Friday 29 December 2023

My Top Reads of 2023 #AmReading #TopReads2023 #FavouriteBooks2023


My Top Reads of 2023

It's been another very mixed year here in the Cater household. Things will never be the same without my lovely Mum, and I don't think the world has recovered, or ever will do, from the pandemic. We are surrounded by war and disaster, with constant newsfeeds full of the most awful things. 

Sickness has plagued us both again this year, but we are keeping everything crossed that health wise, we will improve soon. 

We have been lucky enough to have some amazing holidays this year, in between bouts of sickness. We visited  Fuerteventura, Kefalonia, our amazing bucket list trip to Canada and then a cheeky four night break in Cyprus.  We managed to get to some literary festivals;  Harrogate, St Hilda's in Oxford and Newcastler Noir. These were certainly highlights of the year.

I have continued to read and shout about the books that I love. I have been able to grow my Blog Tour organising business and once again, I have been fortunate enough to work with some truly amazing books, authors, publishers and fellow bloggers. 

As always, I rarely finish a book that I'm not enjoying, so to pick my top books out of so many that I've really enjoyed has, once more, been very difficult. 

As always, my list is split into three sections; I start with some of the 2023 books that I read in 2022. I mentioned them last year and hoped that they would be huge.

The second part is my list of  Top Books of 2023

Finally, I'll give a mention to some 2024 publications that I've read early.

I really think that 2024 is going to be another fabulous book year!


2023 books that I predicted would do well

At the end of last year, I'd read these 2023 books pre-publication, and predicted that they would do well. I'm still recommending them, twelve months later.  (click on the title for my full review).

The Binding Room by Nadine Matheson -  Paperback 5 January from HQ

So Pretty by Ronnie Turner - 19 January from Orenda Books 

Promise Me by Jill Mansell - 19 January from Headline

When I First Held You by Anstey Harris - 24 January from Lake Union 

Someone Else's Shoes by Jojo Moyes - 2 February from Michael Joseph

Mrs Van Gogh by Caroline Cauchi - 2 February from One More Chapter

In The Blink of an Eye by Jo Callaghan - 19 January from Simon & Schuster

The Daughter In Law by Fanny Blake - 16 February from Simon & Schuster

Those People Next Door by Kia Abdullah - 19 January from HQ

My Top Reads of 2023

My Top Reads of the year are listed in order of reading. The list contains some favourite authors who pop up year after year, and also some debuts. I think it's a great list, with something for everyone. 

I heartily recommend all of these books.  (click on the title for my full review)

Other Women by Emma Flint (Picador 23 Feb) - A novel that raises so many questions, populated by colourful and beautifully constructed characters. It is utterly brilliant. Twisting and full of tension.

River Sing Me Home by Eleanor Shearer (Headline 19 Jan) - This is one of the most powerful, compassionate and compelling novels that I've read for many a year. The language is glorious, the characters are so skilfully created and the sense of place is intoxicating. 

The Forcing by Paul E Hardisty (Orenda 16 Feb) -The Forcing is an incredibly important novel. I got a real Atwood vibe from it. It is incredible, so moving, so frightening, action packed but full of humility and intelligence. Highly recommended.

The Silence Project by Carole Hailey (Corvus 9 Feb) -At times shocking, and always eye-opening, this would be the perfect book group read. There is so much to discuss within the pages. It's a book that I will not forget in a hurry. Recommended by me. 

One Moment by Becky Hunter (Corvus 2 March) -The depiction of the myriad of emotions felt by those who are grieving is wonderfully done and the impact of a life-long friendship is stunning.

The Venice Secret by Anita Chapman (Independently published 1 March) -  A story to relish and to treasure. I was totally captivated by both the plot and the writing style and can only look forward to seeing what this talented author writes next. Highly recommended. 

Arrested Song by Irena Karafilly (Legend Press 28 March) -A novel steeped in not so distant history, entwined with the themes of social justice and women's rights, this is a stunning read. Highly recommended by me.

Go As A River by Shelley Read (Doubleday 13 April) -A true love story, and especially one that details the strength of the mother/child relationship and how memories can guide and steer a life, regardless of the horrors that are inflicted upon it.  This is powerful, stunning writing with a lead character that readers will love.

Fragments of a Woman by Emma Venables (Aderyn Press 1 June) - This is a masterful, important, richly detailed novel that will stay with me for a very long time. I applaud the author for her decision to cast off the stereotypes and to detail such horrors and pain. It is a difficult read in parts, but it is also filled with beautiful, spare prose that cannot fail to impress. Highly recommended. 

