The fantasy books I read as a new mom in 2023

The fantasy books I read as a new mom in 2023

I haven’t posted in a while and, weirdly, I feel compelled to write about all the books I read as new mom in 2023. Why? Because I read a shit ton of books in 2023 (and most of 2022) thanks to my lovely baby daughter. Not only did she sleep horribly and needed to be held throughout the night for most of 2022, she refused to nap unless she was in human contact. In other words, I spent many hours holding a baby in one arm and a cell phone in the other.

I am listing specifically fantasy books because that’s my jam, but will throw in an extra non-fantasy bonus book here and there.

Let’s start with the Absolute Gems. The books that, in my opinion, take the genre to a whole new level.

The Mirror Visitor Quartet

This series is my hands down favorite of the decade. Weird, quirky characters. A plot that keeps you guessing. Unraveling of the onion as mysteries grow deeper and more intriguing. Powers unlike anything we’ve seen in other fantasy books. World building on an entirely new scale. It’s like Harry Potter meets Ghibli meets Versailles. It may be because the author is from Belgium, but this series has a unique and whimsical writing style that I love and adore. Journey with Ophelia, a mousey girl who can read the past of objects with just the touch of her hands, and discover how her arranged marriage and ice-cold fiancee could change the entire world.


The writing style of this book is so extremely simple and straightforward, but strangely addicting and mesmerizing. It’s Rumpelstiltskin re-told — and quite frankly, it’s a masterpiece. Most of all, I loved how the author created a realist, female protagonist who was a greedy, badass bitch. Imagine my surprise when I saw that the author, Naomi Navok, also wrote the Temeraire series….. !!!! The writing style in Spinning Silver was so drastically different compared to His Majesty’s Dragon that I had re-check the author was indeed the same.


I hesitated to put this in the “gem” category, as I was bored and disappointed by the first half of the book, but boy, did the latter half pack a punch. You know a book is good when you think about it for days and weeks after you read it — and that’s exactly what Babel did to me. Plus, R.F. Kuang’s writing is simply superb. Join the half-Asian protagonist as he learns to weave silver magic using languages… while uncovering his mysterious past and the cruel reality of the world around him.

BONUS: The Sympathizer

If I had to select a book of the year (or even decade) I would hands down say that it would be The Sympathizer. I’m ashamed it took me so long to read this book. Finally, we have an engaging book about the Vietnam War and its aftermath from a Vietnamese perspective. Unlike other Vietnam War novels, this one focuses more on the refugee story — and just exactly what it means to be a communist or a capitalist. This is the kind of book that, seriously, you could write dozens of college essays about. If you can’t read this book, let’s hope the upcoming HBO series does the book justice. PS: the sequel, The Committed, is also worth a read.


The Invisible Life of Addie Larue

V.E. Schwab… how could you do this to me? I loved your series “A Darker Shade of Magic.” Your world building and characters were top notch. Your prose is my ultimate envy. I held nothing but respect for you and high expectations for this book, with an alluring premise of a woman who is granted immortality at the price of never being remembered by another soul.

But oh, how this novel was terrible. It felt like an indie movie from the 2000s. It reminded me of the film 500 Days of Summer, except the trashy fantasy version. The protagonist, Addie Larue, is such a massive whiner for the entire 300+ pages and her entire immortal life. This novel was such a disappointment for me and now I’m scared to read her future novels. This was a major, major letdown.

Fourth Wing

Fourth Wing has major hype. I see it all airport kiosks, bookstores, and even gas stations. I was intrigued by its popularity, especially considering it is yet another fantasy series about dragon riders. Could the author, Rebecca Yarrow, reinvent the dragon genre as we know it?

The answer is no.

But can she write nonstop action and trashy romance that gets the younger readers fervently turning the pages?


The writing is also sloppy, which is puzzling yet also gives me hope that maybe even my trashy fantasy books can get published. I may also be biased because I started reading this right after Babel, which was leagues above of Fourth Wing in terms of written prose.

Station Eleven

Ok. Maybe saying this book sucked is a bit harsh, but it definitely didn’t live up to the hype for me. If I want to go experience an apocalyptic / pandemic nightmare, I would rather watch / play Last of Us.

Noteworthy reads

The Priory of the Orange Tree

This tome of a book is so thick it could kill a man if thrown with enough speed and strength. If I didn’t have to hold my daughter for 2+ hours every night, I wouldn’t have been able to find the time to finish this 800+ page book. I have to admit that, somehow, all 800+ pages were fantastic. I was so addicted to this book that I even read it during what little “off time” I had from baby. The characters, the world building, and the pacing is absolutely fantastic. Join two female leads from two very different backgrounds, as their worlds collide and stories intertwine to bring down a darkness threatening the land.


Wow, did this one surprise me. As I looked for new fantasy books to read, this was recommended to me via a quick google search and it absolutely blew me away. Immediately after I finished book one, I quickly hopped to book two and devoured book three. The sigil system, the unique powers of the main character (slight spoiler so I won’t reveal), and the nonstop-mission-impossible-blow-shit-up level of action will have you glued to the page. The writing is a bit sloppy (not as bad as Fourth Wing, but in that vein), but the story and characters all but make up for it.

And that’s a wrap. Right now I’m finishing up Fourth Wing so, perhaps, it will graduate from the “book that sucks” category to noteworthy (TBD there). Luckily my daughter is sleeping better so I don’t need to hold her for multiple hours through the nights, but the contact naps necessary to put her down give me more than enough ample reading time. It has been a joy to read again and I hope I can continue to keep reading more books in 2024!

What books have you read in 2023? Please give me recommendations!

2 thoughts on “The fantasy books I read as a new mom in 2023

  1. I love that I haven’t read your first rec. Now it’s on my list. I was SO disappointed in everything V.E. Schwab wrote after “Shades of Magic,” especially Addie La Rue–like, you’re just going to skip over her being caught by Nazis with some deus ex machina? Did you not want to do research or get lazy, or what? Really enjoyed “Uprooted” and all her other books, but have never been able to get into Kuang’s books. “The Fourth Wing” was fun, despite all the magic porn, but not life changing.

    It is so depressing to read poor writing and poorly researched books when you’ve got your own list of rejections. SIGH. But let me know if you ever want feedback!

    1. Oh the Mirror Visitor Quartet is AMAZING! I hope you like it! I’m also glad I have another great writer in agreement about Addie La Rue … seriously, the most boring book about an immortal on the market. And yes, Naomi Navok is amazing.

      I want to read YOUR stuff!!! If Fourth Wing can get published, then you can!

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