Hi guys!! I am SO excited for today’s blog post. If there’s one thing I could talk about for hours, it’s books.
If you’re looking for some unforgettable, binge-worthy books to add to your 2024 “to be read” list, you’ve come to the right spot. We’re going to talk about all the things: my 5 star books from this past year, honest reviews, & characters I still can’t stop thinking about! In case you missed past recaps:
2023 READING GOAL
Do you guys set a reading goal at the beginning of the year? For the past 3 years I’ve set a higher and higher goal for myself. It’s gone from 12, to 24 to 30 books this past year! SADLY, I fell 4 books short of my goal. But shifting my perspective and feeling so accomplished for reading 26 books in one year!
In last year’s recap I wrote a short list of things I’m proud of when it comes to my 2023 reading journey which I loved looking back on, so below you’ll find the same:
- I dabbled in a very out of my comfort zone genre and found out I really truly love fantasy!!! Shout out to the ACOTAR series that became a gateway to a whole new fandom. Wanting to get through the Harry Potter series next!
- The longest book I read had 703 pages… an all time record for me!
- I listened to more audio books than I ever have with 6 total! Learned that I love an autobiography/memoir or a crime/true story account on audio the most!
Now, let’s get into the books!
MY FAVORITE BOOKS FROM 2023
ACOTAR SERIES by Sarah J. Maas
Okay, like some of you, I was very hesitant going into this series. Each time I posted on my Instagram stories that I was reading this I would get comments like “is this worth it??” or “I don’t like fantasy but I’ve seen this book everywhere so I’m intrigued!” Spoiler alert: is in fact worth the read. They’re set in an unforgettable fantasy world with a gripping, thrilling, fast-paced story-line packed with steamy romance. By the end of the first book you will feel like you know each character personally by how developed each of them are, and by the end of the last you will find yourself thinking about them and their world patiently waiting for the next book to come out. I know this series won’t be for everyone, but if you are on the fence about diving into the series, here’s your push to DO IT!!
- A Court of Thorns and Roses (5/5)
- A Court of Mist & Fury (5/5)
- A Court of Wings & Ruin (4/5)
- A Court of Frost and Starlight (4.5/5)
- A Court of Silver Flames (5/5)
LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY by Bonnie Garmus (5/5)
This one was such a JOY to read. Profound, original, quirky, humorous, insightful, heartbreaking and beyond entertaining are a few words to sum up this novel that is worth all the hype. The writing is both witty and intelligent, and truly made me laugh, think, feel and transport me into the story – all signs of a great book in my opinion! I also just tuned into the series on AppleTV which was AMAZING!
BOUNDARIES by Henry Cloud & John Townsend (5/5)
This is one that I will be grabbing to re-read all of its wisdom. It provides an insightful, thought provoking look at the boundaries in various parts of our life (work, spouses, friends, kids, etc) and learning “when to say yes and how to say no to take control of your life.” Highly recommend EVERYONE reads this because we can all benefit from these teachings.
MEET ME AT THE LAKE by Carley Fortune (5/5)
If you like summer romace, lakeside nostalgia, and a second chance love story, you will completely devour this one. I was left with a full heart, a few tears and a need for more novels from Carly Fortune!! Once I find an author I like, I am hooked on their books! After reading Fortune’s debut novel Every Summer After, I knew Meet Me At The Lake would be a must-read hit.
THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett (5/5)
An incredibly profound, complex and unforgettable story. Though fictional, it paints a shocking picture of what life in the 1960s south was like. Through multiple POVs we get to hear the voice of two black maids and a young white journalist, and watch as their lives begin to intertwine as they attempt to bring change to the world they know.
REMARKABLY BRIGHT CREATURES by Shelby Van Pelt (5/5)
Five beaming stars for this story that made me feel all the warm and cozy feels! A touching, quirky, and heartwarming novel about our connection with nature and ones search for the truth. The story is told in 3 POVs: Tovay, Marcellus (octopus) and Cameron. Though all of the characters were likable, well-developed and complex, I enjoyed Marcellus’s wit and intelligence the best. This book was smart, engaging, humorous, and ultimately healing.
SUMMER SISTERS by Judy Blume (5/5)
Chances are if it’s a coming of age story, it’s getting five stars from me. This is my first time reading one of Blume’s adult novels and it did not disappoint. If nostalgia was a book, this would be it. It’s giving Firefly Lane with a little of Elin Hilderbrand’s summer charm. Blume built characters that are real, relatable, and unforgettable. It reminds me of the innocence and naivety I had growing up which makes it all the more dreamy and sentimental.
MEANT TO BE by Emily Giffin (5/5)
This one is definitely in the running for my top read from 2023. I absolutely devoured the story… literally read it in 24 hours which is insanely fast for me. It’s inspired by JFK Junior‘s love story with Caroline which I knew nothing about and recommend diving in blind if you were also unaware of their story. The characters are so well developed and the story flowed so seamlessly that it was absolutely addicting it’s full of passion charm messy family dynamics and just how far you’ll go for the one you love
THE FIVE STAR WEEKEND by Elin Hilderbrand (4/5)
A classic Elin Hilderbrand summer beach read filled with drama, charm, entertainment and discovering your true self. After tragedy strikes in Hollis Shaw’s life, she decides to put together a “Five Star” weekend where she chose a friend from each decade to spend an unforgettable weekend on Nantucket with her. Enjoyed this one and how it transported me to the Nantucket bliss that I so adore!
A FLICKER IN THE DARK by Stacy Willingham (4/5)
This one was so twisted and creepy!! I loved! A gripping, heart-pounding thriller that you won’t want to put down. I thought it was well written and not predictable, especially if you read a lot of thrillers. I felt like some parts were a bit rushed and repetitive, but nonetheless the many strengths of this thriller outweigh the weaknesses! High recommend this intelligent, fast-paced read!
DREAMLAND by Nicholas Sparks (4/5)
A slow burn beautiful beachy love story mixed with a unexpected thriller. This one was amazing! There was a few shocking twists and turns that I did not see coming! I couldn’t put this one down once I got into it. It’s emotional, it’s raw, it’s heartbreaking, and gives us all the romance Nicholas Sparks is known for.
BAREFOOT by Elin Hilderbrand (4/5)
Barefoot is the kind of book you bring to read on the beach and finish it by the end of the day. Three women arrive on Nantucket for the summer to try to escape their everyday lives filled with infidelity, illness, and scandal. On top of likeable characters, themes of friendship, and of course set on the beautiful island of Nantucket, this story checks all the boxes for a fun, juicy, scandal filled, heartfelt summer read.
NONE OF THIS IS TRUE by Lisa Jewell (4/5)
Highly recommend the audio-book on this one as I felt like I was listening to the true-crime podcast aspect of the novel in real time as it was unfolding. It’s fast-paced, intriguing and is full of questions and unknowns that had me hooked until the end. The whole time it had me questioning this unreliable, strange character of Josie Fair and wondering what were her true intentions. **A few trigger warnings to be aware of too – child abuse, pedophilia, & domestic abuse.
OTHER 2023 READS (IN ORDER BY RATING)
- FRIENDS, LOVERS, AND THE BIG TERRIBLE THING by Matthew Perry (no rating)
- THE WOMAN IN ME by Britney Spears (no rating)
- THE HOUSEMAID (4/5)
- A MAN CALLED OVE by (4/5)
- ONE BY ONE (4/5)
- WINTER IN PARADISE (4/5)
- IT STARTS WITH US (4/5)
- THE LAST ORIGINAL WIFE (3/5)
- THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 (3/5)
- THE MEASURE (3/5)