My year in books’ 2023 – Racoffee Books

My year in books' 2023 - Racoffee Books

An appreciation post about some of my favorite reads of 2023 that made the year a lot easier to survive. 2023 hasn’t been a great year for me, not even in my reading because I was in a reading slump almost every few months. But I still found some really good books and new favorite authors.

I don’t own all the pictures used in this post or on my edits, so I always mention the source and credits as all the rights go to respective owners. But I only claim the editing so please contact me if you have any problem. Thank you.

(All the pictures used in this edit are from Pinterest. I have all of them pinned on my profile so you can find the real source here.)

My year in books:

My Year in Books

Total Books read : 107
Favorite Genre : Romance, Mystery Top Authors : RuNyx Sophie Lark
Rina Kent
Jessica Joyce
Hannah Bonam-Young

Top Books :

  1. All Rhodes leads here by Mariana Zapata
  2. Darling Venom by Parker S. Huntington
  3. Monster Trilogy by Rina Kent
  4. Final offer (Dreamland Billionaires #3) by Lauren Asher
  5. The Mindfu*k Series by S.T Abby
  6. Heavy Crown (Brutal Birthright, #6) by Sophie Lark
  7. Happy place by Emily Henry
  8. God of Pain (Legacy of Gods, #2) by Rina Kent
  9. The Emperor (Dark Verse, #3) by RuNyx
  10. Forget Me Not by Julie Soto
  11. Caught Up (Windy City, #3) by Liz Tomforde
  12. Out on a limb by Hannah Bonam-Young
  13. You with a view by Jessica Joyce

1. All Rhodes leads here by Mariana Zapata

Tropes : Slow Burn, Small Town, Neighbors, Grumpy X Sunshine, Single Parent, Found Family

I’ve been saving this book for a year after I read 80% of Mariana Zapata’s backlist and it was totally worth my wait.

This book  was so refreshing and peaceful and definitely was a great way to kickstart my year. Also it made me go on a hike for a week (real). Even though the slow burn almost killed me ( I was kinda prepared actually) because MZ is the queen of writing slow burn and grumpy x sunshine <3. 

This book follows Aurora De La Torre as she moves back to the small town surrounded by mountains, which used to be her home once, to heal and find her old self back as she’s going through a tough time. But as soon as she reaches her rental she realizes there’s some misunderstanding as the actual owner, Tobias Rhodes doesn’t want his place to rent. But after a lot of convincing they set an agreement and Aurora gets to live there. And there’s more to that, Aurora’s journey, development, the found family, banter and the plot twist everything was so perfect. I think it’s time for a reread. 

“The people we lose take a part of us with them… but they leave a part of themselves with us too.”

“Maybe you didn’t have to get over your fears completely to conquer them. Maybe if you just faced them in general that counted. Or at least that’s what I wanted to believe.”

“People cried over endings, but sometimes you had to cry over new beginnings. I wouldn’t forget what I’d left. But I was going to be excited—at least as much as I could be—about this start and however it would end.”

2. Darling Venom by Parker S. Huntington

Tropes: Heartbreaking, Multiple Povs, Bonded by Grief, Slow Burn, Enemies to Lovers, Age Gap, Opposite Attract

I was actually scared to read this book with the trigger warnings but I really liked the aesthetic and reviews.. Also for some reason I thought it was going to be a lot like November 9 by Colleen Hoover? (it was not actually) but the plot twists were equally mind blowing. I cried, got frustrated, closed the book and stared at the ceiling for an hour straight and finished reading anyway. 

Darling venom was divided in 3 parts which are set in two different timelines with multiple povs. 

Charlotte Richard’s life is crumbling and she no longer wants to survive this cruel world and decides to end everything on her birthday only to find the loner emo boy from her class ,Kellen Marchetti for the same reason on the rooftop. But they spend a few hours together and  decide they are gonna fight their demons and check on each other every year on the same day, in the same place.

As they meet every year they discover more about themselves, grow attached but stick to their plan. As Charlie heals Kellen suffers in silence. Four years later Kellen breaks his promise and leaves Charlie in this cruel world all alone but she decides to live and get better alone. Few years later she accidentally meets Kellen’s brother Tate and they both discover more about Kellen through his letters and work together to make his dream come true. As they work together they bond with their grief and find peace in each other.  (Search up for trigger warning)*

The grief and healing journey was so good and comforting. I wish it was longer (even though it was almost 500 pages but I want moreee). 

Also it’s set on valentines day, and I’m making a valentine’s day book rec, checkout here + booktok romance guide.

“Tears are the language of grief. And grief is the language of love.”

