Best Books of 2023 at Booklover Book Reviews

As in years prior, our Best Books of 2023 list includes many books released in 2023 but not exclusively.

Top quality fiction has no expiry date, and we try to squeeze novels that have been languishing on our wish list onto our reading pile too.

Since we read diversely, our favourite reads of 2023 span a range of genre:

  • Drama and Romance
  • Crime-Detective
  • Literature
  • Thriller and Mystery
  • Fantasy

Book rating system

We assign each book we review a score out of 5 for The Story and The Writing and then we average these to determine an overall rating score. And, we are notoriously tough markers… Below you will find all those novels we read during 2023 that scored 4.4 or more.

Best Books of 2023 at Booklover Book Reviews

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Our Best Books of 2023

The Book That Wouldn't Burn - Best Books of 2023

The Book That Wouldn’t Burn by Mark Lawrence

The Story 5 , The Writing 5

The utterly captivating novel that begins Mark Lawrence’s new fantasy trilogy for book lovers, The Library.

I’ve not historically been a big reader of fantasy, but this combination of parallel worlds and a central library setting was enough to tempt me and this novel exceeded my expectations. His world-building is both vivid and detailed while at the same time epic in scale and scope. His wonderful characterisation and this story’s strong dramatic threads captivated me from the very first chapter. (Full Review | Amazon | Libro.fm)

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The Bookbinder of Jericho - Top Reads of 2023

The Bookbinder of Jericho by Pip Williams

The Story 5 , The Writing 5

Companion read to Pip William’s worldwide bestselling The Dictionary of Lost Words.

While a less ‘novel’ story premise, for me this novel surpasses its 5-star predecessor in depth and gravitas. Once again, Williams brings vividly to life the stories of women lost to the patriarchal lens of the historical record. This novel’s character ensemble is an eclectic bunch brought into each other’s orbit through the circumstances of war. Some are feisty, some are stoic and some are misunderstood. But in one way or another, all are under-estimated and under-valued by society. (Full Review | Amazon )

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Hell Bent - Best Books 2023

Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo

The Story 5 , The Writing 5

The adult fantasy sequel to Ninth House (also a 5-star read), Alex Stern #2, was definitely worth the wait.

While the history-steeped New Haven and Yale campus remain character-settings in their own right, in Hell Bent Bardugo really dials up her character development efforts (and compelling backstories) on those with mortal appearance. Alex Stern is of course as feisty and spiky as ever, but the colourful ensemble cast (Dawes, Turner, Mercy etc) get lots more airtime in this instalment, to wonderful effect. (Full Review | Amazon | Libro.fm)

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Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone - 2023 Top Read

Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson

The Story 5 , The Writing 4.5

An impressively original, clever and entertaining meta crime mystery. I listened to the audiobook.

We have all seen plenty of publisher blurbs telling us the latest crime fiction they are spruiking is ‘fiendishly clever’… But, this is the first title I have read in a long time that is genuinely deserving of that descriptor. And fortunately, in Ernie Cunningham he has crafted a lead character and narrator who’s persona and storytelling technique are just so endearing, that the audience is willing to embrace all that cleverness rather than be put offside by it. (Full Review | Amazon | Libro.fm)

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When I First Held You - Favourite Reads of the year, 2023

When I First Held You by Anstey Harris

The Story 4.5 , The Writing 4.5

A deeply moving, emotionally honest drama about historical wrongs that echo through generations.

Anstey Harris’ The Museum of Forgotten Memories was one of my best books of 2020. It was deeply moving and uplifting fiction, not afraid to challenge perceptions and powered by emotional honesty. So I already knew the author would explore this novel’s traumatic subject matter with uncommon sensitivity, perceptiveness and nuance. Then, when I learned this fiction drew on her own lived experience, I was confident the grief contained would be worth traversing. (Full Review | Amazon | Libro.fm)

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Last Night - 2023 Best Reads

Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane

The Story 4.5 , The Writing 4.5

A modern friendship rom-com with uncommon emotional depth and refreshingly unexpected humour.

