Staff picks of 2022
We asked our library staff to submit their favourite reads of 2022, and they didn't disappoint! Such a variety of titles were sent in.
We've compiled them into helpful book lists on our catalogue and on Libby:
Here's what they had to say about their choices...
The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel.
"This is the third of Mantel’s historical masterpieces about the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell, a brilliant man of his time who was in the mid-sixteenth century for a while the most powerful man in England bar King Henry VIII. This episode portrays Cromwell’s haunting by Anne Boleyn, who he saw brought to the scaffold in ‘Bring Up the Bodies’ following the earlier ‘Wolf Hall’ in which Thomas is seen first as young boy kicked out of Putney by his father’s boot, then as aid to Cardinal Wolsey and as a political schemer and fixer destined for high office. In ‘The Mirror and the Light’, we know where Cromwell’s destiny lies, and as the reader we journey with him inexorably towards his fateful date with the axe. King Henry, in later life fat and pus-ridden, blames Cromwell for his marriage to Anne of Cleaves, who Henry dislikes at first meeting, and Cromwell’s downfall is inevitable once his enemies (and there were many) have the sympathetic ear of the king. ‘The Mirror and the Light’ is historical fiction, or rather, historical fact beautifully illustrated, woven, depicted, interpreted, and explained. For complete enjoyment, read all three books in order. A pity that Hilary Mantel died so young…" - Submitted by Shaun at Library HQ.
Holy Island by LJ Ross
"I read this (first in a series of crime novels featuring DCI Ryan). The action takes place on Lindisfarne, when a gruesome murder takes place. It's full of twists and turns and a great read. I’m now reading the second in the series and have the third in my ‘to read’ pile!!" - Submitted by Kathryn at Devonport Library.
The Cornish Cream Tea Holiday by Cressida Mclaughlin
"Set in the fictional fishing village of Port Karadow, Thea explores the area whilst on holiday from Bristol, and it’s a holiday that will change her life forever in more ways than one! A feel good novel and a perfect escape." - Submitted by Kathryn at Devonport Library.
A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes.
"A brilliant, sometimes moving, sometimes very funny retelling of the story of the Iliad from the perspectives of the many women in the story." - Submitted by Austen at Central Library.
Another Now by Yanis Varoufakis.
"Cleverly combines science fiction with economics and politics to explore an alternative way of running the world" - Submitted by Austen at Central Library.
Twitch by M.G. Leonard.
"An exciting adventure mystery for children with lots of plot twists which will keep them guessing all the way through." - Submitted by Austen at Central Library.
Where the River Runs Gold by Sita Brahmachari.
"A dystopian but hopeful tale about the resilience of nature and the importance of having the courage to stand up for what you believe in." - Submitted by Austen at Central Library.
Alien: Into Charybdis by Alex White.
"Chosen because – Continues the story begun in the excellent Alien: Cold Forge (with some unexpected twists!)" - Submitted by Matthew at Central Library.
Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.
"Chosen because – Interesting world-building. A vampire story set in an alternate world Mexico City." - Submitted by Matthew at Central Library.
Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe.
"This work of nonfiction follows the story of the Sackler family, Purdue Pharmaceuticals, and their involvement in the opioid crisis that has created millions of addicts whilst also generating billions of dollars in profit and financing philanthropic works across the globe. The investigation is thorough, fascinating and at times heartbreaking as it uncovers the devastation to individuals, families and even whole communities." - Submitted by Mel at St Budeaux Library.
Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield.
"Beguiling plot and stunning prose" - Submitted by Grace at Plymstock Library.
Windswept and Interesting: My Autobiography by Billy Connolly
"This is Billy’s first autobiography and it’s impossible to read it without his Glaswegian accent accompanying it. It reads just like he’s talking to you about his life so far and wow what a life he’s led! From heartbreaking tales of his childhood and early youth to absolutely laugh out loud moments talking about his shows and his highland parties. ….I wish I’d been a guest at one of those! For all Billy fans, it’s a must read book and better still, the audiobook is narrated by him." - Submitted by Sue at Crownhill Library.
Operation Moonlight by Louise Morrish
"A moving story featuring an elderly lady, Betty, rapidly approaching her 100th birthday. The plot switches between two timelines, featuring heroines from WW2 and modern life." - Submitted by Helen at Library HQ.
Pandora by Susan Stokes-Chapman
"An atmospheric story set in Georgian England." - Submitted by Helen at Library HQ.
The Maid by Nita Prose
"Molly, the maid, takes great pride in her work and since her grandmother’s death she must learn to navigate complex surroundings. An entertaining mystery." - Submitted by Helen at Library HQ.
Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe Series
"I read my first Sharpe novel ‘Sharpe’s Tiger’ at the beginning of 2022. I enjoyed watching the Sharpe series on TV, but did not think that I would like the books. I was wrong! Cornwell brings Richard Sharpe to life and vividly describes British military campaigns from India to the Napoleonic wars in all their mess, guts and glory. Sharpe and his men are very flawed characters and I found myself sympathising with them and sometimes loathing them. Cornwell charts British military triumphs and disasters and he even manages to get Sharpe on board ship so he can assist in the battle of Trafalgar.
Sharpe saves Wellington’s life in India and is given an officer’s commission as a thank you. This lands him in all kinds of hot water because he has risen from the ranks and not bought his commission as a gentleman would do. Sharpe is definitely not a gentleman. So, at first, he is suspicious to all parties, just making a few loyal friends. He does win the respect of his men and some fellow officers, but the process takes a while.
In each final chapter Cornwell explains how he puts the fictional Sharpe into historical context and this is fascinating.
My escape to Sharpe country has been hugely enjoyable so far. Thankfully there are 23 books in the series and I am only on number 8." - Submitted by Sabine at Plymstock Library.