing? That’s the question every parent will ponder reading Saving Noah by Lucinda Berry.
Noah is an honor roll student and small-town swimming star. He’s also a sexual predator who’s been molesting girls he was hired to coach in swimming. His mother, Adrianne, is the only one who doesn’t abandon Noah, but how can she do what’s right for her son while also admitting the truth. Also, are her daughter and other little girls safe from him?
How can a mother cope when her son knows he’s a monster?
21. The Book of Cold Cases
I waited forever for The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James. I was ready to read it as soon as I heard it was coming out. It didn’t disappoint. My only complaint is that it may have a few too many plotlines.
One of the reasons I loved this book is that the lead character, Shea Collins, is a true crime blogger. Her website is called the “Book of Cold Cases.” Shea decides she wants to interview Beth Greer, the rich prime suspect of two murders in 1977. Beth agrees. But the more Shea learns about Beth, the less she understands. Is Beth manipulating her too? Is she guilty? Or is she hiding the identity of the true Lady Killer murderer?
22. The Child Finder
I’m not really a series reader, but every once in a while, a book comes along that makes me want to read more about a character. The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld did that.
Naomi is “the child finder.” The private investigator is a kidnapping survivor with a talent for finding missing children.
Madison Culver went missing three years ago while cutting down a Christmas tree with her parents. The girl would be 8 years old now, and it seems the police have given up on finding her, especially alive. That’s when the Culvers turn to Naomi.
23. The Collective
The Collective by Alison Gaylin is about a group of women with one terrible thing in common — they all have dead children. But that’s not where their similarities end. The person responsible for killing their children got away with it in every case. So, they’ve united on the dark web to bring their own mother-style justice to the people responsible for killing each others’ children.
No one in The Collective knows who any of the other women are. They go by numbers as their screen names. And while there is a clear leader, no one knows who she is either. But one thing is clear. If you cross The Collective, you’ll pay for it. Maybe even if you’re a member.
24. The Inmate
Another Freida McFadden book, The Inmate had my attention from the beginning.
Brooke Sullivan is a nurse who’s having difficulty getting a job is the small town she grew up in. She recently moved back to raise her son in her parents’ house after they passed and left it to her. So she’s relieved when she gets a job at the prison, even though the many who tried to kill her in high school is housed there.
It doesn’t take long for Brooke to run into Shane. The inmates don’t like him much, and he’s injured a lot. Brooke isn’t supposed to tell the inmates under her care anything about herself. And she certainly has a secret to keep from Shane. She’s raising their son, and he doesn’t know the boy exists.
But the more Brooke is around Shane, the more she starts to wonder if she was right when she pointed to finger at him for the crime. There was a lot of confusion that night. Could it have been someone else who attacked her? If it was, it’s her responsibility to get Shane free. After all, she’s the one responsible for putting him behind bars.
25. The Maid
Molly Gray would like to “return your room to a state of perfection.” That’s what the quirky maid who is the subject of The Maid says when she enters a room in the hotel. “Would now be a good time to return your room to a state of perfection?” And, if allowed, Molly does just that.
Molly’s late grandmother taught her how to live a life of cleanliness, order, and virtue, and that’s what she does. She’s proud of her ability to spot details others don’t, even if it doesn’t carry over to her people or social skills.
Molly, 25, already has difficulty without Gran to help her make sense of the world. But it’s compounded when she finds one of the hotel’s richest, most distinguished guests dead in his hotel room.
Soon Molly finds herself accused of murder and wondering who she can trust. The cute hotel bartender she has a crush on? The murder victim’s young second wife she thought was her friend? The mean head housekeeper who steals her tips? The hotel cook without a legal work permit? The grandfatherly doorman?
Who will help Molly when she has no one?
26. The Night Shift
Writers loosely base the best crime fiction on true stories. Don’t believe me, just watch Law & Order for just a few episodes. The show’s writers mirror recent crimes and scandals, adding in their characters. Sometimes, as I learned as a journalist, you just can’t make this shit up.
The premise of The Night Shift by Alex Finlay reminded me a lot of the Austin yogurt shop murders in 1991.
The book starts with the attack of four teenagers as they close up the New Jersey Blockbuster video where they work. Only one girl survives the attack on New Year’s Eve, 1999. Police nab a boyfriend for the murders but later have to let him go. He disappears.
