Archive for January, 2023

The Galentine’s Day Entertainment Recommendations You Need Now (podcast)

Friday, January 20th, 2023

Don’t miss these movies, tv, and books celebrating fictional female friendship. Celebrate Galentine’s Day because ladies celebrating ladies is ALWAYS good.

Mary Carver, from The Couch podcast, joins us to share her favorite movie & tv friendships while I bring my stack of fictional female friendships that will inspire your next holiday.

What is Galentine’s Day?

This holiday was inspired by Amy Poehler’s fictional celebration highlighted in Season 2, Episode 16. Parks and Recreation.

As the ladies toast to this occasion, she shares these sentiments, “Every February 13, my lady friends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home, and we just come and kick it, breakfast style,” she explains. “Ladies celebrating ladies.”

Following this advice, we encourage you to celebrate this joyous occasion on February 13th with a few fun ideas we have gathered today.

How Do I Host Galentine’s Day?

For Galentine’s Day, gifts are NOT NECESSARY because that is not the goal of this holiday. This is about celebrating those bonds in simple ways that get us off social media and back to connecting in person.

Try these four celebration ideas:

Host a book club brunch:

Invite your friends for a delicious brunch and pair it with a great friendship story!

The Galentine's Day Books to Not Miss (13 Friendship Stories You'll Love)

This post shares 13 books about friendship you’ll love for Galentine’s Day that include historical fiction, contemporary fiction, and nonfiction reads all around the bonds of female empowerment and weathering the happy & hard seasons together. I believe they are the best picks for a dynamic book club discussion.

 If you are looking for some great brunch recipes for a crowd, this sausage and vegetable frittata, a side of these roasted potatoes,  and my homemade granola with yogurt would be a really easy menu to execute. If you want to try it Leslie Knope-style, these overnight yeast waffles couldn’t be easier or fluffier.

Host a manicure date: Offer the nail polish and tools (or have friends bring their own) and make it a point to catch up on each other’s lives. Olive & June is our family’s go-to favorite for pretty manicures at home & you can use this link for twenty percent off your kits & polishes.  

If you provide polish, keep things budget-friendly with coffee, tea, and some treats from a favorite bakery. 

Host a Jigsaw Puzzle Date: Embrace the TV and movie suggestions from today’s podcast and pair them with a jigsaw puzzle for a fun way to gather.

If you need a fresh jigsaw puzzle recommendation, these are our top picks for unique jigsaw puzzles for adults. Better yet, use this gathering as an opportunity to start a puzzle swap so you have “new” puzzles all year long.

Volunteer together: If you haven’t volunteered with your friends, you are missing out on the most wonderful Galentine’s experience of them all.

Not only do you have the joy of being together, but it is combined with the high of doing something so good for your community.

The Galentine’s Day Entertainment Recommendations You Need Now (podcast)

Looking for other ways to celebrate? We have many fun ideas for celebrating through books, movies, and tv on our podcast this week.  Mary Carver is a regular contributor on MomAdvice and the host of The Couch With Mary Carver. Her podcast is for you if you love TV, movies, music, and books.

Mary Carver joined the Book Gang podcast to discuss her favorite fictional friendship stories in our celebration episode. 

Listen to the full episode below and subscribe to the Book Gang podcast for more episodes like this one. Today’s show notes are below.

This episode offers tips and tricks for celebrating, as well as some insight into how to love your friends well ALL YEAR LONG .

On the Blog:

Don’t miss today’s SPECIAL BONUS ARTICLE with 13 Friendship Stories You’ll Love for Galentine’s Day!  This extends today’s book selections with a fantastic idea for a nonfiction pick as well as  a collection of classic friendship stories that would be great to revive for a backlist book club. 

Mary also catches us up on New Family Movies from 2022 to Watch Now! Don’t miss this bonus with ideas for streaming this weekend. 

Mentioned in this episode:

SUPPORT MY WORK through Patreon!

This Boy We Made by Taylor Harris

The Boy We Made Book Chat

Get the Most Out of the Libby App

Parks and Recreation Valentine’s Episode

Enneagram Test


Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells

Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar

Drop Dead Gorgeous

The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan


Call the Midwife 


Spare by Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex

The Gown by Jennifer Robson

Playing House

The Best Libby App Tips and Tricks

Access Kanopy through Libby

Hey Ladies! by Michelle Markowitz and Caroline Moss

Gee Thanks I Just Bought It Podcast

This Book Spoofs All Those Group Emails With Your Girlfriend & It’s Painfully Relatable on Bustle

Never Have I Ever

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

Firefly Lane

We All Want Impossible Things by Catherine Newman

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin

Something Like Happy by Eva Woods

Interview with Author Eva Woods on Something Like Happy on HuffPost

Shop the above (Amazon) links or shop through my Book Gang Bookshop Page!! They pay a 10% commission on every sale and give a matching 10% to independent bookstores.

Connect With Us:

Connect with Mary on or The Couch Podcast or Mary’s Instagram

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Join the Book Gang Patreon (for our exclusive FULLY BOOKED  book review show & more!

New Family Movies From 2022 To Watch Now

Thursday, January 12th, 2023

These family films include our top recommendations from movies we loved in 2022. While you wait the release dates of new films you can escape real life with this fun family movie streaming list!

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

My family has always loved watching movies together, but since 2020, we’ve become a little obsessed with Family Movie Nights.

I am constantly on the lookout for family friendly movies new and old that might be, at the very least, acceptable to both my kids and my husband. 

