Genevieve Cogman

Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books Read in 2023 #scifi #sciencefiction #fantasy #booklove

 

The Best in Science Fiction and Fantasy Books!

Here’s what I read and enjoyed in 2023. There were so many great reading adventures and very few I really didn’t like. What would you add to the list?

best sci-fi and fantasy books
Books that I Adored

These books made me say wow and were my absolute favorites.

System Collapse by Martha Wells

The only negative about this book is a long wait until the next. The 7th installment of Murderbot is as fabulous to get lost in as all the others. I’ll say no more because it’s so new. But it’s so, so good.

 

 

best science fiction book

Cake Eater by Allyson Dahlin

Recommended by a friend, who gushed over it. From the blurb, it’s not something I would have ever have picked for myself. But I’m so glad I read it. I absolutely loved this book. A retelling of Marie Antoinette in the year 3070, it’s extremely creative and got me all emotional. Not many books make me weep.

 

Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree

I love this book so much, I’ve read it three times and will definitely read it again. This cozy fantasy has so much charm and makes the creation of baked goods so fascinating. An escape without stress that’s hard to put down. I had to pre-order book 2.

 

 

Bookshops & Bonedust by Travis Baldree

Just as wonderful as the first book. So, so good.

 

 

 

 

best science fiction book

Something from the Nightside by Simon R. Green

Wow was this original and creative. It has such a distinctive voice, too. It’s noir detective story meets Neverwhere. This story is full of twists and turns and kept me turning the pages. I bought more of these treats.

 

 

best science fiction book

Noor by Nnedi Okorafor

I consumed this as an audiobook. The story unfolded in layer after layer and drew me farther and farther into the story. Original and awesome!

 

 

best fantasy book

A Starlet’s Secret to a Sensational Afterlife by Kendale Kulper

I couldn’t resist the title. Set in Hollywood in the 1930s, the two main characters have some extraordinary abilities to help them solve the murders of so many starlets. I have book 2 in my TBR. Yay! Delicious read!

 

Murder for the Modern Girl by Kendale Kulper

Another delicious read! Different characters and setting than the first in the series but the combination of ingredients was just as wonderful. More, please!

 

 

 

Fun and Impressive Science-Fiction and Fantasy Books

These reads were impressive and a ball to read!

best science fiction book

Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes

Wow. This book could have been an entire series by itself. The story was huge, fascinating, and full of drama and action. Sometimes action can be boring in a book. Not in this one! I consumed this as an audiobook. I plan to read book 2.

 

 

Prime Deception by Valerie Valdes

Book 2 in this series by Valerie Valdes. Just as fun as book 1. Definitely. Will read book 3. I’m hooked.

 

 

 

best science fiction book

Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits by Jason Pargin (David Wong)

Another highly original and creative story. The voice of the main character is extraordinary and sucked me in for the ride. I will definitely read more in this series.

 

 

best fantasy book

A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher

I love a story where the hero doesn’t believe much in herself and finds a way to become extraordinary. Not only that, but this novel takes a rather insignificant magic power and shows how something small can be made into something might. Wonderful read!

 

best fantasy bookThe London Seance Society by Sarah Penner

Audiobook. This story involved ghosts, the paranormal, and mystery. There were lots of twists and turns and pure fun. A very splendid book. I loved it so much, I went to see what else this author wrote. The Lost Apothocary was just as infectious. I didn’t include it solely because it wasn’t really sci-fi or fantasy.

 

best science fiction book

Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory by Martha Wells

Murderbot is my favorite book friend. This short story takes place between books 1 and 2 in the series.  It’s told from Murderbot’s new human friends on Preservation Station but hits all the right Murderbot notes. Definitley worth reading. I love Murderbot!

 

best science fiction book

Outpost by W. Michael Gear

Space! Yay! An abandoned colony on another planet. When a supply ship finally arrives, it finds a previous  supply ship in orbit. No one is on board and the colonists were never notified of it’s arrival. There are creepy alien critters, fascinating residents – some lovable, some not, and a huge mystery. Drama, drama everywhere. Book 2 is in my TBR.

 

best fantasy book

The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas

This is about four women who invent time travel. Then it becomes about a mysterious murder and how time travel affects the travelers. Totally engrossing!

 

 

 

best LitRPG book

Blight of the Necromancer by C. Rains

I fell in love with this series and wasn’t disappointed by the last book. It was wonderful to return to this world that I enjoy spending time in. My only complaint is it’s the last book.

