And we are back with another crazy year recap. We had highs and lows in both my career and my personal life. We started with some remodelling in the new house, but during that process, we lost my grandfather. Then we moved to the new house and I got a new job, but I lost that job. My husband also started his own company and now I work for him. So the year did end well, but was a rollercoaster. I hope 2024 is less eventful. I did manage to read 34 books in 2023!
Like every year I want to let you know what my favourite reads of the last year were, so here we go.
10) The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes 8/10
The movie came out, so I quickly listened to the audiobook. This way I did not get spoilers from the movie or people talking about the movie. Sadly enough I didn’t get a chance to see the movie yet. With the original trilogy, I first saw the movies and read the books afterwards and the movies were good when I saw them, but got overshadowed by how good the books were. I wanted to avoid that. This book is even more amazing though and I love learning how different the Hunger Games were back then.
9) Unlikable 8/10
This is a book from a Dutch author, Lotte Van den Noort. I already talked about her ‘Unsinkable’ book last year. This book is set in Victorian London and goes on a theory about who Jack the Ripper was. It also came with an experience box, so every few pages I had a gift to open related to that scene. This made it so much more immersive. Please, publishing houses do this more with your new releases. Followers of my socials will already have seen my rambling about that box.
8) The Left-handed Booksellers of London 8,5/10
This was one of my early reads this year. I came across this concept and it intrigued me. Booksellers having a secret life and being the in-between for the real world and the mythical. It just feels right if you think about it. How many stories do they guard?
7) The London Séance Society 8,5/10
Can you see I am an anglophile? It is about one of the spookiest parts of Victorian History and I didn’t need more motivation than that. The fact that it is written by the same author as my number 9 book from last year convinced me even more. And it didn’t disappoint. Sarah Penner really knows how to draw her audience in a historical setting.
6) The Whalebone Theatre 8,5/10
This book I bought for my inner magpie. The Dutch edition of this book is so shiny and beautiful that I bought it without even knowing what it was about. The fact that there is a beautiful wholesome war story in there made it just perfect. This book talks about how a young girl grows up into a really strong young woman who has to fend for herself because the war left a lot of damage in her family. War stories tend to intrigue me because I grew up with stories from my great grandfathers who lived through it. The more personal the story the better for me.
5) A Conjuring of Light 8,5/10
Since there was a new book announced for this universe V.E. Shwab decided to do a read along for the entire ‘A Darker Shade of Magic’-series. The first book was my number 4 from last year so it was perfect for reading the rest. I have to say the second book didn’t really convince me even though Lila Bard is one of my favourite characters of all time. The second book was more a filler and shouldn’t have been a book on its own. This third book however was the perfect finale to this series and after reading ‘Fragile Threads of Power’ V.E.Schwab should have left it there.
4) The Night Travelers 8,5/10
I chose this book out of my local library because the cover and title intrigued me. In Dutch the title is ‘Dochters van de tijd’ which translates to daughters of the time. I also love the real English title which suits the story better, but the lighthouse on the cover really did it for me. Never judge a book by its cover, they say. But I have to admit the cover works as a billboard for me. The story of this book was even better than the cover. I’ve read so many war books but I never read a book talking about how many generations are influenced by this. This family is still scared up to current times. I also have never read a story about the MS St. Louis, so I never made the connection between German refugees and the Cuban revolution before.
3) The Hobbit 8,5/10
I have seen the movies and have been a fan of both the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings films, series,… Just like any other geek, I suppose. But I have to admit something, I actually never read the books until this year. Not even the series ‘The Rings of Power’ could make me read it. But this year I saw the movie ‘Tolkien’ and that hit me so deeply that I just had to start reading the books. Of course, I started with ‘The Hobbit’ because it is a prequel, alas I have to say it is by far the best of the series. We get so much lore in this book than in the others. This is the example of how a fantasy book has to be and the other books just do not live up to that standard. I would recommend everyone to read this book but the storyline in the others is too spread out.
2) Fairy Tale 9/10
I bought this book for my father-in-law because he is a big Stephen King fan, but the title made me curious since I like fairy tales and they used to be horror stories, which is what Stephen King is an expert at. We all know his famous works like ‘It’, ‘The Shining’ and ‘Carrie’, but sometimes he writes books that are less about the horror and more about psychological fiction. I would put this more in that category. It is not about the creepiness of the characters, like with Pennywise the Clown. This book goes deeper and uses classic fairytales in just the right way. It was my favourite book for almost the whole year up until the very last book I read this year.
1) Het Dorp van de Zwaluwen 9/10
I bought this book at ‘Boektopia’ this year. (That is the biggest book convention in Flanders) I grew up reading books from this author because he is famous for his children’s books, but he also writes books for young adults and adults now. I hadn’t tried one of those before because of a very long story from when I was growing up. For my English readers, this book is from a Flemish author and has not been translated yet. I finally decided to pick this one up.
This tells the story about the day that destroyed the village Oradour-sur-Glane for good. I have visited France a lot, it is a neighbouring country for us. And I had heard the story about this ghost town before, but I have not visited yet. Having read this story in detail, I understand why they did not rebuild it. This village serves as a memory of what madness can come from war. What makes this book so beautiful, is that it is written from witness statements of the few survivors of this faithful day. This story goes through to your very soul and shows that war is never the answer. The Nazis did not find what they were looking for and did not reach Normandie in time to win the war. They didn’t win anything with this action.
2023 was a rollercoaster of a year but it made me read books I’ve been wanting to read for a while. I did not post a lot here, but if you see a title of which you want to read my full review, let me know in the comments. I do have the reviews ready I just have not posted them yet. I read too fast to actually keep up with it and then anxiety started building. So just let me know and it will be up shortly. Thanks for another year.