Booktrovert Reader Podcast

End of the Year Best Fantasy Books of 2023

January 04, 2024 Charity the Booktrovert Reader Season 3 Episode 43
Booktrovert Reader Podcast
End of the Year Best Fantasy Books of 2023
Booktrovert Reader Podcast
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Best Fantasy Books of 2023 according to Booktrovert Reader

Watch me on YouTube! CLICK HERE


#bookpodcast #fantasybooks #favoritebooks

In this episode, Booktrovert Reader, take you through my journey transitioning to YouTube and my exciting reading goals for 2024. I delve into embracing the DNF (Did Not Finish) style, participating in reading challenges, and prioritizing books aligned with my interests rather than following trends.

Join me as I share my top picks from each month of 2023, featuring fantastic titles like Savage Lands, Aurora Burning, The Cruel Prince, Sky in the Deep, and more. I wrap up by expressing my enthusiasm for the fresh authors I discovered and the eagerly anticipated books on my radar.

Join my 2024 Fantasy Book Challenge on StoryGraph! JOIN HERE

Videos Mentioned:
The Ballad of Never After: https://youtu.be/8OV4lf8jYZw
The Hurricane Wars: https://youtu.be/DlDIMR0YASk
Blood Mercy Part 1: https://youtu.be/4sJHtG0Yr_w
Blood Mercy Part 2: https://youtu.be/4sJHtG0Yr_w
Stone & Sky: https://www.buzzsprout.com/2113446/14169239
The Ruins of the Heartless Fae: https://www.buzzsprout.com/2113446/13005460
The Cruel Prince: https://www.buzzsprout.com/2113446/12384924

Book Reviews To Read:
Savage Lands: booktrovertreader.com/savage-lands-book-review/
Sky in the Deep: booktrovertreader.com/sky-in-the-deep/
Divine Rivals: booktrovertreader.com/fresh-take-on-fantasy-romance-divine-rivals/

Thank you @letmollyread on TikTok for giving me this amazing idea!

Key Takeaways:

  1. Embrace the DNF (Did Not Finish) approach to focus on books that genuinely captivate you.
  2. Engage in reading challenges f

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Booktrovert Reader (00:20.962)
So hello, I'm Charity the BookTrovert Reader, and I am starting something a little different this year with my podcast and me transitioning more into the YouTube aspect with videos. So I'm kind of excited to share that going forward in the new year of the 2024. I am a little late to the game on this one. I am doing...

the favorite books of each month of 2023. I got this idea from

Booktrovert Reader (00:56.262)
A tick another book talker by let Molly read. I'll put her links below. She, she did a video on this and I was like, you know what, let me show you what some of my favorite books that I had in 2023 fantasy book style. So before I get onto that, I definitely want to share with y'all. Of some of the things that I've been really wanting to do for next year, concerning goals and things that I'm thinking about doing. And that is.

I'm thinking of an embrace the DNF style a little bit more just because I've been finding that there's so many good books coming out from indie authors, from major publishers, and I've been finding that I just I'm struggling to keep up with everything that's been coming out and everything. And if I'm just not in the mood for it, I think it's just time to just be okay with DNFing, whether I don't like it or I'm just not in the time or place for it.

Now, you know, and I've done this before and I'll get into it later about, you know, actually coming to a book that I DNF'd a while ago and came back to it and loved it. So I'll get to that. And I think I'm going to try more challenges next year just because I just want to challenge myself in reading different variety of books. And on my story graph, I do have a challenge of like 50 prompts for fantasy readers. So you can definitely check out that link below just to see what.

See if that challenge is kind of up your alley. You know, it is kind of hard, but I have faith in you.