 

 

 

Saturn Run by John Sandford and Ctien

This book is written in such an engaging way. It caught my interest and held it from the very beginning. It’s a little heavy on the description of engines and propulsion but the rest was just that good.

 

 

Other Books I Enjoyed Reading in 2023

This is the full list of books I read this year. Not all of them are sci-fi and fantasy. I like reading a wide range of genres. I’m a mood reader and pick up whatever I’m in the mood to read.

best science fiction and fantasy books

Jade City by Fonda Lee is another great sci-fi read. The characters are addicting.

In thrillers, I loved The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz. I couldn’t resist the title and was in the mood for spooky in October. This was a wild and very fun ride.

I fell in love with the writing of new-to-me author, Barbara Pym. She scratches an Austenesque type itch. So far I read Excellent Women and No Found Return of Love.

I also fell in love with Sarah Penner’s writing. The Lost Apothecary was phenonmenal. Waiting for her next book…

Wild Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. This tells the story of Mr. Rochester’s (Jane Eyre) wife. Gothic and poetice, this was a completely engrossing novel.

 

best science fiction and fantasy books

Agents of Light and Darkness by Simon R. Green. Book 2 in the Nightside Series. It was just as fun as the first. A very creative take on angels and the Holy Grail.

Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishtguru. Audiobook. This is set in a time of Bretons, Saxons, Knights and Dragons. Wonderful story.

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishtguru. Audiobook. Poetic, beautiful, and emotional telling of the life of a robot companion.

The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson. Set in rural Kentucky in the 1930s, this is a mesmerizing story of a blue-skinned woman who is a library delivery service. Emotional, touching, and beautifully written. Audiobook. I will look into whether this author has written anything else.

Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths. A very fun who dunnit.

The Sea-Ringed World by Maria Garcia Esperon. A collection of stories from indigenous peoples of the Americas. Wonderful. Audiobook.

The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg. Not pictured but this was a really great nonfiction about gender and culture in Afghanistan. The insights apply to any culture. Truly enlightening and worthwhile.

Prime Deceptions by Valerie Valdes – the fun and wild sequel to Chilling Effect.

Saturn Run by John Sanford and Ctien – a space race set not so far in the future to get to Saturn. Very enjoyable and a juicy mystery.

The Woman in Me by Britney Spears – a moving account of Britney’s life. So much of it is disturbing and sad.

For Santa’s Sake, Harlow by Gwen Gardner – a very fun cozy mystery with lots of good feels.

A very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna – a cozy fantasy with magical realism. Found family and lots of good feels.

Book of Sketches by Jack Kerouac – literary sketches of places Jack visited.

Murder for the Modern Girl by Kendall Kulper – supernatural mystery with some love. Loved it!

 

Other Wondrous Reads

These were other books I enjoyed reading during the year. There’s science fiction, fantasy, poetry, Jane Austen, and literature.

Mintari by Daniel Arenson. One of the better dinosaur novels I’ve read. I love my dinos! Set on another world in space, this was a great adventure. I’ll pick up the second book in this series eventually.

All Fools Day by Edmund Cooper. A dysptopian set in the future of 1981. It’s not the 80s as I remember them but this is a fun and wacky look at the end of civization as we know it. The sun puts out a new sort of energy that causes people to kill themselves, leaving only the divergent and the animals. Very original.

The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean. This is a haunting read that gives you things to think about. I really liked it. Very original

Binti Trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor. This was a great continuation of Binti’s story. I really like Okorafor’s stories. I’ll be reading more.

Parasite and Symbiont by Mira Grant. This would have been one of my outstanding reads but the book description ruins the story. So if you read this, don’t read the book description. It was a fun and original read anyway but would have been more fun if the book description hadn’t of ruined the twists and turns.

Polar Curse by Julie Flanders. The author has a very addictive way of writing. The story was hard to put down. I’ve read everything she’s written. Waiting for more…

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman. I find it hard to resist any book with ‘book’, library’, ‘bookshop’, etc… in the title. This is a great and original fantasy series with a sentient library that sends agents out into different universes to collect the books it wants. I’ll read more of this series. It’s very enjoyable.

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. This novel has echos of The Martian. I liked it best when the alien joins the story.

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Exciting space adventure. I thought it read a little young, but otherwise enjoyed it.

Gay Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen and Kate Christie. Using the original novel (which I never get tired of reading), Kate Christie mixes things up by making some of the star characters gay. It was a fun variation.

