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Many things may have gone awry in 2022, my poor little writing habit being one of them, but for my reading, it’s been a different story (pun intended 😉). It’s been my best year in years and I feel like the reader I was of old has returned.

So let’s dive straight in to the books I’ve loved this year.

🪄 The Accidental Alchemist series by Gigi Pandian


I discovered this one thanks to Audible Plus. Their free catalogue offered the first in Gigi Pandian’s Accidental Alchemist series … and it got me hooked.

An aside: if you’re wondering whether those free offers work, I am here to testify they do. This is the second series I’ve devoured having discovered it via those free offers.

Pandian’s a US mystery writer who literally studied mystery novels at university (can you tell I’m jealous?) and she created this series about a 300 year old alchemist and her living gargoyle sidekick while she was going through a difficult time (read about it on her website). Dorian, the Poirot-loving, gourmet gargoyle, is a joyous creation. Zoe, the alchemist, and the mysteries themselves are enjoyable, but it’s following the adventures of Dorian that makes this a remarkable series for me.

If you enjoy Agatha Christie and have ever liked The Muppets, or an animation, you’ll fall for this series.

I’ve already passed on my love for The Accidental Alchemist to my mother, I wonder who’s going to be next.

🗞 The Penny Green Series by Emily Organ

Although I found Emily Organ through her Churchill and Pembboerly series a while ago, it wasn’t until this year that I moved on to her most popular character, Penny Green. It’s about a crime-solving, Victorian (1880s) news reporter who has an uncanny ability to get her carpet bag stolen – that’s not in any of the official blurb you understand just my observation. And I’ve been loving it. The will they-won’t they romantic subplot with the Scotland Year police inspector, lovely characterisations (my personal favourite is aMrs Garnet), a missing presume dead plant hunting father and woman’s suffragist bicycle riding sister.

So far I’ve read 10 of the 12 and am eagerly anticipating the release of the next two on Audible. Yes, i listen to far more than I ‘officially’ read. And the narrator, Gabrielle Baker, is excellent.

Look out for the scene with Penny’s sister, Eliza, riding her bike with an umbrella up!

🍸 Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin by Marion Meade

Arguable one of the best nonfiction books I’ve ever read. This one blew me away. It’s a history of four New York women writers throughout the 1920s: Eleanor Parker, Edna St Vincent Millay, Zelda Fitzgerald and Edna Ferber (who wrote the original showboat!).

While I can’t say I warmed to any of the protagonists, they all seemed monumentally selfish, I adored the way Marion Meade structured the book. Moving through the decade year by year and intertwining each of the women’s stories using the first hand accounts of their own (and those around them) letters and diaries.

💡 Inspiration and Whatnot

And while I’m rambling on about things I love, here are a couple more non-reading happy-inducing documentaries.

Rachael Stephen talking about creativity on YouTube.

Maggi Hambling talking about creativity … anywhere. But specifically the 75th birthday documentary, ‘Making Love with the Paint’ and radio interview for ‘This Cultural Life’