Booktrovert Reader (02:30.562)
And something that I've been really, really wanting to do is choose what I want to read, not what everyone else is reading. And this year in 2023, or last year, depending on when you see this video, I was, you know, when you're involved with the book community, everyone reads almost kind of the same thing sometimes. And not that it's nothing wrong with that, but I was finding that I was more interested in the book.

books that are not as well known or trending on Bookstagram or Booktok or anything like that. So I'm challenging myself next year to read a lot of authors that I've never picked up before or authors that are just debuting as well. So I want to do that and just get start some new series and finish series and things like that.

have a really high reading goal. I think that's the main thing that I'm gonna focus on. It's not that numbers, but the quality of my read. So that's what I'm gonna focus on. So just getting into some of the things, just reading wise, I do have maybe at least one book a month and maybe two in some of them, depending on what month it is, because I sometimes have a hard time choosing a favorite. So yeah, first off.

my pile. Savage Lands by Stacey Marie Brown. I picked this one up. It's kind of have a dystopian feel to it with the fantasy read. There are Faye in this one and what I like about this is that the female main character is, you know, she's tough. She knows how to fight and everything, but she kind of is a little hotheaded. So that's how she got into the situation that she did with getting into this very big prison system that is really hard to break out of.

And of course, you know, she had to learn to survive. And even though she was tough in, you know, when she was training and things like that, it shows a lot of the human side of her when she was trying to fight to survive and going through the trauma that she did. So it was very interesting to see this one. That my main phrase is that darn Warwick. You will understand once if you if you pick this up of what I mean by that.

Booktrovert Reader (04:51.894)
So this is for January.

Booktrovert Reader (04:55.918)
Alright, for February, I did have two favorites. My first one is this is a sequel to the Aurora Rising. Oh wait, sorry. Aurora Cycle. This is book two and this is Aurora Burning by Amy Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I don't normally pick up sci-fi at all, but this is a sci-fi fantasy and this is a continuation of the first book.

Booktrovert Reader (05:25.518)
has several different perspectives that have very unique different personalities contributing to this squad. And of course, the main character is one is more.

Anyway, cut that out. So this one's just continuing. They're kind of fighting for their lives or racing through space, but there's also a magical element to it, which is where the fantasy kicks in. Now this does lean towards more of the sci-fi element and this is YA, but I felt like it was very a mature YA. Obviously there's some moments that, it's a fade to black kind of thing, but.

I would say there's just a lot of mature characters but make honest mistakes. So I really like this one a lot. There was a certain section in here that kind of spoke to my season that I was going through. I was going through a moment of grief of a family member and it just kind of touched on it a little bit and it was one of the best ways that I've heard someone describe grief of losing a family member but not forgetting them. So...

I really liked it. The second one in February that I really loved is The Cruel Prince by Holly Black. Now this is the one I mentioned before about how I de-eneffed this when it first came out. I did not like it. It was a bully, kind of a, you know, slow spice, whatever, romance, whatever you want to call it. And I didn't like it at first. And I de-eneffed it. And I guess this year...

whenever it was published, I decided to pick it up one more time. And I actually did this a chapter by chapter summary of this book in particular, and I just fell in love with it because when you're taking your time with books, like literally taking your time, you're not rushing to finish. It took me a month to do this book because I obviously broke down the chapters and just talked about it. And as I was breaking it down, I was noticing a lot of Easter eggs. And I was like, oh my gosh.

Booktrovert Reader (07:25.122)
thought that was really cool about how Holly Black did this. You know, I know sometimes people have a little hard time getting past the bully aspect, but it actually is more prone to be in the first book than it is the second and third one because Jude really doesn't take anyone's crap. So I really like this. It's about finding herself and finding her voice and then really kind of becomes the

Booktrovert Reader (07:54.458)
Link below if you want to get that chapter by chapter summary on my podcast and definitely check this out.

