2023 has been a year full of exciting reads for me. In fact, I have read more self published books than I have ever read in one year. On top of that, they even make up the majority of the 65 books I’ve read this year! All that to say, I’ve read a lot of books and wanted to share a few of my favorites with you to help you start building your 2024 TBR list. Let’s take a look!
To begin, my fifth favorite read this year was.. Card Mage: Slumdog Deckbuilder by Benedict Patrick!
This book surprised me. I went in expecting a Yu-Gi-Oh fan fiction (which I was excited about anyways) but ended up finding a masterful take on the monster cards deck building trope that was a fast paced page turner that had me sneaking pages on my phone during times I SHOULD have been doing other things. Ben has thrown us into an exciting new world that has the potential to be the next great self published fantasy series. It deserves more hype! I can’t wait to see where this story takes us in book two!
My fourth top read is.. No Heart for a Thief (Malitu, book 1) by James Lloyd Dulin!
NHFAT is a heart breaking story from every angle. Yet, you fall in love with the characters and their stories. Whether that is Tayen and the burden that was thrown on her at such a young age or Kaylo’s backstory that he slowly unweaves throughout the book. You MUST know what happens next with every page you turn. Also, you might be happy to know that book 2, No Safe Haven was also released this year and despite me having not had a chance to get to it yet, I have heard amazing things. James Dulin is definitely one to watch in the fantasy genre!
My third top read of 2023 is.. Combat Codes (The Combat Codes, book 1) by Alexander Darwin!
This first installment of a unique fantasy sci-fi story was just released by Orbit books this year after it had been out in the world since 2015 via self published means. I just discovered it this year and I am so glad that I did! This is Harry Potter meets Karate Kid and Rocky. The story is full of fascinating characters in a world that is built around one on one, to the death combat to solve problems between nations. The story follows Cego, a young teen, who cannot remember how he went from being trained on a remote island with his bothers to suddenly awaking in an underground world and being tossed into slavery to essentially be a cage fighter. You definitely need to give Combat Codes a try!
In the number two spot is.. A Shade of Madness (The Ashes of Avarin, book 2) by Thiago Abdalla!
I was a major fan of A Touch of Light when it came out in 2022. I was then given the chance to read an ARC of A Shade of Madness and when I tell you that it did not disappoint.. I mean it! This was the perfect sequel to an already astounding story. The continuing character development between the books felt real, the action was so amazing, and this story is beautifully written. I CANNOT WAIT for book three! These books need to be on your TBR in 2024 or else you are truly missing out.
Finally.. my number one read of 2023 is.. The Cradle Series by Will Wight!
I know what you are going to say, “This isn’t just 1 book! That’s cheating!” Well.. You’re probably right! But this is MY list and I can do whatever the heck I want! This year I finally finished Cradle, books 6-12, and frankly I just loved each and every one of them. Will is a master storyteller who has created a phenomenal series that DESERVES the hype it has received over the past few years. This series is for fans of fast action adventures that only get better the further you get into the series. While 12 books might seem daunting, I can guarantee that they are 100% worth it. Not to mention that these aren’t Robert Jordan sized books. The longest book is the last book at 578 pages while the shortest comes in at only 286 pages. All that to say, it won’t take you years to read this series! I’m honored that I had the chance to read these and I cannot wait for the animated series that Will is doing a kickstarter for in 2024! So make sure to read this sooner rather than later so you can enjoy the animation like the rest of us when it comes out!
Thanks for reading my top 5 list for 2023 and as an added bonus I want to end with a list of honorable mentions that deserve to be on your TBR list next year as well!
Project Hail Mary (audiobook!) by Andy Weir
The Last Gifts of the Universe by Roy August
The Monsters We Feed by Thomas Howard Riley
New Yesterday by Frasier Armitage
Aestus: Book 1: The City by S.Z. Attwell
The Last Phi Hunter by Salinee Goldenberg
Through Blood and Dragons by R.M. Schultz