I am a very slow reader. This is especially a problem when I read things for writer friends. They could have come out with two sequels before I give feedback on a first draft!  I see some posts of readers who read 50 or more books a year. Good for them!  I can’t imagine that.  So I am thrilled on my 2023 reading list because it has 25 books!  that is a huge amount for me!  I deliberately made more time for reading this year and also simultaneously listened to a couple of audiobooks. (yes, I count those!) 

Here is the list in no particular order. Most titles are linked to Bookshop.org. I receive no compensation from Bookshop.org, but if you purchase, you will be supporting the Andover Bookstore. The Andover Bookstore is the oldest, independent bookstore in the country, and happens to be in my town!

Scroll to the bottom to see my top 5 reads of 2023!



The Brutal Telling

I picked up a random book in this series a few years ago and fell in love with the quirky characters. I went back to book one in the series and am going through in order. This cozy mystery series takes place in a small village in Canada, with Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surete du Qubec always outsmarting the killer. There is also one season of a television series on Amazon Prime Video called “Three Pines” that is based on the books. Viva Gamache!

Bury Your Dead: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel

Another Three Pines novel.  These are so fun!

The Witch ELM

This Tana French novel follows a family and their secrets that surround an old Elm tree in the backyard of the family home. Tana French writes great crime/mystery novels and this one was very good. My favorite Tana French novel so far is, “The Likeness.”  check it out!


The First Death

I received this book in a Scribbler’s Subscription Box (a subscription box for aspiring writers).  In this story, Rowan Wolff works with her canine partner, helping do search and rescue missions. This one is twisty and so enjoyable.  I hope she writes more with these characters…especially the dog!


The House at the End of the World

What I liked most about this Dean Koontz thriller was the setting.  The heroine lives on her own Island and it just sounds heavenly.  Well, until something happens on a neighboring island to unleash a deadly…well, you will have to read it to find out.  This is not my favorite Dean Koontz novel, but it is an enjoyable read.


The Mysterious Affair at Styles: The First Hercule Poirot Mystery

My family and I took a trip to London in October and, of course, had to read a mystery from the queen of all mystery writers!  I love Hercule Poirot, and this is his first appearance in one of Christie’ s novels. 


Grave Descend

Hubby and I read this one because it involved SCUBA diving.  We dive together as a family on vacations and love to read about it. This was the first Micheal Crichton novel I have read. I have seen the movies based on his books, but never read one. This one was only ok. I enjoyed it and finished it, but it wasn’t really memorable. 


 Middle Grade


The London Eye Mystery

What happens when you send your cousin up in the London eye, but he doesn’t come back down?   Find out by reading this middle grade novel. This was fun, especially because my family traveled to London this year and got to ride The Eye!



Minerva Keen’s Detective Club

Another middle grade novel for research! James Patterson is not just for adults.  I found this mystery to be entertaining and clever.  I loaned it to a 5th grader friend of mine, and she loved it!


Historical Fiction


The Tumbling Turner Sisters: A Book Club Recommendation!

I really enjoyed this book!  It takes place between 1918 and 1920. It follows a family of sisters as they try to make money on the Vaudeville circuit. I enjoyed it because it is not a time period I read about often. Also, as a musical theater performer, I found the world of Vaudeville fascinating!


The War Pianist

This as a good read. It follows the characters in both London and Amsterdam during WWII. A pianist during WWII was a person who knew Morse Code and sent messages, usually in code.


Hour of the Witch

This story takes you into colonial America and what life was like for women of that time. I really enjoyed reading it for both the historical and page-turner elements.

The Second Mrs. Astor: A Heartbreaking Historical Novel of the Titanic

Knowing how the story ends did not take away from the enjoyment of this read. It is another fascinating time period, especially with all the social conventions of the day. 


Mr. Churchill’s Secretary

This was a fun read, or listen, as I listened to the audiobook.  I will likely read other Maggie Hope books.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

I never knew about the Pack Horse Librarians of the 1930s, who would travel via mule or horse to remote areas to deliver books and magazines to the poorest of people. Also, I never knew of the blue-skinned people of Kentucky. This book is wonderfully written, and very interesting. I loved it.


Diary of a Dead Man on Leave

A German man who has been living in Argentina returns to Germany as a Soviet, Communist spy.  It was slow in some places, but enjoyable.




If You Tell: A True Story of Murder, Family Secrets, and the Unbreakable Bond of Sisterhood

This story was a little tough to read because of the abuse this family suffered. It was interesting all the same.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

This is a no-nonsense, truth filled book. One of the best self-help books I’ve read.


The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession

This book was slow in places, but fascinating.  It made me want to start collecting rare books.


