favorite books of 2023 so far!

by Kaylah Stroup
Favorites books of 2023 so far!

I have been straight murdering books this year.

I’ve read forty-one books so far which is bonkers for me. This is more than the last ten years combined! It feels so good to be back at it.

I definitely plan on doing an end-of-the-year list of everything I’ve read, as well as my top ten or so. BUT! I also thought it would be fun to do a little round-up of my favorite new-to-me reads from the first six months of the year. There have been so many good ‘uns!!

In no order at all, here are my top five of the year so far…

The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig.

‘Long ago, Nathan lived in a house in the country with his abusive father—and has never told his family what happened there.

Long ago, Maddie was a little girl making dolls in her bedroom when she saw something she shouldn’t have—and is trying to remember that lost trauma by making haunting sculptures.

Long ago, something sinister, something hungry, walked in the tunnels and the mountains and the coal mines of their hometown in rural Pennsylvania.

Now, Nate and Maddie Graves are married, and they have moved back to their hometown with their son, Oliver.

And now what happened long ago is happening again . . . and it is happening to Oliver. He meets a strange boy who becomes his best friend, a boy with secrets of his own and a taste for dark magic.

This dark magic puts them at the heart of a battle of good versus evil and a fight for the soul of the family—and perhaps for all of the world. But the Graves family has a secret weapon in this battle: their love for one another.’

Jeff picked up this book and showed it to me at the book store thinking it sounded interesting. It definitely did but more than that I was super curious to read something from Chuck Wendig. I see this man’s name on practically every book I read so I had a feeling I’d vibe with his work.

I don’t want to give away too much. I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned it before or fully wrote out my thoughts on this but I love going into a book with as little information as possible. I’ll read a book’s blurb when I buy it, it sits on the shelf until I choose it again but at that point, I’ll only skim the blurb. I want to be surprised, like completely! All of that to say, this book has elements that had I known were in there I might not have chosen it but it worked out because it opened a whole new world for me. I want more like it!

It was fun, atmospheric, has excellent horror elements but is also kind of heartwarming! I think about this book a lot! Also feels like something I’ll want to re-read at some point just to soak it all in.

The Mud Ballad - Favorites of 2023

The Mud Ballad by Jo Quenell.

‘In a dying railroad town, a conjoined twin wallows in purgatory for the murder of his brother. A disgraced surgeon goes to desperate ends to reconnect with his lost love. When redemption comes with a dash of black magic, the two enter a world of talking corpses, flesh-eating hogs, rude mimes, and ritualistic violence.’

Duh, this obviously makes the list. Listen, I loved this book so much that it already got its own post here on the blog. Read my review of The Mud Ballad here. Once again, if you’ve liked my book recommendations in the past this is one you’re not going to want to miss!

Brother by Ania Ahlborn.

Deep in the heart of Appalachia stands a crooked farmhouse miles from any road. The Morrows keep to themselves, and it’s served them well so far. When girls go missing off the side of the highway, the cops don’t knock on their door. Which is a good thing, seeing as to what’s buried in the Morrows’ backyard.

But nineteen-year-old Michael Morrow isn’t like the rest of his family. He doesn’t take pleasure in the screams that echo through the trees. Michael pines for normalcy, and he’s sure that someday he’ll see the world beyond West Virginia. When he meets Alice, a pretty girl working at a record shop in the small nearby town of Dahlia, he’s immediately smitten. For a moment, he nearly forgets about the monster he’s become. But his brother, Rebel, is all too eager to remind Michael of his place…

This was one I just kept getting recommended based on the other books I bought. After finishing it, I see why! This feels like essential horror reading. Back when I read this toward the beginning of the year, I called that this would be in the top ten of the year and I’m still feeling that way.

This was a very immersive book. I don’t have the best imagination when it comes to visualizing what I’m reading, it just doesn’t come easy for me. This book though? It played like a movie in my head. Even when I think back on it, I can envision it just like I had watched it!

I happened to see that there are talks of it becoming a movie!? So fingers crossed some day soon I will actually get to watch it for real.

Mary by Nat Cassidy. Favorites of 2023

Mary by Nat Cassidy.

‘Mary is a quiet, middle-aged woman doing her best to blend into the background. Unremarkable. Invisible. Unknown even to herself.

But lately, things have been changing inside Mary. Along with the hot flashes and body aches, she can’t look in a mirror without passing out, and the voices in her head have been urging her to do unspeakable things.

Fired from her job in New York, she moves back to her hometown, hoping to reconnect with her past and inner self. Instead, visions of terrifying, mutilated specters overwhelm her with increasing regularity and she begins auto-writing strange thoughts and phrases. Mary discovers that these experiences are echoes of an infamous serial killer.

Then the killings begin again.

Mary’s definitely going to find herself.’

Mary is a dark and disturbing novel that will stay with you long after you read it. I don’t know what it was but there’s just something about Mary. Heh. Heh. I’m not the best at describing the ~why~ of what makes a book so enjoyable for me but I was hooked from the start.

John Dies at the End

John Dies at the End by Jason Pargin.

Oh goodness, these books are stupid… and I love them! If you’ve read them, you know what I mean but in case you haven’t…

“John Dies at the End is a genre-bending, humorous account of two college drop-outs inadvertently charged with saving their small town–and the world–from a host of supernatural and paranormal invasions.”

John Dies at the End is horror written by someone with the sense of humor of a thirteen-year-old boy. What I’m saying is that it’s perfect for me. This series of books is ludicrous.

Each one had me going “ahhh, maybe just one more chapter” over and over again. After the first book, you definitely have a feel for how absurd things can get but I feel like you can never truly be prepared for what might happen next. I can’t say that they’re perfect for everyone but I was certainly entertained. I’ve read all four of the books and watched the movie (numerous times)! Needless to say, I’m a fan.

favorite books of 2023 so far

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