Looking Back at the Books I Read in January 2023

I decided that in 2023, I’m going to do things a little differently here on my blog. Instead of doing a massive summary of everything that happened during the last month, I’m going to break it out into parts if there are multiple things to discuss. So, this one is going to be purely focused on everything that I read during January 2023.

So, what did I read this month?

These are all the new books I read, not any that I decided to re-read along the way. If I did a review, I’ll share the link to those. Otherwise, I will do a quick review of the book or series (with the series getting the mini-review at the end of all the books in the list). Mostly, those will just be a quick blurb about what the book/series was about.

  1. Brutal Prince (Brutal Birthright, Book 1) by Sophie Lark – 2.5 stars
    • I found out about this book on TikTok because it contains NSFW illustrations throughout. I’d never read anything by this author before, but it sounded intriguing. Given that it was mafia and enemies-to-lovers. While I enjoyed the story, I am not going to continue reading the series. It just didn’t captivate me enough to keep reading about the other siblings, as each one gets their own story. Callum and Aida are forced to marry after Aida burns down Callum’s library while attempting to start a small fire to distract him so she can flee. And Callum’s bodyguard breaks Aida’s brother’s knee, effectively ending his basketball career. Their fathers agreed that the only way forward was for their children to marry in order to bury the hacket between their families. And this is just the beginning of the story; the two are pitted against the Butcher and her insane stalker of an ex-boyfriend.
      I didn’t think the resolution with the Butcher had enough payoff because his death occurs off-page. Aida and Callum were kidnapped by the Butcher once, so there is more leg in the game for them to be involved in that conflict, but they are removed from it when Aida’s ex-boyfriend kidnaps and then tries to kill her to keep Callum from having her. I believe it would have worked better if there had been a single main source of tension/conflict, such as the ex-boyfriend. There was enough there for the focus to be entirely on one thing rather than splitting attention between the two, ultimately pushing the Butcher’s resolution into the background.
  2. Once Upon a Broken Heart (Once Upon a Broken Heart, Book 1) by Stephanie Garber – 4 stars
  3. The Ballad of Never After (Once Upon a Broken Heart Trilogy, Book 2) by Stephanie Garber – 4.25 stars
  4. A Cage of Crystal (Prophecy of the Forgotten Fae, Book 2) by Tessonja Odette4.25 stars
    • See my review for thoughts on this book.
  5. When She Belongs (A Risdaverse Tale) by Ruby Dixon – 3.5 stars
    • After Jerrok and Sophie were mentioned by Ruby Dixon in her daily serials, I decided I would give their Risdaverse book a read. They’ve shown up numerous times in the Corsairs series, so I was curious how the two ended up falling for each other. Since Jerrok is a hermit, and Sophie was a ‘replacement’ sister/navigator for the va Sithai brothers after Zoey left. But Sophie never really fit in with them, nor picked up on navigation. Plus, I knew Sophie ends up keeping the carinoux (guard predator that likes females) she named Sleipnir. Granted, from Adrion’s tale she more just announces it’s staying with her and she’s moving in with Jerrok. So, while I knew what was going to happen in the end, it was still a good read. Sophie recently escaped being a slave, so she’s learning to trust again. And Jerrok was chewed up and abandoned by the war, so he doesn’t open up to anyone. And has parts that are extremely painful, but he won’t admit that to anyone seeing as that would be showing weakness. So, seeing the two learn how to get along and open up was great.
  6. When She Dances (A Risdaverse Tale) by Ruby Dixon – 3.25 stars
    • I figured after reading the previously Risdaverse novel, I would just continue with the last cyborg in this universe that we know Zakoar. He’s the one that replaces everyone’s parts so I wanted to see how he ended up with Tessa. Like I knew she ended up with a tattoo of his name on her throat, but I figured it was just so people wouldn’t try to sell her into slavery like most humans. Not that Zakoar initially bought her as a slave, planned to release her to Risda III, then the two decide together instead. I would say more but it was a rather short story that more just told how the two ended up meeting. So, it was a quick read.
  7. The Stolen Heir (The Stolen Heir Duology, Book 1) by Holly Black 3.5 stars
    • See my review for thoughts on this book.
  8. Stolen Heir (Brutal Birthright, Book 2) by Sophie Lark – 3.25 stars
    • I initially wasn’t going to read the rest of the series, but I decided to give it a chance. The second book is basically a dark Beauty and the Beast retelling between Miko (the new head of the Polish mafia in Chicago) and Nessa (the youngest daughter of the Irish Mafia). Like in Beauty and the Beast, Miko kidnaps Nessa as revenge for the death of the Butcher (his figurative father). Eventually the two fall for each other, then Miko releases her back to her father and lets the vengeance go even if it costs him several of his men and almost results in his death. But like in Beauty and the Beast, the two end up together. I did like this one more as everything that happened was contained and resolved within it, unlike the first book in the series.
  9. Savage Lover (Brutal Birthright, Book 3) by Sophie Lark – 3.25 stars
    • This book follows Nero and Camille. The two bond over vintage cars and parents being ill (Nero’s mother died in front of him while Camille’s father gets lung cancer at the beginning of the book). While Camille is outside of the mafia world, she’s dragged into it after her brother is caught with MDMA and she claims it’s hers not realizing what it is. This results in her becoming a CI for the Chicago Police and helping them take down the lab. Not only that, but due to the fact she has to get close to the kingpin, she runs into Nero often as he generally goes to the guy’s party. Meanwhile, Nero is planning a heist on a bank to fund their latest project, which just so happens to be the biological father of Camille’s half-brother. So, she ends up joining him in the heist as the getaway driver after the bank owner rejects to pay any child support for her brother.
  10. Bloody Heart (Brutal Birthright, Book 4) by Sophie Lark – 3 stars
    • This one has second-chance romance and surprise pregnancy, two things I’m not generally a fan of. Pregnancy works sometimes, but it depends on how it’s done. This book follows Dante Gallo and Simone Solomon, who are from two totally different worlds. Simone’s family is as clean-cut as they come and Dante is the eldest son of the Italian mafia. So, it wasn’t surprising that her family forbids Simone from continuing to see Dante, or that she goes to London. However, if that wasn’t enough to put into the split, Simone was pregnant too and they kept it a secret from Dante. So, I wasn’t a massive fan of that especially considering her parents force her to give her son over to her sister. Her parents did this without getting consent from Simone, it was done while she was asleep in the hospital. Simone and Dante are reunited nine years later when she’s in town for a job and he’s working security. It doesn’t take long for the two to acknowledge that they never moved on from each other. But before they can fully reconcile after all the secrets come to light, things that happen back in the second book of the series are coming back to bite Dante now.

