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2024 Bookish Books Reading Challenge (Hosted by Yours Truly)

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My Progress:

10 / 30 books. 33% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama (1)
- Alaska
- Arizona (1)
- Arkansas
- California (3)
- Colorado (1)
- Connecticut
- Delaware
- Florida
- Georgia (1)
- Hawaii
- Idaho (2)
- Illinois
- Indiana
- Iowa
- Kansas
- Kentucky
- Louisiana (1)
- Maine (1)
- Maryland
- Massachusetts (2)
- Michigan
- Minnesota
- Mississippi
- Missouri
- Montana
- Nebraska
- Nevada
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York (2)
- North Carolina (2)
- North Dakota
- Ohio
- Oklahoma (1)
- Oregon (2)
- Pennsylvania
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Tennessee (1)
- Texas (1)
- Utah
- Vermont (1)
- Virginia (1)
- Washington (1)
- West Virginia
- Wisconsin
- Wyoming
- Washington, D.C.*

- Australia (1)
- Canada (1)
- England (7)
- France (1)
- Indonesia (1)
- Ireland (1)
- Italy (1)
- Scotland (2)
- The Netherlands (1)

My Progress:

18 / 51 states. 35% done!

2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

13 / 50 books. 26% done!

2024 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

20 / 50 books. 40% done!

Booklist Queen's 2024 Reading Challenge

My Progress:

38 / 50 books. 76% done!

2024 52 Club Reading Challenge

My Progress:

33 / 52 books. 63% done!

2024 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

My Progress:

23 / 40 books. 57% done!

2024 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge

13 / 40 books. 33% done!

2024 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

My Progress:

5 / 25 books. 20% done!

2024 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

2024 Mystery Marathon Reading Challenge

My Progress

25 / 26.2 miles. 95% done!

Mount TBR Reading Challenge

My Progress

19 / 100 books. 19% done!

2024 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:

50 / 104 books. 48% done!

Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge

My Progress

39 / 52 books. 75% done!

Disney Animated Movies Reading Challenge

My Progress

45 / 165 books. 27% done!
Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday: New-to-Me Authors I Discovered in 2023

I'm a little late to the TTT party today, but I hate missing out on this fun weekly event, so here I am! Today's prompt—Top Ten New-to-Me Authors I Discovered in 2023—is an easy one, at least for me. I counted it up and of the 223 books I read last year, 146 of them were by authors I had never read before. Many of them were debut authors, although a few were by authors who have been around for awhile that I've just never tried out before. I love discovering great new writers to love, especially when they have a long backlist for me to explore. 

Before we get to my list, though, be sure to click on over to That Artsy Reader Girl and give our fabulous host, Jana, some love.

Top Ten New-to-Me Authors I Discovered in 2023
- in no particular order - 

1. Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, and Jodi Meadows—I realize this is three authors, but since I've only ever read the books they've written together, I'm going to count them as one. This creative trio pens a wholly entertaining YA series that I discovered last year with My Calamity Jane, an alternate history (with werewolves!) novel set in the Wild West. I enjoyed it so much, especially on audio, that I've since listened to My Plain Jane and am currently in the middle of My Imaginary Mary. The books mix history, sci-fi/fantasy, horror, humor, (a little bit of) romance, and lots of imagination to create funny, action-packed romps that are just all-over delightful. Bonus: they're PG rated, which is not always easy to find in YA.

2. Alice FeeneyDaisy Darker is, well, dark, but it's also engrossing and compelling. Even though I saw the Big Plot Twist coming, I still quite enjoyed the read (listen, actually). I'll definitely pick up more of Feeney's books.

3. Meg Shaffer—Shaffer's debut, The Wishing Game, got a lot of buzz when it came out and deservedly so. While it may not be the most unique or pulse-pounding read, it's wholesome and uplifting, a happy book that made me smile. I need more of those in my reading life, so hopefully Shaffer's next novel will have a similar vibe. (I just looked it up and The Lost Story, a "wondrous" novel about two boys' mysterious disappearance in a mysterious land, is coming out on July 4. Yay!)

4. Erin Bow—I loved Bow's latest, a contemporary middle-grade novel called Simon Sort of Says. Bow mostly writes fantasy, which isn't really my thing, but I'm definitely up for more realistic fiction by her.

