Best Books Of 2023!

Hetty Monksea
10 min readJan 19, 2024


As 2024 starts on its merry way I thought it would be the perfect time to look back on all the books I’ve read 2023 and pick out the best ones! And out of all twenty-eight books I read in 2023 eight of them came out tops. So here the eight ones worthy of 5 stars each!

The Great Gatsby

by F. Scott Fitzgerald


“It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such — such beautiful shirts before.”

Nick Carraway moves to a house on Long Island, New York. There he meets his mysterious neighbor, a millionaire by the name of Jay Gatsby. However, when Nick’s second cousin Daisy comes into the picture with her husband Tom, things with Gatsby get complicated and Nick often wonders who is the real man behind the millionaire?

A tale of hidden identities, star-crossed lovers and secrets, The Great Gatsby is a classic for a reason. The reality of the complex characters with all their imperfections helps bring this book to life and dares to ask some big questions like, what is love? What is life? And who are we really? My eyes were truly opened after reading this story. 5/5 stars!

In Search Of Us

by Ava Delliara

“Angie’s dad is one of the dead, or so she’d believed.”

Angie lives her young mom Marilyn and knows absolutely nothing about her father. Then one day she finds a photo of her mom with a man, and without having ever seen him before, she instantly knows it’s her dad. Together with a “friend”, she sets off to find him… Back in the ’90s a young Marilyn moves into LA with her mom who is determined Marilyn will become the next big actress of the age. However, Marilyn is focused on escaping to college to study her passion: photography. Yet, everything changes when she befriends her new neighbor James…

I don’t usually enjoy modern fiction — historical fiction and fantasy are more my thing. However, this is piece of modern fiction I could not ignore. The journey of love, loss and self-discovery/self-worth the characters go through touched something deeply human inside of me. The changing timelines allowed me to see both Angie and Marilyn’s journeys at the same time, interweaving them as one. The epic plot twists make this the most heart-wrenching novel I’ve read yet — I was in tears! 5/5 stars!

The Girl With No Soul

by Morgan Owen


“The Countess knew my secret. She’d guessed I was Hollow when I arrived at her doorstep with no name, no memory and a handful of trinkets.”

Iris lives in a world where people are checked for the purity of their Souls. There five different type of souls: Spirit Souls, Shadow Souls, Song Souls, Heart Souls and Fire Souls. However Iris is a Hollow, a girl with no Soul and she cannot remember anything from her life past a few years ago. Iris also has a gift for sensing remnants, objects with memories, and this gift helps her discover her Spark — one of the five parts of her missing Soul. This discovery leads Iris on a journey to reunite herself with her Soul and her memory, but this mission will end up unravelling her whole world…

I instantly fell in love with this story. The entire concept of the anatomy of a person’s Soul captured my imagination. I loved how Iris has more than one side to her character, showing how complex we all are as humans. The romance was obvious from the beginning but the amount of plot-twists it took left me gasping in shock at every turn, surprised at every new revelation. The plot was dramatic, the characters dynamic and the setting thrilling. Best fantasy book I’ve read in a long time. 5/5 stars!

The Girl Who Grew Wings

by Anna Waterworth


“Their skin mesmerizes me; in the candlelight, they sparkle like a frozen lake. Like devil wing.”

In the city of Appollis live twin sister Sephie and Icari, one sure she is an Alchemist, the other a Healer. When Sephie is proclaimed as an Embalmer at the ritual she couldn’t be more shocked… or terrified. Sephie cannot stand corpses especially since their mother died. Icari has her own troubles when she accidently befriends one of the prisoners in the dungeons. However neither could predict what terrible twist fate has in store for them and the two sisters will need each other now more than ever…

I loved this book so much! The characters of both Sephie and Icari were brilliantly executed, the classic “twins with opposite characteristics” actually fitted them so well and I found Sephie’s fiery nature and Icari’s pure kindness so beautiful and realistic. The setting of a fantastical Ancient Greece was wonderfully portrayed, especially the trio of gods — Mother Moon, Father Sun and The Divine Shadow and how that played into the plot. I loved how deftly Waterworth wove in the myths of Persephone and Icarus, creating a special new reimagining of these two old tales. The language is so fitting, so beautifully descriptive and elegant but not too dense at all, Waterworth has done herself proud with this book! Definitely 5 out of 5 stars!


by Jordan Ifueko


“Did these attacks have something to do with The Lady? With the ugly truth of who — of what — I was?”

Tarisai grew up in a large empty house where her mother, referred to mainly as The Lady, was most often absent. She grew up knowing hardly anything of herself, her mother or the outside world. She grew up knowing that a fate of a truly terrifying kind lay in her hands. And when Tarisai journeys into the Crown Prince Dayo’s court as one of his council members she realizes she is as powerless to stop her fate as ever. However whilst she may not be able to change fate, is there some way she can twist it? And as she discovers more about her mother, The Lady, will she finally find out who she truly is?…

Wow. I mean seriously WHAT a novel! I have read many YA books over this last year but Raybearer is something special. Ifueko’s writing is not only impeccable but magic too for she tells the story so well you are instantly pulled beyond the words and the language and into the world itself. I know a novel is well written when I don’t see the pages but the people instead; it is a great skill and particularly hard to execute in a fantasy novel where we as the reader have to find the unbelievable believable and Ifueko had trouble convincing me at all. The characters felt so alive and interacted with one another with an effortless realism that was truly inspiring. The African style setting was woven in beautifully to the story and made reading this novel a delight. In summary I cannot praise this story high enough, 5 out of 5 stars!

