Somehow we are more than halfway done with this year and I have managed to read a little over 50 books. There have been some flops but there have also been some major hits. I’m going to give a few of my favorites in different categories just got make it easier. I have to save the best for last so let’s start with just general fiction. I’ve read a couple of really great historical fiction/general fiction books but by far my favorite is Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau. I just finished this last week an absolutely loved it! It is a coming of age story but so much more. Mary Jane is 14 years old, very shy and quiet. Her parents are very by the book and they keep her on a tight leash for lack of a better word. Mary Jane decides to take a nanny position for a sweet girl in her neighborhood. She soon learns that not every parent parents the way that hers do. The Cone family is much more boisterous and free spirited. There is lots of yelling and chaos going on but there is also a lot of love. Throw in a rockstar who is also staying with the family for the Summer to help with a drug addiction, and his famous wife and you have a very interesting book. I cannot emphasize enough how much I loved the characters and the relationships in this book. I laughed, I cried, I didn’t want it to end. It was so beautiful. Please check it out.
Ok next is Sci-Fi and I have a couple but 1 that takes the top. I’m not sure if you would call this sci-fi or horror or both but I’m adding it here. The Deep by Nick Cutter. I don’t even know how to explain this except that it takes place deep in the ocean and it’s freakin terrifying! I think you should go in knowing nothing and enjoy the ride. The ending could’ve been better. Next is Kindred by Octavia E. Butler which I would definitely say is sci-fi because it involves time travel. Even though this book was written what 40 some years ago, it felt so current. Not outdated at all. A black woman finds herself being taken back in time to the Antebellum South. She finds herself in a very dangerous position but ends up saving a white boy and that ultimately saves her. She gets transported back to the present but it doesn’t last long before she’s back in the past. Every time she get transported back its for longer and longer periods of time. She is a subjected to being a slave and endures absolute horrors. It’s a terrifying look into racism and slavery and a must read! My number one sci-fi read has to be Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. Wow this book got me out of a huge reading slump and brought me back to life. It was fast paced and exciting and really kept you guessing. Our main character wakes up to find that this life is not his life. His wife is not his wife and his son was never born.This is a mind bending, time bending book and it will leave you on the edge of your seat!
Fantasy/Cozy Fantasy is next and I have 2. First is Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree. Yes the hype is real. This is not at all my genre but I had to see what the hype was about and I am so glad I did. This is about Viv who is an orc. She is tired of battling and fighting and she wants to settle down and open her own coffee shop. It might sound kind of dull but it is charming and you will fall in love with the characters. Next is The House In The Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. This started out a little rough for me. It was a little slow and I was nervous I wasn’t vibing with the writing but I stuck with it and ended up loving it. This is essentially about a social worker who works with magical children. It is beautiful and heartbreaking and has such a wonderful message. Yes I cried.
Ok romance is next. I think I’ve read like 2 romances lol. They just aren’t my favorite. But, I read The Happy Ever After Playlist but Abby Jimmenz. This is book two in a series but I don’t see any reason they cant’t be read as stand-alones. It did have my least favorite trope in it which I won’t say because it could be a spoiler but dang it if I didn’t end up loving the characters. If you enjoy books about musicians and trying to move on after a spouse death then give this a try.
Next up is mystery/thriller/suspense. I actually have a few but I will keep it short. The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz. What a fun, ridiculous book! Keep an open mind with this one and enjoy the ride. A writing retreat with an eccentric author turns into a competition that is a little more than they bargained for. Another crazy but fun book is the newest by my guy Riley Sager. The Only One Left is a modern day (set in the 80’s) Lizzie Borden. There are so many twists your head will spin! I’m serious. It is so ridiculous and fun. I loved it. Next is the second book in the Finlay Donovan series. Gosh I loved this on. I think I loved it more than the first even. Finlay gives me so much anxiety but I always fond myself laughing along. I’ve heard the third book isn’t that great but I’m still looking forward to reading it. Look Closer by David Ellis was another one that will make your head spin. The most morally gray characters. You don’t know who’s lying, who’s telling the truth and who you should be rooting for. Another one that will keep you guessing until the end. Behind Closed Doors by B.A Paris was a a lot more suspenseful than I was expecting. Grace’s new husband seems like the perfect man. He’s handsome, attentive and kind. Things change quickly after the wedding and what seems like the perfect marriage is anything but. Read this book! It will have you so frustrated but it’s still worth it. My favorite thriller by far was Wonderland by Jennifer Hillier. Wow! This was incredible. Amusement park, the shadiest characters imaginable, corruption, lies and creepy clowns and dolls. Need I say more?This was a lot grittier and darker than I was expecting and I’m really happy it went in that direction. I just loved the story and all of the seriously messed up characters. Slight trigger warnings and honestly check them before most of these books. Highly recommend this one. I can’t wait to read more from her.
Ok we’ve come to my favorite category, horror! I’ve read some fantastic horror books with year so I’ll try to be quick. First, Grady Hendrix, my king! Minus his new book which was a major miss for me but let’s not go there. I’ve read like 3 or 4 of his nooks this year but my stand outs were My Best Friend’s Exorcism and The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires. My Best Friend’s Exorcism is basically exactly what it sounds like lol. It’s set in the 80’s and I loved the friend group and their relationship. His writing is so fantastic. Hilarious and ridiculousness one second and then serious and disgusting the next. Genius. The Southern Book Club was even better than I was expecting. I did not think it was going to make me so emotional and give such important social commentary on housewives/moms and even racial injustices. Not what you expect from a vampire book. That’s Grady for you though. Don’t get me wrong this book is disgusting and horrifying too. It really has it all and I highly recommend. Moving to more extreme horror we’ve got Maeve Fly by CJ Leede. Again, this is extreme horror! Major trigger warnings. Proceed with caution. Maeve Fly is giving psycho Elsa from Frozen, she’s giving female Patrick Bateman. She is an absolute psycho but you somehow feel sorry for her and kind of like her. Maybe that’s just me lol. I did feel so conflicted reading this because she is nuts but heck if I didn’t love her. The ending had me heartbroken. I can not wait for her next book! Ok my favorite book of 2023 so far is….. Delicate Condition by Danielle Valentine. This comes out August 1st and is the inspiration behind the newest season of American Horror Story. Think of it as a feminist Rosemary’s Baby. I know this isn’t going tot be for everyone. I know some people are going to find it silly and weird but I dont know it resonated with me on a deep level. I might make a whole post just dedicated to this book. I could write a thesis on this book lol. Major trigger warnings of pregnancy, miscarriage, infertility, IFV etc. It’s really hard to read at times. It felt so real at times it felt like I was reading a memoir or something. I just bawled my eyes out reading it and I can’t wait to get my own physical copy to annotate. Does it get a little kooky, crazy? Sure, but I even enjoyed that. As someone who has gone through infertility and other hormonal things it was just a big hug like “you’re not alone.” It was so comforting and beautiful even though its horror. The authors note at the end was wonderful! How many times have you heard that? She wrote more about the issues that women face as far as not being taken seriously especially with doctors (also a theme in the book) being talked down to or completely ignored if their male partners are with them. She also wrote about the maternal mortality rate of Black women in the U.S which if you don’t know about you should! It is worth getting the book just for the authors note honestly. I thank her so much for this book and I will be reading it again. Again, I could write a whole post on this book and I just might. I have more books that I really loved but this is long enough. This was the best of the best but stay tuned for more reviews and bookish content.