Bookstr Team Talks: Our Favorite Reads of 2023 New Releases

As 2023 comes to a close, the Bookstr team has reflected back on their favorite read that came out this year. Read on to see what we enjoyed!

Book Culture New Release Opinions Recommendations
green background with a white drawn bookshelf and books

This year has graced us with a slew of fantastic novels in every genre. I often gravitate towards newly released romance novels and can’t bear to rip myself away from that genre. It is a privilege to be able to reach out to my team members to hear about what they have been reading this year so I can add to my never-ending TBR!

Take a few minutes to get a taste of what the Bookstr team was reading this year. Be sure to have your TBR ready, because if you are anything like me, I am sure there will be books you want to add!

Into Their Woods by Ivy Asher and Ann Denton

Noah was on her way to a new life and job when a quick stop for a hot meal changed her life forever. Suddenly, she’s being hunted by massive wolves while being dressed like Red Riding Hood, terrified for her life. Except when she awakes after they bite her, she gets the revelation of a lifetime. Now, she has to either accept her new fate or face dangers that could have far worse consequences.

Into Their Woods by Ivy Asher and Ann Denton book cover
woman in long red cape holding a light walking through the woods

I loved everything about this why-choose paranormal romance. There was plot, angst, smexy scenes, new ideas about supernatural creatures and their place in society, and so much more! The MMCs were to die for, possessive and aggressive while being exactly what Noah needed. The intricacies of pack dynamics, Noah’s history, and mysterious stalkers kept me on the edge of my seat, ready for the next scene. A must-read for romance readers.

  • Kristi Eskew, Editorial

Beyond the Story: 10-Year Record of BTS by Myeongseok Kang and BTS

On June 13, 2023, the globally renowned musical group BTS celebrated the tenth anniversary of their debut. This book recounts their 10-year history, using in-depth research and interviews with the members to take a behind-the-scenes look at their meteoric rise to success.

Beyond the Story: 10-Year Record of BTS by Myeongseok Kang and BTS book cover
Top half of book is black and the bottom half has squares with the BTS members pictures

I’ve been a huge fan of BTS for several years now, so it’s no surprise to me that this book is my top 2023 release. Beyond the Story is filled with quotes from the members that provide insight into the hardships they experienced on their path to success, giving fans an intimate view of the group’s highs and lows. I especially loved the multimedia elements of this book. As the narrative traced each of BTS’s albums and single releases, this timeline was accentuated by QR codes linking out to music videos and other online content, allowing readers to reexperience BTS’s musical journey alongside them. This book delivers a one-of-a-kind reading experience, and I highly recommend it to anyone who’s a fan of BTS’s music!

  • Lauren Nee, Editorial

Mr. Villain’s Day Off by Yuu Morikawa

The evil villain, known only as the General within the evil organization plotting to take over the world, is one of the top targets of Earth’s defensive unit, the Rangers. But on his precious days off, you can find him at the local zoo staring at his beloved pandas or trying out new ice cream flavors.

Mr. Villain’s Day Off by Yuu Morikawa book cover
Man standing with shopping bag and holding a stuffed panda, person is beind him on left

While mindlessly scrolling for manga to read, I came across this gem, and I love it! As I am biased toward villain/villainess stories, Mr. Villain’s Day Off brings me delight as I watch the antagonist go about his free day enjoying his hobbies and even nonchalantly interacting with the Rangers. I also can relate to how he switches from work mode to at-home mode; when working long-term for an evil organization, work-life balance is critical. Another reason I love this manga is because the antagonist falls right into my “smash zone.” From looks to personality, I would happily let the world get taken over by this man.

  • Jhade Gales, Graphics

Final Offer by Lauren Asher

Step into the tumultuous world of Cal, a captivating character whose life dances between enthralling highs and devastating lows. For more than a decade, addiction has been his relentless companion, a shadow that refuses to loosen its grip. But don’t be fooled by the outward appearance of envy-inducing success, for Cal’s path to happiness is littered with unexpected roadblocks at every turn. Curiously enough, some of these hurdles bear a striking resemblance to Cal himself, as he unwittingly becomes the architect of his own downfall. Brace yourself for a riveting tale that delves deep into the human psyche, exploring the complex relationship between one man’s desires and his own worst enemy: himself.