5. Katherine Marsh—Speaking of realistic middle-grade fiction, I also really liked Marsh's moving historical novel, The Lost Year. As with Bow, I'm looking forward to reading more of her realistic fiction.

6. Nicole Deese—Christian fiction can be hit or miss for me. Before I Called You Mine was the former. You better believe I'll be checking out Deese's backlist and watching what she does going forward.

7. Peng ShepherdThe Cartographers is an imaginative adult portal fantasy that doesn't really feel like fantasy (if that makes sense). I enjoyed it, though, and plan to look for more books by Shepherd. Ooh, I just checked out her website and her forthcoming book, All This & More (available July 9, 2024), sounds super intriguing!

8. Carlene O'Connor—I enjoyed the first book in O'Connor's new County Kerry mystery series and am looking forward to the next one. The author also pens a couple of cozy mystery series set in Ireland that I want to check out.

9. Emily Inouye Henry—Henry's debut, a YA historical novel about discrimination against Japanese Americans during World War II, was inspired by her own family history. It's a beautiful, touching book that I loved. Henry's sophomore effort is a picture book biography about a Japanese American NBA star. I'm not really interested in that, but I'll be keeping an eye out for whatever Henry does next.

10. John David Anderson—Anderson's latest middle-grade novel, The Greatest Kid in the World, made me laugh out loud, but it also has a tender poignancy that touched me. I had never heard of the author before; obviously, I've been missing out!

There you go, ten new-to-me authors that I found last year. Have you read any of them? Which of their books are your favorites? Which awesome writers did you discover in 2023? I'd love to know. Leave me a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on your blog. I also reply to comments left here (although I'm a little behind currently).

Happy TTT!

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Meant to Read in 2023 But Didn't Get To

We all have books we planned to read in 2023 that are still sitting on our shelves or Kindles still unopened. Today's TTT prompt is all about those poor, neglected babies: Top Ten Books I Meant to Read in 2023 But Didn't Get To. To avoid making this a Top 500 list, I went through the seasonal TBR lists I posted for TTT last year and assembled today's list from those that I have still not yet read. Shockingly, there were only 16. (It helps that I didn't make a list for winter, although I did make two-parters for both summer and fall!) Of the 16 left over, I DNF'd one and there are five that I was really only reading to fulfill prompts from challenges I was trying to finish before the end of the year. Since I don't need them now and none of them were super calling to me anyway, I deleted them from my TBR list. After subtracting those titles, I had exactly ten books left that I still want to read. Perfect!

Before I get to that, though, be sure to head on over to That Artsy Reader Girl and give our TTT hostess with the mostest some love.

Top Ten Books I Meant to Read in 2023 But Didn't Get To 
(selected from my 2023 TTT seasonal TBR lists and in no particular order)

1. Homecoming by Kate Morton—Morton is one of my favorite all-time authors, so this book was one of my most anticipated reads of 2023. It's a chunkster, though, so the beginning of a new year really is the perfect time to finally read it. 

The story concerns Jess, an out-of-work London journalist who is called home to Australia after her beloved grandmother suffers a debilitating fall. Jess is surprised to learn that her grandma took a tumble after being in her attic, a place that has always been forbidden. As the journalist starts digging into the secrets the attic holds, she makes some shocking discoveries about her family's involvement in a 60-year-old crime.  

2. The Little Wartime Library by Kate ThompsonThis historical novel is based on a real librarian who risked her own safety to run a library inside London's Bethnal Green tube station during World War II. 

3. We Love to Entertain by Sarah StrohmeyerThis thriller revolves around a married couple, real estate investors who are involved in a tense competition sponsored by a popular real estate app. Winning could mean big bucks in endorsements as well as a league of new followers. The couple is in the middle of remodeling a home in Vermont when they both disappear, leaving a bloody trail in their wake. What happened to the dynamic duo?

4. Dust by Dusti Bowling—I love Bowling's books. I've had this one out from the library for months, so I need to read it already! I'm pretty sure it's overdue by now.

The story is about Avalyn, a girl with asthma whose parents relocate to a cleaner town in order to help her breathe better. It's working—until a strange new boy comes to town. Adam's dirty, unkempt appearance makes him a target for bullies. Although Avalyn wants to befriend him, the grit that always surrounds him is dangerous for her lungs. Besides, there's something decidedly odd about the way unlikely dust storms seem to rise up when he experiences strong emotions...

