Amelia Shives’ best books of 2023


Amelia Shives’ honestly reviews some of the books she has read in 2023.

Amelia Shives

I have always been the type of person who likes to read, but when I took the popular literature  class, it reminded me how much I love reading. Since then I have read 15 books in the past 6 months. Reading has allowed me to take time away from social media. I also feel like it has bettered myself mentally. I will be diving into four books that I have read in 2023. This review will include a summary of each of the books, the overall reviews from readers on Goodreads, and my 100% honest review of the book. What I have written is my personal opinion, I recommend reading all four of these reads. 


“The Inheritance Games” is about a high school student who lives with her sister paycheck to paycheck. She is planning for a better future. For her that  includes getting a scholarship and getting out of her town. Her plans quickly change when Tobias Hawthorne, the most famous billionaire in the country dies and leaves almost his entire fortune to Avery. However, to get her money, she has to spend a year living at the Hawthorne mansion. Not only by herself, but with Tobias’ entire family. Avery gets to solve the riddles Tobias has left for her and she also gets to solve the riddles of his four grandsons. 

The overall reviews on this book are mainly positive with 4.22 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. Many people liked the book, because it was fast paced and a thrilling adventure that readers don’t often see. The short chapters are able to pull the readers in by saying “just one more chapter.” Despite all the good reviews some readers said there weren’t enough riddles or just not entertaining to read about. Reviewers also complained that Avery and the other characters were bland and many of them did not have a purpose. This book is one of those books where readers either love it or hate it. 

All of my friends had told me they loved the book and that it took a couple chapters to get into it. So going into this book, I had an expedition that I would never want to put it down.  That was not the case. This book frustrated me beyond belief. This book bored me so much and I could not find the characters likable. I really did not enjoy the love triangle in the book.  I especially did not love how Avery was treated by the grandsons and then she still went after them. This book would have been much better with deeper characters and more interesting riddles. I would give this book 1.5 stars out of five.


“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” features Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo who is ready to tell the truth about her scandalous life and her seven husbands. She chooses Monique Grant to write Evelyn’s book. However, the reason behind picking Monique will remain a secret until the end of the story. Evelyn tells Monique her entire life story, from the time she moved to Los Angeles in the 1950s to now. Evelyn knows she is selfish, but that is what gets you through Hollywood. Throughout Evelyn’s story we hear about her unexpected loves and losses. She highlights what it was really like to be one of the most famous actresses of her time. 

Reid’s book has an overwhelming amount of positive feedback on Goodreads. Very few people do not like this book and many argue that it is the best book she has written. The reviews on Goodreads praise Reid and her writing style. Critics said books like this are the reason they read. Readers loved how real the characters felt and how people can affect one another. This is a love story you have never seen before. It will be hard to find a bad review of this book. The readers who did not enjoy it say that the characters were all unlikeable and that the plot just did not work for them.

I have never read a book so fast. This book made me smile, laugh, and cry and not many books can do that . It felt like Reid had written this book just for me. I love characters who know that they are mean and awful, but that is just who they are. The “twist” at the end was the only place where the book fell flat for me, but other than that I loved every second of reading this book. The romances and friends pulled me in. For me, Reid has a writing style better than most author’s I have read. It’s sophisticated, yet playful and that is what makes this book so enjoyable to me and I loved reading about Evelyn’s ups and downs throughout her life. I felt like the author perfectly portrayed the characters and who they were and what they stood for. This book was 4.5 out of five stars and I would recommend everyone to read this book.


“One Italian Summer” is supposed to be about Katy and her mother (Carol) and their trip of a life-time. Two weeks before their trip Carol passes away from Cancer. Now Katy has to spend two weeks in Positano. The magical town where Carol spent the summer before meeting Katy’s dad. Katy had waited years to go on this trip together. When Katy get’s to Positano, she feels her mother’s spirit around her and then there in the flesh is Carol; and she is young and healthy. 

Serle’s book has received a 3.63 out of five stars on Goodreads. Reviewers on Goodreads have mixed opinions about this book. Some believed it was emotional, moving, and a powerful story between a mother and daughter. The concept was unlike anything they had read before. There were some readers that could not fully understand what the author was getting across, because the concept was confusing to grasp. Overall the bad reviews just did not think that the story came together and felt it was missing some important pieces.   

Sadly, I would have to agree with the bad reviews. This book did not live up to the expectations I had for it. The summary of the book made it sound so thrilling and I was excited to read this book. The moment I started reading it, I was already annoyed with Katy and when she got to Italy my annoyance with her grew. This book was too slow and I could never tell what time period we were in. The author did not make that very clear to me and my least favorite part, the “friendship” between Katy and Adam, the man she meets in Italy, was unnecessary to me. Overall, this book was not worth reading and I would give it a 2.5 stars out of five. 


“Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of the Universe” reveals that even though two people who believed that they could not be more different, end up being more similar than they expected and grow a strong friendship. Ari sees himself as a loner. He is easily annoyed by everyone including his parents. He struggles with his other brother being in prison and his family never talking about it. Dante is outgoing and is friendly towards everyone. Ari is at the pool trying to teach himself to swim, when Dante offers to teach him, this meeting will cause a blossoming friendship between these boys. 

On Goodreads, “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universehas 4.33 stars out of five. Many of the reviews applauded the book. Readers love the relationship between the boys. Ari has a hard shell, loves getting into fights and has a complicated relationship with his parents. While Dante is soft, sensitive, and is extremely close to his parents. Reviews drool over the book and how Ari questions the universe and what it wants for him. There are some negative reviews on the book too. The reviewers say they do not understand the hype over the book and it does not deserve all of the awards it got. 

For me, this book made me fall in love with reading again. The chemistry between the two boys made the book hard to put down. I felt that Sáenz perfectly understood teenagers and how relationships with your parents are hard during your teen years. Teenage years are the years someone is  figuring out who they are and they do not know where their parents fall in their life anymore. I also loved how the book showed that when you are around the right people who are good influences that make a positive impact on your life and you often look forward to life more when there are people who fill it up with happiness. Ari questions the world the same way I do. I think his perspective on life makes me understand myself better. “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” was a five out of five stars for me and I would suggest it to anyone who is interested in young queer romance who still don’t fully understand themselves.