2023 Book List Post
|December 23, 2023
|Posted by Melinda under Uncategorized
I know lots of you look forward to my yearly book post because when I posted about my favorite pictures of the year, several of you told me “that’s great. But where’s your book post?!”
The problem is (and it’s not really a problem is it? ) I’m in the middle of books right now that I’ll probably finish before the year’s end, and some of them will be 4 star books and then I will have already written this post and where will that leave us?
Those books will be left out in the cold, unappreciated in either 2023 or 2024, a Christmas tragedy.
Of course…I could just write this post, and then update this post in 2 weeks with any other 4 or 5 star books.
Yes, that does sound reasonable doesn’t it?
Here’s ALL the books I read this year (almost):
And….Wordpress gives me an error when I try to upload my last screen shot. Sigh. But don’t worry, all eight books missing pictures are mentioned below.
- I rate every book I read on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/melnewton) in real time and you are welcome to follow me there if you want to see what I’m reading and recommending throughout the year.
- How I rate books: A 5 star book isn’t a perfect book. It’s a book that kept me up way past my bedtime. A 4 star book was good but didn’t grab me quite the same way. Both 4 and 5 star books I can recommend without reservation.
My average rating for all books read in a year is usually around 3 stars and once again, this year was no exception with a 3.4 star average rating. The only difference is I stopped rating DNF books that I felt like I hadn’t read enough to give a fair rating as 1 or 2 stars, and instead left them unrated and assigned them to a “DNF” shelf in Goodreads (in the past these got mostly 1 star).
Only 4 and 5 star books that are pictured above are listed below! If you’ve been following these posts over the years then I think you will already know whether my tastes are a match for yours. Happy reading :).
The Malevolent Seven by Sebastien de Castell. A new author! Isn’t it kind of nice to know that I branch out once in a while? Irrelevant, funny book that just missed a 5 star rating. This is a fantasy book and I liked it will enough I’ve put some of this author’s other books on hold.
Murder Your Employer: The McMasters Guide to Homicide by Rupert Holmes. A different sort of book that I listened to as an audio book. I was waffling between a 3 and 4 star rating but then they briefly referenced the sport of polo as “crochet mallets in a stampede” and how could I do anything but round up at that point?
The Dead Romantics by Ashley Boston. A book that doesn’t go where you think it will, and is a different sort of book than what I normally enjoy. This is the perfect example of why you belong to book groups – you get recommendations for books you wouldn’t necessarily pick up on your own. My favorite online book club reads a lot more rom-com and romance book than I normally do, but when someone RAVES about a book, I give it a try.
Hollow Kingdom (Hollow Kingdom, #1) by Kira Jane Buxton – technically a 3 star book by the end but it was truly waffling between a 3 and 4. The writing is witty and funny – I listened to it as an audio book and I’m glad I did because otherwise I would have skimmed and missed so much of the Crow’s genius with words. The second book in the series didn’t grab me the same way (I checked it out as an ebook instead of an audio book) and ultimately I decided not to finish it. However, the first book stands alone very well even if you decide to stop there.
The Last Devil to Die(Thursday Murder Club, #4) and The Bullet That Missed(Thursday Murder Club, #3) by Richard Osman. They just keep getting better and better. Both of these were solid 4 star books for me. If you’ve read the first couple books of the series, keep going.
Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q Sutanto. Stand out, wonderful book of 2023 for me. Worth listening to the audio book. Loved it.
Kill Joy (A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, #0.5) by Holly Jackson. Really enjoyed this prequel and was looking forward to the series…but then I didn’t finish book 1 and it was a DNF. Still, I enjoyed this prequel as a standalone. Other friends I have recommended this prequel to went on to read the series and enjoyed it, so your tastes may differ!
The Invincible Miss Cust by Penny Haw. I don’t read historical fiction but occasionally, especially books like this that straddle the line between Fiction and non-fiction of a historical character. Ironically the parts I found the most unbelievable and off-putting were the true parts!
Old Man’s War (Old Man’s War, #1) and The Ghost Brigades (Old Man’s War, #2) by John Scalzi – very much enjoyed this series. Book 3 sums up everything nicely but just wasn’t quite as solid as the first two, which is why it isn’t listed here.
The Rosie Project (Don Tillman, #1) by Graeme Simsion. This book hit so close to home for me…..OMG. This is why I didn’t date and can’t imagine dipping my toe into that pool ever again. The main character in this book is ME. This book is funny, true, and very much the reason I don’t live or read much romance.
Princess Floralinda and the Forty-Flight Tower by Tamsyn Muir. Solid 5 star book. Most people I’ve recommended this to have loved it…except my daughter who declared in chapter one that the book was absolutely out because of the goblins. *facepalm* WHO DOESN”T LIKE GOBLINS IN THEIR PRINCESS RESCUE STORIES???????
Leviathan Falls (The Expanse, #9) by James S.A. Corey. And also Tiamat’s Wrath (The Expanse, #8), Strange Dogs (The Expanse, #6.5), Nemesis Games (The Expanse, #5) , The Churn (The Expanse, #3.5), Cibola Burn (The Expanse, #4) Don’t get me wrong, I read ALL of them, starting with book 1 last year, but these were the ones that I rated at 4 and 5 stars (as opposed to 3 stars). I can’t remember when such a substantial series for me had SO MANY 4 and 5 star ratings, especially consider how long the series is. Bottom line, it’s a solid series from beginning to end.