5. It Ends at Midnight by Harriet TyceThere's been a rash of thrillers lately that involve a group of old friends reconvening, only to have the secrets and misdeeds of their pasts come back to haunt them. It's one of my favorite tropes—as long as it's done well. This thriller brings old friends back together for a glitzy party in Edinburgh, Scotland. The party, naturally, does not go quite as planned.

6. Crow Mary by Kathleen GrissomThis historical novel features a 16-year-old Crow Native woman who marries a white fur trader in 1872. On their travels together, they witness a mob of drunk white traders murder a group of Nakota men in Montana and take half a dozen of their women captive. Although Mary Crow begs her husband to save the captives, he refuses. Arming herself with two guns, Mary rushes in to do the job herself, setting off a string of events that forces a bloody clash between two already warring cultures. The story is inspired by a real woman, making it all the more intriguing.

7. Artifice by Sharon CameronI adore Cameron's books, so I'm excited to read her newest. It concerns Isa de Smit, a young woman who grew up in Amsterdam's colorful art world. As the Nazis invade her hometown, her friends are disappearing and valuable paintings are being confiscated. Desperate for money to help the Resistance, Isa starts selling forgeries of famous artwork to the Nazis. Her scheme goes off perfectly until someone finds out what she's doing. Can Isa save herself and her friends from a ruthless enemy that has no problem killing everyone in their path?

8. Hour Glass by Michelle ReneThis western is set in the lawless town of Deadwood, South Dakota, where two orphaned children find a collection of colorful individuals who unexpectedly become family.

9. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins ReidWhen reclusive Evelyn Hugo, an aging Hollywood actress, finally decides to tell her life story to the press, she chooses an obscure reporter named Monique Grant. A shocked Monique listens in fascination as Evelyn reveals her incredible tale, one that—shockingly—intersects with Monique's own.

10. Last Call at the Nightingale by Katharine SchellmanThe first installment in a historical mystery series, this novel features a Prohibition-era seamstress who's desperate to escape her tedious, poverty-stricken life. She finds freedom and escape at a secret dance hall where anything goes. When she discovers a dead body behind the club, she becomes embroiled in a dangerous murder investigation.

There you go, ten books I meant to read in 2023 but didn't quite get to. I don't know how many of them I'll get to in 2024, but they're at least all still on my TBR list somewhere. How about you? Which books from last year's TBR list are you rolling over to this year? I'd love to know. Leave me a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on your blog.

Happy TTT! 

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday: Shiny New Releases I Can't Wait to Read (Part Two)

I'm a little late to the party today, but I didn't want to miss my favorite weekly book blogger event. Today's prompt is an appropriate one for the start of a new year—Top Ten Bookish Goals for 2024—but I had so much fun with last week's topic—Top Ten Most Anticipated Reads Releasing in the First Half of 2024—that I decided to make a Part Two. (If you missed Part One, click here.) In addition to the up-and-comers on my TBR list that I didn't mention last week, I added a bunch more titles from your lists, and now I'm even more excited for 2024's exciting lineup of books.

Before we get to my list, be sure to click on over to That Artsy Reader Girl and give our hostess, Jana, some love.

Top Ten Most Anticipated Reads Releasing in the First Half of 2024 (Part Two)
- in order of release date -  

1. Trapped in Yosemite by Dana Mentink (available February 1)—I'm not a big fan of romantic suspense, but this one sounds exciting. When Yosemite National Park is leveled by a massive earthquake, a K9 handler and his ex-fiancee are thrown together to save the life of her young daughter. With dangers both natural and human throwing roadblocks in their way, they are quickly running out of time to save the child and themselves.

2. Embers in the London Sky by Sarah Sundin (available February 6)—When a young widow escapes to London after the Nazis invade The Netherlands, she becomes separated from her 4-year-old son. While working to help a British agency evacuate children to safety, she enlists the help of a handsome journalist to help her locate her lost boy. With bombs and a series of murders causing chaos in London, it's becoming increasingly clear that they are running out of time and into more danger than either one of them bargained for. 

3. Sisters of Fortune by Anna Lee Huber (available February 20)—You all know I can't resist a Titanic book! Based on a true story, this historical novel concerns the Fortune sisters, three siblings returning home to the U.S. from their Grand Tour in Europe. Their voyage on the grandest ocean liner ever built changes all of their lives in irrevocable ways.

