Kicking off my annual book review post to catalog and review all of my reads throughout the year. You can see everything I read in previous years on: 2018’s list, 2019’s list, 2020’s list, 2021’s list, and 2022’s list! For loads of what-to-read inspiration, scroll down for my 2023 reading list with mini reviews for each book, and see what’s up next in my reading queue!Spare by Prince Harry. What kismet that this book was released on my birthday, I downloaded the audio version right away and jumped in. Highly recommend listening to this one, as it’s told by Prince Harry himself, I felt like it brought the stories to life in a deeper way than reading it would have. I know there are lots of opinions and mixed reviews on the book, but ultimately I loved it, give me all the royal dirt and I eat it right up.
These Silent Woods by Kimi Cunningham Grant. I kept comparing this book to Kristin Hannah’s The Great Alone – it has a similar desolate setting deep in the woods and very short list of characters that make up an intense, moving story. Cooper and his daughter Finch live in isolation in a remote cabin, hiding from the mistakes of Cooper’s past. Events unfold that threaten their cover and force them to make tough decisions. This was such a moody, gripping story that felt like the perfect read for winter.
Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout. This book starts at the beginning the pandemic, where the newly widowed Lucy finds herself leaving her NYC home and fleeing to sleepy, coastal Maine with her ex-husband where they share a home throughout the early lockdown months. It was a character-driven story that had me deeply invested in their complex relationships.
Lost and Found in Paris by Lian Dolan. Opened this book up to stave off my wanderlust, it was cheaper than plan tickets to Paris! The main character, Joan, is jilted by her husband and finds herself saying yes to a job as an art courier that takes her to Paris. She’s on the rebound, finds an unlikely date in her seat mate on the plane, and starts a flirty romance that is interrupted when she realizes the art she was carrying has been stolen. They race around Paris trying to recover it, with a hint of DaVinci Code-esque clues woven into the storyline. It was a cute read, I had a few problems with some of the decisions that characters made, but overall a fun, light story.
The Club by Ellery Lloyd. Picked this book up because I feel like I’d been seeing it everywhere, the neon typeface drawing me in. Taking place at the launch party of an exclusive, members-only club for elite celebrities, and opening with a murder that unravels throughout the book, it was a little bit mystery, a little bit thriller, and a lot of celebrity-inspired drama.
The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager. This was a delightful, page-turning thriller set on a moody New England lakefront and full of lively celebrity characters. I enjoyed the book so much right up until the very end. Without giving away any spoilers, I found the explanations for the disappearance and drama that had centered the storyline to be a bit outlandish and unsatisfying. I love when thrillers wrap up neatly, with reasonably explained solutions, and this just didn’t fit the bill unfortunately!
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. When I first heard about this book I wasn’t convinced it was going to be for me. The plot surrounds two friends who make video games, and videos games just aren’t my thing, but I’m SO glad I gave it a chance because it was one of my favorite books I’ve read in years. The writing and character development was top notch, I was absolutely heartbroken when I finished it because I didn’t want it to end.
Stone Cold Fox by Rachel Koller Croft. Wow, this book was so juicy, wicked, and tense. The main character is on the surface a total villain, driven by her con-artist upbringing, but she was also a really complex victim. I yo-yo’ed back and forth between shock and sympathy for her right up until the last pages.
What Happened to the Bennetts? by Lisa Scottoline. I tend to shy away from books with male lead characters but I’m glad I stuck with this quick-read thriller. The story follows a dad and his family that are involved in a hit and run accident that changes their lives forever and swiftly puts them into the witness protection program. Grasping at ways to get their life back, the father takes matters into his own hands. One of my favorite parts of the book was how it examined just how hard it is to slip away in the age of social media.
The Golden Spoon by Jessa Maxwell. This book billed itself as The Great British Baking Show meets a game of Clue, so I was immediately interested! I think the mystery part of the book wasn’t quite as strong as I was expecting, less thriller and more a cozy whodunnit read with a side of delicious cake.
The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill. I flipped the inside cover of this book open at the library and saw that it was a story about 4 strangers who hear an ominous scream as they sit at the same table in the Boston Public Library’s Reading Room, leading them to be bound together in the weeks that follow as a murder related to that scream is investigated. It was a perfectly paced thriller with the added bonus of notable, local Boston landmarks as the mystery’s backdrop.
Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld. Okay this book was a DELIGHT! I rarely give a 5-Star rating on Goodreads, but when I finished this new Curtis Sittenfeld novel, I couldn’t rate it fast enough. I also keep telling anyone who will listen that this is THE book to buy and pack for a summer beach day. It follows a female comedy writer on an SNL-esque show, and an unlikely relationship with one of the show’s celebrity guests. It was smart, funny, and I loved how the author wove the timeliness of this romance taking place during the pandemic. I can’t recommend it enough!
The Only Survivors by Megan Miranda. A group of high schoolers get into a terrible bus accident coming home from a school volunteer trip, and only 9 students survive the horrific scene. The group of survivors stay connected and reunite every year to mark the date of the accident, only this year some of the survivors start disappearing. I really liked how the book jumped back and forth between the present day and the day of the accident, as well as shifting the narrator to a different survivor each time – it kept the storyline fast paced and made me eager to uncover the missing pieces.
The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz. This book was good, but it was not at all what I expected! The premise is that 4 young female writers get the opportunity of a lifetime to attend an exclusive, month-long writing retreat at the estate of famous horror writer, and end up competing against each other for a life-changing prize to make their dreams of becoming a published author come true. I was prepared for some twists and thrills and maybe even a little murder mystery, but the plot turns are twisted and darker than I could have imagined.
The No-Show by Beth O’Leary. A friend recommended this book as a good light read. There are 3 different narrators in the story, each one a woman who stood up by the same man on Valentine’s Day. They all let him back into their lives, and the reader must follow each of their perspectives as their romance buds with the same guy. It was cute, if a bit predictable.
The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary. I enjoyed Beth O’Leary’s writing style in The No-Show and reserved some more of her books at the library. I have a soft spot for any story where roommates have the opportunity to find romance, and I was rooting for both lovable, complex characters in this book to find it in each other.
Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson. This book sharp and witty and an all around light, fun read for summer. It follows various members of a wealthy family from Brooklyn Heights, NY through a character driven story that bounces from family member to family member, each grappling with the privilege of generational wealth, and the dramatic ups and downs it takes to hold on to it.
Happy Place by Emily Henry. I was over the moon to grab a copy of Emily Henry’s new book before we went on vacation, everything she writes is a treat to read. The premise of the book follows a couple who breaks up but decides not to reveal their change in relationship status to their group of old friends, as they reunite for their beloved annual reunion weekend in Maine. The coastal New England summer backdrop is always an instant perk for me when I crack open a book, and Emily Henry’s ability to write complex, modern, non-cheesy romance ceases to amaze me. Add this one to your summer reading list!
Meet Me at the Lake by Carly Fortune. I was eagerly anticipating the arrival of this book for summer after falling in love with Carly Fortune’s first book! It lived up to the hype as a delightful summer read with a lakefront setting, and a pair of characters that I thoroughly rooted for from beginning to end.
Same Time Next Summer by Annabel Monaghan. We read this for our book club and everyone agreed it didn’t quite live up to her first book that we all LOVED, but it was still a *perfect* summer beach read. It was the kind of story that was made to be printed in paperback, ready to be filled with sunscreen smudges and bits of sand. My favorite parts of the book were the flashback scenes that brought back memories of the kind of summer romance that can only happen when you’re a teenager.
Games and Rituals by Katherine Heiny. Sometimes when I can’t quite get into the rhythm of reading, I turn to a book of short stories. Particularly in the summer, when I might only get a few minutes to read on the beach or before bed, I find finishing a short story so satisfying. This collection from Katherine Heiny was all about relationships, peppered with cutting humor and pointed observations about how complex they can be.
Your Table Is Ready: Tales of a New York City Maître D’ by Michael Cecchi-Azzolina. After finishing the second season of The Bear, I was hungry (pun intended) for more restaurant drama! The author was a waiter, manager and Maître D’ at some of New York City’s most exclusive and highly rated restaurants for the past 30 years and in the book he dishes all on celebrity guests and chefs, the inner workings of Michelin star kitchens, and all of the raunchy things that happen behind the scenes in hot restaurants. Parts of the book got a bit repetitive towards the end, and there is a lot of sex, drugs and cursing, but it was a satisfying read if you love the allure of the restaurant scene.
Two Truths and a Lie by Meg Mitchell Moore. The book follows a new-to-town mother and daughter that have a secret past, a young YouTube star and her mom and sister who are reeling from grief, and a “squad” of local moms that serve as a gossip-girl-esque narrator behind the scenes. This was a book club pick, and while it wasn’t my favorite recent read, it ended up eliciting tons of debate over the characters, plot decisions, and the setting (lovely Newburyport, MA – which essentially another character in the book).
Currently Reading: Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano