If you're anything like me, 'tis the season for running out last minute to find gifts for friends and family... and that's why I enjoy a good booklist! I'm thrilled to share my top 12 favourite reads of 2022 -- fiction and non-fiction -- perfect for the reader in your crowd (or perhaps your own TBR pile... promise I won't tell!)
A graphic novel might seem like a strange choice, but I have adored Kate Beaton’s work since the early days of her web comic Hark a Vagrant, and this tender, tragic memoir of her life in Alberta’s oilsands is an absolute stand-out of the medium. Honest, dark and searingly funny (as well as beautifully illustrated), this is an eye-opening look into the personal reality behind the energy we so often take for granted.
From the very first page, Kristin Beck’s The Winter Orphans captures the heart-thudding terror and bravery of Jewish children trapped within Occupied France—as well as the heroism of those within the Swiss Red Cross who risked it all to bring them to safety. With beautiful prose and unforgettable characters, this is a novel you don’t want to miss.
This book was a firecracker. It opens at the start of a luxury safari, where movie star Katie Barstow and her new husband are hosting an entourage of glittering Hollywood guests… and it ends with nearly every member of the safari dead or abandoned on the Serengeti. This is a book where killers abound… not all of the animal variety.
Captivating from the outset, The Porcelain Moon tells a story of found family and forbidden love, while showcasing the lesser-known contribution of Chinese workers to the Allied cause in WWI. This tender and beautifully written story is Janie Chang at her best!
Lecia Cornwall’s latest takes readers to the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, where Viviane Alden, a British aristocrat, comes to take in the sights, snapping photos of Berlin’s idyllic streets with her trusty Leica… and sending photographs back to Britain proving that Hitler’s Germany isn’t as welcoming as it seems.
You know I love a true story, and this non-fiction book tells the story of the remarkable Harold Gillies, the ground-breaking surgeon who revolutionized plastic surgery in World War I by reconstructing the faces of men who’d suffered severe facial trauma on the battlefield. Perfect for any non-fiction war buffs on your list… including my dad, who stole it the minute I brought it home from the bookstore and refused to give it back until he’d finished it.
Did you know that Jackie Kennedy’s iconic wedding dress was made by a Black designer? This brilliantly written true story charts the rise of Ann Lowe from her beginnings in Jim Crow Alabama to her life as the designer of choice to American royalty, bringing a forgotten icon of fashion history back to the fore. This is a must-read!
Did you know that champagne was the drink of choice for the Nazis… and that champagne’s illustrious houses did whatever they could to safeguard their best vintages from the Wehrmacht? This book about the history of champagne is one I stumbled upon while researching The Paris Deception and quite simply, I couldn’t put it down. It chronicles the tumultuous history of the champagne region and its unforgettable makers through centuries of war and strife.
Kerri Maher’s latest tells the true story of Sylvia Beach, founder of Shakespeare and Company, now one of the most iconic booksellers in the world – and her struggle to publish James Joyce’s Ulysses, against insurmountable odds – including, at times, those presented by Joyce himself. This book is a love letter to the extraordinary people who made interwar Paris the place to be for book lovers, illuminating a world where leading literary lights await us on every page — and spotlighting the woman who united them all, Miss Sylvia Beach.
Amita Parikh’s debut novel is a story of friendship, family and love set against a backdrop both glittering and ominous: a circus train traveling through war-torn Europe. You can practically feel the jewelled silks of the World of Wonders Circus, but just as you sink into the rich illusion Parikh plunges you into the cold and dangerous world that is Theresienstadt, a “model” ghetto and propaganda tool of the Nazis.
Readers can all but smell the gunsmoke in The Diamond Eye, so thoroughly does Kate Quinn immerse you in the grim and grey world of the Russian Front — and in the psyche of her remarkable real-life heroine, Mila Pavlichenko: Russia’s most deadly WWII-era sniper. Quinn’s page-turning account of Mila’s transformation from student to sniper measures the unimaginable toll of pulling the trigger, portraying with power and compassion Mila’s urge not to kill, but to protect.
Are you a James Bond fan? If so, read on! One Woman’s War tells the story of Operation Mincemeat, the real-life WWII covert operation dreamt up by Ian Fleming through the eyes of the real-life inspiration for Bond’s secretary, Miss Moneypenny. Enjoy with your favourite martini… shaken, not stirred, naturally.