2022 – The Year of Stories

A kid that refused to read

Do you remember the first book that you have ever read ?

The other day  I was telling my mom about a book I was reading and she told me how happy she was that I enjoyed reading, because when I was a kid, I didn’t want to read. She struggled to make me interested in any sort of book – I simply refused to read them.

But one day to my mom’s delight, that changed. And all it took was a spark that came in the form of a story. Funny enough, my inner spark trigger was the movie called The Mummy. Do you guys remember Brandon Fraser running around the city of the dead while being hunted by the exceptionally creepy mummy of the formerly handsome high priest Imhotep? 

I was intrigued. Beguiled. And I wanted to learn about ancient Egypt, so I read. The stories were mysterious, almost fantastical, and when my older brother gave me some fantasy books to sample afterwards? My interest exploded 💣

It’s just a phase

Throughout my life my time spent reading would vary a lot. There were periods I would even walk on the street with my nose buried in a book endangering myself (and others), and then there were times I would barely read anything.

I bet I am not the only one with unread books on the bookshelf, occasionally remembering them and thinking – I will read those when I finally have a bit of free time. And just like that, their stories and pages would get postponed for another day, another month. Summer holidays perhaps? A long flight?

It turns out we all have time to read books. We just chose to fill that time with other activities. It’s just that daily time versus activity negotiation, right? I used to watch a lot of TV (Hello Netflix!) or scrolled through the infinite feed of my Instagram. And the only reason it was like that was because those activities became my free time habits

My 2022 started with a book (from Jezisek) that lit up that good old flame within me again. The back description said: “Slowly burning fairytale”. My mind rejoiced. That was exactly what I needed to read over the holidays.

I finis… inhaled the book feeling – I don’t know, is it going to sound cheesy if I tell you I felt alive? I was lounging on the couch in my living room yet I felt like I had been transported to a different, fantastical world. A strange dream, where ridiculously beautiful things mingled with treacherous deals, promises too dangerous to keep, and right when I was reaching the magnificent end, the book…the book bloody finished, unlike the story itself. 

But the spell was done. I was too deep. I was hooked. And that spark within me was burning bright again once more. I was hungry for stories.

How to find time to read?

Before I get to recommending some fantasy stories that will reboot your imagination and take you places ( no drugs included), here are three simple tips I have for you if you wanna fall back in love (or for the first time if you will) with reading.

  1. Find genre or specific books that spark that interest within you
  2. Don’t push yourself to read books you don’t enjoy
  3. Build a habit of reading. Read every day, even if it is for a bit. I think this is where fiction gets a bit of a head start since in those types of stories you are intrigued by what happens next. But try reading 10 pages a day. Or 2. Just do it regularly.

Bonus point: Read with a friend. There is nothing like discussing your favorite parts with somebody else.

Let’s enter the world of fantasy

40 books. 23.000 pages. It was transformational. And here are my tips about the amazing authors that opened their minds and hearts and created something incredible out of nothing. Or have these stories always been there? And we merely fish for them with our creative minds? Who knows. We all deserve to dream.

Stephanie Garber

Stephanie’s book, the Once Upon a Broken Heart started the 2022 year of reading. She writes in the YA fantasy category and there is nothing quite like it. Her stories and writing style is a bit like eating cotton floss and candy cane while you are being repeatedly stabbed in your heart with a sharp knife. And you will thank her for it in the end. It’s like Stockholm syndrome you didn’t know you needed. Her world-building is fantastical, colorful, sparkling and magical, her characters intriguing, sometimes reckless and silly and at other times violent and cunning. Her books will lure you in and won’t let you go. They won’t let you even fall asleep. That’s how much you will want to know what happens next.

Series I swear by:

Caraval Trilogy (Caraval (1/3), Legendary (2/3), Finale (3/3))

Once Upon a Broken Heart Trilogy (Once Upon a Broken Heart (1/3), Ballad of Never After (2/3), third book is in the making)

Mary E. Pearson

Dance of Thieves was my recovery book, after discovering the whole genre of YA fantasy. I figured it would be a good way to get over the post-book blues by falling in love with different story lines, characters, and different magic. And it’s safe to say it worked. The story is much less whimsical, but very captivating, with more action. Love story that is doomed right from the start, intrigues and political machinations included.

To read: Dance of Thieves (1/2), Vow of Thieves (2/2)

Source: Amazon

Kerri Maniscalco

Kerri’s Kingdom of the Wicked placed me in a love-hate relationship. The main character, a young witch named Emilia, was really pissing me off at times. Her ‘dance’ partner in the story, Wrath, the wicked prince of hell, was another story… ❤️‍🔥 Kerri’s writing is more gothic styled, situated in old Sicily, where Emilia’s sister gets murdered mysteriously and Emilia vows to find out who killed her even if she has to make a deal with a demon. After reading the second volume, it turned out Kerri was just warming up the engine. It gets steamy pretty fast, let me tell you. But I appreciated the female empowerment sensations that carries through the whole book. Grab if you enjoy mystery, mythology, witches, demons, curses, spells and wickedly handsome dudes that can’t be trusted. (Skip if you are bothered by smut. Your loss though 🤷)

To read: Kingdom of the Wicked (1/3), Kingdom of the Cursed (2/3), Kingdom of the Feared (3/3)

Erin Morgenstern

Erin’s book Starless Sea felt like… I literally don’t know how to put that into words. It felt like poetry being weaved into a story. Like falling down the rabbit hole into another world. It’s an ode to stories, to books, to libraries, and to cats. It’s a magic incarnate. It’s a mind on psychedelics in the best possible way. It’s what we dream of when the world gets too real and we fantasize of a place where anything could happen. As Erin writes: ”Those who seek will find”. 

