One Minute Book Reviews: What I've Been Reading In 2022

31 Dec 2022

2022 mini book reviews

Back again with some mini book reviews, should you be on the hunt for your next read or – like me – quite like reading other people’s book reviews (welcome fellow book nerd). As baby became more active, time for reading decreased as 2022 went on but I hope to prioritise curling up with a book more next year. In the meantime, this is what I’ve squeezed in over the last few months. 

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler – I’m not going to rate this one because it was one of those rare occasions where I didn’t finish the book. I’ve wanted to read this for a long time and have heard a lot of good things. Set in New York, in a food restaurant, coming of age; I really thought I would love it. And yet, I painfully struggled through 100 pages or so before accepting it wasn’t happening. The writing was vivid, but I just wasn’t pulled in. Perhaps I will return to it in the future, but it wasn’t for me this time. 

The No-Show by Beth O’Leary – Three women seemingly stood up by the same man on valentine’s day is the premise of Beth O’Leary’s latest novel. This one was more of a mystery in places, and I found the twist quite satisfying. I am a bit of a sucker for a Beth O’Leary book. I just think she does the ‘rom com’ genre really well; avoiding the cheese, loveable characters and tackling issues like harassment and grief with realism and sensitivity. 5/5

Welcome To Your Life by Bethany Rutter – an easy read about a woman in her late twenties who runs out on her wedding day and moves to London to start a new life. Really liked the fact that the main character was plus sized and the representation of modern-day dating, but I felt like we were building towards a I-don’t-need-a-man-to-know-my-worth-vibe ending and so – spoiler – was a bit disappointed when we didn’t get it. 3/5

Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus – Set in the 1960s and following the life of Elizabeth Zott, an unconventional female scientist. Life grants her an unfair hand and through one reason or another, she finds herself a single mother and the reluctant star of America’s leading cooking show, challenging women to change the status quo. This book is absolutely worth the hype in my opinion. The writing is fresh and witty, the characters are fabulous (Six Thirty the dog!) and the story heart-breaking, heart-warming and something of a feminist manifesto. The kind of book that stays with you for a long time afterwards. 5/5

The Year Of Miracles: Recipes About Love + Grief + Growing Things by Ella Risbridger – I adored Ella’s first cookbook/memoir Midnight Chicken (full review here) so I had this follow-up book on pre-order for months and then found it, several days pre-publication date, in my local bookshop which I was very happy about. It was beautiful. Raw, hopeful, joyous, and full of delicious recipes. 5/5

Breadsong: How Baking Changed Our Lives by Kitty & Al Tait – Another cookbook/memoir which I picked up on a bit of a whim and I’m so glad I did. It was so unbelievably wholesome. It tells the story of Kitty who went from a cheerful 14-year-old to being overwhelmed by depression and anxiety. Baking bread was the only thing that made sense to her and within a few months, her and her dad had – almost accidentally – set up The Orange Bakery which now has queues snaking down the street. A delightful read, also full of amazing baking recipes. 5/5

The Blood Traitor by Lynette Noni – the third book in The Prison Healer series. I loved the first one, had slightly mixed feelings about the second and very much enjoyed the third. Bits of the ending felt slightly rushed but otherwise loved the characters, loved the quest, and loved the general round-up to the series. 4/5

The Yellow Kitchen by Margaux Vialleron – A yellow kitchen stands as a metaphor for a friendship between three women who chase love and careers and food in the city of London. And then a trip to Lisbon changes everything. I liked the idea of this book and the themes of food and friendship, liked the hymn to 2019 and the final year before Everything Changed but the friendships at the heart of the story just didn’t quite ring true for me. 3/5

When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill – This book! Potentially my favourite of the year? It’s quite a hard one to describe because it sounds a bit bonkers. In 1950s America, thousands of women transform into dragons, take flight and it is never mentioned again. With wild imagination and sharp writing, we follow Alex growing up in the world left behind. A world that tries to keep women and girls small and isn’t prepared for what happens when they rise up. 5/5

The Ink Black Heart by Robert Galbraith – The latest Robin & Strike was as richly detailed, will-they-won’t-they and addictive as ever. As usual, I loved. 5/5

The Wildwater Women by Ellie Wood – a gentle story of a group of women who take up wild water swimming in the Lake District. A sweet novel but I found it a tad too predictable and the dialogue quite wooden. 2/5

The Wild Silence by Raynor Winn – the follow up to the glorious The Salt Path. The Wild Silence is both a prologue and epilogue and it was lovely to find out what happened to Raynor and Moth next. I did find it a tad slow in places and missed the adventure element of The Salt Path, but I will still be going in for her third book soon. 3.5/5

So Long As You Write by Dear Damsels – a beautiful collection of non-fiction, short stories and poetry on the theme of women writing. A manifesto, a pep talk, a reassuring friend in your pocket; I shall be going back to it again and again. 5/5

Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman – I’m not normally one for ‘self-help’ style books but my mum raved about this so much that I had to give it a go. Based on the idea that the average human life span is just four thousand weeks, this book rejects the idea that we can do everything in our short time on earth and encourages us to actively embrace our limitations so we can focus on what really matters. It was a liberating read. 4/5

After The Storm by Emma Jane Unsworth – a highly personal and moving account of one women’s experience of post-natal depression and the utter weirdness of new motherhood. You don’t need to have necessarily experienced everything the author has experienced to identify with her story or find reassurance in her recovery. I found it very moving and a little like a friend holding my hand through tough times. 5/5

Her Majesty’s Royal Coven by Juno Dawson – a modern day witchy-romp following childhood friends and a top-secret government department of witches. It tackles modern-day issues whilst still being funny and nostalgic. Loved the fact it is set in Hebden Bridge and the theme of childhood friendships trying to survive the differences of adulthood. 3.5/5

The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan – a nice, cosy read for the festive season. Edinburgh at Christmas, a bookshop, flawed & loveable characters becoming better versions of themselves – exactly what you want and expect from a comforting and Christmassy book to read by the twinkly Christmas tree. 3.5/5

Happy reading folks, and happy new year x