So in March, I did have another two favorites, and one of them is Sky in the Deep by Andrea Young. I really like this one. It wasn't like a lot of magic or anything, but it was like set in the time of Vikings. And it was probably the one time I read a book where the main character or the side characters get hurt, and they don't like magically like get better the next day, or they just keep going, ignore the pain, but it really shows.

the violence of them fighting in this battle between these two clans and they learn to understand that there's misconceptions and they have to work together. But in the meantime, you know, there's a side plot of romance. It's not too heavy, but it's about her finding herself and understanding the misunderstandings and healing, you know.

Literally the most of the plot goes where she's healing from the injury she assumed from this battle that took place So I thought it was very realistic I don't know why I was drawn to it, but it was a great writing to me, and I really enjoyed it I you know I want to pick up more from her books just because of that reason I know there is another one I'm making a June Pharaoh or something like that a lot of people are raving so probably need to get to that one soon the other

Booktrovert Reader (09:45.918)
Alright, so.

Booktrovert Reader (09:55.735)
Okay. Redoing. Okay, so in March I did pick up Sky in the Deep by Adrian Young. It was a not really like magic based but it's a lot set in a period of time where the Vikings were and it just, it got what really drew me into that storyline was the fact that it was very realistic in the time of like going into battle and recovering from battle. You don't get a lot of that because sometimes the most frustrating things about fantasy

magically get better or they just keep pushing through even though they got a deep gushing wound in their side or something, but they're tough as nuts and just keep going. This actually shows her recovery, the main character's recovery, actually recovering from an injury and it takes time and there could be lasting effects from it. There was like, because these two clans are warring against each other and she got captured by the...

enemy clan, there is just this understanding that there's like this misconception between the two tribes and they have to like work, look, work to work together because oh my gosh there's a common enemy. So I really like that one just quite a bit just because of the fact how realistic and there's a subplot of a romance in it. So it's not like a disgusting like this is what it's all about but it's just a slow going of the process which makes it really good. So another book that I really liked in March was The Cruel Prince

Prince by Holly Black. This is one of those books that I DNFed at first when I first picked it up when it was first published. I didn't like the bully romance about it. I just thought it was disgusting at the time, but I decided to pick it up again this year just because of FOMO, because of art, like fan art on, you know, Pinterest, Book Talk, blah, blah. And I like, okay, let me try picking this up again and let me try doing this for my podcast. I don't know why, but I was like, okay, let me just...

Let me just do it. So, and I did it and it took me a month to finish this book only because I was literally breaking this down in section by section. I did a chapter by chapter summary and you know, when you go that slow, I realized that you tend to retain a lot of the book and you turn to like appreciate it a little bit more and I was finding that Holly Black was putting a lot of like Easter eggs in this book.

Booktrovert Reader (12:18.91)
and really taking the time to develop Jude as a character into a morally gray character. This year, I've been into the morally gray characters just because I feel like, you know, you can be a good person but make bad choices or you make choices based off of like just self-preservation. So you see this a lot with Jude and the whole bully thing, it doesn't let, it just goes as far as the first book and the second and third book. It's not.

that, Jude does stick up for herself and you continue to see her stick up for herself. So that's what I like about this one. I definitely highly recommend giving it a try. At least get to book two. Yeah, so definitely give that one a try. April, I went on this rare vacation in April. It was a nice long one and it was in a place where I was stuck with no internet and that really gave me time to like die.

just really get into like, I read like five books and won that one. And one of them is Daughter of No Worlds by Carissa Broadbent. Now, I think I do in this situation read it so fast that I didn't retain the information, but the story was good. Believe me, the story was good. It just has a very strong female main character in it that is, I would, I definitely remember.

her being very strong and very, she fights for what she believes in and doesn't it back down, but she's also very hot headed. And she's, it can be annoying, but it's, she's, it's like she has to use that kind of a behavior and character to survive where she was at. So you see that it is kind of a romantasy So you see a romance heavily in the plot, but it doesn't happen right away. She had to learn a language.

use her magic and things like that. So I really enjoyed this one. I want to finish the second and third book and finish that series next year because I know there's another duology that's sent by the same author. And by the time I get through it, the chances are, so she's gonna probably have a new series starting and I'm like five books behind. So I need to get to it. So, Daughter of No Worlds by Carissa Broadbent.

