Welcome to another round of the Best Books of the Year so Far, where halfway through the year, I name the titles I read that I feel are the best of 2023 so far. Just like last year, I will be listing the books by different genre and format. So stay tuned every Thursday throughout the rest of this month, catch my favorite reads of 2023 that you want to keep your eye on!
The Drift by C.J. Tudor
Narrated by: Richard Armitage, Nathalie Buscombe & Rachel Handshaw
Hannah awakens to carnage, all mangled metal and shattered glass. After she was evacuated from a secluded boarding school during a snowstorm, her coach careered off the road, trapping her with a handful of survivors. They’ll need to work together to escape—with their sanity and secrets intact.
Meg awakens to a gentle rocking. She’s in a cable car stranded high above snowy mountains, with five strangers and no memory of how they got on board. They are heading to a place known only as “The Retreat,” but as the temperature drops and tensions mount, Meg realizes they may not all make it there alive.
Carter is gazing out the window of an isolated ski chalet that he and his companions call home. As their generator begins to waver in the storm, something hiding in the chalet’s depths threatens to escape, and their fragile bonds will be tested when the power finally fails—for good.
The imminent dangers faced by Hannah, Meg, and Carter are each one part of the puzzle. Lurking in their shadows is an even greater danger—one with the power to consume all of humanity. (Credit: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group)
Against The Currant by Olivia Matthews
Narrated by: Janina Edwards
Little Caribbean, Brooklyn, New York: Lyndsay Murray is opening Spice Isle Bakery with her family, and it’s everything she’s ever wanted. The West Indian bakery is her way to give back to the community she loves, stay connected to her Grenadian roots, and work side-by-side with her family. The only thing getting a rise out of Lyndsay is Claudio Fabrizi, a disgruntled fellow bakery owner who does not want any competition. On opening day, he comes into the bakery threatening to shut them down. Fed up, Lyndsay takes him to task in front of what seems to be the whole neighborhood. So when Claudio turns up dead a day later?murdered?Lyndsay is unfortunately the prime suspect. To get the scent of suspicion off her and her bakery, she has to prove she’s innocent?under the watchful eyes of her overprotective brother, anxious parents, and meddlesome extended family. What could go wrong? (Credit: Dreamscape Media)
She Started It by Sian Gilbert
Narrated by: Sarah Ovens, Anne-Marie Piazza, Ione Butler, Billie Fulford-Brown, Sarah Cullum & Ella Lynch
The party of a lifetime is nothing like what they expected…
Annabel, Esther, Tanya, and Chloe are best friends—or were, as children. Despite drifting apart in adulthood, shared secrets have kept them bonded for better or worse, even as their childhood dreams haven’t quite turned out as they’d hoped. Then one day they receive a wholly unexpected—but not entirely unwelcome—invitation from another old friend. Poppy Greer has invited them all to her extravagant bachelorette party: a first-class plane ticket to three days of white sand, cocktails, and relaxation on a luxe private island in the Bahamas.
None of them has spoken to Poppy in years. But Poppy’s Instagram pics shows that the girl they used to consider the weakest link in their group has definitely made good—and made money. Curiosity gets the better of them. Besides, who can turn down a posh all-expenses-paid vacation on a Caribbean island?
The first-class flight and the island’s accommodations are just as opulent as expected…even if the scenic island proves more remote than they’d anticipated. Quite remote, in fact, with no cell service, and no other guests. The women quickly discover they’ve underestimated Poppy, and each other. As their darkest secrets are revealed, the tropical adventure morphs into a terrifying nightmare. (Credit: HarperAudio)
Penance by Eliza Clark
Expected Publication Date: September 26
Narrated by: Hollie-Jay Bowes, Anna Gilthorpe, Emily Goldie, Evie Hargreaves, Salima Saxton & George Weightman
On a beach in a run-down seaside town on the Yorkshire coastline, sixteen-year-old Joan Wilson is set on fire by three other schoolgirls.