The Mayfair Bookshop by Eliza Knight. The story goes back and forth between a modern day fan of Nancy Mitford and the Life of Nancy Mitford. The switch in times mostly works, but Nancy’s story was way more compelling.

Miss Austen by Gill Hornby. Another audiobook. It told the fictionalized story of Jane Austen’s sister interspersed with memories of times with Jane.

Junkyard Ghost Revival. A book of modern poetry by Derrick Brown, Anis Mojgani, Buddy Wakefield, Robbie Q, Sonya Renee, Andrea Gibson, and Cristin O’keefe Aptowicz. Poetry is fodder for the soul.

The Seasons of the Soul. Poetry by Hermann Hesse. Hesse remains one of my favorite authors. I enjoyed getting to know him better through his poems.

Books that were Okay

 

Appleseed by Matt Bell. Audiobook. Fantasy. This was a rich and well written book. Very original. There’s a lot to like about it and it had a fabulous start. It was a very dense read and a bit verbose.

Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain by A. Lee Martinez. Creative and orignial I loved the beginning of this book. Then, I felt it became a bit one note.

In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune. Dystopian. This book also started great for me, too. Then I felt like Klune lost his way a bit and some of the logic didn’t track for me – unresolved threads and the like. It has its charms but I didn’t like it as much as The House on the Cerulean Sea. It became very predictable.

The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford. After reading The Mayfair Bookshop, I thought I should try a Nancy Mitford novel. The writing is completely engaging but I felt the POV (the main character’s cousin) kept me too distant from the MC. Thus, I felt very little for her. I would try another Mitford novel, though.

Underwhelmed

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. I like the parts where the author took us into her dystopian world. I did not like the part, which was a majority of the book, where we find out how it became the dystopian world.  I skimmed through those chapters, waiting for the story to start again. There was too little of the dystopian world part. Other folks seem to like it a lot. Shrug.

Chimera by Mira Grant. The 3rd in the Parasite series. I enjoyed the first two, but this one was just the same coversations and thoughts over and over. And challenges were met by doing the same things as before. There was nothing interesting about this third installment other than it concluded the series.

A Convenient Marriage by Georgett Heyer. My love of Jane Austen had me trying this author. She even uses Austen character names in the novel. Parts of it were enjoyable, but then she’d prattle on too long going into a plot that she already revealed the outcome of through another character’s POV. I just skipped through those chapters. When I’m next in the mood for some regency, I’ll try another of her books.

The Atlantis Code by Charles Brokaw. Antoher great start. It had lots of elements of the DiVinci Code and Indiana Jones. Fun! Then the characters devolved into immature and trite. What happened? I skipped through a lot of the last third of the book.

 

#Fantasy Worth Reading: The Invisible Library #BookReview

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman is a delightful cozy mystery fantasy. Cozy fantasy is my favorite genre of fantasy.

Irene is a Librarian who works for a mysterious organization called the Library. Her job is to travel to different worlds and collect rare books for the Library’s collection. Along the way, she teams up with a dashing apprentice named Kai for a mission to a very chaotic world. Chaos worlds are rife with fantastical creatures such as fae and vampires.

The concept of a library that exists outside of time and space, with the ability to travel to alternate worlds, is both intriguing and highly imaginative. The author does an excellent job of fleshing out the details from the different factions within the Library to the various magical creatures that inhabit the alternate worlds.

The characters in The Invisible Library are fabulously fun. Irene is strong and resourceful and is both competent and likable. Kai, her apprentice, provides a perfect complement for her, with his devil-may-care attitude and penchant for trouble. The relationship between the two is well-developed and provides a solid emotional anchor for the story.

The plot is well-paced and kept me engaged throughout. The mystery at the heart of the story is juicy, and the various twists and turns kept me guessing until the very end. The balance between action and exposition is wonderful.

Highly recommended! And, there are lots more books in this series. If you like the Thursday Next novels, you’ll enjoy this one. Here’s the blurb:

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of the different realities. Most recently, she and her enigmatic assistant Kai have been sent to an alternative London. Their mission: Retrieve a particularly dangerous book. The problem: By the time they arrive, it’s already been stolen.

London’s underground factions are prepared to fight to the death to find the tome before Irene and Kai do, a problem compounded by the fact that this world is chaos-infested—the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic to run rampant. To make matters worse, Kai is hiding something—secrets that could be just as volatile as the chaos-filled world itself.

Now Irene is caught in a puzzling web of deadly danger, conflicting clues, and sinister secret societies. And failure is not an option—because it isn’t just Irene’s reputation at stake, it’s the nature of reality itself…

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