Hi, friends! Thanks for joining me today; I’m so glad you’re here 💙. Today I’m sharing my reading list for the 2022 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge. This will be my fourth year participating in the annual reading challenge and (hopefully) my second year actually completing it! Are you still on the hunt for your 2022 reading challenge? Do you just want some books to add to your TBR? Either way, this is the post for you!
Introduction to the 2022 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge
In this post, I’ll list my selection for each prompt. Where necessary, I will explain how the book I chose fits the prompt. I’ll also be revisiting and rivising this post throughout the year. So you may see my blurbs replaced by dates read, star ratings, and links to wrap-ups and/or reviews.
Lastly, before we dive in, I’d like to forewarn you that this is, as you might expect, a long one. So grab a snack or something to drink, and let’s get into it!
2022 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: Regular Prompts
Prompt #1: A book published in 2022.
Moon Witch, Spider King by Marlon James
Moon Witch, Spider King is set for release on February 15. This is the second book in the trilogy that began with Marlon James’s 2019 African-inspired fantasy, Black Leopard, Red Wolf. The first book follows Tracker, a young man enlisted into a rag-tag group of mercenaries to find a boy, missing for over three years before the story begins. Sogolon, a many-hundred-year-old witch, is one such member. She’s mysterious and wise and very selfishly motivated. There’s also a stretch in Black Leopard, Red Wolf where Sogolon disappears, getting up to gods-know-what. Needless to say, it will be very fascinating to revisit this story from her perspective!
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing Moon Witch, Spider King on Bookshop.org.
Prompt #2: A book set on a plane, train, or cruise ship.
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
The Woman in Cabin 10 is Ruth Ware’s 2016 mystery/thriller novel about a dream work assignment quickly turning into a nightmare. Lo Blacklock is a travel journalist on assignment, covering her time aboard the Aurora, a luxury cruise ship with only a handful of cabins, as it voyages across the North Sea. One night, Lo sees a woman being thrown overboard. Determined to uncover the identity of the missing-presumed-dead passenger and the perpetrator of the terrible act, Lo braces for a ship in disarray the following morning. The problem is, the next day, all the expected passengers are present. I have only heard great things about Ruth Ware’s thrillers, but this will be my first time reading her work. By all accounts, this sounds like a great place to dive in (pun absolutely intended)!
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing The Woman in Cabin 10 on Bookshop.org.
Prompt #3: A book set in a nonpatriarchal society.
The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter
Full disclosure, I found The Rage of Dragons listed online as a suggestion for this prompt and, being that this is a fantasy book, it sounded right up my alley. So I can’t entirely confirm that the society in question is, in fact, nonpatriarchal. According to the jacket copy, Omehi people of all genders can have “gifts.” One in every 2,000 women has the power to call down dragons; one in every 100 men can magically transform himself into a killing machine. The Rage of Dragons follows a giftless man called Tau, determined to coast through life, away from danger. His plans change following the brutal murder of his loved-ones, setting Tau on a path of revenge. He becomes a warrior willing to die a thousand deaths, so long as he gets to kill his three betrayers.
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing The Rage of Dragons on Bookshop.org.
Prompt #4: A book with a tiger on the cover or “tiger” in the title.
The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu
As the title suggests, The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories is a short story collection from fantasy author Ken Liu. I’ve not read anything by Ken Liu, so I figured this would be a great place to start. I’m optimistic about this collection, as it contains the stories “The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary” and “Mono No Aware” (both Hugo Award finalists); “The Waves” and “The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species” (both Nebula Award finalists); and the title story: “The Paper Menagerie” (the only short story to win the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards). Not a bad lineup, methinks.
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories on Bookshop.org.
Prompt #5: A sapphic book.
The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson
Finally, a chance to read this political fantasy that’s been collecting dust on my TBR for ages. Seth Dickinson’s 2015 novel follows Baru Cormorant after the Empire of Masks conquers her people and turns her life upside down. Baru joins the ranks of the Masquerade, determined to tear them down from the inside. Her loyalty and political savvy are tested when she is sent on an assignment to Aurdwynn. There, she will have to navigate a maze of rebels, spies, and traitors. Obviously, I can’t know more about the book than is described in the jacket copy, but searching the Goodreads page for “lesbian” and “sapphic” turns up a few tags, and that’s good enough for me.