My Rating System

Check out this post to see how my rating scale works, but the quick version is:

  • 5 stars = Masterpiece. Nothing can literally be better than this. Not to mention, a major book slump happens afterward where I am unable to pick up another book for quite some time.
  • 4 stars = One of the best books I’ve ever read, I couldn’t put it down and found little fault in it.
  • 3 stars = A good book but there were some flaws, from editing to plot to you name it.
  • 2 stars = Liked the book, but wouldn’t say it was something that was memorable.
  • 1 star = Book wasn’t for me.

I almost never give a 5-star rating. Some books have come close, but something always held me back from giving it to those books. I also use .25 increments with the ratings, so there’s a range in each of those levels.

What is currently unfinished?

I figured I would add this section as these were things I started to read, but haven’t finished yet so I can’t exactly give them a rating quite yet. I am not DNF’ing these books. I will finish them at some point, most likely next month. I just have to get back to them. I got distracted or pulled away from them for one reason or another.

  • Bloodmarked (Legendborn, Book 2) by Tracy Deonn
    • I’m at the 50% mark and enjoying it a lot so far. I started it back in December and just haven’t gotten back around to finishing it. But I will, I am not marking this as DNF as I seriously have enjoyed what I’ve read so far.

What did I re-read?

Normally, I don’t go into books I re-read during these posts as I don’t count them towards my reading goal. But I figured since I’m already doing a post entirely on what I read, I might as well mention them. None of these were full re-reads; rather, I just read a few chapters from them. Or, more precisely, I read the scenes between the two love interests and skipped over the rest. Though, depending on the book, I may read more than that.

  • The War of Two Queens (Blood and Ash, Book 4) by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  • The Chase (Briar U, Book 1) by Elle Kennedy
  • The Risk (Briar U, Book 2) by Elle Kennedy
  • The Play (Briar U, Book 3) by Elle Kennedy
  • The Legacy (Off Campus, Book 5) by Elle Kennedy
  • The Deal (Off Campus, Book 1) by Elle Kennedy

Love ya,

Mae Polzine

Join the Howl of the Pack today by subscribing! To stay updated on everything I’m doing, follow me on Twitter as that’s where I post quick updates. Or join our Discord server. I do have a Patreon where I will be trying to give early access to things like YouTube videos or body paint looks. Also, if you like this post, let me know in the comment section, it really helps me figure out what content you guys appreciate. Don’t be shy I would love to hear from you!

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