Nearly a decade after the horrifying murder, journalist Alec Z. Carelli has written the definitive account of the crime, drawn from hours of interviews with witnesses and family members, painstaking historical research, and most notably, correspondence with the killers themselves. The result is a riveting snapshot of lives rocked by tragedy, and a town left in turmoil.
But how much of the story is true? (Credit: HarperAudio)
Someone Else’s Shoes by Jojo Moyes
Narrated by: Daisy Ridley
Who are you when you are forced to walk in someone else’s shoes?
Nisha Cantor lives the globetrotting life of the seriously wealthy, until her husband announces a divorce and cuts her off. Nisha is determined to hang onto her glamorous life. But in the meantime, she must scramble to cope–she doesn’t even have the shoes she was, until a moment ago, standing in.
That’s because Sam Kemp – in the bleakest point of her life – has accidentally taken Nisha’s gym bag. But Sam hardly has time to worry about a lost gym bag–she’s struggling to keep herself and her family afloat. When she tries on Nisha’s six-inch high Christian Louboutin red crocodile shoes, the resulting jolt of confidence that makes her realize something must change—and that thing is herself. (Credit: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group)
Perfectly Nice Neighbors by Kia Abdullah
Expected Publication Date: September 12
Narrated by: Tania Rodrigues
Salma Khatun is hopeful about Blenheim, the suburban development into which she, her husband, and their son have just moved. The Bangladeshi family needs a fresh start, and Blenheim feels like just the place.
Soon after they move in, Salma spots her White neighbor, Tom Hutton, ripping out the anti-racist banner her son put in the front garden. Avoiding confrontation, Salma takes the banner inside and puts it in her window. But the next morning, she wakes up to find her window smeared with paint.
When she does speak to Tom, battle lines are drawn between the two families. As racial and social tensions escalate and the stakes rise, it’s clear that a reckoning is coming . . .
And someone is going to get hurt. (Credit: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group)
Red Queen by Juan Gomez-Jurado
Narrated by: Scott Brick
Antonia Scott—the daughter of a British diplomat and a Spanish mother—has a gifted forensic mind, whose ability to reconstruct crimes and solve baffling murders is legendary. But after a personal trauma, she’s refused to continue her work or even leave her apartment.
Jon Gutierrez, a police officer in Bilbao—disgraced, suspended, and about to face criminal charges—is offered a chance to salvage his career by a secretive organization that works in the shadows to direct criminal investigations of a highly sensitive nature. All he has to do is succeed where many others have failed: Convince a recalcitrant Antonia to come out of her self-imposed retirement, protecting her and helping her investigate a new, terrifying case.
The case is a macabre, ritualistic murder—a teen-aged boy from a wealthy family whose body was found without a drop of blood left in it. But the murder is just the start. A high-ranking executive and daughter of one of the richest men in Spain is kidnapped, a crime which is tied to the previous murder. Behind them both is a hidden mastermind with even more sinister plans. And the only person with a chance to see the connections, solve the crimes and successfully match wits with the killer before tragedy strikes again…is Antonia Scott. (Credit: Macmillan Audio)
The Gifts by Liz Hyder
Narrated by: Tuppence Middleton
October 1840. A young woman staggers alone through a forest in the English countryside as a huge pair of impossible wings rip themselves from her shoulders. In London, rumors of a fallen angel cause a frenzy across the city, and a surgeon desperate for fame and fortune finds himself in the grips of a dangerous obsession, one that will place the women he seeks in the most terrible danger… The Gifts is an astonishing novel, a spellbinding tale told through five different perspectives and set against the luminous backdrop of nineteenth-century London. It explores science, nature and religion, enlightenment, the role of women in society, and the dark danger of ambition. (Credit: Dreamscape Media)
Clytemnestra by Costanza Casati
Narrated by: Olivia Vinall
Monarch. Mother. Murderer. Magnificent.
