Happy Friday and welcome to my first post for my annual Blogmas of 2023!

The categories I chose today are: thriller/crime/mystery and dark academia!

The books mentioned below might not have been published in 2023 but I have read them in 2023.

Thriller/crime/mystery

First in the “classic” or “serious” crime mystery, my favorites read in 2023 are:

I listened to the audiobook and it was a stellar 5 stars!

The plot was very well crafted. Everyone has secrets and the story kept me enthralled from the very beginning. I also said that my emotions were raging when reading and I changed theories at least every minute in the last part of the story.
I found “who did it” but very late in the story to be honest.
Every character felt absolutely real and I could picture them like I would if I watched a movie.

One of my notes says: “who to trust???” and that’s really how I felt in that mind boggling crime story.

This was extremely well done and the interpretation that Sarah Zimmermann did of the story was stellar.

I definitely recommend that one if you are an amateur of the genre and that won’t be the last book that I’ll read from that author!

I listened to the audiobook and here again, it was a 5 stars!

Knowing that this book was a first work makes me respect Stacy Willingham even more! You don’t have many flaws in the story even if I had guessed “who was doing it” and some major twist.s
I guess reading more thrillers and crime, I become better at the guessing game.

But the use of Chloe as an unreliable narrator had me second guessing everything!

A Flicker in the Dark is a psychological thriller full of atmosphere and impending doom. After all, girls keep disappearing again so it’s a race against he clock to catch the copycat!

From the very beginning, we feel a tense and threatening presence lurking in the shadows, and that put me on edge instantly. If I had indeed guessed the killer correctly, this was still such a game of smoke and mirrors that I revised my theory a lot of time! Let’s also add that the characters were well fleshed-out, complex and the relationships were extremely realistic as well. Finally, the family drama hit just right in the face!

I warmly recommend that book if you love thriller/crime stories and the audiobook narrated by Karissa Vacker is an excellent choice!

6 resounding stars!

Narrators: Nicola Walker and Louise Brealey

First of all, this book is meant to be listened to instead of read!
The story centering around a podcast is just perfect being narrated with sound effects, added interviews and BBC broadcast. Audiobook is just the perfect format for that particular story.
And both narrators plus all the guests did an amazing job bringing that story to life!

Second: this was my first Lisa Jewell and it won’t be my last! I just know that I have found a new favorite author and I am going to binge read her back titles!

I have heard many say that this might be the best Lisa Jewell’s story and I can say that I had literal goosebumps listening to it!

The atmosphere becomes suffocating.
It really was like watching a movie and knowing that something bad is about to happen. You want to shout to the hero to stop, and “Don’t do it because this is a bad idea!”. You are afraid to reach the end of the story because you have no idea how this could end happily and yet… you just can’t stop reading!
Because that’s gripping and you HAVE to know what will happen.

It was brilliant. It was more than intense. It gave me shivers and goosebumps. It elevated my heart rate and my blood pressure. It left me breathless, shocked and in awe.

I absolutely recommend this one if you love thrillers and true crime.

And do me a favor: listen to it!

In “classic” mystery/thriller/crime, I have some honorable mentions for:

In the cozy/funny crime/ mystery, my vote goes to:

5 stars

That series continues to delight me!

I flew through that audiobook and even listened to it in bed instead of reading a physical book!
Amy Dawes makes an amazing job of bringing to life that story and making Finlay, Vero, Nick’, Deliah s voices and plenty others

What truly makes these books irresistible is the hilarious and wild tandem between Finlay and her nanny/accountant Vero! These two together are both a hot mess and a force to be reckoned with!

A lot is happening all the time and there is never a dull moment in the book.

I am always swinging between incredulity at the unthinkable bad luck attaching itself to the due and extreme delight because our heroines take everything in stride, improvising with gusto!
They are like cats, always landing on their feet even when everything seems hopeless!

If you fancy a hilarious mystery featuring a divorced mom and her feminist, hot headed sidekick, go for this series and do you a favor: choose the audiobook!

Special mention in that category for:

Dark Academia

I have read several “dark academia” books this year and two of them really stood out!

All the stars!

I have read and reviewed that book in French but I’ll give you here below some of my conclusion.

What really impressed me is how steadily the tension was rising, to the point that I forgot the world and that I held my breath all the time! I nearly missed my train stop as I was completely immersed in that dark story!

From a tight knit group of friends we slowly dive inot violence and chaos. From drama on scene we go to real life drama. Step by step, one key moment after the other, the violence displayed by one character forces the others to react accordingly.

Secrets are suffocating and drive to madness.

It’s brilliant dark academia with every human emotion heightened: passion, love, hate, violence, jealousy, guilt. These characters love and hate, sacrifice some and self-sacrifice for others.

It’s intense, breathtaking, bloody and dramatic.

All the stars!

This is the sequel to Ninth House and they must be read in order!

The most surprising and alluring will be Darlington, the gentleman demon.
I said it in the first book, I fell for Darlington and I am still his enthusiastic fan here! This will be the proof of his iron will and sense of chivalry and self-sacrifice.
“I will serve you ’til the end of days.”
Expect several huge surprises and twists in the book!

Most of the characters are in shades of grey and Alex (Galaxy) Stern is their queen! Nothing is clearcut. And I love it! I said it in Ninth House and I am saying it again!

There is magic, a quest, plenty of twists, character growth, sacrifices, secrets and lots of surprises! And now, I want the sequel!
Let’s just hope that we won’t need to wait for nearly four years to read it!

Last parting words: Lauren Fortgang’s narration was impeccable as always!

As you can see, most of my “winners” in these categories are audiobooks. I think a good narrator adds a lot to the genre!

What were your favorites in these categories? Do we have some in common?

Thanks for reading!

Sophie

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