The final month of the year has come and it’s time to review the books that I read in December 2023, the final books of the year.
This month was a good month, especially two of the books I rounded the year out with. I was hooked, reading both 500+ page books in 48 hours.
Here are the ratings and reviews of the books that I read in December 2023. As always, you can follow my reading in realtime over on Goodreads.
The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager
Casey Fletcher, a recently widowed actress trying to escape a streak of bad press, has retreated to the peace and quiet of her family’s lake house in Vermont. Armed with a pair of binoculars and several bottles of liquor, she passes the time watching Tom and Katherine Royce, the glamorous couple who live in the house across the lake. They make for good viewing—a tech innovator, Tom is rich; and a former model, Katherine is gorgeous. One day on the lake, Casey saves Katherine from drowning, and the two strike up a budding friendship. But the more they get to know each other—and the longer Casey watches—it becomes clear that Katherine and Tom’s marriage is not as perfect and placid as it appears.
My rating: ★★★★
I had seen this book all over Booktube during the summer and had been very intrigued to get my hands on it. I love a thriller/mystery novel and Riley Sager’s name was one that I was hearing a lot. I finally spotted the book in my library and read it in December. I did enjoy it, with all its twists and turns. It did get quite far-fetched towards the end which put me off a little, but it was enjoyable all the same.
Idol by Louise O’Neill
For Samantha Miller’s young fans – her ‘girls’ – she’s everything they want to be. She’s an oracle, telling them how to live their lives, how to be happy, how to find and honour their ‘truth’. And her career is booming: she’s just hit three million followers, her new book Chaste has gone straight to the top of the bestseller lists and she’s appearing at sell-out events. Determined to speak her truth and bare all to her adoring fans, she’s written an essay about her sexual awakening as a teenager, with her female best friend, Lisa. But then – years since they last spoke – Lisa gets in touch to say that she doesn’t remember it that way at all. Her memory of that night is far darker. It’s Sam’s word against Lisa’s – so who gets to tell the story?
My rating: ★★★
Another book that I had seen a lot during the summer, and that I remembered Jack Edwards had read, was sitting in my library ready to be read. A book centred around a famous social media influencer/guru that shone a light on how quickly someone can build a following, and also how quickly they can lose it. An interesting storyline, but I felt like it could have been told a lot better.
The Maid by Nita Prose
Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by. Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life’s complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. But Molly’s orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanour has the police targeting her as their lead suspect.
My rating: ★★★★
And yet another book that I had seen everywhere this year and that has been topping the Amazon charts for a while, I actually picked this book up in Hay on Wye, the world’s first ever book town. While I was reading it, I realised how much I love reading about hotels and also realised how much I missed the hotel I used to work in/grew up in. This was a really good book, but the main character reminded me a little of Eleanor Oliphant and I’m not sure if the book was favourable towards her. A good mystery all the same and I can definitely see this being adapted into a TV show soon.
Survive the Night by Riley Sager
Behind the wheel is Josh Baxter, a stranger Charlie met by the college ride share board, who also has a good reason for leaving university in the middle of term. On the road they share their stories, carefully avoiding the subject dominating the news – the Campus Killer, who’s tied up and stabbed three students in the span of a year, has just struck again. Travelling the lengthy journey between university and their final destination, Charlie begins to notice discrepancies in Josh’s story. As she begins to plan her escape from the man she is becoming certain is the killer, she starts to suspect that Josh knows exactly what she’s thinking.
My rating: ★★★
Another book I picked up in Hay on Wye, a bookshop that actually only sold murder-mystery and crime novels. Since I enjoyed my first Riley Sager book at the beginning of this month, I decided to opt for another. Even though the story mainly took place inside a car, it stayed interesting and unexpected. There were times when I felt like screaming at the main character for putting herself in stupid situations, but I had cracked the twist at the end just before it came. With so many little characters, it became a little obvious.
Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros
Twenty-year-old Violet Sorrengail was supposed to enter the Scribe Quadrant, living a quiet life among books and history. Now, the commanding general—also known as her tough-as-talons mother—has ordered Violet to join the hundreds of candidates striving to become the elite of Navarre: dragon riders. But when you’re smaller than everyone else and your body is brittle, death is only a heartbeat away…because dragons don’t bond to “fragile” humans. They incinerate them. With fewer dragons willing to bond than cadets, most would kill Violet to better their own chances of success. The rest would kill her just for being her mother’s daughter—like Xaden Riorson, the most powerful and ruthless wingleader in the Riders Quadrant. Yet, with every day that passes, the war outside grows more deadly, the kingdom’s protective wards are failing, and the death toll continues to rise. Even worse, Violet begins to suspect leadership is hiding a terrible secret.
My rating: ★★★★★
I am not a fantasy reader and never really have been (aside from Harry Potter of course) but I just had to see what the fuss was about with this book and oh my word, it did not disappoint. I’m so glad there’s a second book in this series and that it’s already available because this will be one of the first things I read in 2024, that’s for sure. So, even if you’re not a fantasy reader like I thought I wasn’t, I think you’re going to love this.
Daisy Haites by Jessa Hastings
All 20-year-old Daisy Haites has ever wanted is a normal life, but as the heiress to London’s most notorious criminal empire, it’s just not on the cards for her. Raised by her older brother Julian since their parents were murdered, Daisy has never been able to escape the watchful gaze of her gang-lord brother. But Julian’s line of work means that Daisy’s life is… complicated. And things don’t become any easier when she falls hard for the beautiful and emotionally unavailable Christian Hemmes. Christian’s life is no walk in the park either, since he’s in love with his best friend’s girlfriend, Magnolia Parks. He’s happy enough to use Daisy to throw off the scent of his true affections – until she starts to infiltrate those too. As their romance blossoms into something neither were anticipating, Daisy, Christian, and Julian must come to terms with the fact that in this life everything comes at a price. As their relationships intersect and tangle, they all learn that sometimes life’s most worthwhile pursuits can only be paid in blood.
My rating: ★★★★★
I want to stay in the Magnolia Parks Universe forever. I’m actually dreading when they make this into a TV series or movie series because I have the characters in my head and I just know they’re going to ruin it. I’m tempted to even say that I preferred Daisy Haites over Magnolia Parks, but the whole book had me screaming for Daisy and Christian to stop being so stubborn and be together. It was definitely a frustrating book, but I couldn’t put it down for 48 hours. Obsessed.
A Winter in New York by Josie Silver
When Iris decides to move to New York to restart her life, she realizes she underestimated how big the Big Apple really is—all the nostalgic movies set in New York she’d watched with her mom while eating their special secret-recipe gelato didn’t quite do it justice. But Bobby, Iris’s best friend, isn’t about to let her hide away. He drags her to Little Italy, and a little family-run gelateria catches her eye—could it be the same shop that’s in an old photo of her mother’s? Curious, Iris returns the next day and meets the handsome Gio, who tells her that the shop is in danger of closing. His uncle, sole keeper of their family’s gelato recipe, is in a coma, so they can’t make more. When Iris samples the last remaining batch, she realizes that their gelato and her gelato are one and the same. But how can she tell them she knows their secret recipe when she’s not sure why Gio’s uncle gave it to her mother in the first place?
My rating: ★★★
I was disappointed from the very first line of the book as it set the scene at ‘Logan’s Bookstore’. Now, you’ll know that I know every single bookstore there is in New York City and I knew right then that Logan’s bookstore didn’t exist. I was hoping to read this book and be transported to places I know, but only a few earned a mention throughout the book. It was a very cute rom-com but I did find the main character quite selfish – why wouldn’t she share the ice cream recipe so the gelateria wouldn’t be at risk of closing?