(Obviously, I’m aiming for something they’ll love. But if you live with more than one person, I’m sure you understand the necessity of compromise and settling for “fine, I will sit here with you and watch this thing someone else picked but I’m gonna roll my eyes but maybe I also kind of like it but I’ll never say so and you can’t make me.”)

With a six-year age gap between my girls—one being a teenager and one a tween, both being quite opinionated—that’s no small task. It falls somewhere on the difficulty scale between fixing a meal that nobody complains about and making them both laugh at the same “dad joke.”

But I’m determined to make Family Movie Nights happen at least once every several weeks, so I persevere.

Fortunately for me—and for you—we are in a golden age of entertainment where we do not lack for options. In fact, we almost have too many options sometimes.

And with so many movies premiering or quickly appearing on streaming services, deciding what to watch has become even more complicated.

Well, you can scratch this whole issue off your list of things to worry about or be frustrated by, friends.

I’m here to help!

I have 12 movies that came out last year, along with reviews and where you can stream them.

Just like that, you’re halfway to one Family Movie Night a month!

Now you just need to pick a date and pop the popcorn!

New Family Movies From 2022 To Watch Now

New Family Movies 2022

The Adam Project (Netflix) – Are you sarcastic? Do you like action movies, buddy comedies, or time travel? If so, this Ryan Reynolds movie is for you! A time-traveling fighter pilot has to team up with his 12-year-old self to save the world, and it’s a blast. (watch the trailer)

New Family Movies 2022

The Bad Guys (Netflix) – Based on a series of children’s graphic novels, this animated caper follows a group of notorious criminal animals (e.g. shark, snake, spider, wolf) who pretend to be “good” to avoid prison. I watched it with my girls and we loved it so much we watched it again with my husband so he could enjoy it, too! (watch the trailer)

New Family Movies 2022

Better Nate than Ever (Disney+) – A 13-year-old and his best friend travel alone to NYC so he can audition for a Broadway play. This live action musical is based on a book, and it is the most beautiful, heartwarming movie I watched last year. (watch the trailer)

New Family Movies 2022

Cheaper by the Dozen (Disney+) – This is a modern-day remake of the 2003 movie starring Zach Braff and Gabrielle Union as an interracial couple with a blended family navigating complicated home life, a family business, and a new neighborhood that isn’t exactly welcoming. (watch the trailer)

New Family Movies 2022

Chip & Dale: Rescue Rangers (Disney+) – If you like your kids movies to come chock-full of references and jokes only the adults will get, you’re gonna like this return of our favorite crime-solving chipmunks. The jokes are nonstop and lean heavily on nostalgia, but both my youngest daughter and I had fun watching it. Voices include Andy Samberg and John Mulaney! (watch the trailer)

New Family Movies 2022

DC League of Super-Pets (HBO Max) – What if the fate of the world was up to Superman’s dog and a motley crew of other pets? Enter Krypto, the Super-Dog, here to save the day! This animated movie was cute (and not dark like most DC movies). (watch the trailer)

New Family Movies 2022

Enola Holmes 2 (Netflix) – Sherlock’s little sister is back, solving mysteries and breaking the fourth wall and (oh yeah) maybe falling in love. This period piece based on a series of middle-grade novels is sweet, funny, and actually tells a solid mystery. I hope we get many more Enola Holmes movies! (watch the trailer)

New Family Movies 2022

Luck (Apple TV+) – Ever wonder if luck is real and, if so, where it comes from? In this animated adventure, an unlucky young girl who’s just aged out of the foster system stumbles into the worlds of good luck and bad luck. Determined to improve her luck, she is pulled into the battle between good and bad luck, making friends and her own luck along the way. (watch the trailer)

New Family Movies 2022

Minions: The Rise of Gru (Peacock) – If you’ve wondered how Gru became Gru, this is your movie. If that’s never crossed your mind, it’s also your movie if you were born in the 70s or just love those crazy minions. (Banana!) This prequel to the Despicable Me movies is Gru’s origin story, and it’s both hysterical and heartwarming. (watch the trailer)

New Family Movies 2022

Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank (Paramount+) – Only cats are ninjas, but Hank the dog really wants to become one anyway. He seeks out the ninja who once saved him but is now washed up and possibly high on catnip (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson). Reluctantly, the old ninja trains a new one and together (again, reluctantly) they save the cat ninja world. Full of jokes for grown-ups, this one made all of us laugh a lot. (watch the trailer)

New Family Movies 2022

Secret Headquarters (Paramount+) – A middle school boy and his friends discover his distant dad’s secret underground lair. Because his dad is the most powerful superhero in the world! Hijinks ensue when the bad guys come after the kids and they have to save the day. If your family likes The Adam Project, this will be a hit as well, as it stars the same kid (Walker Scobell) and another lovable, sarcastic adult (Owen Wilson). (watch the trailer)

New Family Movies 2022

Turning Red (Disney+) – A 13-year-old girl enters adolescence and turns into a giant red panda. Like you do, apparently, when you’re a female in her family. She has to learn how to handle her inner panda, as well as a tricky relationship with her mom, along with the help of her friends. (watch the trailer)

A Note for Parents

Some of these movies are totally appropriate for little kids; some of them are better for older kids. Refer to Common Sense Media for parent reviews and guidance that can help you make decisions for your family.

Another note: I haven’t watched Lyle, Lyle Crocodile or Disenchanted yet. Based on reviews I’ve read and what I know of my family, we’re going to love that singing crocodile and his bonkers movie, but I don’t know for sure yet.