You were born to a king, but you marry a tyrant. You stand by helplessly as he sacrifices your child to placate the gods. You watch him wage war on a foreign shore, and you comfort yourself with violent thoughts of your own. Because this was not the first offense against you. This was not the life you ever deserved. And this will not be your undoing. Slowly, you plot.
When your husband returns in triumph, you become a woman with a choice.
Acceptance or vengeance, infamy follows both. So you bide your time and force the gods’ hands in the game of retribution. For you understood something long ago that the others never did.
If power isn’t given to you, you have to take it for yourself. (Credit: Recorded Books)
The Blackhouse by Carole Johnstone
Narrated by: Joe McFadden & Eilidh Beaton
Maggie Mackay has been haunted her entire life. No matter what she does, she can’t shake the sense that something is wrong with her. And maybe something is…
When she was five years old, Maggie announced that a man on the remote island of Kilmeray in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides—a place she’d never visited—was murdered. Her unfounded claim drew media attention and turned the locals against each other, creating rifts that never mended.
Now, nearly twenty years later, Maggie is determined to discover what really happened, and what the villagers are hiding. But everyone has secrets, and some are deadly. As she gets closer to the horrifying truth, the island’s legendary and violent storms begin to rage again and Maggie’s own life is in danger… (Credit: Simon & Schuster Audio)
Good Bad Girl by Alice Feeney
Narrated by Katherine Press & Stephanie Racine
Twenty years after a baby is stolen from a stroller, a woman is murdered in a care home. The two crimes are somehow linked, and a good bad girl may be the key to discovering the truth.
Edith may have been tricked into a nursing home, but at eighty-years-young, she’s planning her escape. Patience works there, cleaning messes and bonding with Edith, a kindred spirit. But Patience is lying to Edith about almost everything.
Edith’s own daughter, Clio, won’t speak to her. And someone new is about to knock on Clio’s door…and their intentions aren’t good.
With every reason to distrust each other, the women must solve a mystery with three suspects, two murders, and one victim. If they do, they might just find out what happened to the baby who disappeared, the mother who lost her, and the connections that bind them. (Credit: Macmillan Audio)
The Trap by Catherine Ryan Howard
Narrated by Alana Kerr Collins & John Keating
One year ago, Lucy’s sister, Nicki, left to meet friends at a pub in Dublin and never came home. The third Irish woman to vanish inexplicably in as many years, the agony of not knowing what happened that night has turned Lucy’s life into a waking nightmare. So, she’s going to take matters into her own hands.
Angela works as a civilian paper-pusher in the Missing Persons Unit, but wants nothing more than to be a fully fledged member of An Garda Síochána, the Irish police force. With the official investigation into the missing women stalled, she begins pulling on a thread that could break the case wide open—and destroy her chances of ever joining the force.
A nameless man drives through the night, his latest victim in the back seat. He’s going to tell her everything, from the beginning. And soon, she’ll realize: what you don’t know can hurt you …(Credit: Blackstone Publishing)
Keep Dancing, Lizzie Chu by Maisie Chan
Narrated by Suni La
Twelve-year-old Lizzie Chu has lived with her Wai Gong (grandfather) in Glasgow since her parents died when she was a baby. But Wai Gong has been acting different lately. He spends a lot of time talking to his Guan Yin statue—the Chinese goddess of compassion, kindness, and mercy—at his altar and seems to be becoming more forgetful. Even the shared passion he and Lizzie have for their favorite show, Strictly Come Dancing, seems to be tailing off.
When Lizzie’s friend Chi visits one day dressed as Princess Leia for Comic Con, Wai Gong mistakes her for Guan Yin, and is naturally delighted, and Lizzie seizes the opportunity to use Chi as Guan Yin to help her with her grandad. And then Lizzie gets an idea: she and Chi can take Wai Gong to Blackpool to the Tower Ballroom, where he’d always dreamed of going. If only she can get her grandad there, she thinks, he’ll find some peace, and perhaps things will be OK at home again. After all, one of the myths around Guan Yin is that she brings order and harmony, so it’s got to work out—right? (Credit: Blackstone Publishing)
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