I have a hard time picking a single favorite book I read last year because so many of the books I loved were incredibly different and I enjoyed them for completely different reasons. Fictions always and forever has my heart, as reading is a true escape and something I turn to at the end of the day every day to unwind and relax before bed. My favorite books were all fiction novels but for my list of favorite books of 2023, I selected my top 2-3 favorite across a few categories: Romance/Easy Reads, Drama, Thriller/Mystery/Suspense, Historical Fiction and Fantasy.
I hope a few of the novels below catch your interest and become one of your favorite reads of 2024!
Favorite Books of 2023
Romance + Easy Reads
- Nora Goes Off Script by Anabel Monaghan (Nora is a romance screenwriter and her latest script is picked up for the big screen. When the movie wraps, everyone leaves… except for Leo, the movie’s lead who also happens to be the most famous actor in America. He offers to pay Nora $1,000 a day to let him stay for a week as he’s feeling increasingly lost in the world of glamor. Nora finds herself agreeing to his offer and making a deal that will change her life.)
- Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez (When a successful doctor and a sexy small-town carpenter have a one-night stand, they’re sure that’s the end of it because their lives are too different and their worlds are completely incompatible. Despite their differences, they’re drawn to each other with an intense ferocity, both intellectually and physically, even though they both know their relationship can never be more than surface-level… So why can neither of them break it off? Note: I read and loved Yours Truly, the follow-up book to this novel, as well!)
- A Lady’s Guide to Fortune Hunting by Sophie Irwin (Kitty Talbot is a young woman determined to save her four sisters from ruin. She has a plan: She will find a husband… a very wealthy husband. The only problem is Kitty isn’t exactly “high society” so the chances of her running into someone of stature is slim. Together with her sister Cecily, Kitty moves to London to stay with her aunt and find her way into London society. Kitty soon sets her eyes on Archie, a young man set to inherit his family’s fortune. Kitty believes the only thing standing in her way is her past until she comes face-to-face with Archie’s older brother, Lord Radcliffe, a handsome man who immediately sees through the clever ruse Kitty has built around her. Kitty fears her future is in jeopardy but her intellect and quick thinking work together to take her on an unexpected route to amass the fortune she desires so deeply.)
- Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano (This is one of the best books I’ve read in years. I felt deeply invested in the characters and relationships in this novel. The writing is wonderful and the way the author touches on love, familial bonds and grief made me want to highlight certain passages so I could remember the author’s poignant words. If you’re struggling after the loss of a loved one, I think this book might be a read you would enjoy as the author’s words about loss and grief felt so deeply accurate and really stuck with me. It follows the complicated life of William Waters whose marriage to Julia Padavano changes his life forever. Julia has their future perfectly planned out but when trouble from William’s past surfaces, a family rift no one saw coming shakes the formerly unshakable Padavano family, and its four devoted sisters, to its core.
- Carrie Soto is Back by Tara Jenkins Reid (Carrie Soto is a 37-year-old retired tennis champion and undoubtedly the best women’s player in the world… until now. When one of her most coveted records is overtaken by Nicki Chan, a force of power and talent on the courts, Carrie makes an unexpected return to the sport she loves so much. She returns to the court with laser focus and zero desire to make any friends or forge any romantic relationships, even if she senses increasing interest from fellow tennis pro and former one-night-stand Bowe Huntley.)
Thriller + Mystery + Suspense
- The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley (Jess arrives in Paris for the first time to visit her brother Ben. She arrives at his apartment and quickly notices something is off. He’s not there and not answering his calls. His neighbors bristle at her questions and the tires his Vespa appear to be slashed. And, also, his apartment is amazing. How could he possible afford such a high-end place on a struggling journalist’s salary? As Jess begins searching for Ben more and more questions begin to surface, questions that make her seriously concerned for her brother’s safety… and also her own.)