Final Offer by Lauren Asher book cover
blueprint like photo of a house and a body of water

Oh, the excitement was palpable as I eagerly awaited the release of the third installment in the enchanting Dreamland Billionaires series! After being utterly consumed by the first two books, I couldn’t resist the temptation to dive headfirst into this grand finale. As soon as it hit the shelves, I snatched it up without a second thought, ready to embark on an unforgettable literary journey. With anticipation coursing through my veins, I embarked on an all-night adventure, devouring page after page under the warm glow of my reading lamp. Oh, the satisfaction! The series wrapped up in a way that left me breathless, my heart dancing between the lines. It’s a bittersweet feeling, knowing that a small part of my heart will forever reside within those cherished pages.

  • Trish G, Editorial

Evil Eye by Etaf Rum

Yara gets placed on probation at work after getting into an argument with a racist coworker; her Palestinian mother claims it’s a result of a family curse. Yara has never been one for superstitions, but lately, her life feels as if there is a malevolent force acting upon her. She’s not moving up in her job, she’s feeling neglected in her marriage, and she’s struggling to connect with her two daughters. In the background of it all is the pressure of her mother-in-law getting her to a better wife and mother and a deep, constant sadness that she can’t seem to name or find the source of. The altercation at work proves more impactful than Yara expected when she’s set on a course to confront her feelings, her family, and the memories of her childhood she’s tried hard to ignore.

Evil Eye by Etaf Rum book cover
Drawn evil eye on blue background

This book was a hard read for me because of how relatable it was. Yara experiences what a lot of us do — a yearning for a life she feels is out of her reach. She feels stifled by the same family she wants to honor in her adulthood, caught between the person she believes she can be and the person her family tells her to be. She’s a messy person, and we, as the reader, get access to all of her feelings through her narration and her journal entries, so we see all the good, the bad, and the ugly. But I was rooting for her from the very first page.

  • Abby Caswell, Editorial

Bright Young Women by Jessica Knoll

In January 1978, a serial killer had been terrorizing the Pacific Northwest and made his way down to Florida. In one night, he kills two girls and brutally maims two others in a Florida State University sorority house. President of the sorority, Pamela Schumacher, is the only one to have seen the killer as he makes his escape from the scene of the crime. Pamela and her sisters are suddenly the center of this developing story as the hunt for the killer commences. On the other side of the country, in Seattle, Washington, Tina and Ruth, two women struggling with grief, form an unlikely relationship. So, when Ruth goes missing in broad daylight at Lake Sammamish State Park, Tina takes it upon herself to find out what happened to Ruth.

Bright Young Women by Jessica Knoll book cover
Yellow cover with close up of woman with a pink face and yellow eye shadow

This book was so important to me. As a fan of true crime, this book was so interesting. It is based on the FSU sorority murders committed by Ted Bundy, and as soon as I learned that, I immediately sought it out. It was such a refreshing read. It focuses more on the victims of the crimes and how they are affected by the crimes. It centers on powerful female characters who make sure they are heard. In true crime cases, especially when dealing with serial killers, you never learn about the victims. You only learn about the man who committed these atrocities. It was so refreshing to learn more about the victims than the man.

  • Corinne Vergari, Social

The Magicians by Blexbolex

On the race of their lives, three magicians travel through thick and thin in search of their self-identities. The blackbird, the elephant, and the human girl are on the hunt to uncover the true meaning of being shapeshifters. But their adventure will face struggles from two shape-shifter hunters looking for their next victims. Will these magicians discover their wondrous secrets before their foes catch up?

The Magicians by Blexbolex book cover
colorful dragon/lion like creature with children standing with it and a girl with a bow and arrow on top of it

I am obsessed with Blexbolex, and this book is a perfect example of his uniquely powerful art style. I love his original characters and the dynamic between the Magicians and hunters. The piece is so moving and clever that it gives a medieval video game appeal. It can be difficult for children’s books to create a strong connection with older audiences; however, The Magician’s stupendous abnormalities will surely charm all readers. It most certainly took my breath away!

  • Erin Ewald, Editorial

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