I’ve been meaning to review my favorite fictional books on this website for awhile but every time I start compiling a list it quickly gets long, I see what else I could add, and I worry about what I may have forgotten. Essentially, I keep overanalyzing it all. That said, before Christmas, I saw a notification on Goodreads about my year in review and as I scrolled the page some book covers popped out at me reminding me just how good they really were.… and thus I realized, like the sewing challenges in the past, I could simply start with a 2023 year in review book post. And so voila!
So looking over my Goodreads 2023 year in review these are the books I read this year, in no particular order, that really jumped out at me. This isn't going to be an in depth review as there are tons of those online already. Instead it's simply a list of books that I remembered loving this year with links, in each title and author heading, to its corresponding Goodreads profile for more information.
Many of these books I did receive electronically through NetGalley to read and review, but whether I chose to include them here and my reviews themselves are my opinion after reading the book. Also, although I haven't reviewed fictional books here before I have reviewed cookbooks. In case you're interested they were: Healthy One Pan Dinners, The No-Fuss Family Cookbook, and The Secret Ingredient Cookbook.
Rather than start with a book I decided to kick this off with an author as I found I read several of her books this year and many of them jumped out at me when going over my list. I've long realized that I will never say no to reading Charlie's books. Her character are always written well and her world building is well constructed. Some books are completely transformative like her Star Mother and Star Father book series while others are like a cozy blanket with just enough scariness to make it fun as you know the conclusion will be happy.
The first of her books I read this year and absolutely adored was The Hanging City. Like previously her world building is incredible with a seemingly dystopian future, magical seeming talents, and then entirely new species. I especially loved the Trollis city both architecturally, as a society, and the characters themselves. Plus the cover art was sublime.
I also was able to read the next book in the Whimbrel House Series and loved falling back into that world too.
Later in the year I joined Audible for a bit and was overjoyed to find a book I'd been meaning to read. I was happy to quickly tumble into it finding a new epic world with believable characters doing amazingly unbelievable things.
And now onto the individual books:
I love the entire premise of this story and found myself needing to keep reading to see what would happen next. The story felt unique, the world building was incredible, and I felt for all the many characters.
This book was absolutely heart wrenching at times but the characters themselves made you unable to put it down as you needed to know what happened next. It does jump back and forth between World War II and the 21st century America but, I felt, it was done beautifully and was perfectly interwoven together.
Yes, I didn't hear about this book until AppleTV announced the television show (here's the IMDB link). Since both the show and the book sounded absolutely incredible... I immediately hopped onto the website of my local library to put both the book and the ebook on hold. The ebook came available first and it grabbed me from the first page... maybe even the first line. I laughed so much, almost teared up at parts, and absolutely enjoyed it so much that I wish I hadn't read it as quickly as I did. The book does jump between unrealistic bits to really dark scenes and back which I realized, based on Goodreads reviews (averaging 5 stars overall though) seems to mean you either really love this book or hate it.
Word of warning: Rape and death
This is the second book in the series and earlier I had listened to the first one and I ended it wanting to know what would happen next. This time around I didn't get fully into the book as I kept setting it aside for other things but once I switched to the audiobook version it pulled me, once again, into the world fully.
It is a bit slower going at points and has less science to back everything up but I liked the characters, the world building, and I still want to know what happens next so if a third book comes out I may attempt the audiobook before the book itself.
I absolutely love Michael Crichton and read so many of his books when I was in high school. I'd recently heard about Eruption, a book coming out in June 2024 published posthumously and coauthored with James Patterson, and through a bit more research stumbled upon this gem. I'd absolutely adored The Andromeda Strain, often wishing I hadn't read it so I could read it again, and recognized the name of the coauthor Daniel H. Wilson. This book didn't let me down. It was true Michael Crichton through and through leaving me hanging, rapidly connecting me to the characters, and kept amazing me truly as the book went on. Like the first it was presented as a post-incident report and I still wish I hadn't read it so I can read it again with no knowledge of what's about to happen. I guess the highest praise you can give a book.
