The Year in Reading – 2022

Hey, everyone. The year 2022 was a good one for me, reading-wise. I had set a goal of 60 books, and I’ve far exceeded that. (Seventy-six completed as of this post.)

This year, I read books by new-to-me authors as well as some on my auto-buy list. I re-read some old favorites, including a couple by Mary Higgins-Clark and my favorite childhood book The Incredible Journey.

Rather than doing a top reads list, I decided to select one book completed each month of the year. Included are a variety of genres and story lengths.

January – Lightning Strike

After being introduced to the Cork O’Connor series in 2021, I enjoyed the first book enough to continue. Lightning Strike is the eighteenth in the series, but it’s a prequel as it takes place in the 1960s when Cork was thirteen years old.

February – Jagged Feathers

When you have a main character who is a wounded warrior, that speaks to me. Book two of Jan Sikes’ White Rune series tells the story of Vann Nobel who suffers from PTSD after his time in Afghanistan. Part suspense and part romance, this one will keep you turning the pages.

March – Coyote’s Regret

I had this book on my TBR list for a while. Set in Southeastern Utah near Moab, Coyotes Regret is the eighth book of Rich Curtin’s Manny Rivera series, but it was my first one to read. Since then, I’ve completed all ten novels and hope he writes another one.

April – Carolina Moonset

I picked up an advanced reader copy of Carolina Moonset through Net Galley. It was my first time reading Matt Goldman, but it won’t be my last. This book is one of mystery, but also of family dynamics.

May – The Fallen Man

This was another first-time read for me, but having become interested in Native American fiction, I was eager to read this one by the late Tony Hillerman. The Fallen Man was first published in 1996. This is the eighth book of the Leaphorn and Chee series kept my interest.

June – Life and Soul

I don’t read a lot of poetry, but Harmony Kent’s Life and Soul touched me. A multi-genre author, Harmony’s poems speak to people from all walks of life.

July – The Waking Bell

The Waking Bell is a historical mystery set in the Appalachian mountains during 1943. Like most small towns, Oak Flatt has secrets—a missing child, a mysterious death, and clandestine love affairs to name a few. I enjoyed this novel where the main character, Cady Blue hears “warning bells” in her head. As you can imagine, this sets the stage for a suspenseful story.

August – Last Summer Boys

When you have a coming-of-age story set in 1968, that’s enough to intrigue me. Last Summer Boys is a delightful read that chronicles the summer adventures of three brothers and their city cousin. The author brings real-life events into the story, including the Vietnam War and the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. I thoroughly enjoyed this read.

September – The Haunting of Chatham Hollow

A dual timeline story co-written by two of my favorite authors, The Haunting of Chatham Hollow will keep you turning the pages. The writing was seamless, and the authors brought together a story spanning from the late 1700s to the present day. I highly recommend this ghost fiction story to anyone who likes to read about “things that go bump in the night.”

October – Between the Darkness and The Dawn

Between The Darkness and The Dawn is a short forty-five-minute read, but don’t let the length fool you. Set in historic Old Manse where Nathaniel Hawthorne once lived, this short story packs plenty of suspense in only twenty-seven pages.

November – You Can Hide

You Can Hide is the second book of Rebecca Zanetti’s Laurel Snow series. I thought the first book was fantastic, but this one was even better. I recently learned the third of the series is scheduled for release next July. I eagerly await that one.

December – The Unfinished Gift

What would December be without reading a Christmas story? I first read Dan Walsh’s The Unfinished Gift in 2014, and I enjoyed it just as much this time around. Set during World War II, this is a touching story of family, faith, and love.

It was hard to pick just twelve books. I read several more that deserve recognition, but I didn’t want to make this post into a small novel!

This is my last post of 2022, as I’m taking a break until the new year. I’ll return in January with more book reviews, new posts of mysteries, legends and lore, and more.

Wishing you and your families a joyous holiday season.

Book Review: Sulfur Springs

Hey, readers. Welcome to my last book review of 2022. I have something different planned for next Tuesday, and then I’m taking a blogging break the last week of December.

I’m getting near the end of the Cork O’Connor books. Sulfur Springs is the sixteenth of the series.

My Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

In this sixteenth Cork O’Connor novel, Cork’s new bride Rainy Bisonette receives a voicemail from her son Peter indicating he’s in trouble. When numerous attempts to return his call go unanswered Cork and Rainy travel to Arizona attempting to learn his fate.

They discover that Peter had been hiding things from his mother, including the fact he was no longer employed at the rehabilitation facility where he once went for help with his drug addiction. Some speculate Peter was using again, while others maintained he was clean.

Cork and Rainy soon learn “to trust no one in Coronado County.” There are drug cartels, border patrol, and DEA agents, illegal immigrants, crooked law enforcement officers, as well as human interest and vigilante groups.

This is the first book of the series written in first person from Cork’s point of view. We also learn more about Rainy’s past and that she’s kept secrets from Cork.

The desert of Arizona is a much different setting from Minnesota. Krueger introduces us to new characters, some likable, others not. I missed the usual cast from Arora—there’s only a short scene with Henry Meloux who, as usual, offers them sage advice. Cork’s children are briefly mentioned.

The plot is well-paced and will keep readers guessing until near the end. There is one thing that kept me from giving this five stars. The author felt the need to interject his political views. I read fiction to escape the madness and I don’t need reminders of how our country is divided. However, this will not keep me from reading the next three books of the series as some reviewers have vowed not to do.