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing The Traitor Baru Cormorant on Bookshop.org.
Prompt #6: A book by a Latin-American Author.
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
This is yet another short story collection on my list for the 2022 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge. Her Body and Other Parties is Carmen Maria Machado’s 2017 debut. Here, she uses horror and magical realism to explore the narratives that map the reality of women’s lives and the violence visited upon their bodies. One story follows a dress shop sales clerk who makes a terrifying discovery sewn into a prom dress. Another tale puts a paranormal twist on Law & Order: SVU with doppelgangers, ghosts, and girls with bells for eyes. Her Body and Other Parties sounds like a delightful, disturbing, feminist, fabulist adventure.
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing Her Body and Other Parties on Bookshop.org.
Prompt #7: A book with an onomatopoeia in the title.
The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
If you were around for the first edition of my list for last year’s reading challenge, you might remember that I was really hoping to read The Poppy War in 2021. Sadly, I had to remove book from the list due to lack of time, but I’m determined to read it this year! If you aren’t familiar with the novel taking the online book community by storm, I’ll give you a little summary. The Poppy War is a historical fantasy based on Opium Wars-era China. The story follows Rin, a peasant girl who defies all expectations with her acceptance to the most elite military school in her land. She also defies expectations when she discovers a god has bestowed her with shamanic powers. In a war-torn land on the brink of yet another conflict, these powers may be the only way to save her people from total destruction.
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing The Poppy War on Bookshop.org.
Prompt #8: A book with a protagonist who uses a mobility aid.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Speaking of novels that are taking the online book community by storm… The disgruntled hipster inside me has resisted reading this book for the last year or two; alas, the time has finally come. All I know about A Little Life beyond the blurb is that, apparently, it’s chock-full of intense trigger warnings. Personally, I don’t tend to be too bothered by graphic content. However, I thoroughly detest the culture of “if you haven’t read this, then shame on you” that surrounds this novel. Not everyone can handle graphic and triggering content. I have even heard this book described as “trauma porn” by some readers. Knowing that, maybe we should chill on shaming people for avoiding content that could be harmful to their mental health. Okay, PSA over.
Anyway, I skimmed the Wikipedia article for prompt-related buzzwords. In doing so, I learned that one character uses a wheelchair and a cane at varying points throughout the novel. Thus, it fits this prompt, and I will finally have an informed opinion on this chunk of a book.
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing A Little Life on Bookshop.org.
Prompt #9: A book about a “found family.”
The Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne
The Shadow of the Gods is the first book in a new series by acclaimed fantasy writer John Gwynne. I only learned about his beloved Faithful and the Fallen series after deciding I wanted to read The Shadow of the Gods, but it also sounds right up my alley. This book is set in the war-torn world of Vibrio, where the bones of the dead gods promise great power to anyone desperate enough to seek them out. The Shadow of the Gods follows three people: a huntress searching for her missing son, a chief’s daughter searching for glory earned through battle, and a former slave fighting alongside mercenaries known as the Bloodsworn.
As with The Rage of Dragons, I cannot confirm that The Shadow of the Gods fits this prompt, since I haven’t read it. But I came across a Goodreads review that mentioned found family was among this book’s tropes. I also learned that John Gwynne recently lost his daughter, Harriett. Knowing that, I thought it only fitting to read a book that underscores the importance of family — found or flesh.
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing The Shadow of the Gods on Bookshop.org.
Prompt #10: An Anisfield-Wolf Book Award Winner.
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
As stated on the organization’s website, “the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards recognize books that have made important contributions to our understanding of racism and our appreciation of the rich diversity of human cultures.” The award honors people, poems, fiction, and non-fiction. A Brief History of Seven Killings received the prize for fiction in 2015. In the novel, Marlon James explores the volatile aftermath of the attempted assassination of Bob Marley. From the slums of Kingston, Jamaica in the 1970s, to the crack wars in New York City in the 1980s, and back to a very different Jamaica in the 1990s, the book explores these nearly thirty years through the eyes of nearly thirty narrators. A Brief History of Seven Killings promises to include way more than seven deaths, and, at almost 700 pages, it’ll be anything but brief.