4. The Hidden Life of Cecily Larson by Ellen Baker (available February 20)—Billed as Orphan Train meets Water For Elephants, this historical novel concerns a young orphan who finds unexpected acceptance and belonging when she is sold to a traveling circus at four years old. Almost 100 years later, she receives a DNA kit as a gift, the results of which open up old secrets and new questions about her family, her past, and herself.

5. Baby X by Kira Peikoff (available March 5)—In this futuristic thriller, DNA from anyone can be used to create babies. Celebrity DNA is especially desirable, creating a thriving black market for eager fans who are also prospective parents. In an effort to prevent the theft of his biological matter, singer Trace Thorne hires Ember Ryan, a bio-security guard, to protect his interests. Despite Ember's strict protection, a pregnant woman claims to be carrying Trace's child. Is it true? What are Trace and Ember going to do about it? 

6. These Tangled Threads: A Novel of Biltmore by Sarah Loudin Thomas (available April 2)—Almost a decade ago, the friendship between Lorna Blankenship and two of her friends was torn apart by a betrayal. Now, Lorna, a master weaver, has been given the opportunity of a lifetime to design a gown for Cornelia Vanderbilt's society wedding. In order to do it, she will have to face past secrets and hurts in order to reunite the women and enlist their help in accomplishing her monumental, life-changing task.  

7. The Widow Spy by Megan Campisi (available April 9)—Based on a true story, this historical novel tells the story of Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton detective. Also a Union spy, she's tasked with befriending a Confederate socialite. With a working-class background and secrets of her own that must stay hidden, that may be more difficult than it seems. If she can succeed in her mission, it could mean the end to America's bloody Civil War. 

8. That Night in the Library by Eva Jurczyk (available June 11)—On the eve of their college graduation, seven students sneak into their school's rare books library to perform a Greek-inspired ritual asking for wisdom from the Gods. Minutes after they start, the lights go out and one member of the group drops dead. As more students die, the others must root out the murderer before it's too late for them all. 

9. The Nature of Disappearing by Kimi Cunningham Grant (available June 18)—Emlyn is happy with the simple life she lives as a hunting and fishing guide in the wilds of Idaho, far away from her past life. When an old flame seeks her out to enlist her help in finding a mutual friend, who seems to have disappeared, Emlyn is reluctantly pulled back into a world she's desperate to leave behind. She can't deny that her survival skills make her especially suited for the task, so she reluctantly agrees to follow the man she once loved into the woods to search for her former best friend in spite of the increasing danger.

10. Secrets of Rose Briar Hall by Kelsey James (available June 25)—In Gilded Age New York City, a beautiful young woman marries a wealthy stockbroker and moves into his luxurious mansion. Everything changes after the party she throws for her husband's powerful associates goes awry somehow. Millie can't recall what happened at the event, but it must have been horrible for her friends to have shunned her, leaving her alone and bewildered in her cold, empty house. What really happened on the night of the party? 

There you go, ten more 2024 releases I'm looking forward to reading. Do any of them strike your fancy? What new releases are you excited to crack open? What are your bookish goals for 2024? I'd love to know. Leave me a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on your blog. I also reply to comments left here (although I am a week behind at the moment).

Happy TTT!

Tuesday, January 09, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday: Shiny New Releases I Can't Wait to Read

Even though I've already got enough books on my shelves, Kindle, and TBR lists to last me several lifetimes, I just can't seem to stop myself from salivating over all the shiny up-and-comers 2024 has to offer. I look forward to today's TTT topic—Top Ten Most Anticipated Books Releasing in the First Half of 2024—and its counterpart for the second half of the year, all year long. If I were smart, I would skip these topics altogether and save myself from getting excited about a bunch of new books when I already have SOOOO many "old" ones to tackle. But alas, I'm a glutton for punishment. Bring on the new releases! 

Before we get to that, though, be sure to click on over to That Artsy Reader Girl and give our hostess, Jana, some love. While you're there, link up your list of anticipated new releases so you can get in on the TTT fun. It's a good time, I promise.