Book Review: Genuine Deceit

Happy first Tuesday of December! Another year is almost on the books. Can you believe it? I’m happy to say that I exceeded my Good Reads challenge for the year. More about that later this month, but today I want to share a review of another new to me author. I love it when a book grabs hold and doesn’t let go and I hope to see more publications by this author.

My Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The title alone says it all. How can deceit be genuine? Yet Reagan Asher soon learns that everything she held dear is not what it seems.

Upon learning of her grandmother’s brutal murder, Reagan returns to her hometown. Her friend Mattie enlists the help of her brother-in-law Aiden, a former Navy SEAL to look after Reagan while she’s in town.

When a second break-in occurs in her grandmother’s house, Reagan and Aiden set out to discover what the killer was after. The discovery of jewelry, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, lead them across the country in an effort to learn who hid the jewelry and why.

Reagan is torn between her feelings for Aiden and her “boyfriend” who shows up unexpectedly. There are plenty of twists and turns that kept me in suspense until the end.

A great mystery that will keep you turning the pages until the surprising conclusion.

Book Review: Saddled Hearts

Hey, everyone. Jan Sikes is a friend and a fellow contributor at Story Empire. Like me, she lives in the Lone Star State, which is the setting of her White Rune series. I’ve enjoyed all three books, but in my opinion, she saved the best for last.

Jan will be a guest this Thursday, but I wanted to post my review seperately.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Saddled Hearts is the third installment of the White Rune series, and hands-down it’s my favorite.

Colt Lane operates a sanctuary for horses on the Central Texas ranch he inherited from his grandfather. When a stranger named Jeremiah Tompkins shows up claiming he had won the ranch from Buck Lane years earlier in a card game, Colt believes something is amiss. He seeks advice from medium Sage Coventry.

Inexplicable things begin happening at the ranch including a pasture fire and contaminated hay. Believing Tompkins is responsible, Colt locates him where they have a public confrontation. Shortly afterward someone kills Tompkins, and Colt is arrested for his murder.

Sikes left plenty of red herrings to keep readers guessing at the killer’s identity while weaving in romance and family dynamics. Her descriptions of a Texas ranch were spot on. All these elements blended together for a page-turning read and a fantastic wrap up of the series.

Be sure to come back this Thursday to visit with Jan and learn more about Saddled Hearts.

Book Reviews: Windigo Island and Manitou Canyon

Hey, everyone. I’m back to reading William Kent Kruger’s Cork O’Connor series. Not sure what I’ll do when I finish them all, as I have enjoyed most of the books immensely.

I delayed reading Windigo Island for a few weeks (you’ll see why in my review) but I’m glad I continued the series. If I haven’t said it before, I love the character Henry Meloux. We all could learn something from his wisdom. Somehow, I picture Henry looking like Chief Dan George who appeared in the Clint Eastwood movie The Outlaw Josey Wales, along with several other films.

Once I finished Windigo Island, I was eager to move on to the next in the series, Manitou Canyon. Both reviews follow.

My Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Windigo Island is the fourteenth installment of the Cork O’Connor series. Tamarack County, the previous book, was such a disappointment I hesitated to start this one. However, I’m committed to finishing the series. And I was pleasantly surprised.

Krueger’s writing talent once again shows. The matter of sex trafficking is a difficult one—another reason I hesitated—but the author handled the subject well. No graphic details, yet he calls the reader’s attention to a problem many parts of our country face.

Cork and his oldest daughter, Jenny, travel to the Ojibwe reservation of Bad Bluff at the request of a missing girl’s family. The body of the friend whom she disappeared with washed up on Windigo Island in Lake Superior.

Cork and Jenny, along with Henry Meloux and a new character, Daniel English set out to find the missing girl and the perpetrators of a sex trafficking ring. What they encounter is evil comparable to the legendary Windigo.

The book was in three parts—first from Cork’s point of view, then Jenny’s, then back to Cork’s. Honestly, there were times I wanted to slap some sense into Jenny. But her character grew as she realizes not everyone’s life is picture perfect like the one she has in Aurora, Minnesota. Henry, as usual, shows his ageless wisdom. Cork also shows a side we don’t often see, but over the course of each book, his character has also grown.

The book wraps up with a satisfying conclusion and a hint of a future romance for Jenny. An easy four stars for this one.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

November has come to Northern Minnesota and Cork O’Connor has the blues. He lost his father, a good friend, and his wife in the month of November. Is it any wonder he dreads this time of year?

Even his oldest daughter’s upcoming wedding can’t pull him out of his gloom.

When two siblings approach him to continue the investigation into their grandfather’s disappearance in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, he agrees to take the case. He, along with the missing man’s granddaughter, goes into the wilderness area, hoping to find something missed by search and rescue. And Cork finds more than he bargained for.

As his family anxiously awaits his return, they begin to investigate. And when they do, they aren’t sure who to trust.

There are familiar characters, Jenny, Stephen, Rose, Rainy, and my favorite, Henry Meloux. O’Connor introduces us to a new character, Rainy’s Aunt Leah, who adds her own bit of mystery.

I found this book hard to put down. The suspense builds and wraps up in a satisfying ending. In my opinion, this is one of the better books in the Cork O’Connor series.

Needless to say, Krueger has become one of my favorite authors.