The survivor goes on to become a therapist, but she’s still haunted by what happened that night. Then, 15 years later, a group of teenagers is attacked at an ice cream store in the same Jersey town. One girl lives. If it seems like too much of a coincidence, it’s because it is.
27. The Overnight Guest
The Overnight Guest by Heather Gudenkauf is another book with a plot twist you don’t see coming.
True crime writer Wylie Lark is snowed in at the isolated farmhouse where she’s researching and writing her next book.
Then Wylie finds a child in the snow outside the house. When she searches for the child’s mother, she ends up finding more than she expected. Pretty soon, Wylie’s past and present collide as she tries to keep herself and the child safe until the storm passes.
28. Things We Do in the Dark
I wasn’t sure I was interesting in Things We Do in the Dark by Jennifer Hillier. I love her other books, but a novel about a celebrity murder didn’t seem that intriguing to me. I’m so glad I tried it and stuck with it.
Paris Peralta looks guilty. After all, she was arrested after being found covered in blood and holding the straight razor that killed her celebrity husband. He was dead in the same room. But things aren’t always what they seem. Paris may not be who she claims to be, and she may look guilty, but does that mean she is — at least this time?
29. Things We Never Got Over
Another romance on the list, Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score, is an example of exactly the type of book I typically never read, but I’m glad I did.
You’ll have a crush on Knox, a local bar owner in a small town in Virginia right from the beginning. You’ll love him even more as he tries to help Naomi, a runaway bride looking for her trouble-causing twin sister.
When Knox figures out that Naomi isn’t her sister, he tries to help her find the sister and deal with the latest trouble she’s caused. But, as always, it’s not that simple.
Holy crap! Unmissing by Minka Kent has a plot twist that will make your jaw drop!
Merritt Coletto and her husband, Luca, seem to be living a charmed life right until his first wife, who went missing 10 years ago, shows up at their door.
The wife, Lydia, has a story about her kidnapping and torture through the last decade.
Merritt, of course, feels terribly for the woman, but she also wants to protect the family and life she’s built. And she’s scared Lydia isn’t all that she seems.
31. We Are Not Like Them
We Are Not Like Them may be the most important fiction book I read this year. Many people would do themselves a favor by reading the book and considering the characters’ perspectives.
Jen and Riley have been best friends their entire lives. In fact, Riley’s family practically took Jen as their own because her mother was a less-than-competent parent. They grew up like family.
Even though their lives are extremely different, the women remain best friends as adults. Jen is a young white woman married to a police officer and expecting their first child. Riley is a young Black woman making her name as a television journalist.
Both women are thrown into turmoil when Jen’s husband shoots and kills a Black teenager while on duty. They learn how little they know about what it’s like to walk in each others’ shoes. Jen wants to protect her husband and their son once he’s born. Riley feels like her identity and community are threatened, which Jen seems not to understand at all.
Can their friendship survive all the fundamental differences that threaten to destroy them?
32. You’d Be Home Now
A friend once told me, “If you could love someone out of addiction, there would be no addiction.” The truth of the statement made a profound impact on me. I kept thinking about it as I read Kathleen Glasgow’s book, You’d Be Home Now.
If Emory Ward could love her brother, Joey, out of addiction, she would. She certainly tries. But it seems nothing can help Joey. Rehab certainly didn’t. He comes home a shell of himself and ends up stealing for drugs and leaving the family home to live on the streets. His choice leaves his family searching for him, hoping they can find him and get him help again before it’s too late. In the process, they uncover many people like Joey who don’t have the support they provide.
What I love about this book is the raw truth to it. The characters aren’t perfect, but they’re wealthy, successful, and beautiful… not the kind of family we associate with addiction. That’s because our understanding of addiction is flawed. It can happen to anyone, anywhere. Kathleen, who is in recovery, clearly knows this all too well.
There they are, my 32 favorite fiction books of 2022. I hope you find something on the list to read and love. If you haven’t read Book Lovers or basically anything by Colleen Hoover, I clearly recommend you do.
I’ve started my 2023 reading challenge, so I’d love your recommendations if you want to drop them below.
As always, Happy Reading!
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