  • “Reading this book is like it is carrying you on beautiful waves of golden words.” — quote from Pen on Paper’s review of the same book.

The Girls I’ve Been

by Tess Sharpe


“I could survive twenty minutes with my ex-boyfriend and new girlfriend. I could handle the awkwardness. I was a freaking champ.”

Rebecca, Samantha, Haley, Katie, Ashley. These are the girls that Nora O’Malley has been. And she left them behind in her old life when she ran from her con artist mother and dangerous step father and sought a safe normal life alongside her older sister Lee. She thought she’d left those girls behind for good. But now Nora is trapped in bank robbery with her girlfriend Iris and her ex Wes and Nora must call on the girls she’s been once more if she ever wants to get out alive…

I seriously loved this book. I really enjoyed Sharpe’s use of the switching timelines because it allowed me to see how each of the girls Nora has been fitted into her new personality as Nora. Sharpe also uses the switching timeline to create suspense as we only find out a little of Nora’s past at a time, making the reader hungry for more. I also liked each chapter in the present started the time they had been held captive for because it makes the reader feel like time is running out and roots more deeply for Nora and her friends to come up with a plan to escape. The characters of Iris, Wes and Lee were deftly crafted, each with their own unique personality traits and flaws. And I loved how the relationship drama between Nora/Wes/Iris played out and how ultimate they’re an unstoppable team. (It was also quite sweet how Iris pushes Nora to be the best version of herself.) I felt like I was living this thrilling story alongside them all. 5 out of 5 stars!

The Fault In Our Stars

by John Green


“But, in fact, depression is not a side effect of cancer. Depression is a side effect of dying.”

Hazel Grace Lancaster has always known that she was never destined to live for a long time. However before now it didn’t matter so much. But when the gorgeous Augustus Waters shows up one time in her Cancer Kids Support Group Hazel knows that she wants to live what little life she has left to the fullest. However, life is never quite so kind…

Oh. My. God!!! I love this book so much! This was the first time I’d ever read a John Green novel (since reading this one I have read Looking For Alaska and Paper Towns) and I adored it. John Green’s writing so absolutely amazing. It is so vivid and fresh and raw that I was immediately enraptured by it. He has somehow managed to captured the deep complexity of being human and show that through his characters so that they feel three dimensional and real. I love also personally metaphors and this book is rife with them, I especially love Augustus’s metaphor because it adds so much to his character. The plot itself is so poignant and beautiful and heart-breaking, the characters so fun and real, and the language stunning. So this definitely 5 out of 5 stars!

Girl, Goddess, Queen

by Bea Fitzgerald


“Gone is little girl. Kore. I am chaos bringer. Persephone.

Persephone is in despair. Her mother and father are insistent for her to marry and she is desperate to avoid it at any cost. So she comes up with a plan. She will seek refuge in the most unlikely of places The Underworld. Now all she has to do is convince Hades to let her stay there. But how can she persuade of the God of Hell to go along with her plan? And how long until her parents discover where she is?

I absolutely loved this. The narration felt so clear and strong and all the characters very vivid and real for gods. I especially loved the character of Persephone, whose headstrong determination and courage perfectly match Hades’ secretly soft and caring nature very well. The plot was well paced and enticing, a brilliant spin on the original story. The descriptive language felt so alive, almost as if I was in The Underworld myself. Fitzgerald has outdone herself. 5/5 stars!

Here is the full list of all the books I read in 2023 (not just the really good ones!):

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Day I Met Suzie by Chris Higgins

In Search Of Us by Ava Dellaira

Things A Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholas

The Girl With No Soul by Morgan Owen

The Six Of Crows by Leigh Burdugo

The Ministry Of Unladylike Activity by Robin Stevens

Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart

The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave (reread)

Sister To A Star by Eloise Smith

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

The Fire Giant by Giulietta M Spudich

Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

Paradise Lost by John Milton

The Immortal Games by Annaliese Avery

Looking For Alaska by John Green

Cavalier Queen by Fiona Mountain

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Girl, Goddess, Queen by Bea Fitzgerald

Dead Man’s Coin by Saena Tetlow

Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw

The Crossing by Manjeet Mann

The Girl Who Grew Wings by Anna Waterworth

Love Is For Losers by Wibke Brueggemann

Paper Towns by John Green

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen (reread)

Thanks for reading!

Hetty Monksea



Hetty Monksea

A bookworm and cat/guinea pig lover. Writing a story... Follow me on Twitter/Pinterest/Substack: @ATaleofJourneys