Booktrovert Reader (14:34.154)
Another one is, oh my gosh, so surprising, was the... let me get the name... The Ruins of the Heartless Fae by Maham Fatemi. She... oh man, I found her... I found her arc on one of those book sirens websites and I gave it a try and I absolutely fell in love with that story. And then I invited her on my podcast. She was actually my first guest that I ever had on my podcast.

And I was really stoked about this book. It's like such different than what I'm usually used to at the time. It's a, you know, like a lot of times when you read about the Fae, the Fae are on top, they're oppressing, they're the ones that are attacking the humans, whatever the case may be. And in this situation, the roles are reversed. The Fae are the ones being hunted down because of their powers and the humans, even though they have powers, are the ones hunting them down. So there's like a big misconception.

Our main character is hiding and she's being discovered and there's a big battle. She has a power, but you know, she has self doubt. You know, she doesn't have the perfect body image of herself and it's a very honest, you know, thing to see a character actually go through some insecurities and she's not like real thin perfect and this perfect personality. So you see some vulnerabilities in there that I really loved about this character.

So highly recommend this one. She is an indie debut author with that one. She already has book two out and she's working on three inside other projects. So I've been following her and she's been amazing watching her progress and everything. So definitely check out The Ruins of the Heartless Fae. It's such a good book. I love that fantasy book and I cannot wait for the third book to come out. The next one for May is, you guessed it.

Well, not really, you guessed it, but Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber. I actually read this before the Caraval of Ahal series. I don't regret it just because when I did read the series, it was good to know a lot of background information on the Once Upon a Time characters because there's a lot going on. But I really liked this series. I just like Jacqueline and this and the Jack of Hearts and-

Booktrovert Reader (16:52.158)
his apple eating habits and things like that. I did this book review with a bookstagrammer by Melissa. She is amazing, we broke it down. We talked about a lot of this. There's so much to talk about in this episode and I felt like I couldn't finish it. But yeah, it's one of my favorites probably so far. Book two in this series is a lot better, which I have it in this deck.

talk about later.

Booktrovert Reader (17:26.266)
Alright, so in June, the Hurricane Wars by Thea Guanzon. I fell in love with this book and let me tell you about it. I read Happy Place by Emily Henry and I love Emily Henry's book, but for some reason her last book, Happy Place, kind of burned me out in the romance department where I was about to like not enjoy romance in books anymore.

I'm not saying that's anything towards her or anything like that, but it's just some reason during my life and the ending circumstances of that book, I was just like, I'm fed up. So I decided to read this and honestly, I was going to DNF this book, maybe 20% in because it's very heavy in world building But some reason, the way that Thea Guanzon has written this book, that when you get past the 35% of the book...

It just changes. And I'm not gonna tell you because that will ruin the book and the surprise for you, but it's a totally different part of how it started because of time events and things that are discovered and whatever the case may be. And it's so good. I really enjoyed it. I got me out of my funk. It got me out of just, you know, I was going, I was about to hit a reading slump I'm telling you, but this got me out of it. And I haven't been since this one.

I interviewed her on my podcast. She's such an amazing person and she's working on book two as we speak and I cannot wait for it to come out.

Booktrovert Reader (19:06.858)
Alright, in July I did Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes. I actually finished this whole series on audio. I read this one like maybe the first book two years ago and I just re-read it and then just continued on with the series because this is a complex story. The thing about this one, there's a lot of multiple POVs and it jumps around quite a bit.

And then as the series goes on, you get introduced to a lot of new people and you get, you know, the best way I can describe it is don't get comfortable with your favorite character because they might be killed off. And Morgan Rhodes does such a great job of introducing new people, getting rid of new people. I'm watching you. So I definitely recommend this series just to change it up. It's a very magical base.

