We’ve been super busy all year long, but some how still managed to read quite a few wonderful books!

Down below, you can check out each of our Goodread stats. Plus, our top five (5) reads from 2022, in no particular order.

Goodreads 2022 Challenge

Darian:

165/80 Books

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/7401021-darian—books-with-a-chance

Cherokee:

193/75

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/39914664-cherokee—books-with-a-chance

Top Five: Darian

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.

**Review**

☆☆☆☆☆

House of Darakai by K.L. Kolarich

BEHIND THE MASK OF WAR AND VALOR, BETRAYAL REIGNS WHERE IT BLEEDS…

Orynthia’s young king grievously takes his throne in the wake of regicide. From the city’s underbelly, unrest brews for the cross-caste convicted, while the haidrens hastily depart Bastiion to embark on the coronation tour for the realm’s new sovereign: Dmitri Korbin Thoarne.

Now the seated haidren for his House, Zaethan Kasim returns to the brutal mountains of his youth, where competition and conquest eagerly await his homecoming, unlike his dismissive father. There, Zaethan swiftly uncovers a Darakai radically changing. Committed to doing whatever it takes to protect Dmitri’s regime, he fights to remain alpha zà as Wekesa—his favored rival—prepares his challenge. To ensure he is named champion, Zaethan presents another deal to the highlander witch he despises. Yet in balancing fealty to both king and countrymen, Zaethan begins to doubt Darakai’s loyalties, as well as his own.

Luscia Darragh Tiergan is no stranger to the brutality of the south. However, after a harrowing attack, it is the shadows lurking behind it that slashes her dreams into a waking nightmare. Plagued by whispering omens, Luscia wrestles to silence her uncontrolled Sight. And as she is stalked out of Bastiion from within the Other, she must conceal the volatile manifestations from her Boreali guard but, most especially, the Darakaian haidren Luscia’s sworn to help.

Hosted by the House of War, the Quadren confronts an enemy more dangerous than the last. For where treachery stirs, it is not the crown that reigns, but the bloodshed encircling it.

The Series
House of Darakai is the second installment in the epic fantasy series, The Haidren Legacy. An immersive adventure loaded with dark politics, sharp objects, and bickering characters, this treacherous saga packs a legendary punch for adult and NA readers alike. Thrilling fans of Brandon Sanderson, George R.R. Martin, and Sabaa Tahir, this savage sequel is out for blood.

**Review**

I’m saying my review has spoilers because I just want to say the King doesn’t die. He’s my favorite and in the middle I began to feel something was about to happen with them continuing to talk about how sick his is I was really worried something was going to happen to Dimitri. If that day comes, I will cry.

Saying that, I enjoyed this book more than the first. I thought the beginning was a tad slow but still interesting. I love the authors detail to things and I love that she makes you feel you’re there for battles and even with Zaethean and Luscia training.

I’m not sure I could guess what could happen next but I do look forward to the next book of the series.

Jessica Rules the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

It’s one thing to find out you’re a vampire princess. It’s a whole other thing to actually rule. Newly married Jessica Packwood is having a hard enough time feeling regal with her husband, Lucius, at her side. But when evidence in the murder of a powerful elder points to Lucius, sending him into solitary confinement, Jessica is suddenly on her own. Determined to clear her husband’s name, Jessica launches into a full-scale investigation, but hallucinations and nightmares of betrayal keep getting in her way. Jessica knows that with no blood to drink, Lucius’s time is running out. Can she figure out who the real killer is —and whom she can trust— before it’s too late?

**Review**

This was better than the first. I thought it was weird that the chapters were so short even with the next one being the same character but I think that’s my only complaint. Maybe having Mindy work with Jess more would have been great too, but I still loved the book. Jess really grew into who she needed to be.

Elysium Dreams by Hadena James

He skins his victims alive, taking pleasure from their pain.

In the cold, dark nights of Alaska, a hunter is stalking his prey. Once found, he takes them into the woods and skins them alive, prolonging the experience as much as he can, but the satisfaction always wanes.