- One by One by Ruth Ware (A spooky, twisty and highly creative thriller! The eight employees of a music-sharing start-up called Snoop are gathered together for a company-wide retreat at a luxurious, secluded ski chalet in the French Alps. The trip quickly takes when one of the shareholders highlights a controversial offer, causing tensions to rise. Personalities and opinions clash but everyone agrees to hit the slopes despite warnings of severe winter weather. When an avalanche hits and the chalet is completely cut off from all outside communication, concern begins to mount when the group realizes one person never made it back to the chalet from the slopes. As the storm picks up steam and friction between coworkers increases, the group becomes increasingly panicked, especially when another group member turns up dead… and then another…)
- Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris (This was one heck of a disturbing book! Consider this a warning as I don’t think it’s a book everyone will enjoy but if you can stretch your believability muscles a bit and prepare yourself to stomach some horrifying events, it’s a read you will absolutely fly through. I absolutely loved the ending. The book is narrated by Grace, a women recently married to prominent attorney Jack Angel. Upon marrying Jack, Grace quits her job to dedicate herself to gardening, cooking and being their for her hard-working husband. She no longer has a cell phone or hobbies outside the home but any questions thrown her way are met with a smile and seemingly unflappable devotion to her husband. It all begs the question, what is happening behind the closed doors? Why does she cancel all solo plans she’s made with friends? Why is she looking increasingly gaunt? Who are Jack and Grace Angel really?)
- Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate (This book ripped my heart right open. It’s based on the true horrors surrounding the Tennessee Children’s Society, a Memphis-based adoption organization that kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country in the first half of the twentieth century. While this book is historical fiction and the characters are not real, it’s horrific to read about because it’s so strongly based on the atrocities behind this organization. That being said, the book is a really, really good book. The writer is very talented and I especially loved the chapters that followed Rill, an incredibly brave 12-year-old girl, whom I found myself fiercely rooting for throughout the novel.)
- The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel (Eva Traube Abrams is a semi-retired librarian when she stumbles upon an image at work — an image of a book she hasn’t seen in more than six decades — and realizes it’s The Book of Lost Names. The book appears to contain a code that researchers cannot crack, a code only Eva understands. Back in 942, Eva was a graduate student forced to leave Paris and make her way to a small mountain town in the Free Zone where her talent for forging documents for Jewish children, essentially erasing their identities, helped many. When Eva and fellow forager Rémy decide to preserve the real names of the children too young to remember their real identities, they create The Book of Lost Names, a book that Eva thought disappeared years ago, along with her beloved Rémy.)
- Horse by Geraldine Brooks (Based on the true story of a record-breaking thoroughbred horse, Lexington, this novel is a powerful read. It’s captivating, beautifully written, thought-provoking, layered, poignant and was very interesting to me as someone who knows very little about horse racing and the history of horse racing in our country.)
- A Court of Thorns and Roses Series by Sara J. Mass (I was ALL IN on this series. It was imaginative, action-packed, steamy (x10!), creative and simply fun to read. Books 2 and 3 were my favorite in the series and I could not get enough of them! The fighting, the relationships, the twists, the epic battles… ugh, it was all just so good. The series begins when Feyre, a young and resourceful huntress, is she’s captured and taken to mythical faerie lands and an epic saga spanning 5 novels ensues.)
- Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros (Highly recommended by you guys after I flew through ACOTAR novels, Fourth Wing deserves every bit of the fantasy novel love coming its way. It’s fast-paced from the first page and filled with drama, battles, relationships, deception and dragons! Violet Sorrengail, a small but fiercely intelligent young woman, is certain she will spend her life in the quiet protection of the Scribe Quadrant. When her mother, the commanding general of Navarre, orders her to join the other young adults striving to be a dragon rider, everyone is certain death awaits. Dragons only bond to the strongest riders like Xaden Riorson, the powerful wingleader of the Riders Quadrant, and the man whose grudge against Violet’s mother seems to extend to Violet, too. As the war Navarre is facing continues, the kingdom’s protective wards begin failing and Violet begins to question who she can really trust within her mother’s kingdom, and whether or not she will even survive to have her questions answered.)
Additional Book-Related Blog Posts
Question of the Day
What was the best book (or a few of your favorite books) you read in 2023?