A Fantasy-Filled Year of Reading in 2023

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I enjoyed a small handful of what I read in 2023 and while most of what I read falls into the Fantasy genre, I also have a couple of domestic thriller favorites!

A Quick Overview:

  • One of Us Is Dead by Jeneva Rose
  • Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros
  • Six Scorched Roses and The Ashes and The Star Cursed King both by Carissa Broadbent
  • Belladonna by Adalyn Grace
  • Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross
  • A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas
  • A Court This Cruel and Lovely by Stacia Stark
  • One Dark Window by Rachel Gillig
  • Wicked of the Kingdom Series by Kerri Maniscalco (specifically the 3rd book)
  • The Ever King by L.J. Andrews
  • The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black
  • The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller
  • On a Quiet Street by Seraphina Nova Glass

One of Us Is Dead by Jeneva Rose

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In this book, we follow four women (Shannon, Crystal, Olivia, and Jenny) who live in the small town of Buckhead. Buckhead is a small town filled with opulence, gossip, and wealth. Shannon is dealing with the fallout of her husband Bryce, leaving her for a much younger woman, Crystal. Crystal is from Texas and has no idea what she is in for. Olivia has finally stepped in and taken Shannon’s crown, but sometimes not everything is what it seems. And Jenny has finally grown her business enough that she knows not just all of the women in Buckhead, but all of their secrets too.

What I loved about this book: everything is just so sneaky, conniving, and underhanded by everyone in this book! The women were very dynamic and felt flushed out. I absolutely did not see the twist coming and I loved the women getting over themselves for the greater good. Characters like Crystal who were initially seen as nothing more than the younger woman, ended up playing a pivotal role in the story.

Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros

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Most people know Fourth Wing by now, but in case you don’t, in Fourth Wing, we follow our main character Violet, who has a chronic illness and has trained her whole life to become a Scribe. But her mother forces her into the dangerous and deadly riders quadrant, where Violet will have to fight for her life. She must become stronger, and avoid being killed while trying not to fall in love with the mysterious and shadowy Wing Leader of the Fourth Wing, Xaden Riorson. Oh and ya know, bond a dragon. No big deal. Basgiath War College is not at all what it seems and more than just danger lurks around every corner.

Why I loved this book: honestly, this book was just a vibe. I loved the chemistry between Violet and Xaden. I loved the dragons. Mostly, I loved that Violet is a character who loves books, has a chronic illness, and wants to initially live a quiet life. There is a lot wrong with this book, but I enjoyed the vibes.

Honorable mention: Iron Flame has recently been published but this book was genuinely exhausting but is the second book in The Empyrean series. I did not have nearly as much fun in this book as I did with Fourth Wing.

Six Scorched Roses by Carissa Broadbent

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Six Scorched Roses is a novella set in the Crowns of Nyaxia series. It comes after The Serpent and The Wings of Night but before The Ashes and The Star Cursed King. In this little novella, we meet Lilith who is a STEM queen and trying to save her little town after it was cursed by a mysterious god. She meets the vampire Vale and they make a deal with each other. Six roses from the only living plant in Lilith’s town, and six vials of Vale’s blood. But despite the danger, Lilith and Vale fall in love and race against the clock to solve the mystery of Lilith’s town’s illness.

Why I loved this book: I love our STEM queen Lilith and how unforgiving she was in her pursuit to heal those she loved. I also love Vale, and his willingness to help and protect Lilith. I also just love the whole Crowns of Nyaxia world and this little trip back to the world was so fun.

The Ashes and The Star Cursed King by Carissa Broadbent

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The Ashes and The Star Cursed King is the second book in the Crowns of Nyaxia series. In this book, Oraya is dealing with the fallout of the events of the Kejari. She is facing a betrayal from Raihn, a deep loss, and now more than ever, questioning her past. Oraya sets out on a quest to not only reclaim what is hers but also finally get answers to her past. This book wraps up Raihn and Oraya’s story, but does not end the Crown of Nyaxia series.

Why I loved this book: I love this book more than The Serpent and The Wings of Night purely because we learn so much. Oraya grows so much as a character and her story with Raihn wraps up so nicely. I’m still not into vampires or redheads but Raihn definitely had my heart in his hand in this book.