The Fascination by Essie Fox (Orenda 22 June) -There's a real magical feel to this story, with hints of sorcery and lots of superstition, suspicion and twisted minds. It's a story to savour. A wonderful, evocative read. Highly recommended

All Of Us Are Broken by Fiona Cummins (Pan Macmillan 20 July) -There's no exploitation of the reader, nothing is gratuitous, every single beautifully written sentence adds a depth to this polished and gripping story. There is no doubt that Fiona Cummins is one of our finest crime fiction authors at the moment. Highly recommended. 

Black Thorn by Sarah Hilary (Pan Macmillan 13 July) - A crime novel. A psychological thriller; this is both of those, expertly woven and always beautifully prepared. Hilary's use of descriptive prose when talking about the forest that surrounds both the Ashes and the park is second to none and her character creation is sublime and exquisite.

One by Eve Smith (Orenda 20 July) - A powerful, masterful and incredibly important novel that should be read by everyone. Packed with characters that you can empathise with, even if you don't actually like them.  Eve Smith is a visionary story teller, her book is addictive and chilling. Highly recommended by me. 

The Bay by Julia Rampen (Saraband 10 Aug) -The Bay is an absolutely beautiful read, the language is tender and compassionate and the themes are relevant and handled with sensitivity, whilst still exposing the horrors faced by so many.  One of my favourite books of the year so far. Highly recommended. 

Someone Like Her by Awais Khan (Orenda 17 Aug) -This is a very important book, it is a book that I feel that everyone should read, and learn from and gain some understanding about how deeply entrenched in violence this culture is. There is also a glimmer of hope as we discover those people who are working hard to stop such things happening, and running throughout it is a story of love that gradually emerges.

The Opposite of Lonely by Doug Johnstone (Orenda 14 Sept) -Packed with colourful and perfectly created characters. There are those who the reader will love, and others who are devilishly despicable. There are scenes of violence and moments that will shock, but all are done so well, adding layers of depth to the story. 

The Unpicking by Donna Moore (Fly on the Wall Press 27 Oct) - These are some of the best characters that I have met in a novel, alongside the alluring, descriptive writing and remarkable sense of place.  A truly wonderful novel. Highly recommended by me. 

The Rituals by Rebecca Roberts (Honno Press 28 Sept) -It's a story of hope and about humankind and friendship and community. It's a novel of lasting love, about being betrayed and about loss. Wonderful, and highly recommended by me. 

The Leftover Woman by Jean Kwok (Viper Books 2 Nov) -An impressive, beautiful and atmospheric story, with a couple of twists that will shock the reader.

Joe Nuthin's Guide to Life by Helen Fisher (Simon & Schuster 9 Nov) -This is a heart warming, uplifting story that is an utter joy to read. Joe is a beautifully created character and is supported by a colourful cast. A story that deals with being different, and how to be a friend. Really magical from an author who writes with humour and compassion.  

The Unspeakable Acts of Zina Pavlou by Eleni Kyriacau (Aries 9 Nov) - This is a powerful, emotional story of a crime, and a fragmented family. With such a sense of place and time. It is another magical novel from a wonderful author. 

His Favourite Graves by Paul Cleave (Orenda 9 Nov) - The darkness, the intense sense of dread just gets more and more overwhelming as the reader gets to the stunning and totally unexpected ending. Another amazing book from an author who is so talented. 

Yellowface by Rebecca F Kuang (Borough Press 25 May) -Yellowface would be the perfect book for group discussion. It raises so many questions and can alter existing view points a great deal. There's tension, and some dark, dry humour. I loved it. I was engrossed by it. I know other people will disagree, that's fine. 

Swimming For Beginners by Nicola Gill (Bedford Square 14 Sept) -Sometimes a book comes along that just grabs you and give you the biggest and most welcome of surprises.A touching, wonderful story that should be treasured and remembered. 

Books to look out for in 2024 ....

I've already made a start on the 2024 books, and if the ones that I've read already are anything to go by, we are in for another outstanding book year.
Here are a few tips; books that I think will be huge next year. 

Some of these reviews have not  been published yet but I can assure you that I enjoyed every one of them. 

The Storm We Made by Vanessa Chan - 4 January from Hodder

The Wedding of the Year by Jill Mansell - 18 January from Headline

The List of Suspicious Things by Jennie Godfrey - 15 February from Hutchinson Heinemann

The Antique Hunter's Guide to Murder by C L Miller - 29 February from Pan Macmillan

The Dancer by Óskar Gudmundsson - 1 February from Corylus Books

The Woman on the Ledge by Ruth Mancini - 4 January from Century

That's 2023 over and done with!

I've enjoyed my book year very much, some of the other stuff this year is best forgotten! 

I want to wish everyone the VERY BEST for next year and I really hope to see lots of lovely book friends soon.

In the meantime, thank you to everyone who reads my reviews and puts up with my book shouting.

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