Reading Round Up - Ranking my first 25 fiction books of 2023
Book Reviews,  Reading Roudup

Ranking All 25 Fiction Books Read So Far In 2023

πŸ“š Rounding up all the Fiction I read in the first half of 2023. The great, the good, the meh and the Hoofin’ It.

I read 25 Fiction Books in the first half of 2023! This is really great progress for me and meant I already smashed my initial goal of 30 books for my Goodreads Reading Challenge (the other 5 were non-fiction!). Part of the reason was I finally got into Audiobooks so I’ve been able to have two fiction books one the go at once – one for my bedtime reading and one for listening to on my walks and during chores.

It’s been fun for me to revisit these and rank them all by my rating, with a brief little summary for you.

As ever these are just my opinions of these books based my own particular reading preferences which are very likely different to yours (and based on Goodreads ratings, a lot of other people’s!).

I’ve love to know how your reading is going this year – what have you loved and what was disappointing?

Skip to the good bit:
  1. I love you
  2. Really great
  3. Nothing to write home about
  4. It was a struggle
  5. Just no.
  6. Are we book friends?

Click the book titles to read my full (or mini) review.

I love you

5 Star books are ones that I bloody loved and will remember for a long time.

Bunny 5/5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

I absolutely loved Bunny. I read it at the start of the year (twice) and I still think about it. It really got me excited about reading again and for the first time since University (I graduated in 2009!) I spent time analysing a novel! With a very unreliable narrator it’s weird, and hallucinatory, and darkly funny.. Not everyone will love it, but I certainly did.

Devil in Winter 5/5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

A romance novel has not gripped me like this ever before (certainly not as an adult!). Sebastian St Vincent is dashing, and cheeky, but also somehow the most thoughtful romantic lead I’ve ever come across? Massages, foot warmers and emotional support are the way to my heart. Plus, he is coupled with my favourite Wallflower, Evie!

Really great

4 Star books were really great but just had something missing that kept them out the top spot.

Book Lovers 4/5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Another romance book that gave me what I needed and a fun subversion of the rom-com “city bitch” trope! Good communication with an emotionally mature romantic lead that leads to a healthy relationship! Why is that so hard to find? It’s also pretty steamy!

Kindred 4/5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

It gets mis-sold as a science fiction book which may turn readers off, but this is a true classic that uses time travel as a literacy device to great affect. A black woman in 1970 suddenly finds herself transported back to antebellum Maryland where she must repeatedly save the life of a white slave owner. Powerful, concise writing conveys the brutal reality of the time period.

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1) 4/5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

A young adult fantasy book that wonderful world building, complex characters and conflicts between two sides (humans and the children of gods) with inherited trauma that have no easy answers. There is a lot to love here but it gets let down, for me, by the juvenile teenage romance that takes up too much space. It is worth reading and skipping those chapters if you have the same reaction as I did!

Muse of Nightmares (Strange the Dreamer, #2) 4/5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

A true part two to Strange the Dreamer and it inherits all the same good and bad qualities. I still highly recommend it, but again maybe skip the romance stuff!

The Muse 4/5 Stars 🎧 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I really enjoyed this an audiobook. The story takes place in two timelines – a Trinidadian immigrant in 1960s London searches for answers on a mysterious painting, while in 1936 Spain a Viennese-English teenage girl explores her creativity to a back drop of dysfunctional family, first love and a percolating civil war. A fabulous dive into inspiration, the meaning and ownership of Art.

My (extra)Ordinary Life 4/5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

A fun and light-hearted book that also managed to tackle difficult topics of unresolved grief and depression. A documentary about the “average” person sends Emily into a spiral of panic that she is boring and has wasted her life. She decides she most complete an arbitrary list of things that will make her more interesting.

Secrets of a Summer Night 4/5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The first book in the Wallflowers series which was a very pleasant surprise! I found it to be a very addictive regency-era romance story. Lisa Kleypas is very good at writing those small moments that make up a convincing romance.

