2022 Reads

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Reading used to be something I loved doing, but lately, I have not had much time, so I made it my goal for 2022 to read one book a month. Here are the books I read:

1) The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

First, I want to point out that the cover for this book is a bit misleading with the Japanese paper cranes and a girl with dark skin. I was expecting something more Asian-inspired, but it wasn't. 

The skin tones are never really mentioned in the book or at least I can't recall. The birthmark is mentioned as turning pink and then darkening, so one can assume the characters are probably white.

Now in the author's defense, when she talks about the paper birds, they are just "paper birds," not specifically cranes. There is even a paper swallow mentioned, so not sure why the cover artist chose a bunch of cranes, rather than a mixture of different birds.

Overall, The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill was an intriguing read, perfect for tweens or preteens. I felt the plot to be a little too predictable as an adult, but I still enjoyed the fantastical world the author created. Also, a beautiful message about the consequences of bottling up grief and how limitless love can be. 

For me this was a good one-time read, but not one for the shelves.

4/5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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2) The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler

The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler was a fun read, but as an adult, a bit too predictable and there were some minor annoyances. I didn't like how braggy and stuck-up Emily got near the end of the book, but it certainly was a very kiddish thing to do. However, this book is recommended for middle schoolers, and I think it is done well for that age group. It definitely has The Little Mermaid vibes.

I would love to see a similar storyline done in the YA or Adult category though, with darker material.

It is a series, but the book ends just fine on its own. At this point, I don't think I will continue the series, but maybe in the future.

3/5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐

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3) A Thousand Beginnings and Endings by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings is a collection of short stories by various Asian American authors. 

I am usually not a fan of short stories as they tend to leave me wanting more, but I love Asian mythology and loved that these stories were written by Asian Americans, so I gave it a go and am so glad I did! 

Some of the stories took on a more traditional retelling, while others were more modern or futuristic. It was a wonderful and interesting blend, not a dull moment! 

After each story is a blurb explaining the myth or legend the story was inspired from and why the author chose to write the story the way they did. Most had satisfying endings, but some did leave me wanting more. Despite that, I can see myself rereading these stories and any book that is remaining on my shelf gets five stars! 

5/5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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4) Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

This was one of my favorite books growing up, but as my husband bought me the next two books in the trilogy, which I had not read yet, I had to reread this one!

The last time I read Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones was back in high school, so it was interesting rereading it again as an adult, especially since I have seen the movie many more times than I have read the book. There were so many differences I had forgotten! They basically told the story in two different ways. Diana Wynne Jones' version had more characters and the focus was not on the war, but more on running from the Witch of the Waste and finding the prince and missing wizard. 

They also changed some of the characters, like Michael (age 15) became Markl (age 10) in the movie. They only kept one of Sophie's sisters and made her mom a little more villainous in the movie. In the book, her mom never gives them a peeping bug. 

One major difference though is that in the book Sophie's spell sticks because she believes it's her destiny as the oldest to never find her fortune, whereas Howel believes one decides their own fate. In the movie, they switch this to Sophie not thinking she's pretty and that's why the spell sticks, whereas Howl sees her as beautiful. The romance is a little more obvious in the movie for this reason, while in the book it seems Sophie hates Howl up until the end. She cuts up his suits and even throws weedkiller at him!

With that said, I still prefer the book over the movie. 

5/5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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5) House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones

The House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones is the third book in the World of Howl collection but I read it after Howl's Moving Castle as Howl and Sophie appear in the book.

While it was good, it still was not as good as Howl's Moving Castle. I am definitely adding it to my shelf though as it was fun to see Howl and Sophie again!

Now don't get too excited, in this sequel, Howl and Sophie take a backseat and don't even appear until the middle of the book. It is refreshing though to see that despite being a few years older, they are still quite the same.

Charmaine Baker is the star of this tale as she sets off to take care of her great uncle's house, who is a well-known wizard and very ill. The elves have to take him away in order to cure him.

Having a mom who hates magic and believes respectable ladies don't clean or cook, Charmaine finds being on her own in a messy house with many hidden rooms quite alarming. Then Peter, who is the wizard's new apprentice, shows up and while he can do magic, it usually goes wrong.

Soon after she is invited to the castle to help in the library where the king wants to know where all the money is going. And on top of that, she has angry Kobolds and scary Lubbocks to worry about!

5/5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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6) The Sisters of Luna Island by Stacy Hackney

The Sisters of Luna Island by Stacy Hackney is another middle-grade read, but I really enjoyed this book. 

It was unique in that their magic comes from plants and flowers and they all had abilities to smell different things. Marigold can smell secrets, which she struggles to control. I also liked that their magic came with a price, giving a little darkness to the power.

As someone who was not very close with her family growing up, I was worried I would not be able to relate to the sister love aspect of the novel, but I still enjoyed it. The book focuses on the younger sister, Marigold, who is trying to end a curse on her family to save the bond she has with her sisters. She is also struggling with wanting to be liked and popular at school. Very typical middle school drama, which made the characters seem even more real.

I also loved how the writer incorporated smells throughout the book as the characters use aromagic and have really good smelling abilities.

While it's recommended for middle school-aged kids, I think adults can enjoy this book too.