“It was a promise I shouldn’t have made. One that defied the hardest lesson I’d ever learned. Love is expensive. Its currency is grief. And sometimes, it costs more than you can afford.”

“There was something perpetually tragic about us. even in moments of peace. we were two empty planets, bound by grief and a gravitational pull neither of us could deny. destined to collide and end in a fiery death.”

3. Monster Trilogy by Rina Kent

Tropes : Mafia Romance, Forced Proximity, Slow Burn, Military Romance

If Mulan and Mr. and Mrs. Smith had a baby this book would be the baby or is it something I thought throughout the 3 books reading?

Anyway, The Monster Trilogy follows Kirill Morozov and Aleksandra Ivanova (Sasha) who is disguised as a man, joins the Russian army because she’s out for revenge for her family’s tragic murder and finding out who ordered the hit. The story continues from them training in the military to fighting in the war and Kirill returning to New York along with Sasha as his bodyguard to become the bratvas new Pakhan. But there’s more plot in it as some of the events are set in different timelines and books from the Rina Kent universe.

It was so perfect and I had a great experience reading after getting crumbs of them in the other books and I love Mulan because it is one of my favorite Disney movies and reading a book with the same vibes made it a whole lot better. (Find more on My Reading Order, Favorites + Thoughts + Ultimate Rina Kent guide, read here.)

Also at this point I just know Rina writes the best trilogies or all three of her trilogies (The Deception Trilogy, The Royal Elite Trilogy and now the Monster Trilogy) are my equal favorites and I hope she publishes more in the future.

All the books need to be read in order as it ends on cliffhangers.
  1. Blood of My Monster (Monster Trilogy #1)
  2. Lies of My Monster (Monster Trilogy #2)
  3. Heart of My Monster (Monster Trilogy #3)

4. Final offer (Dreamland Billionaires #3) by Lauren Asher

Tropes : Second Chance, Childhood Friends to Lovers, Small Town, Forced Proximity

I was not ready to say goodbye to the Dreamland series. This mare thought made me emotional and halfway through the book I was a wreck. More than reading wrecked? I think I’ll never have an answer to that. 

Final offer was the 3rd and final book in the dreamland billionaire series. It’s about Cal and Alana who are childhood friends to lovers to strangers and used to spend their summers in the small town, Lake Wisteria but something happens between them and they fall apart. 

6 years later Cal is back again in lake wisteria to fulfill his grandfather’s conditions in order to access his funds and according to the will he has to stay at the lake house and sell it by the end of summer but the problem is Alana shares the ownership with him and refuses to sell it. 

So, he spends the summer convincing her and there they slowly start working on their second chance too and I loved every second of it. Even though it made me sob, it was the perfect way to wrap the series and say goodbye to my favorite characters.

5. The Mindfu*k Series by S.T Abby

Tropes : Serial Killer x FBI, Crime, Revenge, Dark Past, Plot Twists, Strong FMC

I don’t know where I should start but Lana Myers, I love you and you deserve the entire universe. If this was not enough to make me sad, the author’s passing made it 10 times sadder. Rest in peace S.T Abby and thanks for writing this masterpiece.

The mindfuck series is a 5 book series. Here’s the guide, if you want to read it.

All the books need to be read in order as the next one starts right after the cliffhanger of the previous book. And I read this entire series literally in two days because of how good it was. It’s about a FBI Agent Logan Bennet who’s searching for a 6 ‘4 male serial killer but actually it’s Lana Myers in disguise in the mentioned description because she is on her way to take revenge from the people who ruined her life and made her into the scarlett slayer she has become over the years. 

It was an emotional rollercoaster. Everything was so pure. The raw details were so painful to read but it made it 10x better with the revenge scenes.

If reputation by Taylor Swift was a book it would be this. Checkout my The mindfuck series guide for more. 

6. Heavy Crown (Brutal Birthright, #6) by Sophie Lark

Tropes : Rival Family, Secrets, Plot Twist, Crime, Thriller, Mafia

Apparently I was in my Sophie Lark era in 2023? That’s what “my year in books” – Top Author ‘Sophie Lark’. And that’s true because I read 20 books by Sophie Lark. (That sounds insane to mee) but I think I found my new favorite author and hopefully I’ll read the rest of the Sophie Lark books this year. Here’s the guide + my reading experience. 

But I started with the booktok popular “Brutal Birthright” (because it was on my tbr for almost two years) to the 2nd generation series ‘The Kingmakers’ and “The Underworld” series (so I don’t get spoilers for the kingmakers series. I really enjoyed all the books but I knew the last book of brutal birthright will be my favorite. Sebastian’s crumb in the first book made me want to jump straight into his book but the plot twist, drama, everything was perfect and it felt like watching a movie. 