Top Ten Most Anticipated Books Releasing in the First Half of 2024

To no one's surprise, my list is a mix of mysteries/thrillers and historical fiction, but I did throw in a non-fiction book and a MG fantasy just to keep you guessing :) Here's my list, in order of publication date:

1. Unsinkable by Jenni L. Walsh (available TODAY)—Violet Jessop is famous for surviving not just the sinking of the Titanic and the Britannic, but also a collision at sea while working on the Olympic. This historical novel tells Violet's story as well as that of a fictional orphan turned secret agent in France during World War II. When the lives of the two women intersect, they form a connection that will change them both forever. 

2. The Foxhole Victory Tour by Amy Lynn Green (available January 23)—Green's newest centers around two women from different walks of life who join a motley collection of performers on a USO musical tour performing for American troops stationed in North Africa during World War II. The group is already having difficulty finding unity when the tour manager announces he will recommend just one of them for a lucrative job in Hollywood. As they move closer to the front lines, it's not just their jobs and their friendships that are in jeopardy, but also their very lives.

3. End of Story by A.J. Finn (available February 20)—I've been waiting for a new book from Finn to come out ever since I read—and loved—his debut, The Woman in the Window. His sophomore novel concerns a reclusive mystery writer who invites his longtime pen pal, Nicky Hunter, to come to his mansion in order to write his life story. Nicky's soon embroiled in the novelist's own mystery, the disappearance of his first wife and their son, twenty years earlier. Did the author get away with the perfect crime? When a corpse turns up at the mansion, it soon becomes apparent that the writer's past has come calling.

4. The Hunter by Tana French (available March 5)—I always look forward to a new mystery/thriller from this Irish author. This is the second installment in her Cal Hooper series, which features a retired American cop who is now living in a rural Irish village. When the estranged father of a local teen returns to the village unexpectedly, with an English millionaire in tow no less, Cal's suspicions are immediately raised. He feels protective of the kid and will do whatever he can to keep him safe. Just what will that entail in this sketchy situation?

5. The Unclaimed: Abandonment and Hope in the City of Angels by Pamela Prickett and Stefan Timmermans (available March 12)—Did you know that the dead bodies of up to 150,000 Americans go unclaimed every year? What happens to them when there are no friends or family members to make sure they're properly taken care of? In this work of narrative nonfiction, two sociologists tackle that very intriguing question, uncovering a hidden world of abandoned dead people and the strangers who work to ensure that their remains are treated with honor and care. 

6. The Underground Library by Jennifer Ryan (available March 12)—I've already mentioned this historical novel because (1) Ryan is one of my favorite hist fic authors and (2) I love a bookish book. As is clear from its title, the story concerns three women from different backgrounds who come together to save the London library that has become their refuge during World War II.

7. Daughter of Mine by Megan Miranda (available April 9)—Hazel Sharp is the daughter of Mirror Lake's longtime detective. When he dies, leaving Hazel his home, she reluctantly returns to her hometown. A drought is drying up the lake, uncovering dark secrets from the town's past, including clues to the truth behind the disappearance of Hazel's mother.

8. The Outlaw Noble Salt by Amy Harmon (available April 9)—When infamous outlaw Butch Cassidy decides to shun his life of crime, he discovers that's a lot easier said than done. Especially when he meets singer Jane Touissant, who asks him to protect her while she goes on a singing tour across America. Butch fears his reputation will put the songbird and her young son at risk and he's not wrong...

9. Kill Her Twice by Stacey Lee (available April 23)—Lee is one of my favorite YA writers, so I always get excited when she publishes a new book. This one revolves around Lulu Wong, a starlet of the silver screen and the darling of the Chinatown community where she grew up. When three sisters, childhood friends of Lulu, discover her dead body, they vow to find her killer, knowing the local police won't lift a finger to help a Chinese woman, famous or not. With the fate of Chinatown hanging in the balance, it's up to the Chow sisters to solve the case and save their beloved home.

10. The Secret Library by Kekla Magoon (available May 7)—Without her grandpa around to liven things up, 11-year-old Dally is left to stew in her grief and boredom. When she intercepts a sealed envelope that her grandpa intended to give her, she discovers a map that leads to an incredible library full of books that act as portals to all kinds of different adventures. As she delves into this fantastical world, she is faced with a host of questions and mysteries about her family, its history, and about her own identity.

There you go, ten new releases I'm looking forward to reading. Do any of these appeal to you as well? Which 2024 books are you most excited about? I'd truly love to know. Leave me a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on your blog. I also reply to comments left here.

