top tier favorites | wrapping up twenty twenty three

by - 9:00 AM

Hello there! I'm in the midst of trying to simultaneously prep for the new year while also recovering and catching up on the rest I missed over the past few months. I'm currently at 41 books read as of making this list which is a whopping 164% of my Goodreads reading challenge and I'm really keeping my fingers crossed that I can read at least 1-2 more books before the year finally concludes. 

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the salt grows heavy by cassandra khaw

I finished this in July but I am genuinely still not over all the emotions this tiny 100+ page novella gave me. Following a mermaid and plague doctor, this was the perfect macabre fairytale with nods to siren mythology, creepy forests, and Frankenstein. Truly a story that I was not expecting to love but came to absolutely adore and have not stopped thinking about since I finished it.

as long as the lemon trees grow by zoulfa katouh

I started this in February and ended up putting it down because I cried within the first 30 pages. Fast forward to December and I finally got the guts to finish this beautiful and heartbreaking story. Many tears were shed and it leaves just a sliver of hope for all the cruelty in the world because "every lemon will bring forth a child, and the lemons will never die out." 

a study in drowning by ava reid

Ava Reid truly is one of my new favorite authors because her stories just manage to capture the essence of fairytales and intertwine that into a story with the most heartwarming and compelling characters. This was the book that honestly made me question if I actually liked dark academia because it has creepy houses, reclusive scholars, commentary on the gender exclusivity of academia, and haunting fae kings. Top that with the cutest scholar boy and this book absolutely stole my heart.

all covers are affiliate links to Bookshop where, when used to purchase gives me a small commission to support my blog at no extra cost to you!

the last tale of the flower bride by roshani chokshi

Another story with a creepy house and fairytale vibes, I think it's safe to assume I have specific buzz words that automatically pique my interest. Roshani Chokshi's adult debut is everything I could want with so many layers of hidden secrets and the blurring of lines between magic and reality. I was second-guessing myself the entire time and was still shocked with the final reveal.

an echo in the city by k.x. song

 As someone who witnessed the 2019 Hong Kong protests from the heart of Boston's Chinatown, I viscerally remember my friends' fears and anger towards what was happening back in their homeland and this book captures all of that emotion in a tangible way to digest for an outsider. The burden of the youth having to be the ones to fight against injustice is a common theme we're seeing in both fictional and real-life politics and this book managed to embolden me and break my heart at the same time. 

foul lady fortune duology by chloe gong

2023 was the year of Chloe Gong for me and she currently sits as my most read author of the year. The Foul Lady Fortune duology showcased her ability to write characters that absolutely worm their way into your heart because the love I have for Rosalind, Orion, Silas, Phoebe, Oliver, and Celia literally cannot be expressed in words. This is a perfect continuation of the original duology that expands the Secret Shanghai world without feeling repetitive or overdone but instead gives readers a new story with familiar and new characters to follow and love. 

minor details by adania shibli

I'm not going to lie, it's incredibly disheartening to be faced with humanity's absolute lack of empathy both in a fictional story like Minor Details and in the real life world. I listened to this on audio and the parallels between the two timelines, even when sets decades apart from each other were incredibly haunting to experience. The simplicity of the writing makes the horrors of the military regime more apparent and i
f there's one book I wholeheartedly recommend as a January read to start off the new year, it would be this one. 

all covers are affiliate links to Bookshop where, when used to purchase gives me a small commission to support my blog at no extra cost to you!

the blood trials duology by n.e. davenport

I truly stepped outside of my comfort zone with this duology because I can't remember the last time I even considered reading a sci-fi adjacent book. The Blood Trials duology is intense and bloody with themes of overthrowing an authoritarian military regime and an unlikely team of fighters who band together to take down the world's evils. There's also a particular romantic subplot that had me absolutely screaming because a male love interest who apologizes and realizes his prejudices had me swooning. 

king of wrath by ana huang

Another title I am honestly pleasantly shocked at how much I enjoyed it, King of Wrath is the definition of guilty pleasure tropes that come together to be a fun good time. I absolutely adored Vivian and Dante and their relationship from a classic enemies to begrudging friends to lovers was so well done. This was THE book of the year for me where I finished it as a library e-book and immediately went out to buy a physical copy because I needed one in my life that desperately.

six crimson cranes duology by elizabeth lim

I put this duology off for so long and I'm so glad to have finally dived back into Elizabeth Lim's worlds. If you're looking for a fairytale-esque story with a classic adventure storyline and curses that need to be broken, this is the perfect pick. As someone who adored the Spin the Dawn duology, reading this felt like coming back to a familiar and beloved world and I'm admittedly putting off finishing Her Radiant Curse now because I don't want this world to end.

Looking back at all the books I've read this year, it truly feels like a mixed bag - I definitely stepped outside my comfort zone in terms of formats and genres and hopefully will continue to do so in 2024. Please let me know some of your favorite reads of the year, I'd love to add some titles to my TBR!

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  2. Foul Lady Fortune is from the same universe as These Violent Delights, yes? If so, I cannot believe I haven't read it yet!

    1. Yes it is! If you do please let me know what you think!! ♡