What’s the last movie you watched with your family?

Looking for more of the best family movies? Try these posts!

17 Movies From the 90’s You Must Share With Your Kids

22 Fall Movies & TV Shows to Cozy Up With Right Now

Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

Friday, January 6th, 2023

Celebrate the best books of 2022 & my favorite books of the year with these new selections including contemporary fiction, young adult, romance, and thrillers.

Best Books of 2022 to Read Now from

If you love to read books, today’s post is FOR YOU.

I know I love a good end of the year reading recap, but it took me some time to sort through all my feelings on the 109 books I read over 2022. For those curious about my reading life, I would love to share what I discovered from charting my reading year through the Storygraph this year.

The Storygraph Stats

My 2022 Reading Challenge Wrap-Up

As you can see from my Storygraph chart (learn how to use The Storygraph for tracking your reading year), my reading mood this year was emotional, reflective, dark, and mysterious.

For me, this was not unusual at all- I love a dark escape in my literature and have renewed my affection for those kinds of books that I had began to escape from when things were particularly challenging in 2020.

This year 41 of my books fell into the contemporary fiction category, and the rest of the best were literary, thriller, romance, mystery, historical fiction, young adult, and then memoir.

I loved seeing a renewed return to my love for contemporary and literary fiction this year, but I feel challenged to add more science fiction and horror novels back into my reading life.

When I compare this to 2022 though, my top category was contemporary, but my next two were thriller then romance and then mystery. I mention this because I was really in the thick of my health problems then and I could not focus and a large chunk of my reading matched my concentration levels.

While I would love to read more science fiction, fantasy, short stories, and spooky books, I think it is important to recognize that our circumstances can be a powerful part of what we lean into and that it is okay to adjust based on where we are at right now.

Listen to Book Gang Podcast

Many of these books have been included in today’s Book Gang episode. You can listen to the this wherever you get podcasts or stream it in the embedded player below. The show notes for this show (that include Larry’s reads ) are over here.

We have also made our top 25 selections into printables as a bonus perk for patrons. Joining the MomAdvice Book Club Patreon community is just $5 a month and gives you instant access to these digital downloads.


Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

Let’s kick things off with my most well-read category this month!

Best Literary Fiction & Contemporary Fiction of 2022

Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt 

The title originates from this charming line, “Humans. For the most part, you are dull and blundering. But occasionally, you can be remarkably bright creatures.” 

The audiobook narration may have added to my charm with this experience, and I highly recommend it if you need a soothing escape. Performed by two narrators, Marin Ireland & Michael Urie, it was a standout performance that brought me immense joy. 

I can’t say that I’ve read novels with the unique eye of an octopus, but this adds to this debut’s uniqueness and charm.  The story explores the unlikely friendship between a giant Pacific octopus, Marcellus, and a 70-year-old woman, Tova.

Marcellus, nearing the end of his expected lifespan, is held in captivity at the aquarium where Tova works as a cleaner.

As she struggles with the loss of her husband and her son’s disappearance, Tova forms a special bond with Marcellus, who may hold the key to solving the mystery of her son’s disappearance. 

This literary fiction novel is a magnificent debut that is both charming and compulsively readable.

The book’s thematic of friendship, redemption and hope resonated with me. I also love the exploration that sometimes we must confront our past to move forward.

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Lessons in Chemistry is no stranger to the best books of the year lists, but I still have to co-sign my adoration for the fictional journey of Elizabeth Zott.  Plus, this book will surely win you over with an endearing cast of supporting characters and an adorable dog.

Don’t miss out on this one-of-a-kind read because it is a soon-to-be upcoming TV series on Apple+ starring Brie Larson.

It is the early 1960s, and our main character, Elizabeth Zott wants to do her job and get credit for it. Unfortunately, as a chemist, her work environment is less than desirable, with a boy’s club mentality among her coworker at the Hastings Research Institute.

As you can imagine, young women did not get the respect they deserved.

One man, though, treats Elizabeth the way she’s always desired, and their relationship evolves into a mutually beneficial exchange that brings them both unexpected joy. 

In a pivotal plot point, Elizabeth has unexpectedly become a single mother and an incredible television star on a cooking show called Supper at Six.

What makes the show such a success is Elizabeth’s refusal to see women as just housewives and to see them as aspiring chemists too. 

The leading lady isn’t the only notable character because Garmus has made an entire beloved cast of characters to adore, including an adorable dog (named Six-Thirty)  that has imprinted on my heart since I finished the final pages of this quirky and delightful story.

Notes On An Execution- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka

With breathtaking suspense and astonishing empathy, this atmospheric thriller offers a thought-provoking exploration of womanhood, the justice system, and the search for meaning in the actions of violent men.

This gripping work of literary suspense that tells the story of a serial killer on death row through the perspectives of the women in his life. 

Ansel Packer is scheduled to die in twelve hours.

He’s awaiting his execution, the consequences of what he did to girls years ago. Yet, Kukafka paints a portrait of Ansel that is far from one-dimensional as we learn about his troubling childhood and what begins to trigger Ansel to commit acts of violence. 

We grow to learn about him through his own mother, a sister, and a homicide detective.

With each paint stroke, we discover a beautifully fleshed-out character that yields motivation and is ripe with intent to build a story that has you flipping those pages quickly.

Will you find sympathy in this character? 

