Thursday, December 21, 2023

Year of Reading Recap: My Top Fifteen Reads of 2023

 It's hard to believe the year is almost over, and another year of reading is "in the books". Sorry, had to go there. 

I love to look back on my list of books read over the year, and decide what were my favorites. My method is based purely on which books really stayed with me, made an impact, or were books that I remember thinking WOW when I read them. 

I couldn't pick a top ten, so I had to go with my top fifteen reads for 2023. 

Here we go, from number fifteen down to my favorite read of the year. I've included the link to my review of each book:





























And my number one favorite read of 2023 is....



I read some wonderful books in 2023, even if I didn't get to everything I wanted to read. That's what 2024 is for--time to catch up and see what's coming on the horizon. 

I will be taking a blogging break until February so I can enjoy some time to chill, relax, and hunker down for January. 

Have a peaceful and joyful holiday season, a very Happy New Year, and I thank you all for reading my reviews and sharing your enthusiasm for reading with me. 


AKA The Bookalicious Babe

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

December Reads: YA Novels!

 I've been involved in a project with YA novels for the past few months so I've been reading so. many. YA. novels. 

I thought I'd highlight a few of my favorites. They're all a bit different, but each definitely tugged at my heart! 

Here they are in no particular order:

This will appeal to anyone who likes to read short stories. Each author writes at the end of the short story about their personal mental health experiences, which made the short stories more impactful for me. Issues include self-harm, anxiety, depression, grief, and much more. 

YA historical fiction centered around a young Japanese American teen living in the Pacific Northwest, and the fallout her family goes through in the days after Pearl Harbor as neighbors turn against neighbors. 

A young teen (Avery) has to move from Washington DC to a small town in the South when her grandmother's cancer takes a turn for the worst. Avery doesn't know her grandmother, but wants to learn her family history--which is deeply wrapped up in the black and white tensions that run through the town. 

Sports fans will love this novel set in Minnesota, where a young man with big talent has to lead his Native American basketball team to the state finals, all while grieving over his older brother's death and the expectations to live up to his brother's legacy. A study in grief, family dynamics, and tensions between Native Americans and the world they must navigate within a white world. 

This one got me fired up and angry pretty quickly. Definitely a hot button issue. A young woman finds herself pregnant and decides an abortion is the only answer. She must leave her Texas town with her boyfriend to get an abortion. Oh, it's a good one--this would make an excellent book club discussion.

This book had my heart from the first few pages. Ian lives on the last few acres of what was once a 300 acre family farm in Vermont. His mother is addicted to drugs, they have no money for food or heat, and Ian keeps it all to himself to stay on his family's land. His friendship with Gather, a very large dog that arrives at his home is the center of this novel about survival, family history, self-reliance, and learning to trust people. This was such a good book!!

If anything, my diving into YA books has reminded me that there are so many excellent stories just waiting to be read and shared. Don't forget to explore the YA section of your local library or bookstore. There are many gems out there!

Sunday, December 3, 2023

December Read: The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by Susan Wiggs


This is a quick, feel-good holiday romance complete with lots of doggies. The cover art is just so stinkin' cute! 

Brenda Malloy does not like Christmas. Not anything about it; especially now that she's found out her husband is cheating on her on Christmas Eve. She used to love Christmas as a child, until a family tragedy one Christmas Eve left her feeling guilty and full of grief. Now she's starting over again, and a volunteer gig with the local animal shelter is going to change her world. 

Brenda volunteers with a dog rescue organization in Houston, Texas. It's been a year since her terrible Christmas Eve, and she's divorced and moved on--kind of. A series of mishaps within the dog rescue organization give Brenda a chance to travel with twelve dogs to their new adoptive homes in Upstate New York--just in time for Christmas. Loading up the van and traveling with her friend Dolly, all seems to be going well until a snowstorm sends the van off the road and Dolly into the hospital. Now Brenda has to coordinate the delivery of all twelve dogs to their forever homes, get the van fixed, and drive home to Houston by herself. 

Enter handsome paramedic Adam Bellamy, who is immediately attracted to Brenda and is also the new owner of Olaf, a big doggie that loves to run, jump, and play. He's divorced, a single father, and ready to take a chance on a new love. If only Brenda wanted to stay in Avalon, and get into the Christmas spirit...

This was just pure fun to read. Lovely characters; the dogs are all sweet and add to the festive atmosphere. The town of Avalon is very Hallmark-ish and there are some bumps in the road to happily ever after, but it's a fun journey. If you want to read a gentle holiday romance, this is your ticket. 

Rating: 4/6 for a quick romantic holiday read chock full of dogs and holiday spirit. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio book.