While it is probably a misnomer to refer to a novel that has several thousand 4 and 5 star ratings on Amazon as an ‘under-appreciated gem’, that was my first response to Mhairi McFarlane’s Last Night. Neither this book’s understated cover art or the context established by its synopsis, convey the deceptive depths of the story or the sparkle and shimmer of the heart and humour to be found within. Nothing draws me into a book (or movie) like whip smart banter, and this awesome foursome produce it at vintage levels. (Full Review | Amazon | Libro.fm)

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Bone Rites - Top Indie Read 2023

Bone Rites by Natalie Bayley

The Story 4.5 , The Writing 4.5

A gripping literary gothic thriller, and top indie read of the year.

Bone Rites is such an absorbing read. Natalie Bayley has conjured up a leading lady whose fiercely strong-willed persona quickly draws readers in. Kathryn Darkling’s first-person narrative, woven with evocative imagery and wonderful literary description is captivating. Bayley’s evocation of time and place in Bone Rites — London, Edinburgh and Paris — is reminiscent of Dickens, with more modern and accessible sentence structure. (Full Review | Amazon)

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The Secret Hours - Top Read 2023

The Secret Hours by Mick Herron

The Story 4.5 , The Writing 4.5

A standalone spy thriller with bite, from an incomparable author.

I am a long time fan of Mick Herron’s writing style. His brand of literary flair interwoven with dark world-weary wit and stinging political and social satire has always really appealed to me, and this new standalone novel does not fail to deliver on that score. If you are more inclined to tell an emperor he is wearing no clothes than standing by polishing a set of rose coloured glasses, then this writing will elicit many wry smiles from you. But it’s not all clever banter and realpolitik. There are life and death matters at play too, and that’s where this title plumbed unexpected depth for me. (Full Review | Amazon | Libro.fm)

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Daughter of Ashes

Daughter of Ashes by Ilaria Tuti

The Story 4.5 , The Writing 4.5

Third and final title in Ilaria Tuti’s gripping crime series starring the indomitable Superintendent Teresa Battaglia, translated from Italian by Ekin Oklap.

IIlaria Tuti’s The Sleeping Nymph (aka Painted in Blood, Book 2) was a criminally good character-driven crime thriller featuring an uncommonly authentic ensemble. Lead Teresa is a gruff, cursing senior diabetic woman who is carrying a few too many pounds along with the baggage that comes with an abusive marriage and a career profiling serial killers. As always, there are few evils Teresa is not prepared to look straight in the eye, and this makes for utterly gripping reading. However, Alzheimer’s is proving a tougher foe. (Full Review | Amazon)

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One Christmas Eve by Shari Low

The Story 4.5 , The Writing 4.5

A fantastic holiday read, but one sure to give you the warm and fuzzies anytime of year.

In this novel Shari Low delivers the perfect balance of sweet and spicy, feisty and funny, passion and poignance. While this story is romantic in many senses, its gravitas stems from its exploration of bereavement and sacrifices made for family and friends. Its multi-generational ensemble cast depict a range of delightfully different personalities and relationships. Readers will be hard-pressed to not find one or more that strikes a chord with them. (Full Review | Amazon | Libro.fm)

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Favourite Reads 2023

The Seven by Chris Hammer

The Story 4.25 , The Writing 4.5

Third compelling crime mystery novel starring Chris Hammer’s homicide detective pairing Nell Buchanan and Ivan Lucic.

A firecracker of a case in Book 1 brought them together. In Book 2 we learned a lot about Nell and her family history. Now in Book 3, we learn more about Ivan’s traumatic past as his own childhood experiences parallel that of a key witness and he receives a dreaded phone call from far away. The setting of Yuwonderie, a thriving inland regional town literally built on the back of a water irrigation scheme conceived and developed by its founding landholders (squatocracy), has quite the ‘Stepford-Wives’ vibe about it. (Full Review | Amazon | Libro.fm)

How many of my top reads of 2023 have you read?

You might also enjoy our Best Books of 2022 and Best Books of 2021 lists.

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