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Books of 2023

Updated: Jan 23

Since it's the holidays I thought I would just do an easy, fun blog today. This year I read 24 books. Typically anything with a three star or lower I donate, which is why they aren't in my picture... so, here's my brief review of them!

The Imperfects- Amy Meyerson

★★★☆☆ (hardcover)

So I read this as part of my research for comp-titles for my own novel. It's a family drama with three siblings and an unreliable mother. I liked the characters very much, and the plot was interesting. After the grandmother dies, they discover she was in possession of a diamond lost in time. It's interesting but over all I thought it was fine. It didn't pull me in and get me glued to the page. Three stars is a true middle ground for me. Not bad at all, but nothing too exciting.


You have a Match- Emma Lord

★★★☆☆ (paperback)

I love a YA rom-com as much as the next person, and especially one set at a summer camp. This book is really set in this time though. With one of the main characters being an influencer, there is a lot of lingo that will age. However, the characters are fun, the plot is fun, and it follows some fun tropes. Friends to lovers, and long lost siblings fight for attention but in an enjoyable way. It's just an enjoyable, easy read.


Beach Read- Emily Henry

★★★★☆ (paperback)

This was my first Emily Henry, and I absolutely loved it! I've been trying to read more romance because it sells so well at the store and I don't really know anything about it. I wasn't interested for super spicy and graphic romance, and Emily Henry delivered the perfect balance of solid plot and characters I cared about, and a little bit of spice. Highly recommend this, but not a five star.


Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow- Gabrielle Zevin

★★★★★ (hardcover)

This is my favorite book I read this year. I try really hard to only give five stars to books that will stay with me for a long, long time. Even trying to describe this plot is so hard, but I'm telling you, I could not put this book down. The characters are lovable and annoying and realistic. The plot is so compelling and there was literally a chapter that I forgot to breath. I just... I love this book. Everyone should read it.


Pineapple Street- Jenny Jackson

★★☆☆☆ (hardcover)

This is a book about rich people problems. It's another one I read for research in comp titles because it's about a messed up family. It wasn't bad by any means, but I just didn't care about any of the characters. They were all so annoying, and the plot wasn't strong enough to keep my focus. The end really sealed the deal on this being a two star book. It's like she was just trying to shock value something into a conclusion.


The Wishing Game- Meg Shaffer

★★★★☆ (audio)

This is Willy Wonka, but nicer and no children die. The contestants are all adults who grew up reading books by this mysterious author's and ran away to this island. The characters are sweet, there's some mystery, some romance, and it's really heartfelt. I enjoyed it, but again, it isn't one that's haunted me once it was over.


Seasparrow- Kristin Cashore

★★★★★ (hardback)

I might be a sucker, but I absolutely love this whole series. I fell in love with Graceling (the first book) in high school and have devoured the series book by book. When this newest in the series came out, I was so excited and totally surprised that Cashore can continue to keep up this level of writing. There isn't a single drop in quality, the characters are sunk into my heart, and the plot continues to expand this world she's built. I love love loved it!


The Rachel Incident- Caroline O'Donoghue

★★★☆☆ (audio)

If you like books where nothing much happens but you get to dig deep into character's lives, this is a great book for you. Not much happens, but it's still good somehow. I didn't love the characters, but they aren't unlikable. It's about making mistakes in college, but also shows how it all turns it. I liked it fine.


Under the Whispering Door- T.J. Klune

★★★★☆ (paperback)

I really love T.J. Klune. His books are just a cozy, gay, fantastical hug. Even this one, about death of all things, still brings on the warn and fuzzies. At first I didn't like the main character much, but he really comes around and has a beautiful arc. The book is a little mysterious when talking about the ideas of life after death, and I really enjoyed that. It's never a mistake to pick up Klune's books.


Lore Olympus- Rachel Smythe

★☆☆☆☆ (graphic)

Listen... this one's on me. I was in a Hadestown phase and thought this would be fun, but did not realize it basically hinges on the rape of Persephonie. Reading something bad happening vs watching it in. agraphic novel really changes the impact of this terrible things. It just was not for me. I read the first two volumes and couldn't do it.


The Seven Year Slip- Ashley Poston

★★★☆☆ (audio)

Another attempt to read more romance so I can connect to customers in the store more. This book was interesting in that it dealt with an apartment that slips through time, bringing these two characters together but seven years apart. It was fairly predictable but it was cute over all. I wish it had dug deeper into the character's backstories, but that isn't what this book was for. it was meant to be light and it was just that.


I'll Give You the Sun- Jandy Nelson

★★★★★ (reread)

I read this book in college and absolutely loved it. It's been years though and so as I always recommend it, I wanted a refresh to ensure it aged well. It did, it's perfect. I love this book so much. It's siblings, it dueling timelines, it's gay, I just love everything about it!


