I went from a reading slump in prior years to reading over a hundred and fifty books in 2023. It was also a big year for reviewing, making a concentrated effort to review most of my reads and joining FanFiAddict to highlight the cream of the crop.
Below are some of my favorites from the year. I’ve listed some series together, so maybe this is my top six or maybe my top eleven. Numbers are silly, let’s focus on books (although the LitRPGs have a lot of numbers too…)
Beware of Chicken by Casualfarmer (1-3)
In a dangerous world of overpowered martial arts masters, one man is brave enough to say “No thank you.” Jin’s adventure starts solitary but as his livestock become Spirit Animals and he befriends the local village, it becomes a rich cozy farm life. With a martial arts rooster.
Every volume adds more favorite characters to my list and elevates others to favorite character status.
Prophecy Approved Companion by tevegah (1-2)
A cliché video game, as seen through the eyes of the main character’s childhood friend who’s scripted to die at the end of the tutorial. The main character is an actual human, apparently playtesting the game and its VR technology. He glitches the childhood friend out of her death script, then proceeds to break as much as possible over the course of the rest of the game.
Prophecy Approved Companion is a little slow starting out, mostly focusing on goofs and the companion’s clueless reactions. As the AI develops and NPCs become self aware, the story develops into one of my favorite tropes: “What if NPCs are People?”
Pride and Premeditation (Jane Austen Murder Mystery) by Tirzah Price
Not a genre FanFiAddict focuses on, but another of my favorite tropes is “Public Domain Gone Wild.” In this reimagining of Pride and Prejudice, Mr Bennet is a barrister and Lizzie wants to follow in his footsteps. Darcy is the heir to another law practice and they’re both trying to prove Bingley isn’t a murderer but pride keeps them from collaborating.
It’s silly. It’s fun. It’s barely romance anymore. The other books in the series have equally great titles, Sense & Second-Degree Murder and Manslaughter Park.
My Goodreads review can be found here.
A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher
In a fantasy world where magic users have extremely specific specialties, someone is killing magic folk. Mona, a fourteen-year-old girl with bread dough magic, may be next on the chopping block.
This is a nostalgic feeling middle grade novel with just the right mix of suspense, grime, weirdness, and adults being useless. Mona teams up with an younger street urchin and quickly decides her aunt and uncle need to be left out of the story for their own good. She gets some assistance from a kooky woman with dead horse magic. Yes, you heard me. Dead Horse Magic. This might be the most specialized necromancer in fiction and she’s a side character.
A Necromancer Called Gam Gam by Adam Holcombe
Speaking of necromancy, Gam Gam is a necromancer who knits cute hats and accessories for her zombies. A knitcromancer, if you will. She helps out a little girl who’s on the run from military meanies who want to control the girl’s magic.
This novella is so freaking cozy! And not the sleepy kind of cozy. It’s a lovely little adventure about two people coping with loss and raising the dead. It will even make you want to hug zombies.
Stuff and Nonsense by Andrew Seiple
A teddybear gets turned into a golem with access to a video game style system even though he can’t read or speak. It’s so much fun watching him struggle to figure things out and sometimes causing plot to happen by misunderstandings. You’ll want to give him hugs, but those hugs will be much more pleasant than the zombie hugs from the prior book.
My full review can be found here.