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing A Brief History of Seven Killings on Bookshop.org.
Prompt #11: A #BookTok Recommendation.
To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini
Turns out the kids on BookTok actually have pretty good taste. Barnes & Noble really came in clutch here with their BookTok recommendations page. I was pleased to see quite a few books I either have read or want to read in the Science-Fiction and Fantasy section of the list. I’ve already read The Priory of the Orange Tree, and I managed to fit The Poppy War, The Traitor Baru Cormorant, and The Unbroken under other prompts this year, so the only book left on my TBR that didn’t have a home was To Sleep in a Sea of Stars. I know this book has some pretty mixed reviews, but I don’t have any preconceptions about Paolini’s writing (I’ve never read Eragon), so I’m going in with an open mind. I love sci-fi, I dig the first contact trope, and I’m excited to see what this book has to offer.
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing To Sleep in a Sea of Stars on Bookshop.org.
Prompt #12: A book about the afterlife.
The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
Finished on February 13, 2022
Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing The Ghost Bride on Bookshop.org.
Check out my thoughts on The Ghost Bride in my February Wrap-Up.
Prompt #13: A book set in the 1980s.
The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James
Finished on March 1, 2022
Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing The Sun Down Motel on Bookshop.org.
Check out my thoughts on The Sun Down Motel in my February Wrap-Up.
Prompt #14: A book with cutlery on the cover or in the title.
In My Dreams I Hold a Knife by Ashley Winstead
Ashley Winstead’s debut novel is a thriller about a group of former friends who, at their college reunion, are forced to remember the murder that drove them apart. Ten years ago, Heather Shelby lost her life. When Heather’s six friends meet again, they will have to confront what happened the night of her death — and the secrets they’ve kept hidden from themselves and each other in the years since. In My Dreams I Hold a Knife uses dual timelines to analyze the sometimes-deadly consequences of friendship, love, obsession, and ambition.
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing In My Dreams I Hold a Knife on Bookshop.org.
Prompt #15: A book by a Pacific Islander author.
The Bone People by Keri Hulme
Finished on January 29, 2022
Rated 4.0 out of 5 stars
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing The Bone People on Bookshop.org.
Check out my thoughts on The Bone People in my January 2022 Wrap-Up.
Prompt #16: A book about witches.
The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec
Finished on February 5, 2022
Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing The Witch’s Heart on Bookshop.org.
Check out my thoughts on The Witch’s Heart in my February Wrap-Up.
Prompt #17: A book becoming a TV show or movie in 2022.
Batman: Year One by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli
I, for one, am pleased to see the world finally getting on the Robert Pattinson Appreciation Train. The Batman is probably my most-anticipated film of the first half of 2022. Director Matt Reeves has cited Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s 1987 origin story as partially inspiring his upcoming movie. In this re-imagining of Batman’s early years, Bruce Wayne has just returned to Gotham City after spending twelve years abroad and has yet to don the Batsuit. Commissioner Gordon is not Commissioner yet, having just transferred in from Chicago. Before long, both men will have first-hand encounters with the violence and corruption that grip Gotham City. Each man will be inspired — in his own way — to clean up the city they both call home.
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing Batman: Year One on Bookshop.org.
Prompt #18: A romance novel by a BIPOC author.
Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud
Finished on February 21, 2022
Rated 4.0 out of 5 stars
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing Love After Love on Bookshop.org.
Check out my thoughts on Love After Love in my February Wrap-Up.
Prompt #19: A book that takes place during your favorite season.
Snowblind by Ragnar Jónasson
Yes, I am one of those freaks who loves winter. Snowblind is a Nordic Noir set in the isolated fishing village of Siglufjörður in northern Iceland. Ari Thór Arason is a rookie policeman on his first posting. He’s far, far away from his girlfriend in Reykjavik but not far enough away from his shadowy past. The case begins when the body of a young woman is found lying half-naked in the snow. She appears to be alive (for now), bleeding and unconscious. Not long after that, an elderly writer falls to his death in the local theater. Ari finds himself trapped in Siglufjörður as an avalanche closes off the town’s access to the outside world, snowstorms suffocate the city, and the near twenty-four-hour darkness sets the fear-struck populace even further on edge. Between the wintry, Nordic setting, and locked-room-mystery vibes, I couldn’t be more excited to dive into this one!
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing Snowblind on Bookshop.org.
Prompt #20: A book whose title begins with the last letter of your previous read.
The Monster Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson
Full disclosure, I’m treating this as the sort of “bingo free space” prompt of the 2022 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge. I do generally plan my reading in advance, but not to the point of putting specific prompts in order. It’s good enough for me that there are books on my challenge list that end in T (or M), and this book starts with T (or M, if you ignore the “the”).
Anyway, there isn’t much I can tell you about The Monster Baru Cormorant. As a rule, I avoid reading blurbs about sequels to books I haven’t read. You know, because… spoilers. So I don’t have much to say about this book… Uh, let’s go with this. It’s the sequel to The Traitor Baru Cormorant, which I’m reading for Prompt #5. Okay, good enough, let’s move on to the next!
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing The Monster Baru Cormorant on Bookshop.org.
Prompt #21: A book about a band or musical group.
The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton
The Final Revival of Opal & Nev is Dawnie Walton’s 2021 debut novel about the much-publicized breakup and attempted decades-later reunion of an interracial rock duo from the 1970s. Opal is a fierce, independent woman making her way in Detroit; she’s defining Afro-Punk before Afro-Punk was ever defined. Neville “Nev” Charles is an aspiring British singer/songwriter who meets Opal at an open-mic night in Detroit. He offers to team up with her to form a rock duo, and she accepts. Years later, a rival band from their label brandishes a Confederate flag at a promotional concert, and Opal’s protest sets off a chain of events that changes the course of her life — and the lives of others — for decades to come.
Decades later, as a potential Opal & Nev reunion looms, superfan and music journalist S. Sunny Shelton jumps at the chance to interview the folks that knew them best. Sunny’s knowledge of Opal & Nev lore is challenged when her interviewees reveal stories she never anticipated. One such story includes a nasty allegation from an unexpected source that threatens to blow up everything. Dawnie Walton’s debut uses the unique lens of music to explore the ways society punishes those who speak their truth. More importantly, she will explore how those punishments are often much harsher for women of color.
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing The Final Revival of Opal & Nev on Bookshop.org.
Prompt #22: A book with a character on the ace spectrum.
City of Strife by Claudie Arsenault
I discovered City of Strife in this booklist by Lynn O’Connacht on the blog, Queer Books for Teens. I don’t read a lot of YA, so I wasn’t sure if I would find anything that appealed to me as I scrolled down the list. Then I spotted this beauty: City of Strife by Claudie Arsenault. Connacht writes, “It’s an epic fantasy novel with an all-queer cast inspired by D&D…” and that’s all I needed to hear. If you’ve read my about page, you know how much Dungeons & Dragons means to me as a person. Needless to say, I instantly fell in love with that premise. Then I read the jacket copy, which promises found family, the testing of friendships, and political drama. So yeah, you could say I’m excited for this one.
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing City of Strife on Bookshop.org.
Prompt #23: A book with a recipe in it.
Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews
Finished on January 25, 2022
Rated 4.0 out of 5 stars
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing Red Sparrow on Bookshop.org.
Check out my thoughts on Red Sparrow in my January 2022 Wrap-Up.
Prompt #24: A book you can read in one sitting.
Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark
Finished on January 27, 2022
Rated 4.0 out of 5 stars
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing Ring Shout on Bookshop.org.
Check out my thoughts on Ring Shout in my January 2022 Wrap-Up.
Prompt #25: A book about a secret.
The First Sister by Linden A. Lewis
Folks! This cover, am I right?! I can’t lie; this book definitely started out as a (cover) vanity purchase. But then I read the synopsis and knew I had to have it. The First Sister follows the titular — yet nameless — First Sister, a priestess of the Sisterhood with no name and no voice. When First Sister’s former captain abandons her, she is forced to stay on her ship and spy on her new captain, Saito Ren. First Sister finds this task increasingly difficult as she also finds herself falling in love.
The first Sister also follows Meanwhile, Lito Val Lucius, an elite soldier of Venus. Lito learns that his former partner, Hiro — missing since their defeat by Saito Ren — is now a confirmed traitor. Lito attempts to redeem himself by tracking down and killing Hiro. It isn’t long before his loyalties are tested, and Hiro must choose between following orders and following his heart.
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing The First Sister on Bookshop.org.
Prompt #26: A book with a misleading title.
The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
The Year of the Flood is the sequel to Oryx and Crake (which I’ll be reading for Prompt #31) and the second book in Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam series. As I mentioned when discussing The Monster Baru Cormorant under Prompt #20, I don’t read blurbs for sequels because I don’t want spoilers. My knowledge of this book only extends insofar as it allowed me to confirm that it fits this prompt. The Year of the Flood gets its name from a group known as God’s Gardeners who predict a species-ending disaster they’ve named “The Waterless Flood.” Most people tend to assume a flood includes water, so its “waterless-ness” makes it a perfect fit for this prompt.
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing The Year of the Flood on Bookshop.org.
Prompt #27: A Hugo Award winner.
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
Finished on January 31, 2022
Rated 4.0 out of 5 stars
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing Ancillary Justice on Bookshop.org.
Check out my thoughts on Ancillary Justice in my January 2022 Wrap-Up.
Prompt #28: A book set during a holiday.
Haunted Nights by Ellen Datlow and Lisa Morton (editors)
Haunted Nights is a short story collection centered around Halloween, All Souls’ Day, Dia de Los Muertos, and Devil’s Night. The stories within the collection cover a variety of topics, from vengeful ghosts to futuristic trick-or-treating and everything in between. Contributors include Seanan McGuire, author of the Wayward Children series; Bram Stoker Award-winner Eric J. Guignard; Shirley Jackson Award-nominee S.P. Miskowski; and a recent personal favorite of mine, Stephen Graham Jones. I’ve been trying to get more into horror lately, and I think this will be an excellent way to up my spooky intake.
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing Haunted Nights on Bookshop.org.
Prompt #29: A different book by an author you read in 2021.
The Maidens by Alex Michaelides
Finished on February 16, 2022
Rated 1.0 out of 5 stars
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing The Maidens on Bookshop.org.
Check out my thoughts on The Maidens in my February Wrap-Up.
Prompt #30: A book with the name of a board game in the title.
The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang
The Dragon Republic is the sequel to The Poppy War (which I’m reading for Prompt #7) and the second book in the trilogy of the same name. You know the drill by now — I don’t read synopses for sequels until finishing their predecessors, so I honestly don’t know anything about this book. The board game I’m using to fit this book under this prompt is the Chinese strategy game, Go. Yes, it’s a bit of a stretch since I’m using two letters in a word, and the word “go” itself does not appear in the title. But, given that Go originated in China and The Poppy War series is a historical fantasy based on Opium Wars-Era China, I think it’s fitting.
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing The Dragon Republic on Bookshop.org.
Prompt #31: A book featuring a man-made disaster.
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Despite its title, Oryx and Crake is narrated by a character known as Snowman, long after his friends, the titular Oryx and Crake, have died. Throughout the narrative, Snowman reflects on all that led him to where he is. He’s starving, on the brink of death, and viewed as a monster by the only people left around. He wonders how the world fell apart: from Crake’s high-tech bubble-dome to the Paradise Project, to the segregation of ordinary people from the extraordinary, to now — where the Earth is ravaged, and resources are scarce. Dark, dystopian, and disturbingly possible, if Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake is anything like The Handmaid’s Tale, I better prepare for one heavy read.
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing Oryx and Crake on Bookshop.org.
Prompt #32: A book with a quote from your favorite author on the cover or on the Amazon page.
My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones
If Stephen Graham Jones’s heart is a chainsaw, then I guess I have him to blame for cutting my heart in half with his last book. As soon as I finished The Only Good Indians, I knew I had to add SGJ’s latest release, My Heart is a Chainsaw, to my TBR. Here, he tells the story of Jade Daniels, a half-Indian outcast who finds safety and security in horror movies. Jade narrates her life as if it’s one of the classic slasher films she loves so much. The problem? Shit starts to get real — literally.
As violence grips Proofrock, Idaho, Jade uses her encyclopedic knowledge of horror films to predict the ending of this slasher-come-to-life. I am fully prepared to fall absolutely in love with Jade — and to have my heart shattered all over again.
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing My Heart is a Chainsaw on Bookshop.org.
Prompt #33: A social-horror book.
The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
Finished on February 28, 2022
Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing The Other Black Girl on Bookshop.org.
Check out my thoughts on The Other Black Girl in my February Wrap-Up.
Prompt #34: A book set in Victorian times.
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
Fingersmith is Sarah Waters’s 2002 historical fiction novel about Sue Trinder, an orphan raised to be a fingersmith — a petty thief — by a “baby farmer” called Mrs. Sucksby. One day, an elegant con man known as Gentleman comes to Sue with the opportunity of a lifetime. If Sue wins a position as a maid to the aristocratic Maud Lilly and helps Gentleman seduce her, they will share the spoils of Maud’s inheritance. Sue is excited for the chance to prove herself to her adopted family and eagerly takes the assignment offered to her. However, once she earns the trust and friendship of Maud, Sue begins to doubt whether she ought to go through with their plan.
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing Fingersmith on Bookshop.org.
Prompt #35: A book with a constellation on the cover or in the title.
Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Shards of Earth is one of two Adrian Tchaikovsky books on my list for the 2022 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge. This one, his latest release and the first in his new The Final Architecture series, follows Idris, a former human-turned ageless warrior in a galaxy wracked by an interspecies war. Fifty years after Earth’s alien aggressors, the Architects, disappeared, Idris and his crew find evidence of the Architects abandoned in space. The question is: how long has it been there? Is it safe to assume the relic predates the war and poses no threat? Or, more ominously, is it a sign they’re planning to return?
Adrian Tchaikovsky blew me away with my first exposure to his work — Children of Time. So, between this and The Doors of Eden (Prompt #47), I’m excited to read more of his stuff.
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing Shards of Earth on Bookshop.org.
Prompt #36: A book you know nothing about.
The Second Rebel by Linden A. Lewis
Folks! This cover, am I right?! Wait, when have I said that before? Oh, right — when I was discussing the prequel to this book up at Prompt #25. The Second Rebel is Linden A. Lewis’s follow-up to her debut, The First Sister. I know nothing about this book other than that it has yet another stunning cover. And that’s all I’ve got to say about The Second Rebel. Let’s move on to the next!
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing The Second Rebel on Bookshop.org.
Prompt #37: A book about gender identity.
This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel
Finished on February 24, 2022
Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing This Is How It Always Is on Bookshop.org.
Check out my thoughts on This Is How It Always Is in my February Wrap-Up.
Prompt #38: A book featuring a party.
Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw
Finished on January 28, 2022
Rated 1.5 out of 5 stars
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing Nothing But Blackened Teeth on Bookshop.org.
Check out my thoughts on Nothing But Blackened Teeth in my January 2022 Wrap-Up.
Prompt #39: An #OwnVoices SFF book.
The Unbroken by C.L. Clark
Much like with Prompt #27, it was indeed an embarrassment of riches when it came to options for this prompt. C.L. Clark’s The Unbroken is a sapphic, political fantasy primarily following two characters. Touraine is a soldier, raised to be loyal only to her empire and her fellow soldiers. Luca wants to find a spy that can quell a bubbling rebellion while she focuses on removing her uncle from her throne. Between assassinations, massacres, bedrooms, and war rooms, Touraine and Luca will work to find out what it might cost to restore peace to the empire.