7. Happy Place by Emily Henry

Tropes : Second Chance, Childhood Friends to Lovers, Small Town, Forced Proximity

I think every Emily Henry reader has Happy Place in their 2023 favorite books. At Least it’s on mine and some of my favorite bookish content creators. Also it was the winner for Best Romance (2023) for Goodreads Choice Award.

Happy Place was one of my most anticipated books of 2023 and I read it as soon as it was available. It follows ex-fiances Harriet and Wyn who were together for almost a decade and share the same friends group. In order to not ruin their annual weeklong vacation for everyone they have to pretend to be together for a while. This story is written from Harriet’s pov and it’s a dual timeline which keeps jumping from “Happy Place” which are times throughout Harriet’s life with friends and Wyn and all her happy moments to “Real Life” which is the present time where everything is a mess.

It was unique, raw and I felt every single emotion straight through my bones. Harriet and Wyn’s flashbacks, them rebuilding everything they lost, the friend group, the summer memories everything made this book enjoyable enough to finish reading it in one sitting. I’m happy with how it ended but wished some of Harriet’s decisions were different. Read my full review, here.

“I am happier than I’ve ever been. Don’t yet know that there is a level of happiness even deeper, one so intense it hurts, almost like loss or grief. A happiness so bright and hot you feel like it could incinerate you.”

8. God of Pain (Legacy of Gods, #2) by Rina Kent

God of Pain (Legacy of Gods, #2) by Rina Kent

Tropes: purple ballerina x grumpy fighter, grumpy x sunshine, fake dating, dark past, mafia themes, found family

I really thought I’m going to have a great time reading my favorite series, 2nd generation books but it was disappointing. I enjoyed it anyway but all the books  felt the same and didn’t meet any of my expectations. Except this one. It was equally similar but it was the story of two of my favorite couples kids books from the Rina Kent Universe + the plot twists were really unique. Also I always end up loving book covers with purple maybe because it’s my favorite? Guess I’ll never know

God of Pain is the 2nd book in the Legacy of God series. It begins right after a few weeks from the first book and we meet all the characters from “God of Malice”. Annika Volkov is a mafia princess, although she’s living her life peacefully while attending Royal Elite University but her future is destined to be in an arranged marriage unless she finds a suitable man on her own and falls in love.

Time’s running out and the best plan she came up with was to convince someone to fake date her. While grumpy, stone cold Creighton King only cares about his food and boxing he decides to help Annika with her plan because maybe slowly and forcefully she caught his attention. As they start fake dating, Creighton starts working on his mission to find the truth about his traumatic childhood and Annika convinces her parents that she’s in love.

9. The Emperor (Dark Verse, #3) by RuNyx

Tropes: childhood friends, Forbidden love, dual timeline, she fell first but he fell harder, ptsd

Okay so I actually love every book in this series equally buttttt Dante and Amara are my roman empire. Because I think about them almost every day and I’ve already lost count of how many times I’ve read the emperor and I’m dying to read “The Syndicater” by Runyx!! 

The Emperor is the 3rd book in the dark verse series and the books need to be read in order as the events of this book contain spoilers for the previous two. 

Checkout the reading guide, here.

It’s about Dante Maroni and Amara Rossi.Dante is a mafia heir to the notorious Tenebrae Outfit and Amara is the housekeeper’s daughter. She’s been in love with Dante since she was young and it becomes stronger over the years but she’s too shy to express her feelings.

At age 15, she gets kidnapped and tortured to death for the outfit’s information which she refused to reveal.But soon she’s rescued but her life is never the same as before and we experience the journey of her healing and growing up as a strong woman with the help of the man she dreamt her whole life about. It’s set in multiple timelines as it switches back to their childhood to adulthood. But there’s more to it as the main plot of the dark verse series gets stronger.

This book is really hard to explain because it needs to be read in order as the events of this book contain spoilers for the previous two. 

“You’re my magnum opus, Amara,” he told her, pressing his forehead against hers, a move that always brought the turmoil in him to a standstill. “And I am your humble servant.” “No,” she whispered, her words falling against his lips. “You are my emperor.”

10. Forget Me Not by Julie Soto

Tropes : Second chance, Dual Timeline, Grumpy x Sunshine  Florist x Wedding Planner, Midnight Rain x Sunshine, Forced Proximity

I just realized my favorite trope this year was sunshine x midnight rain. Which is actually a painful second chance romance, where the fmc is scared of her feelings. And this book nailed the trope + it was so Back to December by Taylor Swift coded.

