Welcome to my blog post for April!
At the time of this writing, it's April Fool's Day 2023! Thankfully, I have not been fooled with the books I've selected as ones that I thought I would enjoy, so far in 2023! They've all been wonderful, and I feel I’m getting better at choosing books that would be nominal four and five star reads for me.
Just as in 2022, I thought this point of the year would be a great time to mention my top ten reads for 2023 to-date. I have finished reading twenty-seven books so far according to Goodreads this year, but this does not include various Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs) for books that are not yet posted on Goodreads. I have a lot of amazing reads planned on my TBR, for 2023, which I am so excited about!
To be clear, all twenty-seven plus books I have read thus far in the year are all very good, and this was an extremely difficult list to compile. Any of the twenty-seven plus books could have easily made this list, and the gap between my personal ranking is by miniscule degrees.
What it comes down to, as with anything else, is personal taste, and personal tastes are subjective. I feel it is important to note that every single one of those twenty-seven plus books I have rated at an average five-star rating, so they were all truly outstanding books. I encourage you to check out my Goodreads TBR, you might find the perfect book for you, among those that did not make my top reads.
This list is VERY likely to change as the year progresses, as some books are added instead of the current ones, while no doubt some will remain. There are so many great books out there! Which makes for wonderful reading. My list is in NO particular order - I have not ranked any of these books above the other - yet.
At year’s end I will compile two separate lists of top books: one for traditionally published, and one for self-published. On this early top reads list, however, there is no distinction between trad and self-pub books, they are all mixed together.
Without further ado, here is the list!
THE WAY OF EDAN
The attention to detail and loving care with which Chase describes especially pastoral settings, armour and weapons, and classic inn-by-the wayside for weary travellers on the many sojourns through the countryside that occur in the book, will delight lovers of Jordan-esque high fantasy.
Five books into my favourite fantasy series of all-time by my favourite author of all-time and I continue to be amazed at just how incredible this series is. Astounding worldbuilding, glorious prose that transcends even the best writing I’d previously read in the genre, hauntingly compelling themes, and masterclass storytelling comes with any Janny Wurts work, and her books provide me everything I could ever want from a fantasy novel.
One of the most original SFF books I've read in a long time, about a fight for survival, ecological preservation and preservation of ancient magical species, intrigue, espionage, daring missions, raw ambition, revenge, justice, and more, this book took me by surprise. Read it for the Selkie's alone, but you'll be thrilled with the rest of this astonishingly good book, and where it takes you, in unexpected, and exciting directions.
A QUIET VENGEANCE
The author crafts a spellbinding tale focused on two people from the opposite ends of the social spectrum, thrown together unexpectedly by a traumatic event early in life, who later encounter each other in very different circumstances. Both main characters are highly flawed, but with enough redeeming qualities that the reader will root for them to survive, and thrive.
The passionate obsession and longing, and simultaneous loathing and shame; the haunting and tragic dreams foreshadowing the characters' fates; the religious and political machinations surrounding the holy war, religious conservatism, dogma, and zealotry; the tribal strife; the riveting fight scenes; the sex, lust, love, and romance; the struggle against one's deepest fears, the conflicted loyalties - it was all delicious, expertly written, and just had me salivating for more.
Coming-of-age, epic high fantasy, combined with very compelling themes, fabulous worldbuilding, outstanding character work, and the type of jaw-dropping fight scenes we have come to expect from the master of writing combat who is Miles Cameron, this gritty and realistic first installment into “Masters and Mages” smashes, and I’m all in for the rest of the series!
FINDING YOUR WAY
"Finding Your Way" is a rare novel that will transport you to a wondrous country you might not have been to before, written from a fascinating perspective, with awesome characters, elegant prose, and delightful story of a girl entering womanhood, with all its adult freedom and responsibilities. I was happy to take part in Zanda's journey.
Few books, especially few books that are this short in length, are capable of bringing me to tears more than once during the entire reading. Janny Wurts' plaintive, stunning, glorious novella, "The Gallant" was definitely one of those rare books. It tore at my sensitivities in a way that was so astonishing and deeply emotive that I will remember this book, forever.
THE CHILDREN OF GODS AND FIGHTING MEN
Historical fantasy full of fascinating female perspectives, deliciously morally grey characters, sumptuous Irish folklore and mythology, wonderful political intrigue, mysticism, and smoothly flowing prose, “The Children of Gods and Fighting Men” (book one in “Gael Song”) by Shauna Lawless, is a beautiful novel that will suck you into its pages, and refuse to let you wriggle away from its grasp.
A struggle to control jade, a spider's web of political intrigue with huge geopolitical implications, mixed with harsh organized crime machinations, naked ambition, brutality, codes of honour, loyalty, duty, family, murder, tragedy, sacrifice, and redemption, this book deserves all the accolades and more. An urban fantasy masterpiece that can stand up proudly beside gangland classics such as "The Godfather" for its portrayal of life behind the curtain of a mob family.
Please feel free to comment on this and future blogs and I will be sure to get back to you. Chat soon!
P.L. Stuart's Blog
I am a Canadian high fantasy author. My debut novel, A Drowned Kingdom - first in The Drowned Kingdom Saga, is now available! Book 2 in The Drowned Kingdom Saga, The Last of the Atalanteans, is now available here!