Belladonna by Adalyn Grace

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Belladonna is the first book in the Belladonna series and follows our main character Signa, who has been raised by a string of guardians. Each meeting an untimely end while Signa was in their care. Her remaining relatives are the elusive Hawthornes, who live at Thorn Grove, an estate as equally glittering as gloomy.

Signa’s uncle mourns his late wife through wild parties, while his son grapples for control of the family’s declining reputation and a daughter who suffers from a mysterious illness. Before Signa can fully settle into life at Thorn Grove, Signa realizes there is a more sinister plot unfolding right before her eyes. To uncover what is happening, Signa must partner with Death himself, a fascinating and dangerous shadow who has never been far from her side. Though he has made her life a living hell, Death shows Signa that their connection may be more powerful than either of them might have imagined.

Why I loved this book: A girl who cannot die and Death Personified had me intrigued from the very first sentence. Signa is an interesting character and her dynamic with Death was a little interesting. The atmosphere is very gothic and I genuinely was so into the story. The mystery surrounding the Hawthornes kept me fully interested.

Honorable mention: Foxglove by Adalyn Grace is the second book in the Belladonna series and was also a fun read but in different ways than Belladonna.

Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross

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Divine Rivals is the first book in the Letters of Enchantment series which follows two young journalists, Iris Winnow and Roman Kitt. They are rivaling journalists fighting to get the promotion at the paper they work at, while a war between the gods brews around them. Iris wants nothing more than to keep her family together. Her mother suffers from addiction and her brother is missing in action from the front lines. Her best bet is the win the promotion at the Oath Gazette.

To combat her anxiety, Iris writes letters to her brother and slips them under her wardrobe door, where they vanish into the hands of Roman, her cold rival from the paper. When he anonymously writes back, the two of them forge a connection that will follow them both all the way to the front lines.

Why I loved this book: I loved the world-building and imagery in this book. Reading this book felt like watching a movie in my mind. I love Iris and Roman as characters and as a couple. I am still not over that ending though.

Honorable mention: I do want to put Ruthless Vows as an honorable mention because I am sure I will love it as much as I did Divine Rivals, which comes out December 26th, 2023!

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas

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some spoilers in the summary

A Court of Mist and Fury is the second book in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series. Feyre has undergone more trials than one should ever have to go through. Even though she has been granted powers and the lifespan of a High Fae, she is still haunted by her time Under The Mountain.

As her marriage to Tamlin approaches, Feyre begins to have her doubts. She finds herself split between two worlds, one with Rhysand, the High Lord of the Night Court who has called in his bargain, and the second with Tamlin, the High Lord of the Spring Court. Feyre must navigate not just her new life, but also politics, passion, and power, all while a dark evil looms.

Why I loved this book: this book felt like such a breath of fresh air after reading A Court of Thorns and Roses. The love story had me in a chokehold and I loved that we get to see more of Prythian. This book also had me in my feels nearly the whole time. From the early scenes with Tamlin to the very ending with Rhysand. I loved this book so much.

A Court This Cruel and Lovely by Stacia Stark

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For years, Priscia has dreamed of a mysterious man with green eyes and a cruel smile. When they cross paths, he leaves her for dead. While the gods take a human’s powers mere hours after they are born, the gods promise protection. But to those who choose to keep their powers, are considered corrupt and burned. When Priscia’s own hidden powers are discovered, she is forced to flee and work with the mystery man who initially left her for dead.

A Court This Cruel and Lovely is the first book in the Kingdom of Lies series.

Why I loved this book: this book pulled me out of my ACOTAR book slump. The tension between Priscia and the mystery man (Lorian) I really enjoyed. The side characters were also really interesting and I just had a fun time vibing along with this book.

One Dark Window by Rachel Gillig

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One Dark Window is the first series in The Shepherd King duology. In One Dark Window, we follow our main character Elspeth, who lives in Blunder, a mist-locked kingdom. The mist is a plague on anyone who is unfortunate enough to be affected by it. Those with the infection are cast out to the mist. Elspeth must partner with the darkness living in her mind, known as The Nightmare. Alongside a group of highwaymen, they all work together to gather the 12 Providence cards to unite the deck and cure the infection.

Why I love this book: Elspeth and Ravyn are both fascinating characters on their own. They enter into a bit of a fake dating scenario in order to not only protect each other, but also to try to unite the deck. As Elspeth can see the cards and Ravyn has the means to collect them. They are also both two infected people, able to hide their infection and fight together for their loved ones and each other.