The Husband’s Secret 4/5 Stars 🎧 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This was my second Liane Moriarty audiobook this year, and I do love to listen to an Aussie accent. The titular secret is a little obvious but the dilemma present is compelling, and this book is full of sharp observations on social dynamics between mothers in the suburbs.

His Name Was Wren 4/5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This was a random purchase but turned out to be a really great children-meet-alien science fiction adventure. Feels nostalgic for things like ET, and it has non-annoying child characters.

Project Hail Mary 4/5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

So this had far too much maths and science in it for me but whenever I was getting a bit bored with all that it would pull it back around with a new twist that kept be going with it. I don’t want to give any spoilers!

Poison Study 4/5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I’m always trying to find fantasy series I might actually like. This book 1 was great and has a strong, independent female main character who drives the plot herself. It’s a typical genre book but it didn’t feel stale.

The Midnight Library 4/5 Stars 🎧 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I’ve flip-flopped a lot on if this is 3, 3.5 or 4 stars because I did feel it was too heavy handed with its inspiring, uplifting message but it does have some powerful moments.

Nothing to write home about

3 Star books were fine but I’ll probably forget I ever read them in a couple of months!

Apples Never Fall 3/5 Stars 🎧 ⭐⭐⭐

Another classic Liane Moriarty family mystery-drama with those razor sharp observations on everyday interactions and life’s many tiny disappointments. It would have been 4 stars if it had ended when the plot did!

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires 3/5 Stars 🎧 ⭐⭐⭐

This was fun! A gory satire on the 1990s horror genre. The excellent audiobook narrator really made it for me.

It Happened One Autumn 3/5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐

Book 3 in the Wallflowers series. It’s still highly addictive reading but just wasn’t my favourite characters.

Scandal in Spring 3/5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐

Book 4 in the Wallflowers series. Again, it is still addictive reading and I loved that Daisy was the one making all the moves, but an anticlimactic rushed finale let it down.

Tomorrow, And Tomorrow, And Tomorrow 3/5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐

This was disappointing. After a very strong start it just devolved into tedium. I got very bored with the focus on the details of game design which along with all the time jumps left me feeling disconnected from the characters, who I also grew to dislike in their petty immaturity. I thought the writing was great though and I have another novel by the same author to try.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue 3/5 Stars 🎧 ⭐⭐⭐

So I knew this was going to be disappointing which is why I opted for an audiobook free through the library! Great author, great idea but very mediocre book which felt like a massive waste of potential for what should have been epic. I really sick to my back teeth of both Addie and Henry by the end!

Book of Night 3/5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐

Holly Black’s first(?) adult fantasy book and it was OK except for a very confusing magic system and a convoluted plot.

Nightcrawling 3/5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐

This had a lot of hype and I just thought it was ok? It’s great for a debut novel by a 17 year old but beyond that I found it overwritten with too much flowery language at the expense of character, and just very dry to read.

It was a struggle

2 Star books were especially disappointing and I very nearly did not finish.

This Is How You Lose the Time War 2/5 Stars ⭐⭐

I thought I’d love it and I ended up hating it. It’s an overwrought, mawkish mess that has a very hard to follow plot that is simultaneously predictable. To me it read more like a writing flex on the part of the dual authors than an attempt to tell a story. The only thing going for it was that it is short.

No One Is Talking About This 2/5 Stars ⭐⭐

It started off well as a satire on Twitter culture, but then it changed into an entirely different novel about family tragedy and the two parts did not gel for me. I understand it is autobiographical but it still gave me whiplash to read.

Just no.

0-1 Star books were bad and I had nothing to gain by making myself finish it!

Hoofin’ It 0.5/5 Stars (DNF) πŸ’€

So its on me, but I bought it thinking it would be bad but in a good funny way and it was just bad. So bad. The most repetitive writing I have ever experienced in a novel. Also, sex trafficking in a rom-com!?

Are we book friends?

Have you read any of these? Please do share below! I did make my way through a number of titles that I’ve heard hyped up over the last couple of years – ones with high Goodreads ratings – that just did nothing for me! Have you ever picked up a book you were sure you’d like and found it crushing disappointment?

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