The Bossy Five-Star Reads So Far This Year
The Five-Star Bossy Favorites
Someone asked me a while back if I ever give five-star ratings to the books I read. And the answer is: yes! I try to read books I'll enjoy, find interesting, and/or be entertained by. I read over 100 books a year, and a five-star read is a special one for me. It may make me feel all the feelings, may be intriguing and make me think, and is usually engaging enough that it's tough to put down.
These are my six five-star Bossy reads so far in 2022.
Which standout books have you read this year? What made them your favorites?
01 Our Woman in Moscow by Beatriz Williams
Williams's historical fiction mystery--based on real-life double agents in the Cambridge Spy Ring--is vividly set in Europe and Russia.
In Beatriz Williams's historical fiction, Our Woman in Moscow, it's 1948, and Iris Digby, her American diplomat husband Sasha, and their two children have disappeared overnight. Those who knew and worked with them are shocked. Were the Digbys abducted by Soviet agents...or did they make their way by choice behind the Iron Curtain with a suitcase of American secrets to trade?
I loved this. Every heart-stopping moment; every exquisite detail; the characters' growth, emotional distance, and unforeseen connections to each other; the trick of teasing out what was actually happening; the characterization; the machinations--all of it.
I loved Williams's immersive story so much, I was in for all of Our Woman in Moscow's elements: Russia, family, spies, crossing/double-crossing, finding common ground, bravery, and illogical and irresistible love.
For my full review, check out Our Woman in Moscow.
02 In Love: A Memoir of Love and Loss by Amy Bloom
Amy Bloom writes with brutal honesty about her heartbreak and her determination to support her husband Brian Ameche's desire to end his life on his own terms.
In her memoir In Love, author Amy Bloom shares the story of an impossible situation: how she faced the pending loss of her husband Brian Ameche, first mentally and then physically, to Alzheimer's disease.
Ameche begins showing cognitive loss, and when a diagnosis is established of Alzheimer's disease, he considers the cases of those he has known who suffered for many years from the disease--and their caregivers alongside them. He becomes determined to participate in an assisted suicide program while he is still showing enough cognition to enter into the agreement.
Bloom details the reasoning behind his decision and explores the importance to him of taking an active role in determining the time and place and conditions of his death. She considers how she can best support his wishes, even as doing so will take him away from her.
For my full review, check out In Love.
03 Wingwalkers by Taylor Brown
Brown's signature immersive details and wonderfully imagined, rich characters bring Depression-era scenes to life against an irresistible backdrop of swooping, soaring, daring aviation in Wingwalkers.
What is it about aviation stories and my being so in love with them?
In Taylor Brown's recently published historical fiction novel Wingwalkers, Zeno, a former World War I ace pilot, and Della, his daring wingwalking wife, travel Depression-era America, wowing audiences and inspiring hope in a dark, sober time.
Zeno and Della are vagabonds, putting on shows for small bills and change, scrambling to make enough to fuel their plane, feed their dog, and to hopefully have enough left over to eat meager meals, just enough to keep them going. They're daring, sometimes haunted, broken, in love, and irresistible to read about.
Wingwalkers swoops and soars yet grounds the reader in wonderfully imagined (and researched) details that bring the story to life. I loved this book!
Taylor is also the author of Gods of Howl Mountain, a book I loved and gave five stars, Pride of Eden (a book still on my to-read list that looks wonderful), and Fallen Land, a title I loved and included in the Greedy Reading List Six Great Historical Fiction Stories about the Civil War. (If you’re not on the Taylor Brown train yet, may I strongly suggest you join me?)
Click here for my full review of Wingwalkers.
04 The Impossible Destiny of Cutie Grackle by Shawn K. Stout
Stout's middle-grade story is irresistibly strange, full of difficulties and a tough young heroine's gritty problem-solving, and largely about believing in the impossible and never losing heart.
Cutie Grackle lives in a cabin in the Appalachian Mountains with her dim-witted, muttering Uncle Horace. She's used to being hungry, to sucking on pebbles to trick her stomach into thinking it's getting food, and to relying on a couple of trusted outsiders for help when necessary.
After an encounter with a fortune-cookie message and a flock of ravens who seem to be following her, Cutie begins to believe that the curse Uncle Horace keeps mumbling about might be real--and that it might have been connected to the deaths of her parents.
As the ravens begin to bring Cutie objects that seem to be linked to a bigger message and mission, she wonders: could identifying and lifting the curse offer answers--and could it even change the trajectory of her tough young life?
The Impossible Destiny of Cutie Grackle is a mountain adventure story that offers magical realism with an edge. Shawn K. Stout's novel is full of heartbreak and hope and is irresistibly unexpected.
Click here for my full review of this book.
05 Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
A book about childhood friends making a video game is an unexpected, captivating setup for this wonderfully deep, epic look at creativity, tragedy, and love.
Childhood friends Sam Masur and Sadie Green are brilliant, creative collaborators and a wonderfully complementary pair since their chance meeting in childhood--and they're also (sometimes) full of love for each other.
Reunited in college, Sam and Sadie come together to try to create a masterpiece: a video game unlike any that has come before. Something immersive, something fascinating, something irresistible.
Their wild success and their devastating lows--individual and collective--test their loyalty, offer joy and unexpected stress, and push the limits of their connection.
There are fascinating, heartbreaking, heartwarming echoes and swirls of themes and details that repeat and connect through time and through virtual reality--and that frequently cross into the gritty messiness of real life. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is smart and holds layer upon layer to explore.
I savored this story and delighted in its characters and just loved this book. For my full review, check out Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow.
06 No Cure for Being Human by Kate Bowler
Touching, honest, raw, funny, and full of gritty reflections about life and faith, this was a read that I absolutely adored.
Reading memoirs centered around cancer is not always a go for me, but this book was special. Divinity professor Kate Bowler offers meaningful insight, gritty truth-telling, and wry humor as she shares her experiences surrounding facing stage 4 colon cancer.
I finished No Cure for Being Human in one evening, tabbed many, many passages, immediately bought my own copy, re-tabbed everything, and would have been perfectly willing to read the book again in its entirety right away.
So many moments struck me, surprised me, or touched me as I read this lovely work, including Bowler's exploration of how our lives are largely shaped by choices out of our control and her reckoning with the way in which she considers her body after cancer treatment ("Who would fault a body that has survived so much and asked for so little?").
No Cure for Being Human is beautiful, funny, heartwarming, practical, and Kate Bowler is so wise and wonderful, I hugged this book to my chest when I finished reading it.
For my full review of this book, please see No Cure for Being Human.