Well, great world building and as you go through it, it just, the storyline keeps continuing. You just don't know what's gonna happen. And a lot of times my jaw dropped in this series. I couldn't believe a lot of things that happened in this series. So it definitely keeps on your toes.

Okay, so in August, one of my favorite books of 2023 is Blood Mercy by Vela Roth. I did a book review with Megan. She's on Bookstagram as well. This was a chunky book. I'm not going to lie. There's a lot to this book. You have to go in knowing this is commitment. World building.

I think Valoroth does a great job at doing the world building on this one just because of the fact it's not thrown at you all at once. It's done in conversation and dialogue and you get to know this world slowly and you don't eat it all at once. I felt the characters, especially our main character, where she goes through a lot of mistreatment in this world and she doesn't go into instant lust over the main character, but the main character, Leo.

Booktrovert Reader (21:17.61)
look at it, Leo had to earn her respect and earn her trust. And I thought that was so well done in a fantasy romance that she wasn't just jumping at him. It was like it had to be earned. And I thought that was really good in regards to a fantasy romance that was considered a very slow, slow burn.

Booktrovert Reader (22:22.37)
Alright, so in September I did have two books that I really loved. First one, Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross. I think I was very late to the game when it came to this book. I don't know why, but I was just kind of like when I first read the synopsis, I just wasn't interested in it, so I just put it off quite a bit. And then it started picking up on Instagram and things like that, so I was like, okay, I'll try it. So I got a used copy off of Pango Books.

And yeah, I'm like one of those situations where I'm like, why did it take me so long to like, read this? So this is very good. It's one of those timeless romances that it's very romantic. It's very like, heavy sigh and things like that. And I really loved being able to read this for the first time and not seeing any spoilers and just enjoying this for what it is.

I know I'm currently right now waiting for my copy from Barnes and Noble to get my copy for the second duology. I don't know how I feel about it with it being only two books, so I'm hoping it just doesn't carve my heart out and toss it aside. But I'm looking forward to reading the next part of this book.

Booktrovert Reader (25:46.55)
So the next book that I really enjoyed is Assistant to the Villain by Hannah Nicole Mayer. This just kind of reads like a cozy fantasy almost. It's got kind of a comical fantasy villain in this one. And it's like, you're supposed to take it seriously, but it's hard to take it seriously with the amount of things that happen in this book. It's just one of those things that I truly enjoyed and I can't wait for the second book

That leaves you in a cliffhanger, but enough to make you wonder what's going to happen next with Evie, the main character. I felt like the villain was really a villain in this one, even though he was considered truly evil in this book. I think personally a real villain, but he had the heart of gold and he just tucks away. The only person that can get it out of him is his assistant, which is Evie, which is really cute. I thought it was really cute.

I like the sprayed edges. I actually bought this as an early copy, so I'm really glad I did. So I'm excited for the second one.

Booktrovert Reader (27:05.026)
So in October, of course, the ballad of Never After by Stephanie Gerber.

I think I like this one a lot more than the first one, personally. You see a lot more of Jack, Jacks being in this book, a lot more of them, Evangeline and Jax being together and him like going out of his way to really protect Jack, Evangeline, I don't know why I call her Jack, Jacqueline. Anyways, so Evangeline. So yeah, well that makes sense.

Jack's Evangeline. Anyways, so yeah. I really like this one. I think just the ending was Chef's Kiss. It was like the best ending I have ever read in a book. And I thought I would reread the second book just to reread the second book. I would skip the first and never read the third. This is my favorite so far. So yeah.

Booktrovert Reader (28:11.838)
The other book that I found is Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Su Lin Tan. I held this one off too, but I have a good friend on Instagram that absolutely adores this book, and she just kept talking about it. So I decided to pick it up and I think it was also a...