Forget me not follow Ama Torres who’s an ambitious wedding planner and gets an opportunity that might change her career’s success but soon she realizes she has to work with the boy whose heart she broke 2 years ago. And the story goes on with Ama’s pov as present timeline and Elliot’s pov as past timeline and Elliot Bloom is the softest grump everrr, who has to take care of the flower shop his father left for him. No matter how much of a burden he thinks handling the business is, he secretly loves it because… “Flowers are better than people.” Also 1 extra star just for this book cover, like how pretty it is!! Also I’m really excited to read the rest of the book in this series. 

11. Caught Up (Windy City, #3) by Liz Tomforde

Tropes : MLB pitcher x Chef, baseball romance, single dad x nanny, coach’s daughter, he falls first, forced proximity

The Windy City Series just keeps getting better and better… And I had a really hard time choosing between the two books I read in 2023. Caught up is the 3rd book in the Windy City Series. (Check the series guide, here) It’s about Kai Rhodes and Miller Montgomery. Kai first appeared in book 2. He is the starting pitcher for Chicago’s MLB team and keeps firing all the nannies for his 15 month old son as he thinks they are not good for him.

Frustrated, Kais’ coach Monty decides to assign his daughter Miller to be in charge of taking care of Max for the summer. Miller is a high-end pastry chef who helps Michelin star restaurants fix their dessert programs, in hopes of earning a star and already has a 4 year waiting list. But this summer she’s burned out from her work and decides to take a break and visit her dad.

Thinking of the best solution Monty proposes his offer to Miller as she gets to spend time with him without worrying about travel in return for babysitting Max which she agrees to. They had a tough start as Kai has a hard time trusting but over the course of a few weeks they grow close to each other and set some rules as Miller is leaving soon.

I knew from chapter 1 I’m going to have a hard time saying goodbye to this book. I fell in love with all three of them from their meet cute in the elevator + the side characters!! Max is the cutest. And Kai… I wish I could just give him a hug He’s such a softiee sunshine boyyy with a painful past. He was everything opposite of what I thought he would be when I read him in book 2 and I’m really excited to meet them again in the upcoming books!!

12. Out on a limb by Hannah Bonam-Young

Tropes : Accidental Pregnancy, Friends to Lovers, Found Family, Disability Rep

Have you ever finished reading a book and thought you’ll never get anything as good as this and literally do anything to read it again for the first time? Because it was the exact thing I felt reading the entire book. I just didn’t want this book to end. I actually want to live inside this book forever. 

Out on a limb is a stranger to lovers, accidental pregnancy romance with disability reps. It follows Winnifred McNulty and Robert Durand short for Win and Bo who had their meet cute at a Halloween party dressed as pirates. But as life pushes them into an uncomfortable situation, which none of them were prepared for, they find some peace and comfort in each other. It was so simple yet it made me feel all sorts of emotions. Read my full review, here.

13. You with a view by Jessica Joyce

Tropes : Academic Rival to Lovers, Second Chance, Grief, Memories, Letters, Road Trip

And lastly, without any doubt my new favorite book of all time. 

If someone asked me what was the best book I’ve read this year I would probably take a long time to answer. But not this time because I would say You with a view in a heartbeat. 

Most people might  have loved and rated this book for the romance but for me it was everything I needed to survive this year. I lost my grandma this year just like Noelle in the book and had a really hard time coping with grief. I related to Noelle in so many ways and it was so comforting to read every single word in this book. It genuinely felt like a warm hug to me that  I didn’t know I needed. 

This book is about Noelle Shepard who was really close to her grandma and recently lost her. While going through her things,she found a letter and a few photographs which might be her gram’s young love. 

In order to find out the truth she posts about that on TikTok anonymously and the next morning her phone was blowing up with notification as the video got viral. At least her video got to the right person who might help her discover more (orrrr maybee too right as the person happened to be her old successful college nemesis “Theodore Spencer” she hates) despite her hateness she meets his grandpa “Paul” the man from gramps letter and discovers he and gram used to date back in college and they wanted to elope and go to their dream honeymoon road trip and be together forever but sadly couldn’t. 

So, Noelle decides to fulfill her unfinished dream and go on a road trip by herself and document the whole thing but Paul and Theo also decide to join her. 

As they begin their journey Noelle finds more about gram and Paul as he gives her a letter everyday, she starts photographing again which she didn’t have enough courage to resume after her grams death. 

I loved every single thing in the book, the grief, letters, memories, found family, banter, the second chance romance everything was absolutely perfect. I will never have enough words to describe this book and how much it means to me but I know it will be my favorite forever. 

And that’s my year in book’2023 wrap up. I had a really fun time pouring my heart into this post. If you’re still here I’m sending you a big warm hug, best wishes and hoping you’ll have a great year reading!!

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