One quote that really stood out to me that I think explains what made this such a compulsive read is this one- “She had known from a young age that everyone had darkness inside-some just controlled it better than others. Very few people believed that they were bad, and this was the scariest part. Human nature could be so hideous, but it persisted in this ugliness by insisting it was good.”

As the reader is drawn into this complex character’s backstory, we are forced to consider our feelings about his actions.

This novel would be an excellent choice for a book club. However, it should be noted that the book contains trigger warnings for violence against humans and animals and may not be suitable for highly sensitive readers. 

If you like this one, you will fall in love with The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld. It’s one of those rare books that tackle similar themes but that I don’t hear as many people talking about.

One's Company by Ashley Hutson- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

One’s Company by Ashley Hutson

This fearless debut won for the most inventive storyline as it explores a world of obsessive imagination. 

Bonnie Lincoln just wants to be left alone and watch her favorite TV show, Three’s Company, in peace. But when she wins the lottery, she decides to broaden this idea: escape her old life and move to a mountain retreat where she can recreate the apartment set from Three’s Company and live out the lives of its main characters.

There is, of course, a deeper-rooted reason for Bonnie’s escape that lies within her pain and trauma.

But when reality starts to intrude, Bonnie’s carefully constructed world is threatened. 

I appreciated this book’s immersive and unique experience Bonnie constructed that mimicked many storytelling elements of Wandavision

Bonnie is an unlikable character; her minimal evolution might turn some readers off. But if you’re willing to go on this weird and strange journey with her, you might find it worth it. 

If there ever was a book to buddy-read with a friend, it is this one. I can’t wait to discuss it next month in our Patreon community. 

Cleopatra and Frankenstein- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Mellors

Are you looking for a hilarious and poignant novel that will have you laughing and crying all at once?

You can look no further than this debut gem that grabbed me from its first page. 

This love story chronicles a relationship between Cleo, a young British painter, and Frank, a self-made man twenty years her senior, as they navigate their impulsive marriage and the challenges it brings.

As the story unfolds, Cleo and Frank’s relationship’s highs and lows begin to impact the people around them. This book covers everything from the beginning of their unlikely love affair to the monotony of married life and the struggles of mental illness. And with plenty of humor to lighten the load, you won’t be able to put it down.

This great read has been polarizing with readers. Some reviewers (like me) found it a quirky and poignant love story, while others dismissed it as shallow and pretentious. 

While this book may not be for everyone, I loved it from start to finish and can see why it draws comparisons to Sally Rooney’s writing. The dry humor and memorable characters make it a standout and an alluring debut that I had difficulty putting down.

It’s a great addition to the millennial fiction genre and a perfect pick for anyone who loves relatable characters with compulsively readable chapters.

We All Want Impossible Things- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

We All Want Impossible Things by Catherine Newman

“A Funny Book About Dying,” was not on my Reading BINGO card this year, but that’s exactly the kind of book that you will get in this book had me laughing and crying simultaneously. 

This short and compelling novel ticked every box. It was an incredibly memorable audiobook experience if you are on the hunt for your next outstanding audio performance. 

This tear-jerker of a line says it all:  “Everyone dies, and yet it’s unendurable. There is so much love inside of us. How do we become worthy of it? And, then, where does it go? A worldwide crescendo of grief, sustained day after day, and only one tiny note of it is mine.”

Edith and Ashley have been best friends for over forty-two years and shared many of life’s joys and challenges. When Edi is diagnosed with ovarian cancer and begins living in a hospice, Ash is there by her side, struggling to be the best friend, wife, and parent she can be. 

With a rotating cast of hospice characters and “Fiddler on the Roof” as their soundtrack,  Edi and Ash spend these last days together, reminiscing with hilarity over all their years of friendship. The scenes are painted so vividly as they create their own shenanigans to pass the time and find inventive ways to keep the pain at bay while they near their last day together. 

Described as both “devastatingly humorous and humorously devastating” (by one of my favorite authors, Katherine Heiny), this book celebrates the beauty of enduring relationships. It is a must-read for anyone seeking hope and healing in the face of loss. 

In just 217 short pages, Newman achieves what few could do in several hundred, writing a story of friendship that I will remember forever. 

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

The One Hundred Years of Lenni & Margot by Marianne Crouch

Sometimes, our Reader’s Choice book club selections end up making my Best Books of the Year lists and this story was the surprise hit of my reading year. 

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot is a charming, funny, and heartwarming debut novel about an extraordinary friendship between Lenni, a seventeen-year-old girl living in the Terminal Ward at a hospital in Glasgow, and Margot, an 83-year-old rebel who is also staying there. 

Despite being told that she is dying, Lenni joins the hospital’s arts and crafts class and meets Margot, who transforms her life unexpectedly. 

The two decide to take advantage of the arts and crafts room and begin a unique project together when they discover their combined age is one hundred years.

They will create one hundred paintings that tell the story of their lives and find joy and comfort in sharing the stories they have never spoken aloud. With the help of a nurse and a chaplain, they share tales of love, loss, courage, kindness, and joy. 

Though their time is running out, Lenni and Margot are determined to leave a lasting legacy and enjoy their remaining days to the fullest. The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot is a poignant reminder of the power of friendship, the beauty of life, and the importance of positively impacting others.

Margot’s story, in particular, is so beautiful as she reveals these deeply hidden truths that truly, brought tears to my eyes. Yet, Lenni’s storyline shines as she questions faith and strikes another unlikely friendship with the hospital’s patient chaplain. 

This book is a perfect book club selection and reminds me how vital these reader’s choice selections are for our group. This story is life-affirming and uplifting, even in its sad moments. This book is cinematic in nature and yielded one of my favorite discussions in 2022. 

Carrie Soto is Back- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid

In this thrilling novel, Taylor Jenkins Reid tells the story of Carrie Soto, a fierce and determined tennis player who is considered past her prime when she decides to make a comeback. This is a captivating and unforgettable tale of one athlete’s epic journey to prove herself once again.

At thirty-seven, Carrie retires from the sport after becoming the best player the world has ever seen, with twenty Slam titles under her belt.  Her nickname, Battle Axe, was hardwon through her years playing a ruthless game. 

Six years later, she finds herself watching from the stands as a young British player takes her record. Determined to reclaim her record, Carrie comes out of retirement and is coached by her father for one final year.

This training challenges her body beyond its capabilities, but that is not the only challenge. She also discovers that it is okay to be loved and needed by others along the way.

As Carrie faces her own limitations, she must overcome the doubts of the sports media and work with Bowe Huntley, a man she almost opened her heart to once before.

The cinematic nature that this story is written left me breathless, particularly, the way that Reid captures these tennis matches. 

Reid has written another fully fleshed character that makes this book feel like a memoir. Was Carie real? Is there a Wikipedia page on her?

Since her debut, I have followed her career and have read her entire backlist in real-time. You can even find an interview with the author on our site, a moment that I’m thankful for as she has found such success in her writing career. 

Bitingly feminist-forward, it is equal parts an escape and a social commentary on women athletes. Why must we be likable? Why are men held to different standards? What does it mean to age out? How can we find joy in the later years? 

This concludes Taylor’s writing journey with famous historical fiction women, and she ended it on a strong note. I can’t wait to see what she writes for us next and loved this final love letter to tennis.

Yerba Buena by Nina LaCour- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

Yerba Buena by Nina LaCour

This adult debut novel from Nina LaCour is a gentle and quiet Sapphic romance that I adored. While this had many romantic elements, it firmly sat in the literary fiction space for me, as a reader.

When Sara Foster runs away from home as a teenager, she leaves behind her ability to trust and to be truly loved.  Now a successful bartender in Los Angeles, she is known for her cocktails and the air of mystery that surrounds her. Across the city, 

Emilie Dubois struggles to find her place in the world, longing for the sense of community and beauty that her Creole grandparents cultivated. When she takes a job arranging flowers at a luxurious restaurant named Yerba Buena, she begins an affair with the married owner. 

When Sara and Emilie meet at the restaurant for the first time, they feel an instant connection, but their pasts and choices keep pulling them apart.  LaCour takes us on a beautiful journey as the two must find themselves before they can find each other. 

This novel has evocative storytelling that made me hungry and craving a well-made drink as it descriptively shares the meals and beverages made in this restaurant setting. 

The attention to detail and the overall moodiness of the writing transported me as a reader. It encompassed all my senses and described loneliness and longing in ways I rarely see written so clearly in black and white. 

I loved how these two characters must decide if their love is strong enough to overcome their pasts and how to create a home together with one another. 

The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven by Nathaniel Ian Miller- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven by Nathaniel Ian Miller 

The top pick for my favorite book of the year goes to this memorable read that I can’t wait to discuss with our book club this year. 

Hailed as “briskly entertaining” by the New York Times Book Review and “transporting and wholly original” by People Magazine, this sweeping historical fiction story follows the story of a man who retreats to a solitary life in the Arctic Circle. He finds he is never alone as he finds unexpected companionship in good friends, a loyal dog, and a visit that upends his world. 

In this poignant debut, a mining accident leaves Sven Ormson disfigured, and he retreats to an uninhabited fjord in the Arctic circle to escape society’s reactions. 

He struggles to survive in the brutal conditions with the help of a Finnish trapper and a Scottish geologist. As the years pass, the arrival of a relative force Sven to confront the possibility of a different kind of life.

If you love introverted, bookish, and surprisingly funny characters, this book will be for you. Sven is richly imagined and described beautifully, and I found myself highlighting my entire book. The bond between Sven and his dog is one of this story’s most magical elements.

What more could a reader want? 

Miller’s turn of phrases and descriptive language made an already uniquely written plot even more unique. It is just the book you want to share with a friend. 

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

This book was my favorite of the year until The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven knocked it out of position. Zevin does not need my stamp of approval as this novel has received enormous commercial success. 

In Gabrielle Zevin’s latest novel “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow,” readers are taken on an epic journey through the lives of two friends, Sam and Sadie, who meet in a children’s hospital and bond over their shared love of video games.

Their friendship is short-lived, however, when Sam feels used by Sadie. 

Later in life though, they reconnect in college and decide to develop a game together, leading to enormous success in the gaming industry. However, their success also causes tension between them as one partner is given more credit and resentment grows.

Marx, a friend, and colleague, becomes both a crucial part of their newly formed company and their lives, acting as a mediator and helping to keep their business together. Unfortunately, a tragic turn of events from their virtual world-building leads to unexpected violence and the end of their partnership. 

The book chronicles Sam and Sadie’s journey over three decades and the intricacies of the games they create. Zevin’s writing is beautiful, and the portrayal of Sam’s chronic pain is particularly poignant. 

