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Favorite Reads of 2023

Tanya Patrice here! After Kim’s Favorite Reads of 2023 posted last week, I got mine together. This year was just an off-year for me in every way. My dad was dealing with some health issues and I was his primary carer as we moved him close to us in Florida. In the summer my extended family stayed with us for 6 weeks, and then in October, I switched positions at my job, work travel increased and so did the stress. I had ups and downs in reading … not feeling like reading, and then reading a series of books that were just OK, but looking back, I also did read some awesome books too.

My 8 Favorite Reads of 2023

Carrie Soto is Back, Taylor Jenkins Reid. Contemporary Fiction. Believe the hype! This book is really, really good. It reminded me a bit of Beartown, Fredrik Bachman in that the obvious theme is obsession with a sport, in this case tennis (in Beartown, it’s hockey). But here, Taylor Jenkins Reid brings her A-game with how she draws us into the life of a main character (like in Daisy Jones and the Six). It’s about Carrie Soto’s drive and determination and fucking bad-ass work ethic. A little glimpse into what it takes to dominate at an elite level – and again, like with Daisy Jones and the Six – you almost can’t believe this is not a true story.

Legends & Lattes, Travis Baldree. Fantasy. This book was also on Kim’s Favorite Reads of 2023 and similar to her, this was the book I needed at the time. It’s advertised as “a cozy fantasy novel about an orc barbarian-ess who retires to open a coffee shop” which didn’t exactly inspire me to pick it up, but I’m so glad I did.

Maame, Jessica George. Contemporary Fiction. This book!! I defy you not to feel for the main character Maddie, who’s in her early 20s living in London, but finds herself being the primary caretaker for her father who suffers from Parkinson’s. Her mother spends more than half the year in Ghana, leaving things up to her in London, and her older brother is always too busy to help. The author will take you through a range of emotions as Maddie struggles to find her footing and independence.

The Maid, Nita Prose. Mystery. This is a lovely character driven novel. Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. She loves her job as a hotel maid but when she’s the one who finds the infamous and wealthy Charles Black dead in his bed, her unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect.

People Person, Candace Carty-Williams. Contemporary Fiction. Candice Carty-Williams knows how to do characters! First she wrote Queenie, which I loved hard, and now we have a novel about 5 half-siblings (well 2 of them share the same mom but are years apart) and a dead beat dad. The siblings live around the same area in London and know of each other, but they don’t interact until one of them gets in trouble and calls for help. This book is about ‘complicated’ relationships – again, something the author writes about well. It is a novel I flew through – and really enjoyed.

Killing Moon (Harry Hole #13), Jo Nesbo. Thriller. First, let me say that Knife, Harry Hole #12, almost completely gutted me. I thought it was the end of the series … the end of Harry Hole, but surprise surprise – he lives on. In Killing Moon, Nesbo as usual has Harry solving the seemingly unsolvable. And we also get the point of view from a very dark and unique serial killer. As usual, this book is fast paced, action packed and the twists are plentiful. The Harry Hole series is probably best started in one of the earlier books and then read in order.

Lost in the Moment & Found (Wayward Children #8), Seanan McGuire. This is one of my favorite books in this series of novellas.

The Ink Black Heart (Cormoran Strike #6), Robert Galbraith. I read the first half as an eBook and then listened to the audiobook of the second half. I recommend not going with the audiobook for this one, not because the narration wasn’t good – the narrator was actually fantastic – but because there’s a LOT of online dialogue that just don’t translate as well to audio. It was annoying as hell to hear the “at” names repeated for every line. Don’t do it to yourself. On the flip side – I loved the book! The pacing was spot on, the suspense, the back and forth with the whodunnit kept me guessing as to who “Anomie” was. The characters all added depth to the story and although a big book at close to 1000 pages – some of it due to the pages of internet dialogue – but I feel no words were wasted. I got everything from this book and at no time was I bored. As another review put it – this book made me hate the internet, and I’m pretty sure that was no accident on the authors part.

Honorable Mention

Holly (Holly Gibney #3), Stephen King. An entire book focusing on Holly who was first introduced in Mr. Mercedes (Bill Hodges trilogy). This time, King really took his time with the characters and focused on getting us to know Holly in particular, a lot better than before. And of course, King being King we have some horrific stuff happening. The authors note at the end is also worth reading to explain some of his motivations about how … heavy handed … he was with “the Covid stuff.” I’ll just leave it at that.

Atalanta, Jennifer Saint. A reimagining of the myth of Atalanta, a fierce huntress raised by bears and the only woman in the world’s most famous band of heroes, the Argonauts.

Have you read any of these books? What was your favorite read in 2023?

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