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My 2023 Top Reads: Book Reviews

2023 was a great year for reading with so many amazing releases and buzz books. I had some definite loves this year—books that lingered long after I’d finished. I thought I’d share a few book reviews of favorites in case you missed them!


Contemporary/Book Club


by R. F. Huang

Huang’s writing is like silk. Pages turn so easily that the book compels you to the end. While the plot didn’t keep me guessing, the big picture thoughts were worth the reading time. Impressive writing for what stands out behind the provocative title.


Historical Books


by Anthony Capella

The language landscape is enough to recommend this book, but it has so much more. I am not a fan of world war historicals but this one centers tightly on the MCs and has such a compelling food element to it that the war is a frame for a spectacular painting. Adoring every page, I learned things about the war in Italy and the time period, and longed to get back to it after I set it down.


by Jess Walter

Not a new release but this interesting take on a Hollywood romance is an easy sell to lovers (like me) of Taylor Jenkins Reid. Gorgeous writing and I was hooked from page one.




Thriller/Suspense


by Rachel Hawkins

Loved the premise with haunted house vibes in the rock/music themed tale. Slower start but page turning prose and a fragile story kept me on the edge wanting to know what happened.



by Jennifer Hillier

Complex plot that kept me guessing and although abuse is the underlying theme it was artfully done. I loved the Toronto setting for the flashbacks and the reveals satisfied.




Fantasy


by Alix Harrow

Alix Harrow’s lush writing is a delicious meal to savor. The gothic tale (and I love gothic houses) was an instant sell and although this is not a ‘romance’, the chemistry between the MCs is swoon worthy. The ending was not what I wanted, but there’s so much creativity inside the covers. This was not a book I’d read before.


by Sangu Mandanna

A slow start to a delightful tale. It’s billed as cozy but I think it’s romantic fantasy (though not romantasy as that is a different genre). Sweet story with interesting magic which I enjoyed.



by T. Kingfisher

I read four T. Kingfisher books this year and it’s hard to pick a favorite because they are all so different. What’s similar is the gorgeous writing. I have incredible respect for work that is rich and delicate and Kingfisher offers up compelling stories with complex characters and plots that are fresh and intriguing in whatever genre she chooses to write in.


Romantasy


by Rebecca Yarros

In the booktok world it’s hard to escape the sensation that is Fourth Wing and romantasy in general which is a blend of romance and fantasy. Lovers or haters, it doesn’t matter, this is a series to talk about. What I loved was the page turning prose, the concept of the dragons plus the zing of an enemies to lovers romance. Are there issues to discuss? Tons of them. Did you throw it at the wall? Hopefully you made it to the dragons ;)


Vampire Book Reviews

The Radleys by Matt Haig

This unexpected vampire tale had me riveted, because its standard offering of modern family vampire tropes has some interesting elements that focus on the family rather than the vampire-ness. Vampire is an extra salt rather than the main course. I adored one of the characters (see if you can guess which one). The story shows some raw edges of vampire reality which I appreciated and the blend of normalcy with strangeness is what ultimately won me. Matt’s pages turn easily and by the end I was ready for a sequel. The film/tv rights have been picked up and I hope they can manage to capture the freshness and the insanity.


The Scarlet Veil by Shelby Mahurin

This vampire tale has the trappings of other classic vampire stories but there’s also something fresh about it. If you enjoy modern-classic (think Lestat not Dracula) then take a look. I didn’t fall for the romance but others did and I can see why. Heads up on the a cliffhanger ending…


Non-Fiction


The Art Thief by Michael Finkel

A little off my regular book-travel. I loved the concept here of a thief stealing for the pleasure of the item stolen—and the small-scale thievery—and the hoard of selected treasure. The thief here has no intention of selling what they steal. It’s a really interesting story I won’t spoil. I’m not sure destined for Hollywood but with the right director and charismatic actors I’d be buying popcorn.

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