When December arrives, I know it’s time for me to quit dilly-dallying and select some of my favourite books I’ve read this year. The process is SO RIDICULOUSLY DIFFICULT, but I’ve finally come up with my “Six Sweet Reads in 2023” to share. This is especially helpful if you need a few recommendations to add to your own reading list, if you have bookish loved ones who need a gift, or if you’re just plain curious about which titles rose to the top of my book stack…
“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book!” Jane Austen
If you have been around here for half a minute, you’ll know my affection for books, and as an author, it’s such a joy to immerse myself in the words of others as part of my work! I have attempted to select a decent representation of the 40+ books I’ve read in 2023, but you can check out all my reading habits and particulars over on Goodreads HERE.
“Some books are so familiar that reading them is like being home again.” Louisa May Alcott
I’m delighted to tell you all about these six sweet reads, so I’ve included my review with each, along with my Amazon affiliate links (full disclosure here) which means I get a tiny commission. At the same time, you pay the regular price for any of the books. (*Savvy shoppers, some of the titles are currently on sale, so you might want to check them out!)
HOMECOMING by Kate Morton (historical fiction)
“This was the magic of books, the curious alchemy that allowed a human mind to turn black ink on white pages into a whole other world.”
This stunning time-split historical fiction by one of my favorite authors was a glorious reading experience!
On Christmas Eve 1959, a terrible crime scene is discovered, which devastates a small town in South Australia. This family tragedy remains a mystery—until 2018, when Jess, an Australian journalist living in London, is called home to see her grandmother in hospital. The chilling truth unravels as Jess digs into her grandmother’s past and discovers her connection to what happened that fateful Christmas Eve.
This delicious mystery is a slow burn (over 500 pages) but if you enjoy being immersed in setting, surprising twists, and tales where family secrets and scandals abound—this book is for you!
TOM LAKE by Ann Patchett (literary fiction)
A story of simple pleasures, the complexities of life, and a mother’s secrets shared and kept—written by Ann Patchett and read by Meryl Streep… a winning combination!
Set during the COVID pandemic, Lara Kenison and her farmer-husband and three grown daughters find themselves together at their cherry farm, isolated from the rest of the world but making the best of the situation. With time and opportunity, the daughters are desperate to hear more details of their mother’s brief acting career—particularly, her relationship with a famous actor she met in the 1980s at Tom Lake, a summer stock theater in northern Michigan.
This is a tale of love, loss, infatuation, and devotion, told at a delightful cherry-picking pace with thoughtful, beautiful writing throughout. The audiobook is an absolute treat!
THE SECRET BOOK OF FLORA LEA by Patti Callahan Henry (historical fiction)
Enchanting, complex, and utterly lovely! This story brings a heartbreaking tragedy from WWII full circle when a book discovery in 1960s London piques the curiosity of bookstore employee, Hazel Linden.
Hazel and her younger sister, Flora Lea, had been part of the WWII “Operation Pied Piper” mass evacuation of children from the city to rural England, and it was from this haven that 5-year-old Flora Lea disappeared without a trace.
Racked with guilt for igniting her sibling’s vivid imagination with tales of “Whisperwood”, Flora never gives up hope of finding her dear sister—and the familiar book she now stumbles upon leads her to unexpected discoveries.
This magical mystery weaves two stunning time periods with whimsy, wonder, fairy tale, and familial bonds—a delight for book lovers and storytellers alike!
ALL MY KNOTTED-UP LIFE by Beth Moore (memoir)
Oh. My. Word. Beth Moore has poured out her very heart in this stunning memoir that reads almost like a novel as she walks us through her remarkable life.
It’s humorous and heartbreaking, real and raw, yet always her beautifully penned words point to the faithfulness of God. A horrific childhood, a young married mom, a Christian aerobics instructor(!), and ultimately a woman with an insatiable hunger for the Bible and burden for women’s ministry… every chapter unravels more of her “knots” and we see how God has been her anchor throughout.
This book is an absolute treasure.
COLD LIGHT OF DAY by Elizabeth Goddard (Christian romantic suspense)
With the stunning yet dangerous backdrop of Alaska, this first book in the series hits the ground running and is a page-turner all the way!
Police Chief Autumn Long is struggling to make sense of a brutal wave of crime in her sleepy town while attempting to retain her position as chief and juggle family issues.
Grier Brenner is new to the area, but has proved to be more than a little useful to Autumn with his lifesaving skills, kind heart, and sharp mind… plus, the fact that he is attractive doesn’t hurt!
Fans of romantic suspense will be gripped by the avalanche of high emotions when numerous murders, kidnappings, lies, and an inevitable romance take twists and turns to the very end!
ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr (WWII fiction)
This book has been patiently sitting on my bookshelf for years, but the plan to watch the Netflix series caused me to finally crack open the cover of this Pulitzer-prize-winning novel—and it did not disappoint!
The story may be harrowing and heartbreaking, but the prose is stunning and stopped me in my tracks multiple times, causing me to go back and re-read the richness.
Marie-Laure, who went blind at the age of six, lives with her father in Paris, where he works as the keeper of locks near the Museum of Natural History. The Nazis occupy Paris when Marie-Laure is twelve years old, and they are forced to flee to her reclusive uncle’s house in Saint-Malo, taking with them an object of immeasurable worth.
Young Werner lives with his sister at an orphanage in a German mining town, where it becomes apparent that he is an engineering genius with radio equipment. As a result, Werner is recruited for a special assignment in the Hitler Youth where he tracks the Resistance.
The very different yet equally brutal young lives of Marie-Laure and Werner finally intersect in this hauntingly beautiful novel that will stay with me for a long time to come.
*BONUS: A little something that’s saving my reading life these days and makes a fabulous gift for book lovers and knitters, is the LED Neck Reading Light by Glocusent… you can see my YouTube review video HERE!
As always, I would love to know if you have read any of my six picks, or if you have a favourite read this year. Feel free to share the book love and leave it in the comments below! ⬇️
Happy winter reading, friend…
P.S. 🎄 If you enjoy bookstores, family secrets, and page-turning suspense in a winter wonderland, check out my latest Christmas novella, Snow Globe Secrets, HERE. It makes a perfect stocking stuffer!
Linking up with some fabulous friends and encouragers! Check them out: