December 23 Reading in Review

Favorites of 2023


I’ve read 170 books this year! There were some re-reads, tons of  mystery series, lots of  Urban Fantasy & Romantic suspense binges but the books below were my faves of the year.  The ones in bold are the books published this year or in one case next month!

Special shout-out to Graphic Audio for their fantastic dramatization of Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels and The Innkeeper Chronicles series for allowing me to revisit some favorites in a fresh way.

I’ve either borrowed from the Library or bought all these books with the exception of the ones marked as ARCs which I received for review purposes.



1.  Magic Tides by Ilona Andrews (UF, KDWY #1)

This sequel series was a delight. It was fabulous to reconnect with Kate and family.  They have new place looking for a new start but you always bring yourself.

CWs: child abductions, violence, gore, murder, past traumas.  ARC 1/17


23. City of the Lost by Kelly Armstrong (Rockton/Casey Duncan #1, WW/WM, Mystery/Thriller series).

Hidden city, hidden agendas & hidden murders.

I loved this whole series and I’m loving the follow up series.  Just loved the unfolding of the mysteries and the development of the relationships.

CWs:  Guns, murder, mutilation, medical procedures, sex work, slut-shaming, kidnapping, rape, beatings, abandonment, drugs, cop MCs. 1/17/17 


48. Fortune Favors the Dead by Stephen Spotswood  (Mystery, Queer & disabled MCs, found family, late 1940’s NYC)

Pentecost & Parker are both super fascinating and the voice is fun despite the dark topics.   I loved each book in this series, especially the way Spotswood explores this time period in queer culture. CWs: murder, blackmail, queer phobia, beating, domestic violence, alcoholism 8/3/21


55. The Verifiers by Jane Pek (Mystery, Taiwanese-American Lesbian MC) Really engaging & engrossing. Loved Claudia and her wry geeky voice & how excited she is to be caught up a in mystery. 

CWs: murder, references to suicide, gaslighting, toxic family dynamics, 2/22/22


58. The Last Remains by Elly Griffiths (WW/WM, Mystery with Rom Elements, final book in series). Whew! As this book barreled to the end I didn’t know where things would land for our central characters, Ruth, Nelson and Cathbad but I’m deeply satisfied.  I read nearly the whole series this year and it was a fantastic rich journey. I still find myself thinking about some of the relationships and dynamics all the time.  Also top-notch big gesture CWs: murder, abduction



66. The Brightest Star in Paris by Diana Biller  (WW/WM, Paris set HR 1878) Biller’s prose is clever, smart, funny & heartbreaking angsty.  I loved how Ben & Amelie have to let go of so much before they can hold on to each other!  CWs: sex work, grief, murder, past trauma: war



77. Chick Magnet by Emma Barry ( WM/WW, contemporary, chicken influencer & vet). I love the craft in Barry’s romances, the balance of lust, awkwardness, vulnerability & silliness.  Just awesome sauce. I have to catch up on her other releases for this year but this is a book I find myself recommending in person al, the time. Cw: grief, depression, bullying, past trauma: gaslighting



83. A Marvelous Light by Freya Marske (Fantasy, WM/WM, magical mystery, 1st in trilogy )

THIS BOOK WAS AMAZING.  So excited to as this author straight into autobuy category!  Beautiful and engrossing! I loved the other two books in the series. Deeply fascinated by the magical world and the way the characters moved through it.

CWs: murder, torture, toxic siblings, toxic parents, bullying)



90. All Systems Red by Martha Wells (SF, Murderbot Diaries #1). Ooooh I love Murderbot already, so sympathetic and confused!  Great audio narration too by Kevin R. Free. This is will be adapted soon and wow I hope some of the magic of these books translate to the screen. I’m so deeply invested into the emotional journey of SecUnit and the impact they make on others. Every single book…worth your time.

CWs: murder, gore, slavery.



92. Wild Life by Opal Wei (eArc: Jan 24, contemporary rom, rom com in the right way!, Taiwanese-Canadian MCs,MMC has anxiety/panic attacks)

I loved Zoey, how grumpy, snarly and vibrant she is.  I fully agree with Davy that she is radiant! This author is long time fave under other pen names and I hope I get read more fun books from her 

Cw: sister had bone cancer, addiction


99. Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q Sutanto (Mystery, AW).

When a terrible man in found dead in her tea shop, Vera is determined to find the killer,  unfortunately she grows quite attached to her suspects. This book I almost read again, immediately after finishing it. Just a warm hug of a book, it the hugger is bony and nags you in a loving way while poking you in the heart.

CW: murder, emotional abuse, ref. to violence.



106. Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn (Thriller/heisty, 60+ assassins). When their retirement cruise turns into kill zone, they need to figure who is gunning for them & take them down! 4 women against the agency that turned on them. This is a book begging for movie adaptation. Cinematic and fun.CW: murder, violence, sexism.


108. The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna (AW/WM, UK set, Cozy Fantasy Rom)  Fantastic, funny, surprising & tender book. Great found family, confronting traumas & looking for a way to make things better.  Hoping we get a lot more books from this author. This is how you do secret magical societies. (CW: toxic childhoods, abandonment, loneliness).



139. The Buried Hours by R.S.

Grant (Mystery with Rom, WW/WM, ARC, 12/5/23)

Intense & gripping twisty mystery. Desperate for answers she won't be deterred. Writing as RS Grant, Rachel Grant takes a darker turn while keeping a ton of the things that made me love her previous work.

CWs: murder, abduction, brutal rape, gaslighting, coercion, human trafficking, betrayal, suicidal ideation, violence, PTSD

144. Death Below Stairs (WW/WM, London UK-Set, Victorian Era Mystery series with romantic elements)Mrs H is a very good cook but she might be an even better sleuth! She can’t help but get involved when her assistant is found dead in the pantry!  I flew through the backlist of this series and I’m now caught up and it terrible to have to wait to March to see what is next for Daniel & Kat.

CWs: imperialism, discrimination 2/2/2018


166. Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree (Fantasy with queer found family) This book was sweet, surprising and really enjoyable to listen to as Viv, Cal, Tandry & the crew buildup a cafe and community from scratch.  My only disappointment with the series that the next book is a prequel and not just more of Viv & Tandry! Cws: sexual harassment, extortion,secrets, arson, betrayal


I wish you a fantastic new year of reading!

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