I think you may need to have a small passion for gaming or coding to appreciate all of the intricacies of this one. As someone who lives with a family of gamers, this book not only brought a new appreciation for my family members’ gaming pastime, it encouraged me to pick up a virtual life of my own in Stardew Valley

Best Thriller Book of 2022

These Silent Woods by Kimi Cunningham Grant- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

These Silent Woods by Kimi Cunningham

“These Silent Woods” by Kimi Cunningham Grant is a must-read for anyone who loves a captivating and suspenseful story. I know this book will not be new to our listeners as it has appeared on our best audiobook podcast episode with Meg Tietz (from Sorta Awesome).

This atmospheric novel is set in the remote Appalachian mountains and follows the tale of Cooper and his daughter Finch, who have been living in isolation for eight years. 

The turning point for Finch and Cooper’s existence is in what doesn’t happen that particular winter; the delivery of their food and supplies needed. Each year this annual delivery of supplies comes from an old friend named Jake. When Jake doesn’t arrive, the two are forced to go out and get these supplies themselves, risking being discovered and opened the door on an old case. 

As it turns out, it also opens the doors for an unexpected visitor, reminding Cooper of the beauty of companionship and what he has been missing for many years. 

Grant’s writing is beautifully crafted, weaving in themes of forgiveness and trust that will leave you deeply moved. This memorable read has been one of my top recommendations since I read it this year. 

 If you have the opportunity, the audiobook narrator is Bronson Pinchot (from Perfect Strangers), and came highly recommended by Meg. 

Not only will Pinchot’s narration add to the atmospheric and suspenseful tone of the story, but it’s an excellent opportunity to discover a beloved narrator. 

 Grant’s writing is beautifully crafted and will leave you enthralled from beginning to end. This book was haunting, suspenseful, and thoroughly engrossing.

Best Horror Book of 2022

Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica

The novel was originally published in Spanish in 2017 and became available in English translation in 2020 ended up packing a powerful dystopian punch.

This disturbing story explores the complex relationship between humans and their food sources. 

Set in a dystopian world where a virus has made animals unsafe for consumption, the government introduces a program called “Transition,” in which human meat becomes the new source of meat. 

Marcos works at a plant that processes this human meat, known as “special meat,” in a world where an infectious virus has made animal meat poisonous to humans. His personal life is in turmoil, with his wife leaving him and his father, who has dementia, and he tries not to think too deeply about his job. 

However, when he is given a “specimen” as a gift, he begins a intimate relationship that could have dangerous consequences. Despite the dangers of developing personal relationships with the specimens, Marcos finds solace in this relationship as he grapples with the loss of humanity in the world.

The story also touches on themes of disassociation from food production and the role of social class in access to food. Based on real-life factory conditions, the processing scenes are disturbing to read about when humans are the food source. 

However, the author does not shy away from these difficult themes; the result is a thought-provoking and impactful novel. Instead, she uses gore and violence to make a point rather than for gratuitous shock value. 

The twist at the end of the story was surprising and stayed with me long after reading the book. 

This short dystopian novel is now being used in schools, similar to classics like The Handmaid’s Tale and Fahrenheit 451!

Best Romance Books of 2022

Before I Let Go- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

Before I Let Go (Skyland #1) by Kennedy Ryan

This grown-up romance novel did not shy away from complex themes and explored them with such maturity that  I found myself highlighting passage after passage in this evocatively moving second-chance romance.

When Yasmen and Josiah’s marriage falls apart, they struggle to navigate their new dynamic as co-parents and business partners at their family-owned restaurant.

The dissolution of their marriage partnership is rooted in a deep loss of not only a close family member but in the loss of their child. 

Despite their best efforts to move on, their attraction to one another remains strong. As they begin to rekindle their romance, they must confront the wounds of the past and decide if they are truly ready to love each other for a lifetime. 

What I appreciated the most about this book was the dialogue as they navigated this with their children and also how they navigated discussions around sex 

Also, what could be more steamy than a MAN GOING TO THERAPY to deepen his relationship with his kids and former partner? 

As this rekindled affair must be done with some secrecy, in the beginning, it multiplied the steamy factor for this reader. 

Please note this does explore pregnancy loss, and I would read through content warnings before engaging with this selection. 

Although this was my first book by the author, it won’t be my last.

This book was also notably selected as a Book of the Month Club selection, NPR Best Book of 2022, Washington Post’s 10 Best Romances of the Year, Women’s Health’s Best Books of the Year, and as one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Romance Books of 2022.

Seven Days in June- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

Seven Days in June by Tia Williams

“Seven days to fall in love, fifteen years to forget, and seven days to get it all back again…”

This book made my Best Books of the Year list, and this second-chance romance has also made my ALL-TIME favorite romance list.

Eva Mercy is a single mom and bestselling erotica writer living in Brooklyn, and Shane Hall is a reclusive and award-winning author. 

When the two authors meet at a literary event, their chemistry is undeniable, but they pretend not to know each other.

What the reader discovers is these two childhood friends had a steamy love affair as teens and have been secretly writing to each other in their books ever since. 

As they reconnect for a week in the middle of a hot Brooklyn summer, Eva has to decide whether she can trust Shane after his track record of breaking her heart. 

A Reese Witherspoon book club selection rarely ticks the right boxes for me, but this storyline did.

There is so much to unbox with this captivating story, with surprising depth from difficult childhoods to their more grown-up challenges as Black authors.

I love that you feel like you get a peek behind the curtain at both the writing process and the creative challenges of creation. 