Honorable mention: Two Twisted Crowns gets an honorable mention but I felt disappointed by the ending of this duology.

Kingdom of the Feared by Kerri Maniscalco

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minor spoilers in the summary

Kingdom of the Feared is the third book in the Kingdom of the Wicked series by Kerri Maniscalco. In Kingdom of the Feared, Emilia is rebounding from a shocking discovery that her twin sister, Vittoria, is alive. But there is more going on than just Vittoria being alive. A high-ranking member of House Greed has been assassinated and Emilia is finally ready to claim Wrath as more than just her King, but the King of her heart.

Why I loved this book: this series started really rough for me. I could not stand Emilia and the world-building did not make sense. But I genuinely enjoyed Wrath and so I kept reading. By the end of the series, not only had Wrath won Emilia’s heart, but he also won mine. Emilia was still a tad frustrating but she did grow as a character and I can appreciate that.

The Ever King by L.J. Andrews

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The Ever King is the first in The Ever Seas series. In this book, we focus on our main character Livia, who is kidnapped by the pirate King, Erik. When Erik was a child, the Earth Kingdoms stole his crown, and so years later when the chasm opens and Erik is able to slip through, he does. However, neither Livia nor Erik are prepared for what comes next as Livia heals not only Erik’s land but also his heart. Erik finds himself torn between revenge on his enemy and restoring his kingdom back to its former glory.

Why I loved this book: this was my first “dark romance fantasy” and I was nervous about the dark aspect. The book definitely starts out with that ‘dark” vibe but ultimately turns itself into a fascinating story with interesting characters and world-building. I am so excited for the second book, The Ever Queen, which comes out at the end of January 2024!

The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

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The Queen of Nothing is the third book in the Folk of Air series and similar to Kingdom of the Wicked, this is a series that got better as I continued reading it. The Queen of Nothing picks up after the events of The Wicked King, with Jude reeling from Cardan’s betrayal. Back in the human lands, until her twin sister, Taryn, pleads for Jude’s help. Jude decides to help Taryn and goes back to the fae lands, only to discover Cardan’s rule even more threatened by none other than Madoc.

Why I loved this book: I loved this book because of the build-up. The little twists and turns were interesting and I genuinely loved how much Cardan and Jude grow within the series. I enjoyed the ending of the series quite a bit. Also, Cardan writes letters to Jude in this book and if you’ve read any of my reviews, you will know by now that I am a sucker for a love interest who writes letters!

(I am still debating reading The Stolen Heir series if you’ve read it, would you recommend reading it?)

The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

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The Shadows Between Us is the first in The Shadows Between Us series. In this book, we follow our main character Alessandra who is one of the most scrappy, sarcastic, and fascinating characters I have met in a long time. She has three simple goals, 1) woo the shadow king, 2) marry him, and 3) kill him and take his kingdom for herself. Unfortunately for Alessandra, she is not the only one trying to kill the King. So to keep his council off his back and protect his legacy, the Shadow King and Alessandra form an unlikely alliance.

Why I loved this book: I was genuinely surprised that I liked this book. I wasn’t sure I would like it because it is a fair bit YA and was originally marketed as a standalone. This book took me by surprise. Alessandra is definitely one of my favorite FMC’s and Kallias (our Shadow King) is quite the cinnamon roll. Not everything in this book made sense but I came for the shadow daddy and was very happy with the shadow daddy we got.

Honorable mention: The Darkness Within Us focuses on Alessandra’s sister, Chrysantha, and publishes on July 9th, 2024, so we will see what happens.

On A Quiet Street by Seraphina Nova Glass

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Right back where we started with the Domestic Thrillers!

The neighborhood of Brighton Hills seems like nothing more than the perfect picture of opulence and white picket fences. However, Brighton Hills is also the perfect place to hide. Cora thinks her husband Finn is cheating. She just needs to catch him. Paige has recently lost her son to a hit-and-run and is not someone to be crossed in the neighborhood. This is why Paige is the perfect person to help Cora figure out if Finn really is cheating. And then there is Georgia, the young, reclusive mother. But why would a young mother act stranger and stranger by the day? Something might be off in Brighton Hills.

Why I loved this book: I loved the sense of sisterhood in this book too. The women in this book each have their problems and are fascinating on their own. But once the three come together to help and heal with each other, all of the pieces in the puzzle start to fit together and reveal a much larger, and shocking picture.

Have you read any of these? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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