I follow this author on Instagram (Litterbox Comics) and absolutely love each and every cartoon she's posted so I jumped at the chance to read this book. If you also follow her then you've probably read them all before but I still really enjoyed having them all in one place. I haven't checked out the physical copy yet but can see this as a coffee table book or a gift for new parents. It's hilarious!
I actually didn't get this book through NetGalley but really wanted it as I remembered reading and loving Machinehood back in 2021. It didn't disappoint and offered a novel viewpoint and complex world building which I craved. I see on Goodreads it lists this as the first book in The Alloy Era series and so I'm already planning on reading the next book whenever it does come out.
This audiobook was everything! I absolutely adored the characters, the story, the narrator, the scenes, the calligraphy, the perfume, and every little facet of it. It was written and read so well that I, who almost never wears perfume, wanted to research it more and take up calligraphy before life slowly seeped back in. Me who has never reread a book since being a child wrote a reminder to revisit this world again. I highly recommend experiencing this book.
I adored the first book in this Edge Worlds series with its frozen landscape so I jumped at the chance to follow the characters to a jungle planet this time around. Once I fully got back into the world I was absolutely hooked though I did find that the first book in the series was better. That said, the conclusion walked the fine line between concluding the story and leaving it open for another book so I'm cautiously hopeful I'll be be able to walk in their world, wherever it is, again.
Oh my goodness! This book was stunning and world changing. The world building was great, the characters were sublime, and the thought and detail to the food made you want to luxuriate between the pages as you could almost taste it.
Word of warning this is a dystopian world where food and sex have been flipped so there is clandestine eating and open religion entwined sex and nakedness.
I absolutely loved the concept of this book! The book switched well between the characters while offering the perfect blend of mental load sadness and hilarity. Since I've also started writing my own apps I loved the app and company startup parts too even though my ideas have nothing to do with theirs.
Sometimes you need a mind-bending time traveling sci-fi thriller and this book fit the bill perfectly. The characters were written super well and immediately grabbed me making the book so hard to put down. Well written with the perfect amount of science, unknownness, grit, and messy timey-wimey.
Word of warning: This does open with a school shooting that is returned to (time travel) throughout the book.
This book started in a world that felt like a simple but really well written historical fiction then it got really good. There's magic tied to food and drink, family ties, and really epically good plot. Finding these links for you made me realize that the next book in the Chefs of the Gods series is slated to come out in January and I definitely just added it to my reading list.
Word of warning: There was violence and addiction included in the book and, although not as scary, several reviewers did note a strong veganism theme running through it all too.
I remember reading a lot of Robert J. Sawyer's books years ago so when I came across this audible version of a book I hadn't read yet I knew I needed to listen to it. It was amazing! The narration was on point and the book itself was incredible offering tantalizing details as you went. The book itself kept switching between different character as they were interviewed. This was a short but great read.
Another dystopian book this time with a bit more of an old school vibe with similarities to the Hunger Game and Divergent type ideas. The book itself grabbed onto me right away and brought me along for a chilly, sometimes disturbing, and really great read. The ending felt like there could be more and if that's the case I really want to continue the story.
I kept hearing about this book and finally put it on hold at my local library. The audiobook came in first and listening to this story was truly exquisite. That said any attempt to explain the book feels inadequate. There's a time war, two souls in love, timey-wimey-ness, messages, hope, and prose. I'm so glad I put it on hold so I could enjoy it and can see this being a book I could come back to time and time again.
Oh my fricken goodness! This book was amazing, awe-inspiring, and completely unable to put down. I gasped and laughed and luckily had no important plans so I read it all in one rather late day. I stumbled across this book and thought it had a lot to do with whale falls (when a fallen whale decomposes and creates its own ecosystem in the ocean). This was not that. But this was so much better that I'm okay with that. This book was a mix of Michael Crichton and Andy Weir with some family psychology thrown in and it was epic!
I'm going to admit right now that as of this post's first draft I haven't finished it yet. That said the ones I have read catch in your throat as you read and you need to take a brief break to recalibrate back to life or something. His books are amazing and so far this hasn't let me down.
And with that I'll leave you with a question... what book(s) have you read that you can't stop thinking about? Also what book on here did you read already and did you love it too? Feel free to share in the comments below. And regardless of anything I hope you’re having a great day.
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