Hooked: How Crafting Saved My Life

This was a quick read that I really enjoyed.  Sutton Foster is one of my favorite Broadway stars, and it was interesting to hear how she “made it” on Broadway. I am also a crocheter so that just made it even more fun!


The family was supposed to take a trip to Ireland last summer, but it never worked out. In preparation for the trip, some of my husband’s work colleagues from Dublin suggested I read this. Having been to Ireland before and being of Irish decent, I found it hilarious and accurate.


Misc. Fiction


Malibu Rising

This was the first novel I have read by Taylor Jenkins Reid, and I will definitely pick up another. Well written, but slow in spots. it was enjoyable but not outstanding.


The Stranded

I received this book as part of my Scribbler’s box subscription. It is a YA dystopian novel that takes place almost entirely on a ship. It was an interesting premise and I enjoyed it very much.


Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: Reese’s Book Club (a Novel)

I had no idea what to expect with this novel, but I loved it. Eleanor’s quirky character is easy to like, and I enjoyed following her life while she really found herself. I won’t say more as I don’t want to give anything away.


Remarkably Bright Creatures: A Read with Jenna Pick

I love Octopus. My family was traveling to Australia for a family wedding and SCUBA trip, and I brought this book along. I borrowed it and had to return it when I was only about 1/4 of the way in. (slow reader problem).  So later I picked up the audiobook and finished it that way.  This is a really great book. So different as it is told partly from the point of view of Marcellus, a Giant Pacific Octopus.  It also has a lovely ending.  

My First Read of 2024

The first book I chose to read in 2024 is (drumroll) The Lions of 5th Avenue by Fiona Davis. (Stadium level cheering heard here).


The Lions of Fifth Avenue: A GMA Book Club Pick (a Novel) - Davis, Fiona
Bookshop. Org

This won’t be a review because I am a painfully slow reader. I am only 46% finished, according to my Kindle reader. However, I was excited about this book from the first chapter, and I know you will be too. I downloaded this book from Bookbub as one of their Ebook Bargains. If you are unfamiliar with Bookbub, you must check them out here: www.bookbub.com.

I love historical fiction and read a ton of WWII books. I chose this one because it is historical fiction but unrelated to WWII. It is a period in which I have read very little. By the title, I imagined it as a Gilded Age – esque story of the Wall Street Barons.  

I was tickled to find out the Lions referred to in the title are the lions in front of the New York Public Library! The first chapter takes place in 1913 when the superintendent of the brand-new New York Public Library moves in with his family. Yes! You read that right. He moved into the library with his family. When it first opened, there was a hidden, seven-room apartment in the library. Is it not a dream come true to live in one of the most stunning libraries in the world?


As I began the book, I imagined it had a similar appeal to the children’s book From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, where the children secretly live in a museum.

I won’t say much more about this read except that it is a dual timeline book that deals with women’s equality issues of the time and the mystery of a book theft.  

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? What is your first read of 2024?


Disclaimer:  The links provided lead to Bookshop.org. I do not receive any compensation from these links, but a portion of your purchase will go to support independent bookstores. For this post I have chosen the Andover Bookstore as the Bookshop.org affiliate. Andover Bookstore in Andover, MA is the oldest independent bookstore in the country.  

Snowy day, Not Snow Day

Two of the most glorious words in the English language, if you grew up in New England, are Snow Day! If there was a storm, we jumped out of bed, ran to the window, and hoped that the white ensemble worn by the trees, lawn, and pavement was enough to cancel school. We sat in front of the TV or radio and waited for the cancellation list to be announced. The city we lived in began with B, so we were close to the list’s start. If you missed it, you had to wait for the C towns, D towns, N, S, and Y towns till they ran it again!

When “No School in Brockton” was announced, we let out a whoop! In high school, I’d climb back into bed and fall back to sleep thrilled I had another day to study for my Latin exam! In elementary school, a perfect day would start with a bowl of Life Cereal and Leave It To Beaver reruns.

Snow pants, coats, and boots made us teeter through the snow to make angels, snowmen, and snowballs. After my dad and brothers shoveled the driveway, there were two perfect snow mounds left at the bottom for making forts and tunnels.

After the plows came, the hill on our street was full of children whizzing down on their wooden Flexible Flyers with the bright red runners. We went home for lunch soggy and cold, our faces bright red. After a Campbell’s Soup lunch, the seemingly endless afternoon stretched out with so many possibilities.

We had a perfect snowstorm this week (about 17 inches in my town). With COVID-19, however, my child’s school is working with a hybrid remote schedule. That means that those scheduled to be in the building can simply stay home, and everyone goes to school on computer. I know we will be happy in June when we don’t have to go extra days, but we missed the gift of a sudden day off.

After Hubby and I cleared the snow, we did come in soggy, tired with red faces. I made soup and lit a fire where my child and I worked for the afternoon. Although cozy, it still wasn’t the same.