I’m Jo A. Hiestand Author Of An Unwilling Suspect
Author Mystery novelist World War 2 espionage enthusiast Reader Cat parent
The best books of 2023

This list is part of the best books of 2023.

We've asked 1,199 authors and super readers for their 3 favorite reads of the year.

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My favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Prisoners of the Castle: An Epic Story of Survival and Escape from Colditz, the Nazis' Fortress Prison

Jo A. Hiestand Why did I love this book?

I’ve been intrigued with Colditz Castle, the German castle used to house WWII Allied prisoners, ever since watching the movie Escape From Colditz. Ben Macintyre’s book adds history to the basics of the movie, and makes it a living, breathing place.

The book reads like a thriller or spy novel more than a plain history. He populates the pages with many of the real prisoners and the German staff, giving them personalities and lives. Through this, the reader empathizes with many of the men and is drawn into the prisoner’s escape attempts and those among the group who secretly turn on them.

This really is the story of life-and-death and cat-and-mouse between the Germans and the prisoners, and plunges the reader into this world with fascinating detail.

By Ben Macintyre,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Prisoners of the Castle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'A master at setting the pulse racing' Daily Mail
'A fine feat of storytelling . . . will surely become the last word on the subject' Telegraph


Colditz Castle: a forbidding Gothic tower on a hill in Nazi Germany. You may have heard about the prisoners and their daring and desperate attempts to escape, but that's only part of the real story.

In Colditz: Prisoners of the Castle, bestselling historian Ben Macintyre takes us inside the walls of the most infamous prison in history to meet…

My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of SAS: Rogue Heroes - The Authorized Wartime History

Jo A. Hiestand Why did I love this book?

This is a detailed, captivating story of SAS, Britain’s secret special forces that was founded in WWII to parachute men behind enemy lines to sabotage the Nazis. 

The book showcases the founding members and many of their missions and tells why the unit changed from being paratroopers to becoming “rogues” who sabotaged the enemy. These men were all volunteers, and their skill and sheer willpower to help win the war in the desert is remarkable. The hardships they endured are jaw-dropping, which made their determination and successes all the more amazing.

By Ben Macintyre,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked SAS as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The book behind the BBC series 'SAS: Rogue Warriors'

From the secret SAS archives, and acclaimed author Ben Macintyre: the first ever authorized history of the SAS

In the summer of 1941, at the height of the war in the Western Desert, a bored and eccentric young officer, David Stirling, has a vision for a new kind of war: attacking the enemy where they least expect it - from behind their own lines.

Despite the intense opposition of many in British High Command, Winston Churchill personally gives Stirling permission to recruit the toughest, brightest and most ruthless soldiers he can…

My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History

Jo A. Hiestand Why did I love this book?

Many people know of the art thefts conducted by the Nazis in WWII.

In this book, Edsel reveals the story of tracing these treasures through the POV of the Monuments Men, the special group of American and British men tasked with identifying and rescuing these stolen art treasures. The unfolding of their struggles and the location of these art pieces is fascinating – done behind enemy lines while the war still raged.

It was literally a race against time in some instances, as when they were trying to locate the hoard eventually found in the Austrian salt mine, for it was scheduled to be blown up. A gripping, true tale of a “mission impossible” that reads like a thriller – but the main thrill is that it’s real.

By Robert M. Edsel,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Monuments Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What if I told you that there was an epic story about World War II that has not been told, involving the most unlikely group of heroes?
What if I told you there was a group of men on the front lines who didn't carry machine guns or drive tanks; a new kind of soldier, one charged with saving, not destroying.
From caves to castles in a thrilling race against time, these men risked their lives…

Plus, check out my book…

An Unwilling Suspect

By Jo A. Hiestand,

Book cover of An Unwilling Suspect

What is my book about?

McLaren’s fiancée tragically died one month ago. Trying to heal emotionally from her death, McLaren settles into a rented farmhouse in the woods near picturesque Lake Windermere, in Cumbria. But he’s barely had a chance to rest when Helen, the woman in the neighboring cottage, is killed…and is discovered near his front door. Because McLaren had spent much of the previous day with her, and his snowy footprints lead to and from her house, he becomes the prime murder suspect in what the police label a frustrated romantic advance.

Can McLaren find the killer before the police arrest him for murder?

I read 14 books this year.