The Witches of Moonshyne Manor by Bianca Marais – the first book of 2023 was a five star book. I love this book and I think it has a bit of something for everyone.
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. Apparently there is a movie or show about this now, but I can’t imagine it’s better than the book, which was solid. If you can’t do awkward, don’t worry – the author had many many chances to make it just unbearable sad or awkward and they DIDN’T. So read the book with confidence that it will take care of you.
The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart. A fantasy reminiscent of Jade City, but much more readable and I was able to keep track of the characters better (I DNF’ed Jade City). I currently have the second book of the series as an audio book to be started next.
Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros. Yes, yes, yes, I finally just got around to reading this. My online book club has been ALL A’TWITTER about this series, bar none except for ACOTAR, and with that sort of pressure I finally caved and read the darn thing. Technically it should have gotten a 5 star rating because I stayed up WAY past my bedtime to read it at least twice, but the problem is there were too many eyeballs from yours truly, especially during the sex scenes later in the book for me actually give it 5 stars. It vaguely reminds me of Anne McCathery (I haven’t read her stuff since probably 4th, 5th, 6th? grade) but it’s been a LONG time so don’t hold me to that. Hoping the author can keep the momentum going into the second book (which is on an insanely long hold at my library).
A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2) by Sarah J. Maas. Yes, I finally succumbed to pressure to read this dang series thanks to a book club that can’t. shut. up. about. ACOTAR by SJM (insert all sorts of !!!!!!!!! after those abbreviations since that’s ALL I see ALL the time on the book club. *rolling my eyes*) Sigh. OK. The first book got 3 stars. I listened to it, it finally picked up and got interesting in the second half, but the star crossed lovers thing has never really held a lot interest for me, and I found the main character annoying. But, in for a penny, in for a pound and I started the second book. Which is much better! And so unfortunately, it has to make my list, being a very fair 4 star book for me. LMAO. I haven’t finished the book yet (but I’m almost done -will update this post if my opinion changes substantially) So. Should you read this book? No idea. Am I going to finish the series? Probably. ?.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. Non-fiction stand out book of the year for me. Everyone should read this book. I related to this book on so many levels. Yes, it’s sad because he dies, but it’s so much more than that.
Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast. I could also make an argument for this book being one of the best non-fiction books I read this year. Ironically there was a situation in my family that mirrored this book so completely that it makes me wonder how common the scenario is in this book….and just no one talks about it.
Butts: A Backstory by Heather Rake. I really enjoyed the RadioLab episode (they re-broadcast is recently) with the author of this book, and finally got my hands on it. Well worth the read!
Into the Abyss: How a Deadly Plane Crash Changed the Lives of a Pilot, a Politician, a Criminal and a Cop by Carol Shaben. An interesting read about how a tragedy changed (and didn’t change) the industry.
Good Morning, Monster: A Therapist Shares Five Heroic Stories of Emotional Recovery by Catherine Gildiner. This book comes with multiple trigger warnings. It was good, but contains graphic descriptions of abuse. I listened to it as an audio book. The only thing I can reassure you with is that all the details shared are for a point and not just for entertainment’s sake. In the end, the absolute bravery and persistence of these people to keep going on and build a life beyond the trauma was awe-inspiring. Gave me hope for the residency of the human kind. I’m glad I read it even though it was a hard book to read.
The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson. The last 4 or 5 star Bryson book I read was one of my favorite books ever – A walk through the woods. This book was excellent – despite having a strong background in the matter, he managed to make it fresh, interesting, and entertaining.
The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder by David Grann. It was there (I share my online library account with family members) and I didn’t have anything better to read so I listened to it. It ended up being a very good read.
Simple Thai Food: Classic Recipes from the Thai Home Kitchen [A Cookbook] by Leela Punyaratabandhu. I cooked out of this book for over a year and it’s become very dear to me. The recipes are mostly simple, not always well explained, and required me to order ingredients on line and beg friends to go to their local thai grocery stores. But it earned a permanent place on my cook book shelf despite this. This was my first culture cook book that I made a conscious decision to buy one from someone who was actually from that culture – rather than just loving it or knowing a lot about it – and it made a huge difference from other Thai cookbooks I used prior to this. As someone who has an allergy to both wheat and gluten, it’s refreshing to dive into a cuisine that doesn’t require constant adjustments to take those things out of a recipe.
Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again by Rachel Held Evans. A short audiobook that I connected to on many levels. I have a sort of faith in something that can’t be seen or measured as I go through life, but I don’t necessary feel connected to church or religion any more. Rachel helped me to see some of my upbringing in a different way.
This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay. Another 5 star book that talks about things that need to be talked about.
The Country of the Blind: A Memoir at the End of Sight by Andrew Leland. Currently reading, likely going to be a 4 star book (I’ll update if that changes!). Obvious I relate to this book because of my eye issues but, I think that even someone who hasn’t woken up every day for years wondering if this will be the day that they go blind and thought about all the ways in which their life would change because of it, will still enjoy it.
What were your favorite 2023 books and what books are you looking forward to reading in 2024?