Happy TTT!

Tuesday, January 02, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Reads of 2023

Happy New Year! I hope everyone has had a safe, enjoyable start to 2024. I'm in the middle of getting all my Christmas decorations down as well as organizing my desk, my calendar, and my life for the new year. Phew. It's definitely time to take a little break for TTT. Today's prompt is, not surprisingly, Top Ten Favorite Books of 2023. Of the 223 books I read last year, I marked 32 of them as favorites. In order to winnow my list down to just 10, I'm going to skip the re-reads and most of the sequels I enjoyed and focus on my most favorite favorites. 

As always, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Head on over to her blog to give her some love. While you're there, join in the TTT fun. I'd love to know which ten books you read in 2023 were the most enjoyable for you.

My Top Ten Favorite Books of 2023
- in no particular order - 

1. The Rockton/Haven's Rock series by Kelley Armstrong—This is a bit of a cheat, but I read six books in this series in 2023 and they were all favorites. These crime novels are on the grittier side (at least for me), but I just can't get enough of them. Armstrong knows exactly how to pull me into her stories and keep me coming back for more!

2. The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim DeFede—Although this nonfiction account deals with a horrific event in U.S. history, it's a hopeful, uplifting book about how people can come together in perilous times to make a difference in each others' lives. Very inspiring.

3. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman—When books get too much buzz, I tend to shy away from them, shunning what everyone is reading out of principle. That's what I did with this one, until A Man Called Otto came out. Everyone was raving about the movie and I can't resist Tom Hanks, so I broke one of my cardinal rules and watched a film based on a book without first reading the book. Scandalous! After loving the movie, my book club decided to read the novel, and guess what? I adored it too. I guess sometimes when everyone loves something, it really is something worth loving!

4. The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White—It's possible that I read this children's classic as a kid, but I don't remember doing so. Bummer because it's such a sweet, wholesome read. I liked it more than Charlotte's Web, which I've read several times. 

5. Calamity Jane by Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, and Jodi Meadows—This delightful YA romp is the third installment in the Lady Janies series, a collection of alternate history novels starring famous women. Calamity Jane is the only one I've read so far, but oh my goodness, what fun it is! I listened to the book on audio and enjoyed every minute of the experience. It's funny, engrossing, voice-y, and just all kinds of entertaining.

6. The Wild Journey of Juniper Berry by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown—One of my favorite middle-grade reads of the year, this novel is about a girl who was raised far off-the-grid and has never experienced life in "civilization." When her brother gets sick, her family is forced into the "real" world so that he can get prolonged medical treatment. As Juniper tries to make sense of her new normal, she questions which life is the right one for her and her family.

7. Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr.—I can't stop thinking about this nonfiction book which concerns the vast fortune of American industrialist W.A. Clark. It talks about how Clark made his money, how he spent it, and what happened to it when it passed on to his last heir, Huguette. It's an absolutely fascinating story that asks big questions about wealth—how it should/should not be spent, how much is enough, the responsibility of the mega rich toward society, etc. I suggested Empty Mansions as a book club read because I want to discuss it so badly with other people who have read it.

8. Exiles by Jane Harper—I've read all of Harper's novels and Exiles is my favorite. The third book in the Aaron Falk series, the story is about Falk—a federal investigator—returning to his small hometown in Southern Australia to attend the christening of a friend's child. The town's annual fair is taking place, prompting Falk to look into the disappearance of a young mother during the same event one year earlier. 

9. The Labors of Hercules Beal by Gary D. Schmidt—Another middle-grade novel I love, this one is about an unassuming, recently orphaned boy who's tasked with recreating the labors of his namesake for a quirky school assignment. As he tackles his grief while also trying to figure out how to be heroic, he learns that he's more like the famous Hercules than he ever could have imagined. 

10. A Girl Called Samson by Amy Harmon—Based on a true story, this historical novel recounts the life of Deborah Samson, a young woman who longs for freedom and adventure. Disguising herself as a boy named Samson, she enlists in the Revolutionary War in order to do her bit. Is she up to the task? Can she hide her real identity long enough to make a difference? What will happen if she's found out?

There you go, my ten favorite reads of the year. Have you read any of these? What did you think? What were the best books you read in 2023? I'd truly love to know. Leave me a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on your blog. I also reply to comments left here.

Happy TTT!

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