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing The Unbroken on Bookshop.org.
Prompt #40: A book that fulfills your favorite past POPSUGAR prompt.
The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon
This is another one of those precious “bingo free space” prompts on the 2022 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge. Pick any book, and you’re likely to find a prompt from the last five-plus years of this challenge your selection will fulfill. The Mime Order is the second book in Samantha Shannon’s adult fantasy series, The Bone Season. As I’m sure you can predict, given that The Mime Order is a sequel, I don’t know anything about this book.
This book works for the “a book with an upside-down image on the cover” prompt from the 2020 challenge. I’ll be reading the first book in the series, The Bone Season, for Prompt #46. We can talk more about this series down there.
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing The Mime Order on Bookshop.org.
2022 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: Advanced Prompts
Prompt #41: A book with a reflected image on the cover or “mirror” in the title.
The Push by Ashley Audrain
The Push is Ashley Audrain’s 2021 debut novel. It is a psychological thriller following Blythe Connor’s experience with motherhood. When Blythe’s first child, Violet, is born, the new mother is determined to be the best mom she can be. But, unable to connect with her baby daughter, Blythe soon becomes convinced that something is wrong with her child. Her husband, Fox, tells Blythe the oddities are all in her head. But, later, when their son, Sam, is born, Blythe finally has the mother-child connection she dreamed of having with Violet. Even better, Violet is turning out to be a wonderful big sister. Everything changes in an instant, and Blythe must face the truth about herself — and her family.
Under Prompt #28, I mentioned that I’m trying to get more into horror. In saying that, I’ve always loved psychological thrillers; although, I’m not entirely sure where the line lies between the two. Regardless, The Push is definitely something that scratches my psych-thriller itch. I get George Cukor’s Gaslight (1944) vibes; I get potentially-unreliable narrator vibes; and I get social commentary vibes. In other words, as the characters question their sanity, it sounds like we, the reader, will be doing the same. And that’s all I could ask for out of a book like this.
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Prompt #42: A book that features two languages.
Dune by Frank Herbert
Finished on February 20, 2022
Rated 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Check out my thoughts on Dune in my February Wrap-Up.
Prompt #43: A book with a palindromic title.
MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood
This is yet another prompt on the 2022 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge list that I feel was explicitly written with me in mind. I was fortunate enough to find this book and its two prequels, Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood, in excellent condition at the used bookstore last summer. I’d heard about Margaret Atwood’s acclaimed trilogy and immediately decided I needed to prioritize these books in 2022. Enter: the POPSUGAR staff and their omniscient prompt selections. I can’t imagine a palindromic title is pretty easy to find. The only other book I had any interest in that worked for this prompt was Neil Stephenson’s Seveneves. So to see this prompt on this year’s list was serendipitous, to say the least.
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Prompt #44: Read the first book in a duology.
The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin
Another year, another N.K. Jemisin book to read. I’ve been wanting to get to Jemisin’s Dreamblood duology ever since I read her award-winning, record-breaking Broken Earth trilogy. Having read those books, her latest release, and her short story collection, I feel confident that a richly-imagined world and a diverse cast of characters await me between these pages.
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Prompt #45: Read the second book in a duology.
The Shadowed Sun by NK. Jemisin
Oh, um… not sure what I should write here since it’s been established that I don’t read blurbs for sequels… And I just said everything I had to say about this series under the last prompt. Oh, I know! I’ll use this space to tell you that you absolutely have to read The Fifth Season (and the rest of the Broken Earth trilogy) if you haven’t already. If you want some convincing, you can read my review of The Fifth Season for a better idea of what’s in store. It’s a shorter review than what I’d typically write these days, but it gets the point across, and I’m proud of that review. Anyway, Jemisin uses some pretty unconventional narrative styles in the series, but trust me when I say it was one of the most rewarding reading experiences I’ve ever had.
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Prompt #46: A book about someone leading a double life.