There was a book club that did it, so I did it with them. And I really enjoyed the writing style of this one. It's not your typical read, and it threw me off at first, because it's not your typical writing style that you pick up. But once you get into it, you just kind of want to weep with the main character, rejoice with the main character when she succeeds or something goes on. And you just kind of wonder if all the setbacks she has, you know, like, and you, okay.

going back. So you see a lot in this book, a lot of the setbacks that she, the main character goes through and how she overcomes it and she doesn't give up and just this, it was just really well done. There's a side plot of the romance that you just want to kind of kick somebody in the face, you know, because of that reason. Um, but it turns around thankfully, but

I really like it. I can't wait to get to book two next year and I heard there's another book in the series that might be coming out, but I'm 100% sure. I know there's like a kind of a novella after the second book. So I got to read the second book before the third one comes out. I highly recommend.

Booktrovert Reader (29:50.542)
So November was exciting because I talk a lot. I was lurking on TikTok, but I never really officially did anything with TikTok until like around October, November. And definitely follow me if you want to follow me if you see this video. Anyways, I found a debut author of the fantasy genre of House of Bane and Blood by Alexis Menard, El Menard.

I really like that one. This has been my favorite part of the year is finding these new authors I've never heard before and I just so happen to scroll by and there's a book right there. You know, read me. Screams it. And this is a very fantasy heavy romance, but it's not all surrounding like that. This one is kind of has that steam punk vibes and the male character actually has a

Booktrovert Reader (30:52.608)
of artificial.

Booktrovert Reader (30:56.686)
prosthetic limb. He has a prosthetic limb in this one. So there is some disability rep in that a little bit and or some disability rep. What I liked about it, it's kind of like a tale of two cities. There's two different families that are warring against each other. And because of the arranged marriage of a convenience, they had to come together because she's on the heiress and she has control over a train that her family has.

you know, to get rights and all that stuff. It's really good. I really liked it. The magic system is unique in this. It's not your typical magic that you would, oh, I have this. No, it's really deep. It's really intricate. And it's one of those books I highly recommend to some people just because of the fact that it's different. I'm looking forward to continue her series. She is working on second book.

first book did leave you kind of in a cliffhanger and like, oh crap, what is going to happen next situation. There was a twist and a turn and I was just like, I couldn't believe what happened at the end. It just took me by surprise. I loved it. Definitely check out her book, House of the Bane and Blood. One of those books I definitely like. Go read.

Booktrovert Reader (32:56.834)
So in December, I kind of slowed down quite a bit in reading. That's what I typically do around this season just because of the holidays. And I hit my reading goal most of the time around this time of the month. And I'm just like, I slowed down quite a bit to give myself a break from reading and enjoy the family and everything like that. So I didn't really find a book that I really loved. But if I had to choose something, it would be definitely Stone and

Diamante. He gifted his book to me and his prelude and I think it was such a true statement to like if you're looking for something as such as like Lord of the Rings, if you love Lord of the Rings, this is a book that you would definitely want to read.

Booktrovert Reader (33:52.394)
I had to bring it over. Yeah, Stone in the Sky by ZS Diamanti I did an interview recently with him and I felt like he had such great knowledge when it comes to self-publishing and just enjoying the process and everything. So I really enjoy talking to him on my podcast. And of course, I read his book and I can't wait for his second book to come out because the journey continues per se. And I really look forward to that.

I...

Booktrovert Reader (34:26.134)
That's all the books I have for each month for 2023. I really felt like I had a good year reading. There was definitely a lot of duds. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't perfect. I think I DNF'd a little bit more than what I used to, but I really enjoyed a lot of the books. I found a lot of new authors that I really, really enjoyed. A lot of them have become my friends.

and I cannot wait for next year for their second books to come out or to find new debut authors to read. I love it. I hope you guys love it. Definitely check out all the links below to see all these books and to find the interviews with some of these authors. Thank you for watching and catch you next time, readers. Bye.


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