Aislinn Cain and the Serial Crimes Tracking Unit have just finished up another case when they get the call. Now they are packing their bags and heading for Alaska in March. The team must overcome the hostile locals and harsh climate to catch a killer before he steals the life of another woman.

**Review**

☆☆☆☆☆

Of Stormlark and Silence by Constance Lopez

To kill the prince, she must first kill her heart.

Princess Riona was eight when the Revonian king murdered her family and conquered her kingdom with a mysterious magic. She has spent the last decade training—and waiting for her moment to avenge them all and reclaim her rightful title.

Now that the king is ailing, Riona secures a position within the Revonian royal palace. Her goals? Get close to the prince. Kill him. Uncover Revon’s secret magic. Make the king suffer. Only then can she take back her country.

But the closer she gets to the prince, the more he surprises her with kindness, honor, and wit. He is nothing like his cruel father. Worse yet, he sees right through to her heart. When she planned this assassination, her heart didn’t factor in.

And now it’s about to ruin all her plans.

Of Stormlarks and Silence is a slow-burn clean YA romantic fantasy standalone in the Kasmian Chronicles, a series of romantic fantasy connected standalones.

**Review**

I absolutely loved this book. It was something different than what has been coming out lately and I was hooked from the start. The characters were great, I loved Ria’s growth, she didn’t want to be her Aunt or cruel like the king. To be picky I would have liked to see more background about the animals, like the Stormlarks and her kiss or had them spoken about more in the book. Overall the book is great for all ages and for those wanting to try fantasy YA genre.

Top Five: Cherokee

The Last Bee Keeper by Rebecca L. Fearnley 

Sixteen-year-old Solma is supposed to protect Sand’s End village from danger. But how can she protect her people from dying crop? Or skies that have been empty of birds and insects for the last century? Or the fact that so few children live through the winter? Her own brother, Warren, is only seven and she’s terrified he’ll be the next one the village loses to starvation.

But then, Solma and Warren discover something crawling out of the soil. Something impossible. Something that could give the dying continent of Alphor – and their little village – a chance. But no-one has seen a bee in a century, so how could this one possibly survive? What will it eat? Where will it nest? Solma is convinced there’s no chance, but something strange is happening between Warren and the newly emerged bee, a kind of bond. Another impossible thing.

And it turns out, it’s also impossible to keep this tiny being a secret. As other village Stewards invade Solma’s little village, having heard whispers about the miracle bee, Solma begins to realise the insect extinction wasn’t an accident. Something happened all those years ago, something deliberate and disastrous and terrible. Something that will happen again, if Solma doesn’t work out who she can trust, and fast.

Because not everyone wants the bees to thrive freely. Some want to control them. And some want them gone altogether…

**Review**

After a span of one hundred years without insects, birds, or enough game meat to provide nourishment, Sol and her brother Warren stumble across a single, tiny bee!

𝕱𝖎𝖓𝖉 𝖆 𝖓𝖊𝖘𝖙. 𝕶𝖊𝖊𝖕 𝖎𝖙 𝖆𝖑𝖎𝖛𝖊. 𝕶𝖊𝖊𝖕 𝖎𝖙 𝖘𝖊𝖈𝖗𝖊𝖙. 𝕬𝖛𝖔𝖎𝖉 𝖊𝖝𝖎𝖑𝖊.

The Last Beekeeper is an upper Middle Grade/Young Adult read, with a Dystopian Fantasy Fiction plot. It is full of political and social issues.

The author does a great job of writing in a style that shows just how the community is raised/taught, and how easily those with limited education and exposure are manipulated.

I enjoyed the character development; no one was who you thought they’d be.. maybe with the exception of the town steward.
Warren starts off as this sweet, innocent, whimsical child, watching him become who he is meant to be was beautiful.
Sol’s growth is back and forth, like she could not decide who she was. Her inner turmoil is something most everyone can connect with.

I enjoyed the fact that the author included representation in her work. There were mixed races, disabilities, as well as LGBTQ inclusion.

The magic, or whispering, while is fascinating, I wish there was more building upon it. I do hope it delves deeper in the next installment of this series.

The Starburst Effect by Kelly Oram

Lily Rosemont lives next door to the biggest jerk in high school. Noah Trask has bullied Lily for years, and now he’s ruined her senior year by making her a target and turning the whole school against her. On top of that, her parents are getting divorced, and her world is falling apart around her.

After an accident on the football field leaves Noah with a traumatic brain injury, shattering his life as he knew it and leaving him with a whole heap of new disabilities, he’s no longer at the top of the high school food chain. In fact, he’s right down at the bottom with Lily.

In a cruel twist of fate, if Noah wants to graduate high school on time, he needs Lily’s help to complete a project—a book he wants to write about his experience. Lily’s not sure she can put aside her anger and hate for the boy who destroyed her senior year, but she desperately needs this project to get a scholarship to college.

It doesn’t take long for Lily to realize that the Noah who got injured is not the same Noah who survived the accident. He’s different. Way different. Slowly, Lily softens to this new Noah, but can she find it in her heart to forgive him? Can the two most unlikely people find friendship in adversity and help each other pick up the pieces of their broken lives?

**Review**

Right from the beginning we meet Lily in the midst of her parenting fighting and subsequent divorce. To make matters worse, her biggest bully happens to live right next door, hears it all, and torments her for it – turning just about the entire school against her.

I’m a cruel twist of fate, her tormentor gets injured during the Homecoming game, resulting in sever brain trauma. He awakes from a coma as almost an entirely new person, with the last year wiped out his memories.

It’s an emotional rollercoaster from the get go. We are along for the ride as Lily and Noah try to rebuild the bridge he had burned with her.

Lily is such an amazing character, written with real flaws. I’m pretty sure it would take me a lot longer to forgive my tormentor, but Lily is obviously a better person than I am. Her development is great. She starts out as this scared, meek, girl and turns into someone she herself can be proud of. Standing up for herself and others, and definitely not okay with being put last.

Oh, Noah. Like I said, I’m not sure I could forgive him as easily as Lily did. He was such a rotten character in the beginning. I’m so glad Oram did not wipe his memories completely, as I feel that that would have been cheating. He definitely deserved to remember and feel guilty about the way he treated others, especially since the person he was the cruelest to, was the only person to stick by him. Noah is a strong character, with ambition to graduate high-school, even though the odds are stacked against him.

Mason, Lily’s younger brother, was such a sweetheart. You can tell he had a lot of love for his sister from the first few pages. He was a solid rock for her in her time of need, so perceptive of everyone and everything around him. A genuinely sweet kid.

Lily and Mason’s parents though. Ugh. I understand that divorce is stressful and it brings out the worst in people, but for them to treat their children the way they did… I feel Lily, and Mason, were justified in their actions.

I love the attention to detail. You can tell Oram did her research before writing this book. I also enjoy the little tid bits that bring her previous work into this one. She casually references things for Cinder & Ella, as well as V is for Virgin.

The Starburst Effect by Kelly Oram hits hard and fast. If you’re a fan of redemption arcs, pick this book up. It is full of emotion – don’t forget the tissues. There is some content that may be triggering for some.

The Boy With Flowers in his Hair by Jarvis

Jarvis offers a moving tale of friendship, kindness, and acceptance, softly touching on the subjects of illness or hardship in a way that young children can understand.

Everyone likes David, the boy with flowers in his hair. He’s sweet and gentle, just like his colorful petals. David and his best friend have a great time together, finding the good puddles, making up songs, and running away from the bees. But one day David comes to school wearing a hat, and he is quiet. When he takes off the hat, his bright petals flutter down like butterflies. Now, where his flowers were looks twiggy and prickly, causing the other children to stay away. But David’s best friend has an idea—a way to help David get his color back, wielding paintbrushes and plenty of love. Sensitively told and simply illustrated, Jarvis’s story invites even the youngest children to talk about difficult subjects in an age-appropriate way—and feel inspired to support others when they face trying times.

**Review**

This was such a beautiful, heart-warming story about friendship and everything that that means.

David has flowers in his hair – all the children at school love him, especially his bestfriend. Then one day, David comes to school with a hat on. When he takes the hat off, his petals all flutter to the ground. He’s sad and prickly now, and all of the other children stay away from him – all except his bestfriend, who has a brilliant and creative idea to help David feel like himself again.

I absolutely loved this story, with friendship and selflessness being at the forefront. The story isn’t about the flowers themselves, but about going through change or being different (and you interpret it as you will) and the acceptance and unconditional love of those around you.

The illustrations are beautiful, vibrant, and poignant, however I didn’t so much enjoy how some were more.. solid than others.
The embossed cover is one of my favorite things about the book itself, along with the diverse group of characters.

The Boy with Flowers in His Hair is a must have for every shelf. This is a remarkable book that teaches children what true friendship really is.

Fly with the Arrow by Sarah K. L. Wilson

A STOLEN BRIDE. A TERRIFYING BRIDEGROOM. THE GAME THAT WILL DETERMINE THEIR FATES.

No one told her the most important law of the court – the Law of Greeting.
If they had, maybe she wouldn’t have greeted Bluebeard when he arrived to claim a mortal wife. And if she hadn’t greeted him, she wouldn’t have become his sixteenth wife or been swept away to the lands of the Wittenhame.

But if none of that had happened, then she wouldn’t have been an integral part of the game that takes place every two hundred years – a game that determines the fates of nations .

For not all is as it seems, not in her homeland of Pensmoore, not in the Wittenhame, and certainly not in her new marriage.

**Review**

This is a really great story!
The world building is amazing, the emotions that tore through me.

I was a little disappointed in the editing/proofreading, but other than that a great read.
Cannot wait to start the second one.

Violet Made of Thorns by Gina Chen

A darkly enchanting fantasy debut about a morally gray witch, a cursed prince, and a prophecy that ignites their fate-twisted destinies—perfect for fans of The Cruel Prince and Serpent & Dove.

Violet is a prophet and a liar, influencing the royal court with her cleverly phrased—and not always true—divinations. Honesty is for suckers, like the oh-so-not charming Prince Cyrus, who plans to strip Violet of her official role once he’s crowned at the end of the summer—unless Violet does something about it.

But when the king asks her to falsely prophesy Cyrus’s love story for an upcoming ball, Violet awakens a dreaded curse, one that will end in either damnation or salvation for the kingdom—all depending on the prince’s choice of future bride. Violet faces her own choice: Seize an opportunity to gain control of her own destiny, no matter the cost, or give in to the ill-fated attraction that’s growing between her and Cyrus.

Violet’s wits may protect her in the cutthroat court, but they can’t change her fate. And as the boundary between hatred and love grows ever thinner with the prince, Violet must untangle a wicked web of deceit in order to save herself and the kingdom—or doom them all.

**Review**

This was such an wonderful read! I couldn’t put it down.

Crawling her way up from nameless orphan on the gritty streets of the Moon District to the Kings official Seer, Violet is the anti-hero you root for, while your heart breaks for her and the people she is closest to.
Cyrus is the crown prince, but is cursed with a dark prophecy.. The King is not above manipulating any and everyone that stands in the way of his greed.

A Violet made of Thorns is full of raw emotion, allowing you to see both sides of the coin. I absolutely loved it.
Violet is relatable to those who find it hard to.find relatable characters. She’s flawed and closed off, who makes pretty terrible decisions a majority of the time, but still stands by those decisions. Violet struggles to find and hold onto things that come easily, like hope, love, trust.

The cover art is spectacular, the female Asian lead, as well as the friends to enemy to Lovers trope is the perfect blend.
This book is said to be likened to The Cruel Prince, but I don’t really see it.
Five golden stars for Gina Chen, I cannot wait to read more!

What are your top five reads from 2022?

We would like to thank every author, publisher, publicist, friends, family etc., that have so very graciously provided us with these AMAZING books this past year.

We would also like to thank our followers for sticking with us, reading our reviews, and offering feedback.

We cannot wait to see what 2023 brings us!

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