5/5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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7) Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

In Wicked Fox by Kat Cho, a nine-tailed fox (gumiho) named Miyoung loses her bead and ends up falling for a human boy named Jihoon. Through a series of events, Jihoon ends up with Miyoung's bead and she only has 100 days to find out a way to save them both. 

This is the first book in the duology and I will probably read the second one to find out what happens next. It's definitely a good read and I recommend it to anyone that is a fan of Asian Dramas or Asian mythology, specifically Korean as the setting is Seoul, South Korea, but there was not enough heat in the romance to make it onto my shelf. 

4/5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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8-10) Zadok Series by Nikki Minty


The Zadok Series by Nikki Minty consists of three books:
Pastel Pink is good, but not one of the best I have read. I felt it should have started with a trigger warning as the opening chapter was an uncomfortable read. The rest of the story had me hooked though. The world-building was great and I loved the idea of dying on earth and being reborn in another world. 

I was not a fan of references to Stranger Things and Facebook as it made the book feel "dated" as these things will not always be popular. Another thing I was unsure of was the characters having dreadlocks as it seems like cultural appropriation, especially since the characters have lighter skin tones. However, what soured me overall was the ending. It ends at a climax. There is no falling action, nothing. Even though it is a series, I still feel each book should be able to stand alone to an extent. 

Ruby Red continues where Pastel Pink left off and I enjoyed it a little more than the first book in terms of writing. The ending was not as jarring as the first book. I did not like that the author brought in more points of view, one of a minor character, which seemed rather unnecessary. I felt those scenes could have been easily told from one of the already-established POVs. I disliked one of the relationships as well as it felt forced, but I will not delve into more detail to avoid spoilers.

I started reading Powerful Purples in 2022 but did not finish until 2023. I'm including it here because it's part of the trilogy and I had intended to finish it in 2022. 

Of the three books, this was not my favorite. There were way too many POVs, leaving some chapters only two pages long with details I felt were unnecessary or could have been included in another POV. It also seemed to lack the editing of the first two books, almost like the author rushed it. I noticed several spelling and grammar errors. 

Also, Jade, Harlow/Ruby's sister on earth, is completely forgotten, only mentioned in passing when she wears a green dress. Does she still visit her sister in her dreams, or is that completely over now? Nothing more is mentioned about her Earth life. 

Overall it was a good read and I think the author really did have something here, but it was not executed as well as I would have liked, so I'm giving this series three stars. 

3/5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐

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11. The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh

If you loved Spirited Away, then this is the book for you! I was hooked from the first chapter and found it extremely hard to put down, so much so I read it in three days! I need more books like this then I won't have a problem reading! Absolutely blew me away with the world-building and the characters. 

My only complaint is the ages. They all seem like they're supposed to be teens yet act more like adults. I get it's a YA novel, but 16 and 18 just seem too young to me to be a bride, which is what the story revolves around, a girl jumping into the sea to become the Sea God's bride. As a 31-year-old reading this, I still enjoyed it, but I mentally made them all 20. Technically, the spirits are over 100 years old, although one did say he was nineteen. The Sea God is for sure over 100 and he appears as a boy, so the ages are already a little screwy. 

5/5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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12. Daughter of The Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

Chang'e is one of my favorite Chinese stories so I was excited to read this, and while it was quite good, it left me unsatisfied. It is a duology so this may be why the ending feels this way, however, I don't find myself wanting to read the second book, like the eagerness or need isn't there, though I may read it at some point. 

While I tend to like young adult fantasy, I find it hard to get into adult fantasy and while character ages are not mentioned at all in this book (age is kind of pointless when you are immortal), it reads like an adult fantasy. There are lots of blood and battle scenes. I found myself skipping over parts to prevent myself from gagging and the author gets too descriptive at times with the setting and clothes that it becomes boring. 

There is a romance in the book, but the most that ever happens is a kiss, though there is mention of being entangled on a bed, which I concluded was just a make-out session. I think there is a hint of a rape scene, I'm not really sure, as it's not said outright, just the way he holds her down and she mentions screaming and thrashing. I find it odd that the author is so clear in some cases and then was very ambiguous in this one. Since this read like an adult novel, I was annoyed by the ambiguity and disappointed that there weren't any steamy scenes. 

It is broken up into three parts, which I felt was odd, almost like it was originally meant to be a series instead of one novel. The parts disrupted the flow and seemed unnecessary in my opinion as there was no huge time jump between the different parts, which is the only reason I could think of for separating a novel into three parts.  

While I loved the focus on Chinese mythology and the world the author created, I just did not love this book. Adult high fantasy may not just be my genre though, so if that is something you love, then I would recommend this. I never read Game of Thrones, but I've seen the show, and I feel this may be a book Game of Thrones fans would be into.

3/5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐

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13. I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

Anyone who calls Jenette ungrateful either has not bothered to read the book or has seriously been hit in the head! She was never allowed a childhood or to be herself!

As she mentions in her book and I wholeheartedly agree, society glorifies moms way too much. It seems they can do no wrong when they can actually be the most damaging.

I one hundred percent recommend this book to anyone, but definitely tread carefully, some parts were triggering for me, especially the part about her mom's rage.

Trigger Warnings include but may not be limited to eating disorders, abuse, neglect, cancer, mental health, and sexual assault. 

This may not be one I read again, but I'm still giving it five stars as I gained so much from reading it and admire her bravery to tell her story. 

5/5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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