To read: Starless Sea

Source: Pinterest

Patrick Rothfuss

We left the YA world swiftly straight into the world of epic fantasy. I mean, this is life’s work kind of book. GOT material. This is the shit that gets turned into the most-watched Netflix series.

The Kingkiller Chronicles has fantastic world building, intricate magic system, super interesting main character that doesn’t get anything for free. The only problem with those epic fantasies are slow starts – the author needs to set up a lot of ground for his story. Took me around 150 pages of questioning whether I should continue as I slowly slipped into “This might be one of the best bloody stories I have ever read” and Kvothe is one of my favorite characters to this day.

To read: Kingkiller Chronicles: The Name of the Wind (1/3), A Wise Man’s Fear (2/3), third book (still 😢) in the making

Brandon Sanderson

Brandon…Brandon is not an author, he is a religion. He is the Einstein of fantasy books. Master of storytelling. He is one hilarious, excruciatingly slow-writing torturer that you will love. Stormlight Archive is a masterpiece, a tome of fantasy, an ode to honor, to magic, to plot twists and masterful art of jumping to a different storylines while you are chewing your nails in agitation and desperately waiting for what the next page holds. His world-building is…honestly, sometimes it feels more complex than reality. Bloody hell, there actually is a whole wiki about the magic system, society structure, languages, clothing styles, plants and animals. Just do yourself a favor. Read it.

To read: Stormlight Archive: The Way of Kings (1/10), Word of Radiance (2/10), Edgedancer (novela, 2,5/10), Oathbringer (3/10), Dawnshard (Novela, 3,5/10), Rhythm of War (4/10), rest in the making

Source: Amazon

S. J. Maas

Who doesn’t know S. J Maas by now? I have seen her books in any possible language. Mostly her Court of Thorns and Roses series, but one (me) would dare to say that her masterpiece is the Throne of Glass series. It has it all – intriguing worldbuilding, epic love stories, unbelievable character transformation and growth. Perhaps it falls more into the YA category, it definitely has more relationships and good old sweet amour, but Sarah likes to drag her characters through mud, war, despair and then some, which makes each tiny win even more worth it. Suffice to say – this series got me through Covid. I repeat, I actually have good memories of having covid. Thanks Sarah!

To read: Throne of Glass Series (Throne of Glass (1/7), Crown of Midnight (2/7), Heir of Fire (3/7), Queen of Shadows (4/7), Empire of Storms (5/7), Tower of Dawn (6/7), Kingdom of Ash (7/7)).

Pro tip: Books 5 & 6 are surprisingly recommended to be read in parallel. Do not skip Tower of Dawn! The storyline of Chaol and Yrene characters is one of the best out there, trust me.

Source: Wiki

Laini Taylor

After reading The Throne of Glass series, I was back in the reader’s slump. I went on an epic journey and now the journey was over. Covid was over. And I didn’t know what to do with myself. But then I discovered Laini, and she took me back high, higher than I ever expected to go. Her writing is like walking in the wildest dreams and nightmares. It’s beautiful, and horrifying, an epode to dreams, destinies, imaginations running wildly free. You might be thinking – there is nothing new, nothing creative in the world of YA fantasy. And Laini just says: Hold my beer. What an utterly beautiful dream..I mean a story. A book. A gift.

To read: Strange the Dreamer (1/2), Muse of Nightmares (2/2)

Source: Amazon

Holly Black

The world of Fea. You are probably thinking – it must be magical, right? All lights, and sparkles, glitters and rainbows. Well, not by Holly’s hand. Her world is cruel, especially to human Jude and her sister, who are being raised by their Fae step-father aka mother killer. Yep, the book doesn’t start with sparkles, but love-hate fueled murder. And then you swiftly leave the boring human world and enter the deliciously dark Faerie. Oh my, Holly can describe a world, let me tell you. And the creatures that dwell in it? Especially the biggest asshole of them all, the Fae Prince Cardan. But as we like it – nothing is ever as it seems. Plus, the books are written in present tense, which, at least for me, accounted for a very personal, dynamic reading experience. A breath of fresh air!

To read: The folk of the Air series ( The Cruel Prince (1/3), The Wicked King (2/3), The Queen of Nothing (3/3) )

Source: Amazon

Stephen Fry

This isn’t fantasy per say, but…isn’t it? Let me ask you. Are you a fan of Greek mythology? English humor? Then wait no more and get yourself the copies of Greek mythology retold in the 21 century language from Stephen’s knowledgeable hands. Which God is which? Which hero saved who? How did our favorite stellar constellations come to life? And how are half of the english/medical/spacial words related to old greek? 

To read: Mythos, Heroes

Jennifer L. Armentrout

Jennifer knows how to tell a spicy story. Let’s start with that. We are definitely entering the new adult fantasy territory here. It still has the mystery part – Gods, Primal Gods, magical and deadly ether, destinies, good versus predominant evil, and characters so complex it’s gonna take a while to detangle why they are so messed up. But it also has incredible romance, and some very spicy pieces. Pieces that will make you blush in the public transport and you will feel like people are reading over your shoulder. If you are into that (or you wanna see if you might be:D), give Jennifer a try (start with Flesh and Fire series). She is definitely not afraid of it.

To read: 

Flesh and Fire Series (A Shadow in the Ember (1/3), A Light in the Flame (2/3), A Fire in the Flesh (3/3, still in the making)

Blood and Ash Series (From Blood and Ash (1/6), A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire (2/6), The Crown of Gilded Bones (3/6), The War of Two Queens (4/6), rest in the making)

Source: Amazon


Perhaps you feel like reading some fantasy now..? 🙂

Marketa 2022 – The Year of Stories

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