I love to read. Books carry me away to other times and places, or teach me about interesting things. Most of all, they give me insight into others’ lives. I gain understanding and empathy from every book I read. Here are my favorites from 2023; some were published this year, and some I just got to reading this year.
Books for Adult Readers:
Dragon’s Instinct by Elva Birch (Adult Shifter Romance)
It’s hard enough to be a single dad of a two-year-old—it’s even harder when she’s a fire-breathing squirrel shifter. Can Ian keep his secrets from the new neighbor Olivia, and should he when his dragon is sure she’s the one?
Olivia comes to teach in a small town, unaware of the magic there. After her cat catches a shifter squirrel girl, she gets a job at a shifter day care, and finds love and belonging where she least expects it.
This paranormal romance is a delightful romp in a shifter world. I loved the romance and the kid and cat shenanigans! It is part of the Day Care for Shifters series but is fine to read as a standalone.
Playing with Myself by Randy Rainbow (Adult Memoir)
I'm a Randy Rainbow fan, so had to get his memoir as soon as I heard about it. The book is everything I hoped for--funny, informative, and heartwarming.
Books for Teens and Adults:
Man o’ War by Cory McCarthy (YA Coming of Age with Romance)
This is the newest addition to my favorite book list! River McIntyre is drawn to the Sea Planet theme park. When they meet a happy queer person there, they start a journey through gender dysphoria to self-acceptance and true love. Heart-wrenching at times, hysterically funny at others, you’ll be glad you joined River on their coming-of-age trip.
Thanks to McCarthy for writing such a brilliant, life-giving book.
With Or Without You by Eric Smith (YA Romance)
To drum up business for their families’ rival food trucks in Philly, Cindy and Jordan pretend to hate each other. Only a few people know they are actually girlfriend and boyfriend. The arrangement works pretty well until a producer offers to feature their feud on a reality TV show. Their families could use the money, so they say yes. Will their secret get out and ruin their chance at fame and fortune? Can they hold their relationship together when circumstances threaten to break it apart?
The combination of heart, wit, and well-rounded characters make this another brilliant book by Eric Smith. He truly rocks.
All the Forever Things by Jolene Perry (YA Romance)
Gabe's bestie Bree is the only one who isn't weirded out by Gabe's family business--a funeral home. She can get through high school with Bree's help, until Bree falls for the bad-boy local bully. Now Gabe's alone, struggling to figure out what to do about the odd guy who keeps showing up at work.
This book deals with death, but the humor keeps it lighter than you might expect.
Sword in the Stars by Cory McCarthy and A.R. Capetta (YA Fantasy Romance)
Loved this sequel to Once & Future! The amazing Capetta and McCarthy have done it again with a heady mix of adventure, romance, found family and more.
I recommend you read Once & Future first to get the full queer King Arthur in space experience. You won’t regret spending time with these two books, and they will probably make your favorites list, like they have mine-- fabulous, fun, inclusive, hopeful reads.
How to Excavate a Heart by Jake Maia Arlow (YA Romance)
This is a YA Jewish sapphic romance perfect for science nerds and anyone who enjoys enemies to lovers romance. And I haven't even mentioned the strong family and feminist vibes--there's so much to enjoy here!
The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen by Isaac Blum (YA Coming of Age)
Isaac Blum's debut is a brilliant coming of age story about a goofy Orthodox Jewish boy who falls for the gentile daughter of the mayor who wants his community out of their town. (Content Warning: violent antisemitic attack)
Kate in Waiting by Becky Albertalli (YA Romance)
Theater nerds and best friends Kate and Andy share everything, even crushes. Then mutual crush Matt shows up at their high school and lands a part opposite Kate in the musical.I loved the friendship and the theater stuff and the romance--it all worked together to make this the cutest book I've read in a while.
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