Following up from 2023 in books, where I focused on what the changes to my reading habits did to the statistics, this journal entry is more about what I’ve been reading. In particular, those I consider most worth mentioning 😁.
Best books I’ve read in 2023
The number one best book I’ve read this year, is definitely part one of the Dark Lord of the Farmstead. It’s a relatively wholesome and romantic story that tugs at the ol’ heartstrings while making you laugh. I literally binge read it in like two nights or something. I laughed a lot, smiled a lot, and it almost made me cry. It was great.
The next best book that I’ve read is arguably Holdouts, or part two of The Vixen War Bride Series. In part two, we see the paths of our hero and heroine cross and intersect wonderfully as “Maybe it’ll be peaceful” turns into the opportunity for a tragedy. What made this the best in the series for me, is Ramirez and Alzoria. These are both supporting characters whose capture kicks the story into gear for the main characters, and quite frankly I love that Ramirez is very much true to himself no matter the situation they find themselves in. Part two is his moment to shine.
Honorable mention also goes to Dead Tired, which made me laugh so much that if I would include it under “Best books …” if I had the inclination to pick a third best book and somehow didn’t pick another from The Vixen War Bride series. Dead Tired isn’t likely to be the most memorable book ever, but I laughed a lot and I appreciate the main character’s sense of humor. Therefore, it was one of the best books I’ve read this year because I rolled on the floor laughing my ass off (^_^).
Best series I’ve read in 2023
Definitely The Vixen War Bride series. When I came across the series in search of fresh books to read, I figured it could be an interesting read. Well, I ended up binge reading most of the books in the series. The author seems to be more well versed in American military history than most, with nods both to occupied Japan and Afghanistan. I found the characters most often the best part of the entire story. I absolutely loved the comedy caused by cultural misunderstandings and that the Va’Shen world isn’t quite like ours. As a story, there are plenty of opportunities for the plot to go in different ways and above all, I think how it plays out is based on the notion that we can indeed get along if we try to understand each other rather than fear the differences or feed our hate.
Plus, if my spirit animal was an alien fox woman: it would definitely be Sho’Nan — my favorite character. The sassy chef is one of the heroines closest friends and a rather unique personality, one that we don’t tend to see often enough in literature IMHO. Now, go read the series, shoo, shoo 😛
Most binged series I’ve started in 2023
I’ve ended up reading quite a few light novels, between my existing taste in isekai anime and fantasy I suppose that was natural. But the series that I binged the hardest on this year was The Strange Adventure of a Broke Mercenary.
After his mercenary outfit is wiped out, Lorin finds himself becoming an adventurer and, as a side effect of being a decent guy placed in a horrible situation when his temporary party is wiped out by goblins, ends up indebted to the demonic priest Lapis. The misadventures of Lorin and Lapis are so entertaining that I basically binge read every volume I could get my hands on, and I quite enjoyed the colorful characters as well as the antics they get involved in.
The print version of volume 9 is expected in June, which means I’ll likely be groaning until at least then, wanting the Kindle version to receive a release target date.
Series I’m most looking forward to continue in 2024
There are plenty of series that I’ve been reading over the past couple years as new volumes are released or as I cycle back and return to reading the next volume. But aside from the most binged series above 😁, there’s a few that I’ve started this year and look forward to continuing in the new year. But one of these stands out a bit higher than the rest.
The Calamitous Bob was a book that I had bought, started the first few chapters, and drifted off for some months. When I came back to it again and actually started to read it, I found its whacky sense of humor grew on me. Viviane ends up in an undead holocaust zone after her soul is transmuted into another world, thanks to a deity who cheated on his goddess and needed to find another world to hide in until the rage passes.
So we end up with poor Viv, stuck in the relic of a long dead empire with barely the hair on her head and undead horrors lumbering all about the destroyed imperial city. If she doesn’t find water, she’ll die. If she doesn’t find a way out of the dead zone, she’ll die. There’s a lot of problems to overcome. Combine this with an experimental strike Golem who christens her the last heir to the empire to subvert his programming to save them both, and the pronunciation problems of a language that doesn’t have sounds for “Vivienne”, she becomes the Princess Bob and sets out across the dead lands in search of survival and a means to heal her injured soul.
Did I mention that she tames a young dragon and becomes a mage specializing in black mana? Yep. From a French combat medic to the unexpected leader of a city state bordering the dead lands, it’s a wild, whacky, and amusing adventure well suited to the long form serial. I’m also pretty sure the author is a little crazy, but the story makes me go squeee.
Most likely, I’ll be starting both part 3 of Dark Lord of the Farmstead and book 4 of The Calamitous Bob before the year is out, but may not finish them until January. Perhaps also Dead Tired II, which was just released. Hmm.