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
The Bone Season (not to be confused with The Bone People, which I’m reading for Prompt #15) is the first book in Samantha Shannon’s adult fantasy series of the same name. In the near-future setting of Oxford, England, in 2059, protagonist Paige is a clairvoyant whose mere existence is treason. One day, Paige is attacked, drugged, and kidnapped, only to awaken and discover she is now under the tutelage of Warden, a Rephaite who she must learn to obey — despite her suspicions — on penalty of death.
Not gonna lie, I am a bit nervous that The Bone Season might skew a bit YA for my taste. However, Samantha Shannon herself has stated that she envisions this book for an adult audience. I also loved her definitely-adult fantasy, The Priory of the Orange Tree, so I’m trying to stay optimistic!
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Prompt #47: A book featuring a parallel reality.
The Doors of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky
The second of two Adrian Tchaikovsky books on my 2022 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge list, The Doors of Eden, is a standalone sci-fi story about a woman who appears to have spontaneously re-appeared after being missing — and presumed dead — for four years. It also follows MI-5 agent Julian Sabreur, investigating an attack on a government physicist. Julian’s only lead to go on is some grainy footage of the aforementioned missing woman. Before her attack, the physicist, Kay Amal Khan, discovered cracks between our world and countless Parallel Earths, home to monsters humanity can only imagine. Could one of those monsters have slipped through those cracks and attacked Khan? What will happen when the rest of the walls holding our world in finally collapse?
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Prompt #48: A book with two POVs.
Jade City by Fonda Lee
Jade City is the first book in Fonda Lee’s wildly popular Green Bone Saga. The urban fantasy novel is described as a Godfather-esque saga of intergenerational blood feuds, vicious politics, magic, and kung-fu. I don’t tend to read a lot of urban fantasy, but I can’t deny that the hype around this book (and series) has got me curious. But, folks, to tell the truth… I got this book for $1.99 in a Kindle sale, and I’m trying to make sure I read things I already own this year. Fonda Lee (or at least her online persona) drives me a little crazy, so I’m a bit nervous to see how this translates into her writing. I have an open-mind, I swear! Just cautiously optimistic.
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Prompt #49: Read two books set in twin towns or sister cities.
A Tip for the Hangman by Allison Epstein
An Elizabethan-era espionage novel featuring the second-greatest English playwright of all time, Christopher “Kit” Marlowe? Sign me the heck up! Allison Epstein’s 2021 debut (wow, lots of debut novels on the list this year!) follows Kit during his time in the employ of Her Majesty the Queen. Elizabeth (via her spymaster) instructs the playwright to spy on her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, and keep his ear to the ground for a potential Catholic-led coup. His experiences as a spy inspire his art, but years later, thinking he left his espionage days behind him, Kit is thrust back into that tumultuous world. Epstein’s debut marries the wit and prose of Elizabethan-era writers with the gritty realism of sixteenth-century London in what promises to be a thrilling adventure.
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Prompt #50: Read two books set in twin towns or sister cities.
The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin
Oh, did I mention that London is a sister city to Beijing? Well, now you know. I Ctrl+F-ed for “Beijing” on the Wikipedia page for this book, saw that the plot summary mentioned the city, and considered that good enough to qualify for this prompt. I don’t know much about The Three-Body Problem, other than the fact that it’s a first-contact science-fiction story set during the time of China’s Cultural Revolution. As happens with most first-contact stories, all hell breaks loose when aliens get in touch with humans. The ratings for each successive book in Liu Cixin’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy only get better and better, so I have high hopes for this 2015 Hugo Award-winning novel.
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing The Three-Body Problem on Bookshop.org.
Wrapping Up the 2022 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge
Whew, that was a marathon! I always underestimate how long it takes to write this post, but I hope it was worth reading. This is always my longest post of the year, and I appreciate you spending your thirty-ish minutes with me.
If you want to join the challenge, you can find a printable list of the prompts in the original 2022 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge post. And, if you want double the inspiration, check out my completed list for the 2021 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge. Lastly, feel free to share your reading (or writing) goals for 2022 in the comments down below!
I’ll be back next Friday to share my list for another reading challenge I’m participating in this year. But don’t worry — that post won’t be nearly as long as this one.
As always, thanks for reading, and I’ll see you soon. 💙
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