TL;DR: In 2022 I read 35 books, but I struggled to put this list together, because I didn’t love very many of them. But looking back over the list, there were two that stood out.
In 2022 I read 35 books, but I struggled to put this list together, because I didn’t love very many of them. A lot of my list was books I was reading to John during bedtime (The Hitchhiker’s Guide books, and the Discworld books), as well as several UFO-related books in preparation for my podcast. But looking back over the list, there were two that stood out.
Nona the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir
She looked up at the sky, and she bellowed: “You said you wouldn’t do anything weird!”
This is an odd book to review. If you enjoyed Gideon the Ninth or Harrow the Ninth, the first two books in the Locked Tomb series, then you don’t need me to convince you to read. If you haven’t read them yet, then a review of the third book in a series isn’t going to convince you.
It’s also odd because it originally wasn’t intended as a separate book. The Nona material was originally part of the next book in the series, but, editor Carl Engle-Laird says: “Nona arrived, bursting forth from Alecto the Ninth with an irrepressible energy and presence. She could not be contained, and demanded her own volume.”
While avoiding spoilers, I can tell you that this book starts out feeling very different from the previous two, but has the same sense of playfulness and humor. It’s set in a city in a war zone and told from the perspective of Nona, a girl with a strange past and a broken memory. She lives with Pyrrha, Camilla, and Palamedes, and has a list of dogs she would like to invite to her birthday party. And if that doesn’t convince you to read, I don’t know what will.
Dogs to invite to birthday party
- Brown one by the fish shop, average sized, four legs
- Stop It, name assumed, lies under counter at dairy, red colour, big sized, four legs
- White-and-black one seen once in the park, average sized, tail curled twice, three legs
- Noodle, king of dogs in secret, white-adjacent, small sized, six legs
- Spotted beach dog, often on beach, large sized, huge ginger eyebrows, three legs
I loved Kean’s first book, UFOs: Generals, Pilots, And Government Officials Go On The Record, but I was slow to pick up her second. To be honest, I didn’t until I watched the Netflix series Surviving Death, which is based on her book. I was hoping for more detail beyond what the show covered, and the book does deliver that. I appreciated that Kean used the same format as UFOs, with her commentary sections interspersed with sections written by researchers explaining how they approach such a difficult-to-study topic.
The reincarnation sections plug nicely into another book I greatly enjoyed on the topic, Journey of Souls, by Michael Newton. Kean shares some extraordinary stories, including a young boy with recurring nightmares of being trapped in the cockpit of a burning plane as it crashed, and how the details he remembered led the family to find a particular WWII pilot whose life matches uncannily well.
The mediumship sections are presented well, and Kean is well aware that there’s a less compelling story to tell, with a “you had to be there” kind of vibe. I didn’t mind it, but I wasn’t compelled by it either.
Overall, if you’re interested in a good high-level overview of what information we have about life after death, I recommend it. That said, all the best bits were covered in the Netflix series, so feel free to watch that if you’re not sure about the book.