Sandy's Favorite Books of 2023

Favorite books of 2023

I had a decent year of reading for me. 24 books (two added after I took this pic). That's probably more than I read in previous years. It helped that five of these were audiobooks.

I'd rate all the books pictured here at least 3 stars. Probably at least 4. I enjoyed them. I'm at a point in my reading life where I allow myself to DNF books more often than I used to. There are just too many stories to read to spend time in one I don't absolutely love. 

So which book was my favorite of the year?

Fourth Wing.

Fourth Wing

I know. It's everyone's favorite. BookTok raved about it. It had to be overhyped, right? Nope. At least, not for me. It was everything I wanted it to be and more. Enemies to lovers. A strong, deadly, and capable hero. A heroine who was tough and determined despite being brittle. I'm not usually a fan of books where the character has to go off to some kind of school/training, but this one totally worked for me. 

And I loved the sequel, Iron Flame, just as much. I think I have a thing for heroes who will do ANYTHING for the one they love. It's one reason I love Poppy and Casteel so much (Blood and Ash series). It just works for me. 

So these two books were definitely my favorites of the year.

Next favorite? Blood and Ash by Deborah Wilde (not to be confused with Jennifer Armentrout's blood and ash mentioned above). This book had one of the best Meet Cutes I've read. Well, it's sort of a Meet Cute. They actually aren't in the same room at the time, and they already know and dislike each other, but there's an exchange of letters at the beginning of the book that was so brilliant and funny. I loved it.

Blood and Ash

I'd never read Deborah Wilde before, but she has great banter between her characters. The book was entertaining and light, light meaning that I wasn't dreading turning the page because I was worried something bad would happen. That's how I feel when I read books like Fourth Wing. Dread! lol (Why do I love books that feel me with dread? So weird!) It's nice to be able to read a well written and fun book that doesn't tear me to pieces.

I highly recommend you give Deborah Wilde's books a try. I'll definitely be reading more of her, and if you love supporting authors directly, you can buy from her website instead of the big retailers.

Next up are my honorable mentions. I kind of want to list every other book I read this year, but I'll limit myself to three-ish.

First honorable mention is the Ember in the Ashes series. Yes, I'm cheating and counting these books as one. I'd seen this series a lot over the past decade. It sounded interesting, but I just never picked it up. Then a reader-friend recommended it as a good audiobook option. I don't usually listen to fiction audiobooks, but I was making a day trip down to Houston and back (8-ish hours round trip) and I needed something to entertain me.

The audiobook was phenomenal. The narration was great. The story and characters were great! The books were pretty darn violent, and while there was a romantic subplot, it was very, very sub. I wanted more of it, but that's because I went into the books thinking they were fantasy romance. They're definitely not. They're pretty much straight up epic fantasy, which I haven't read in years. It was nice to get back to this genre, and I'm super excited I actually liked the audiobooks! Maybe I can find more fiction audiobooks that work for me.

Next honorable mention is Grace Draven's Radiance. I've read and loved Grace Draven before, but I thought this book was particularly well down. Great writing. Great worldbuilding. And I think this was a monster romance? I'm not sure I know the real definition of a monster romance, but it's not a genre I'm really interested in, so if Radiance had been labeled that, I probably wouldn't have picked it up. But it's about a non-human dude and a human girl slowly falling in love over time. They both thought the other person was absolutely hideous, but somehow, even I started falling for the hideous monster dude. lol Writing this story took a heck of a lot of talent, so major props to Grace Draven.

     

Last book I'll mention is Cast in Shadow, which was another reader recommendation. I've heard of Michelle Sagara often but for whatever reason, hadn't picked up her books. I finally did, and I really enjoyed the writing in this book. Again, the worldbuilding and the characters hooked me in, and there was something lyrical about the prose that I admired. I wanted more romance in this book. There was very, very little of it. I'm not even sure if a romance will develop between the characters, but I definitely want to read on to find out.

So those were my favorites of the year. Have you read any of them? What book was your favorite?

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