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The best books of 2023

This list is part of the best books of 2023.

We've asked 1,656 authors and super readers for their 3 favorite reads of the year.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

My favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Iron and Magic

Melody Johnson Why did I love this book?

I’ve been reading Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series all summer and loving every moment of each book, cover to cover.

Iron and Magic is the first installment of a spin-off series from Kate Daniels in which the villain from the main story actually becomes the hero. The complexity of character and thrilling suspense of such a well-crafted antihero was absolutely delicious. Coupled with a strong heroine who also flirts with the dark side, I found this first installment of The Iron Covenant series riveting.

Anyone who enjoys enemies-to-lovers, forced proximity, and marriage of convenience will devour this story, same as I did. 

By Ilona Andrews,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Iron and Magic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Iron Covenant Book 1

No day is ordinary in a world where Technology and Magic compete for supremacy…But no matter which force is winning, in the apocalypse, a sword will always work.

Hugh d’Ambray, Preceptor of the Iron Dogs, Warlord of the Builder of Towers, served only one man. Now his immortal, nearly omnipotent master has cast him aside. Hugh is a shadow of the warrior he was, but when he learns that the Iron Dogs, soldiers who would follow him anywhere, are being hunted down and murdered, he must make a choice: to fade away or to be…

My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of One Dark Window

Melody Johnson Why did I love this book?

I’ve always enjoyed young adult fantasy romance. For me, the chemistry between the hero and heroine, their tension and banter and longing, is much more important to the story than the spice level, and in those essential terms, Rachel Gillig unequivocally delivers.

In addition to a gripping YA romance, she also creates a magic system involving a deck of cards and folklore unique to her heroine’s world. With high stakes, court intrigue, and unspeakable secrets, One Dark Window is an exquisite page turner that had me biting my nails in suspense, swooning with romance, and breathless for more of both. Bonus, this is the first installment of a series, one in which I have soaring expectations.

By Rachel Gillig,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked One Dark Window as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


For fans of Uprooted and For the Wolf comes a dark, lushly gothic fantasy about a maiden who must unleash the monster within to save her kingdom—but the monster in her head isn't the only threat lurking.

Elspeth needs a monster. The monster might be her.

Elspeth Spindle needs more than luck to stay safe in the eerie, mist-locked kingdom she calls home—she needs a monster. She calls him the Nightmare, an ancient, mercurial spirit trapped in her head. He protects her. He keeps her secrets.

But nothing comes for free, especially magic.

When Elspeth meets…

My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of Aerie

Melody Johnson Why did I love this book?

I’ve always been a sucker for a heroine who can kick butt. Whether she’s a sharpshooter, master swordsmith, ninja, assassin, witch, or some combination of the above, I absolutely love watching girl power take center stage.

The heroine that S.E. Wendel crafts in Aerie hits all my favorite notes for a strong female lead while simultaneously—and heart-wrenchingly—managing to keep her grounded. Reminiscent of Brienne of Tarth, the heroine in Aerie is a loyal knight of the realm, betrayed by her superior officer and unfairly sentenced to a glorified babysitting duty in the distant and cold, abandoned far north.

Her emotions are raw and relatable: her homesickness, self-doubt, regret, pride, and rage at the injustice done to her and the women under her protection. I was engrossed by her story and nearly as desperate for her to find redemption as she was.

Plus, check out my book…

Beyond the Next Star

By Melody Johnson,

Book cover of Beyond the Next Star

What is my book about?

She wasn't dreaming, in a coma, having a mental breakdown, or in hell. She was abducted by aliens.

Before Commander Torek Renaar can return to active duty, he's ordered to purchase an animal companion to help relieve his PTSD symptoms. But having been a caretaker for and lost a loved one, keeping even one little human alive is a challenge he feels doomed to fail. It doesn't help that his animal companion is the newest, most exotic breed on the market, demanding constant attention, daily grooming, and delicate handling. If she doesn't die first in his incompetent care, she'll be the death of him.