My Favorite Reads of 2023

Looking over my Goodreads challenge for the year, I realized I wound up reading a good amount of books. And in review, some of those books stuck with me a lot more than others did. I thought it might be fun to round up my favorite reads of the year and share my thoughts on them.

Kiss Her Once For Me by Alison Cochrun

The author of The Charm Offensive returns with a festive romantic comedy about a woman who fakes an engagement with her landlord…only to fall for his sister.

One year ago, recent Portland transplant Ellie Oliver had her dream job in animation and a Christmas Eve meet-cute with a woman at a bookstore that led her to fall in love over the course of a single night. But after a betrayal the next morning and the loss of her job soon after, she finds herself adrift, alone, and desperate for money.

Finding work at a local coffee shop, she’s just getting through the days—until Andrew, the shop’s landlord, proposes a shocking, drunken plan: a marriage of convenience that will give him his recent inheritance and alleviate Ellie’s financial woes and isolation. They make a plan to spend the holidays together at his family cabin to keep up the ruse. But when Andrew introduces his new fiancée to his sister, Ellie is shocked to discover it’s Jack—the mysterious woman she fell for over the course of one magical Christmas Eve the year before. Now, Ellie must choose between the safety of a fake relationship and the risk of something real.

I’m a sucker for fake dating, and Kiss Her Once for Me had a really fun twist on the trope. Add on to that the main character and love interest have an emotion-filled history and a knack for miscommunication; I was sold. This book was fun, cute, and heartfelt. The perfect holiday read!


A romantic ode to the strength of love and the power of choosing each other, against odds and obstacles, again and again.

What would you do if you forgot the love of your life ever even existed?

Stevie and Nora had a love. A secret, epic, once-in-a-lifetime kind of love. They also had a plan: to leave their small, ultra-conservative town and families behind after graduation and move to California, where they could finally stop hiding that love.

But then Stevie has a terrible fall. And when she comes to, she can remember nothing of the last two years—not California, not coming to terms with her sexuality, not even Nora. Suddenly, Stevie finds herself in a life she doesn’t quite understand, one where she’s estranged from her parents, drifting away from her friends, lying about the hours she works, dating a boy she can’t remember crushing on, and headed towards a future that isn’t at all what her fifteen-year-old self would have envisioned.

And Nora finds herself…forgotten. Can the two beat the odds a second time and find their way back together when “together” itself is just a lost memory?

I have mixed opinions on the amnesia trope, but Alyson Derrick did a really apt job utilizing it here. With a premise like this one, I was expecting many tear-filled moments, and boy was I not wrong. I really appreciated seeing Stevie go through the growing pains of discovering herself all over again. Forget Me Not managed the perfect balance of wholesomeness and realistic conflict (even despite the soap opera-level premise).


If magic lives anywhere, it’s in the stars…

Vega has lived in the valley her whole life—forbidden by her mother to leave the safety of its borders because of the unknown threats waiting for her in the wilds beyond. But after her mother dies, and Vega sees the fabled twin stars in the sky, it’s an omen she can no longer ignore, forcing her to leave the protective boundaries of the valley. But the outside world turns out to be much more terrifying than Vega could have imagined. People are gravely sick—they lose their eyesight and their hearing, just before they lose their lives.

What Vega keeps to herself is that she is the Last Astronomer—a title carried from generation to generation—and she is the only one who carries the knowledge of the stars. Knowledge that could hold the key to the cure. And so when locals spot the tattoo on Vega’s neck in the shape of a constellation—the mark of an astronomer—chaos erupts as the threats her mother warned her about become all too real.

Fearing for her life, Vega is rescued by a girl named Cricket who leads her to Noah, a boy marked by his own mysterious tattoos. On the run from the men who are hunting her, Vega, Cricket, and Noah set out across the plains in search of the cure the stars speak of. But as the lines between friend and protector begin to blur, Vega must decide whether to safeguard the sacred knowledge of the astronomer. Or if she will risk everything to try to save them all.

An illness cursing the land forces a teen girl astronomer to venture across the wilderness in search of the stars’ message that will, hopefully, save them all.

The writing style of certain authors just seems to stick with me more than others. Shea Ernshaw has that quality to her writing. I find the concept of astronomy very romantic, and mysterious, which really leant itself to this story. While I wouldn’t call A Wilderness of Stars every reader’s cup of tea, it really worked for me despite its slower pace.


Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price–and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

Look, this book is extremely highly rated for a good reason. It’s got creativity, ingenuity, and personality. The cast is packed with memorable characters, all with individually developed motivations and struggles. They also have incredible chemistry together as a team. It’s very easy to root for them, and impossible to predict what their next trick will be.


From the award-winning author of The Twisted Ones comes a gripping and atmospheric retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic “The Fall of the House of Usher.”

When Alex Easton, a retired soldier, receives word that their childhood friend Madeline Usher is dying, they race to the ancestral home of the Ushers in the remote countryside of Ruravia.

What they find there is a nightmare of fungal growths and possessed wildlife, surrounding a dark, pulsing lake. Madeline sleepwalks and speaks in strange voices at night, and her brother Roderick is consumed with a mysterious malady of the nerves.

Aided by a redoubtable British mycologist and a baffled American doctor, Alex must unravel the secret of the House of Usher before it consumes them all.

Reading What Moves the Dead felt very ‘of the moment’ for me since right after I finished it Netflix announced they would have their own adaptation of The Fall of the House of Usher. T. Kingfisher does things very differently than Netflix in their retelling, crafting an intricate universe filled with dark, foreboding horror that kept me hooked until the very end.


Beware of the dark. You might like what you find…

Ruth Collier has always felt like an outsider, even as her father rains fire and brimstone from the church pulpit. In Bottom Springs, his word is as good as law.

But there are things the townspeople fear more than God, like the Low Man, a vampiric figure said to kill sinners in their beds on moonless nights.

When a skull is found deep in the swamp, a hunt for the Low Man begins. Suspicion turns to Everett – Ruth’s oldest friend, with a dark past. As Ruth and Everett grow closer, Ruth begins to unearth the town’s secrets, determined to discover the truth.

But as the line between good and evil grows ever thin, how far will Ruth go to save the person she loves most?

I actually read three of Ashley Winstead’s novels this year; all of which were fantastic reads. Midnight is the Darkest Hour was my favorite. It has a very unique premise and an even more unexpected plot. It’s impossible to predict what’s going to happen next. I was on the edge of my seat throughout its entirety.

What were your favorite reads of 2023?

Let me know!

Liza is a twenty-something book blogger who spends way too much time with her nose in books and feels way too much. She loves cooking, baking, reality tv show watching and, of course, reading. She can be found most often with a cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other. Her blog, Literary Liza, features bookish content like reviews, recommendations, and author interviews.

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