In the grand tradition of the new year, let’s do some wrapping-up of last year. Wrap-ups for everyone! Wrap some presents. Wrap-up your post-holiday shopping. Write lots of wrap-up lists. Wrap-up small, misbehaving children Krampus style to mail to . . . haha . . . ooops. Don’t do that. Got carried away there.
Number Of Books I Read: A very respectable 123
I lowered my reading goal the last two years to 100, and that’s been much more do-able. Even with the amount of comfort re-reading I’ve ended up doing since I went back to work.
Number of Re-Reads: LOTS
As aforementioned, re-reads is my zone. My pajama jam. My heart’s ease. When the job stresses me out and I’m hamster-wheel-thinking about it all night, I turn to re-reads. But I gave up counting them LONG ago because the name of the game is comfort and ease. Not maths and pressure and counting.
Genre I Read The Most From in 2023: Romance. Again.
Yet again, I let my horror reads go. I have a big stack of them waiting, including the latest Chuck Wendig release (Black River Orchard). But pretty much since Covid started I have not been in the mental headspace to read horror, and mostly stuck to my comfort re-reads. (AKA Ruby Dixon. I read a metric ton of Ruby Dixon. And Kati Wilde’s Deadlands series.)
I expect my horror TBR to join together, grow sentient, and murder me any day now. So stay tuned for that.
Best Books I Read In 2023: Buckle up and get ready for ALL of the SciFi and Romantasy smut. However much you’re guessing, double it.
The satisfying additions to Ruby Dixon’s Risdaverse series: When She’s Merry, When She’s Fearless, and When She’s Wary. The whole series is a comfort re-read to me but it’s the absolute best of both worlds because Ruby is an intensely prolific author who is always adding more. HEAVEN.
Kati Wilde’s Deadlands series got some new additions this year and of course they were all 5 Star selections for me. Her unique blend of powerful emotion and high heat is just . . . chef’s kiss. Romantasy is The Thing right now, but she was one of the first and she is the best. Try The Midsummer Bride for a breathtaking display of grovel and the coolest magic system ever.
I discovered VK Ludwig in 2022 but this year I really fell down the rabbit hole which is her backlist and it got curiouser and curiouser every minute. Totally recommend her unique take on the Omegaverse tropes which she somehow manages to make both true to the dominant alpha source and still low angst? Knot For Nest is my favorite.
Favourite new author I discovered in 2023:
Alana Khan. She writes SciFi romance with a lot of dark themes, so read the CWs before you get into her work. But I also love how unique her couples are, and how they bring the light back into each other’s lives. They are always, always better for having known each other and that’s really what love is all about! I would either start with her Galaxy Games (hunger games on a universal scale and with a lot more smut and an even higher body count, if you can believe it); or I would keep it light and low angst with AI discovering emotions in her new series, Galaxy Artificials.
Book I can’t believe I waited until 2023 to finally read:
I’ve mostly been keeping up with the series I already know and love this year, so there’s nothing that sticks out as “what were you DOING with your life before this, SE?” I like to collect all the books in the series as they come and then wait to read the whole thing when the last book is released, which I did with Presley Hall’s Kalixians and Voxerans (Fated Mates galore!), Calista Skye’s Caveman Alien series, and of course Honey Phillips, who started at least two new series this year and I bless the literary gods for them.
Book that stomped all over every emotion ever:
My OTP of 2023, Bane and Echo from Evil Twin, by Kati Wilde.
Bane and Echo are both the evil twin in their twin pairing, and it made my little heart leap with glee to see how their schemes both intertwined and complimented each other. Plus, this is romantasy so you get potions that backfire spectacularly, a really intense carriage ride scene (cough, cough), an undead scourge, plots for the throne, and Only One Bed™. Echo is devious and so intelligent, and Bane adores her for it.
“Love and kindness are the most powerful of all magics – and not only for the one who gives, but also for whom the magic is bestowed upon. So love is nothing to dread or fear.”
Book(s) that I wanted to throw against the wall the hardest:
The Naga Brides series by Naomi Lucas. It’s not the naga part, or the scales that did it. #MonsterRomanceLover over here. I love me a hero who knows how to use his tail.
And I didn’t necessarily want to throw the books against the wall. I read all of them, and kept going with the series. But that’s because it was like a really addictive, trashy TV series I couldn’t quit. It’s bad for me. I know it’s bad for me. I see all those red flags. And I still want to find out what happens. The snake-heroes are all possessive, dominant, and incredibly protective. They’re also obsessive, murdery, violent, and have some serious DubCon issues. Their heroines weren’t written strong enough to stand against such powerful personalities. Or physiques, for that matter. Compared to their fast, fierce, HUGE, venomous, alpha mates the human women ended up looking kinda weak and useless. Not too much, not enough to make me stop reading but . . . I would have loved to see them put the heroes in their place a little. Or be better than them at something. Just once.