The Invisible Hour- Alice Hoffman

★★★☆☆ (audio)

Normally I love Alice Hoffman books, but this one was very middle ground. The plot with the cult was interesting, and the characters were really well written (one thing I always love about Hoffman's books) however, I didn't love the character going back in time for Nathaniel Hawthorne. I wish we had stayed in the present timeline and stuck with that storyline, but again, that's not what this book was meant to be. Hoffman always has some magical realism and I love her for that.


Unwind Series- Neal Schusterman

★★★★☆ (reread)

This is another series I always recommend and I wanted to see how it held up. I got my husband to listen to these with me because he's been hearing about them for years. No surprise, they held up. The concept is so compelling and messed up, the characters grow and change and linger with you. I love this series still and I'm glad I had the chance to share them with Michael.


Gwen and Art Are Not in Love- Lex Croucher

★★★☆☆ (audio)

This was an ARN (advanced reader copy) through the bookstore and it was fun. Again, I love YA and feel like it doesn't get enough love. I also love pretty much anything about King Arthur, so I really wanted to like this one more than I did. It's very cute, and again, very gay. I liked the characters but the back and forth banter got a bit old. The plot had an underlying tension, but I wish it had pushed it a bit further. A solid three stars.


Book Lovers- Emily Henry

★★★★★ (paperback)

This was the Emily Henry book for me. Uptight girl meets uptight boy who is the only person she can trust to do things correctly. It isn't about the girl just "needing to relax" with some guy who is chaotic and free. Instead it's about finding someone who loves you for you, and who you can trust when you can't trust anyone else. I love this book so much. It's going to be one of my all time recommends.


Romantic Comedy- Curtis Sittenfeld

★★★★☆ (audio)

For some reason this book is shelved in fiction, but it really should be in romance. It's a deep dive into the behind the scenes life of SNL writers and it deals with the pandemic in an interesting way. I wasn't interested in reading pandemic fiction, but inevitably Covid is going to be a major plot point for a lot of books for a while. This is how I feel it should be done, it's a plot point but not the whole story. I enjoyed this book a lot and thought it was fun, but also had some real heart behind it.


Tom Lake- Ann Patchett

★★★★★ (hardback)

Ugh, this book! I just... I could die happy if I ever write something even close to as good as this book is. Again, it uses the covid pandemic as a plot point, but it's the main focus. It's about a loving family and has two timelines- one in the present and one describing the mom's past when she did summer stock and fell in love with a man who will eventually become famous. I loved each of the characters and wanted to join their family so much. It was lovely, and will stick with me for a long time. I now want to read everything Patchett has ever written.


Divine Rivals- Rebecca Ross

★★★★☆ (audio)

This book had a lot of hype, and I think the sequel will continue to build on that. It's magical and yet modern, it's a romance and an adventure. I liked it a lot, but mostly I liked the potential this series has. I think once we get the second book and have a chance to expand on the world, I'm going to love it.


Betting on You- Lynn Painter

★★★☆☆ (audio)

Another cute, easy YA. I liked Painter's other book Better than the Movies better, but this one was still cute. My biggest issue is that there is a lot of modern slang and technology that's going to quickly age this book. The thing that pulled me in though was the intense relatability for people with divorced parents, specifically ones who live across the county from one another. It hit me hard on that front, but the romance was so-so.


A Tall, Dark Trouble- Vanessa Montalban

★★★★☆ (hardback)

I might be bias because I like Montalban so much, but I really enjoyed this book. It's about sisters, it has magic, there's adventure and mystery, and some romance. I think the only thing I didn't love about this book was that because I don't speak Spanish, I missed a layer here. That is my own deficiency though and it's not anything about the book. I just think if I spoke Spanish I would have a deeper appreciation for this book.


Now is Not the Time to Panic- Kevin Wilson

★★★★☆ (paperback)

I loved Wilson's book Nothing to See Here, and I think that may have set my expectations a bit too high for this book. I still thought it was brilliant, and twisted, and unique... I just also wish it had some magical realism like the other book. Again, that's on me. The characters in this book are so messed up, but in a really great way. It's another book with two timelines giving history to the characters in a way that made you really care about this. It was thoroughly enjoyable and perfectly messed up.


Conversations with Friends- Sally Rooney

★★★★☆ (audio)

I started this book because the bookstore is doing a fiction bookclub and this is the pick for January. I usually like books that don't need a lot of plot but I at least need one character I can root for. I struggled to root for anyone in this book. Honestly, I kind of hated everyone in it, which made me dislike to book. Then I talked to one of my friends who loves this book and realized it's all about perspective and unreliable narration. There were characters in this book I could root for, they just weren't the main character. This started as a spiteful three stars, but I cannot deny Rooney's writing is excellent.

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