I made a very dedicated effort to finish off my 23 in 2023 reading list, which lead to three DNFs (The Night Ocean, The Luminaries, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn) because they were three I was got iffy about by the middle of the year and dreaded reaching next for them (which should have been an indication at the beginning of the year! I think because I’d carried them around for years and multiple moves, I felt obligated to give them a try, but this was a lesson in letting go of something no matter how much weight (physically and metaphorically) it carried.
The rest of the reading month was great!! I giggled and kicked my feet at the three romances I opened up the month with (even if The Dead Romantics has a dose of millennial cringe in it). Cemetery Boys made me love what YA can do, Where Peace Is Lost made me want to read more science fiction in 2024 (which I strangely haven’t???), The Genesis of Misery is Pacific Rim meets Joan of Arc with all of the strangeness of kaiju and religion combined, and The Odyssey translated by Emily Wilson was so engaging and I loved her introduction at the beginning. It’s made me excited for the paperback release of her translation of The Iliad later this year that I will definitely pick up.
Overall, 2023 was a decent reading year. I focused more on what I wanted to read and requested much less from publishers overall (and getting access to Edelweiss as a bookseller helped with that immensely because I can download most upcoming titles I’m interested in or want to review without having to go through the waiting/approval thing). I also realized that I very much enjoy reading a finished product, because so much can change between the advance reader copy and the finished book.
💖 The Duke’s Rules of Engagement, by Jennifer Haymore 💖 The Dead Romantics, by Ashley Poston 💖 My Lady of Misrule, by Amy Rose Bennett 👻 The Night Ocean, by Paul La Farge 👻 The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton 💖 Cemetery Boys, by Aiden Thomas 💖 Where Peace is Lost, by Valerie Valdes 👻 A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith 💖 The Genesis of Misery, by Neon Yang 💖 The Odyssey, by Homer, trans. Emily Wilson
I read a lot of romance in November, partially because it was easy to focus on in the midst of a heavy work month and partially because I just wanted some fluff to balance out The Death of Jane Lawrence (which is very much Crimson Peak-inspired) and Palestinian author Adania Shibli’s Minor Detail. The Star Wars anthology was interesting! It was the first Star Wars film told from other perspectives and the stories are in the same order of the film, and I liked seeing the familiar story from other POVs.
I started the Sophie Jordan The Rogue Files series in the middle (read the 3rd and 7th I think??) without having realized it, so I am going back and reading the ones I haven’t read in series order! Do Your Worst was cute, but it’s one I can’t think about too much without it all falling apart and not really making much logical sense… The Nanny was overwritten, and it wasn’t until after I read it that it was Reylo-inspired, which is not my preferred contemporary romance genre but the shelves are overrun with them!! Nettle & Bone draws on fairy tales and is one of my favorite reads of the year!
💖 Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View, by various authors 💖 While the Duke Was Sleeping, by Sophie Jordan 🔮 Do Your Worst, by Rosie Danan 💖 The Death of Jane Lawrence, by Caitlin Starling 💖 The Duke Buys a Bride, by Sophie Jordan 💖 Her Band of Rakes, by R.A. Steffan 💖 This Scot of Mine, by Sophie Jordan 🌠 Minor Detail, by Adania Shibli 🌠 The Nanny, by Lana Ferguson 💖 Nettle & Bone, by T. Kingfisher
Gosh, for it being a spooky month, what little spooky things I did read ended up being disappointments. Falling Bodies is my least favorite of this novella series so far, but it wasn’t bad. Joss and the Countess is older woman/bodyguard, and I loved it?? AND Her Majesty’s Royal Coven had no right being that good with those twists, and I absolutely need to grab the sequel!! Raiders of the Lost Heart was cute and silly but the more I think about it, the more it falls apart and becomes so unrealistic and not cute and silly. Bill Watterson’s first publication in a while was weird; I still don’t know what to think of it except that I am still thinking of it. So, that’s something.
The Once and Future Witches might be my favorite so far of Harrow’s. I love suffragette witches, and each of the characters was so well-done that I fell in love with all of them. It’s a slow start, but the build up is worth it. Schwab has a running current through all of her works, and Gallant reads as a direct precursor and developmental step in the concepts explored in The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. I can finally say I’ve read some of Stephen King’s fiction, and I didn’t like The Shining. It was much too long. Whiteley’s The Beauty was immediately clocked as terfy, but some of the ways body horror with mushrooms were explored were exceptionally gross.
💖 Falling Bodies, by Rebecca Roanhorse 💖 Joss and the Countess, by S.M. LaViolette 💖 Her Majesty’s Royal Coven, by Juno Dawson 🔮 Raiders of the Lost Heart, by Jo Segura 🌠 The Mysteries, by Bill Watterson 💖 The Once and Future Witches, by Alix E. Harrow 💖 Gallant, by V.E. Schwab 💖 The Shining, by Stephen King 🌠 The Beauty, by Aliya Whiteley
September felt like such a weird reading month. A Mirror Mended was a so-so follow up to A Spindle Splintered. The concept is great (Into the Spider-Verse meets fairy tales), but I think these ideas would function better as longer novels after the first one. There’s so much to play with, and the constraints of the novella in A Mirror Mended left it feeling rushed. Stoner was one of my 23 in 2023 books, and I liked the first half a lot, and it’s definitely one of those sad people literature books in which depressed people have affairs and be sad, but the writing in it is engaging. I love all of T. Kingfisher’s work, and I’m working through her backlist now!! My most interacted with review on Goodreads is my DNF of Carve the Mark, which wow book community drama never really changes, but anyway, if you would have told me then that I’d be still reading Veronica Roth’s future works and liking them, I wouldn’t have believed you. (And I was one of those who enjoyed the Divergent series.) I was offered a review copy of the paperback release of Chosen Ones, and I enjoyed it! Void could stand for expansion, though, even if by a few chapters.
I reread A Discovery of Witches and then promptly fell down the binge-watch of the television series (and I WILL finish this series in 2024). Supergods was annoying and ended up being a lot of angry essays, but as I wrote in my Goodreads review, I hope Grant finds the peace they wanted when they wrote Supergods because this book read as very bitter. Melissa and the Vicar was the palate cleanser and a delightful historical romance. I liked the concept of The Time Collector, but something about it felt like it was missing or a little underdeveloped/undercooked, but it s always hard to write wibbly wobbly time stuff.
🔮 A Mirror Mended, by Alix E. Harrow 💖 Stoner, by John Williams 💖 Paladin’s Grace, by T. Kingfisher 💖 Void, by Veronica Roth 💖 A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness 💖 Supergods, by Grant Morrison 💖 Melissa and the Vicar, S.M. LaViolette 💖 The Time Collector, Gwendolyn Womack
July was a rollercoaster of a reading month that also felt pretty meh? The historical romances were entertaining to meh, the historical mysteries were enjoyable but nothing out of the ordinary. I read The Remix for a course, and I absolutely hated the presentation and perspective of it. Then the remaining three books of the month were gossipy and delicious (Glossy), immersive (The First Binding), and entertaining but not the best (Fourth Wing).
🔮 Brazen and the Beast, by Sarah MacLean 🔮 Daring and the Duke, by Sarah MacLean 🌠 Murder in Postscript, by Mary Winters 🌠 A Brush with Shadows, by Anna Lee Huber 💖 Remix: How to Lead and Succeed in the Multigenerational Workplace, by Lindsey Pollack 🔮 Glossy: Ambition, Beauty, and the Inside Story of Emily Weiss’s Glossier, by Marisa Meltzer 💖 The First Binding, by R.R. Virdi 💖 Fourth Wing, by Rebecca Yarros