As someone with chronic pain, I welcome storylines with personal experiences like mine. As so many books focus on opioid addiction and the crisis surrounding that, it is refreshing to see conversation around the daily realities of pain management.

This book tackles Eva’s journey with debilitating migraines and chronic pain, and I loved that this character was still so sexy and confident while battling these health issues.

The Dead Romantics- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston

In Ashley Poston’s sparkling adult debut, a disillusioned millennial ghostwriter must confront her own ghosts when she returns home for the first time in a decade was, by far, one of my favorite romances this year. 

Florence Day writes for one of the most successful romance authors in the industry, but a recent breakup has left her believing in love’s demise. When her editor refuses to grant her an extension on a book deadline, Florence faces the end of her career. 

However, a call from home forces her to confront the past she’s been running from for a decade, returning to her eccentric family and their funeral parlor in the Southern town where she grew up.

There, she discovers a ghost standing at the front door, just as broad and handsome as her editor, who is also deceased.

As she navigates the unfinished business of her new editor, Florence begins to question everything she thought she knew about love stories. 

As most of you know, magical realism is one element that I adore in my fiction. Poston writes this beautifully with some sweet plot twists that make this so beautifully moving without slipping into sappy waters. 

Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books of 2022

Legends & Lattes- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree

Be warned; this cozy book brought my blood pressure to dangerous levels.

Legends & Lattes was the book I didn’t know I needed, and I couldn’t be more thankful to have discovered it. The book is high fantasy with low stakes, and what one GoodReads reviewer  billed it as, “Dungeons & Dragons if it had a baby with Animal Crossing.” 

In our story, we have Viv, an orc that has spent decades as a swordfighter but has decided to start a new chapter for herself. More than anything, she wants to open a coffee shop in the City of Thune. 

The thing is that this is the first time anyone has experienced coffee, and it is going to take a village to get people on board with this new feature. 

Viv finds an unexpected partner in her quest to establish the coffeehouse. Tandri is a succubus who has come to work at the cafe and helps Viv as she makes the necessary changes to lure in customers and turn her space into a community hub. 

That isn’t the only side character to love, though- the town is FILLED WITH THEM. Of course, some low-stakes bad guys threaten to shut down the establishment, but it will all be okay. 

This cozy town is written in a way that envelopes all of your senses. I loved the descriptions of their baked goods, the aromatic nature of coffee descriptors, and the way we feel transported to these cobbled streets. This book was immersive in every way. 

As each discovery about coffee habits is made, the coffee shop’s chalkboard is changed to reflect the new decisions. This menu board ended up adding a satisfying rhythm to my chapter reading. 

If you are unfamiliar with Baldree’s publishing story, he is a Booktok self-published sensation who later acquired a deal with Macmillan. I’m thrilled to see that the second book in this series, Bookshops & Bonedust (a prequel or sequel of sorts), will be available on November 7, 2023! 

The House by the Cerulean Sea fans will adore this relaxing fantasy escape that embraces the found family trope with heart and humor. 

Best Memoirs of 2022

Glorious Rock Bottom- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

Glorious Rock Bottom by Bryony Gordon

This profoundly moving memoir inspired me so much that it changed my relationship with alcohol, an admittedly easier journey than the one the author endured. 

 Bryony Gordon’s powerful and inspiring memoir explores her journey to recovery from a twenty-year addiction to drugs and alcohol. 

As a respected journalist and bestselling author, Gordon’s struggles with addiction were unknown to many, but her recovery story is one of the best I have ever read. Bryony was a journalist at The Telegraph, a bestselling author, and launched an award-winning mental health campaign.

She’s so well-known that when I found her podcast, I discovered her first episode on mental health was with Prince Harry. 

This memorable one expanded beyond the rehabilitation process and followed her journey after leaving the treatment facility- much longer than most.  We discover what it was like to navigate sober holidays and the dangers of replacing one addiction with another, even ones that may seem healthy. Her addiction to running, for example, reeled her into unhealthy waters as she took her addictive nature into less extreme waters, but with damaging results. 

This expanded look at recovery makes the book compelling and challenging to put down. I highly recommend this memoir to anyone seeking inspiration or a greater understanding of recovery. Its beautiful transformation makes it a must-read for anyone looking to transform their relationship with alcohol or for more empathy towards others on this journey.

I cannot say what clicked with my brain, but I knew I wanted more of the “after” part of Bryony’s journey for my own life.

This Will Be Funny Later - Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

This Will Be Funny Later by Jenny Pentland

It was a joy to interview Jenny Pentland this year on the Book Gang podcast, and it might have further solidified my deep love for her storytelling to learn her story behind this magnificent laugh-out-loud debut. 

The clever cover immediately caught my attention, but the fascinating tale of Jenny Pentland’s childhood truly won me over.

Imagine if your real life became the storylines for a sitcom – that was the reality for Pentland and her siblings, as their experiences were used as inspiration for the hit show “Roseanne.”

Pentland’s mother, Roseanne Arnold, is a compassionate side note in her journey. Still, the focus is mainly on Pentland’s struggles with anxiety and obesity and her journey through various programs like wilderness camps and fat camps in an attempt to address these challenges. 

Pentland’s story has some surprisingly heart-wrenching moments, but even sad and difficult moments are infused with signature humor that makes this a book you can’t put down. 

Pentland, who is now happily married and raising five sons on a farm, has dedicated herself to building the stable family she always wanted and finding peace with her longstanding anxiety.

This deeply moving and entertaining memoir is now one of my all-time favorite memoirs. 

Best Young Adult Books of 2022

Better Than the Movies- Best Books of 2022 to Read Now

Better Than the Movies by Lynn Painter

I thought I had discovered an under-the-radar book gem this year…that is, until I discovered that this adorable YA read had over 84K reviews on GoodReads and is a New York Times bestseller.

If you are looking for a read to share with your teen daughter, I can think of no better book club night than to read and discuss this book that takes our deep affection for rom-com movies to this adorable love story. 

Liz Buxbaum has always known that her next-door neighbor, Wes Bennett, is not the type of guy she should be interested in. Wes has been a pain in the butt, causing trouble since they were kids.

However, when Liz’s senior year of high school arrives and her crush, Michael, returns to town and starts hitting it off with Wes, Liz realizes that she needs Wes’s help if she wants to finally get noticed by Michael and possibly be her prom date.

As these two work together to make Liz’s prom dreams come true, she realizes that she actually enjoys being around Wes and begins questioning everything she thought she knew about love and what a happy ending should look like. 

This had Tell Me Three Things Things charm with an equally heartwarming story between Liz and her stepmom. It explores the meaningful loss of Liz’s mother and how she navigates these milestones with the bittersweetness and beauty required.

Each chapter has a quote from a familiar rom-com, and it also embraces music moments that you can find on a Spotify playlist that Painter has created.

It inspired my daughter to jot down all the titles and kick off the movie marathon of my dreams with my girl. 

We both agreed that this storyline was predictable, and we loved that about it.

In an unbelievable twist for my reading life, it turns out that this story brings me immeasurable joy this year.

This is now one of my top gift ideas to share with your teen!

 Big Buzzy Books I Can’t Wait Read In the New Year

I know that I missed many buzzy books this year and these are just a few that I’m excited to read in 2023.

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

Fairy Tale by Stephen King (I am halfway through and loving it)

Candy House by Jennifer Egan ( a sequel to Goon Squad that is also on my list this year)

Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng (another that I’m just at the halfway point)

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver

The Heartstopper Graphic Novels Series

Jessie Klein’s Short Story Collections

Invisible Kingdom

 Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival & Hope in an American City, by Andrea Elliott (a Pulitzer Prize-Winning novel this year)

What were your favorite books this year? Do we share any favorites this year? I’d love to hear about them!

Love this post? Be sure to check out these other great lists!

Best Books of 2021
Best Books of 2020
Best Books of 2019
Best Books of 2018
Best Books of 2017
My Top Ten Books of 2016
My Top Ten Books of 2015
My Top Ten Books of 2014
My Top Ten Books of 2013
The Best Books Read in 2012
My Top Ten Books in 2011

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Best Books To Read From 2022 (Podcast)

Friday, January 6th, 2023

The BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR is here! We read a combined 481 books and tell you our top book recommendations! Listen to today’s podcast to discover what books we loved in 2022. 

We are so lucky to have Larry Hoffer (@getbookedwithlarry) back because he read 372 books this year and share his favorites today.

Combined, we have read a total of 481 books that include all of your favorite categories- historical fiction, young adult, science fiction, literary fiction, contemporary fiction, and ONE outstanding thriller. If you are on the hunt for your next debut novel, this stack is filled with them because there is nothing better than celebrating new authors.

As readers that love to make discoveries, we were surprised by how many many big blockbuster books ended up making our top ten lists. I guess the New York Times bestseller list wasn’t so bad this year.

The best part is that Larry and I share many a top pick for the first time. We made some space to reflect on our end of the year reading and how we plan to better shape our goals for a happier and healthier new year of reading in 2023. I also appreciate the personal experiences that we bring to this years book and I think you will too.

If these new books for your stack aren’t enough, we are offering a part two of this episode in the Patreon community. Along with this bonus episode is a 20-page reading guide AND printable checklists with our top 25 books so you can take these to your next library day.

We can’t wait to hear if a few of your favorite books of the year made the cut.

Best Books To Read From 2022 (Podcast)

Listen below or listen on your favorite podcast listening platform!

Mentioned in this episode:

SUPPORT MY WORK through Patreon (download our top 25 lists AND unlock 189 bookish bonuses INSTANTLY)

Helpful Articles Mentioned Today:

Best Books of 2022 To Read Now (BLOG POST- Full list & Reviews)

Tutorial on How to Use the Storygraph App

Tutorial on How to Use the Scribd App

Books & Authors Mentioned:

In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner

The One Hundred Years of Lenni & Margot by Marianne Cronin

The People We Keep by Allison Larkin

Fire Keeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

The Nine Lives of Rose Napolitano by Donna Freitas

The Lady’s Handbook for Her Mysterious Illness by Sarah Ramey

A Cosmology of Monsters by Shaun Hamill

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

This Boy We Made by Taylor Harris

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston

The Kindred Spirits Supper Club

Seven Days in June by Tia Williams

Before I Let Go by Kennedy Ryan

When You Call My Name by Tucker Shaw

The Prettiest Star by Carter Sickels

Yerba Buena by Nina LaCour

You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour with David Levithan

Beautiful Little Fools by Jillian Cantor

Better Than the Movies by Lynn Painter

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Mr. Wrong Number by Lynn Painter

The Do-Over by Lynn Painter

Self-Made Boys by Anna-Marie McLemore

We All Want Impossible Things by Catherine Newman

Look Closer by David Ellis

Connect With Us:

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Larry is @getbookedwithlarry on Instagram

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