Ten Things I Really Loved in 2023
In case you need gift ideas or just want something fun to do
This has been a great year for media for me. I fell back in love with reading after a slump that has lasted many years. I got to binge the hell out of a few games while the Frenchman watched the kiddo on weekends (or during our stay in the hospital with said kiddo). And I watched some truly awesome TV.
So continue on to see what I loved! And please, share a comment with YOUR favorite media from the year!
I am a pretty committed gamer, as you all know. And while I definitely dabbled in a lot of games, these are the only three that I loved so much I would recommend.
1. Dave the Diver 🤿
This game is deserving of all the hype it’s getting. It is so relaxing to play, but also challenging and engaging…and just really goofy fun.
The Frenchman is not a gamer, but this is one he will play with me. We alternate who plays as Dave with each in-world day, and it’s great.
2. Divinity: Original Sin 2 ⚔️
I bought this game a while ago on sale, and while in the hospital with Cricket, it was sone of the few Steam games in my library compatible with a Mac. Given that I had a lot of time in a dark hospital room while she slept, this game was my refuge.
It’s also a Larian game and very similar in mechanics to the game I’d play right after (#3 on our list).
I loved it. It has a great story, an absolutely incredible amount of flexibility (you can really do almost anything), and awesome characters.
3. Baldur’s Gate 3 🏰
Speaking of hype, BG3 deserves ALL of it.
Having just finished D:OS2 when BG3 hit the market, it was a seamless transition from one Larian game to the next. And wow, if I thought D:OS2 had a a lot of gameplay flexibility…
Well, BG3 takes that to another level.
This game turned me into the biggest save scammer of all time, and I have no regrets. It was amazing. I love it. I can’t wait to have time to replay it.
Honorable Mention: Redfall 🧛🏻♂️
This game came out back in May and was universally panned. I was really sad about that because I love Arkane Studios Austin, and I want them to always and forever have hits. That said, they claimed they would stick with the game and improve it…
And they did. They’ve put out two major patches since May, and I have honestly, 100% enjoyed the hell out of this game.
It is still flawed (the enemy spawning is really uneven—sometimes it’s empty, other times I’m overwhelmed), but I feel confident with continued patches, this game will eventually be stellar.
Plus, if you love Arkane Studios games as I do, then I think you’ll love this. It has all the vibes they’re known for, and some genuinely really satisfying gameplay mechanics.
Honorable Mention: Deathloop ⏰
Speaking of Arkane Studios (though the Lyon branch), Deathloop with the Golden Loop update was an amazing experience. This is possibly my most favorite game of all time (I have replayed it an embarrassing number of times), so that’s why it’s not in my top 10 for this year.
That said: I loved it even more with that extended ending. It was *chef’s kiss.*
As you’ll see below, I really like what Amazon Prime has to offer. They’re just doing awesome (and expensive! holy crap!) stuff with sci-fi and fantasy.
Literally every show on my top 10 list, I have watched twice now. Because that’s how much I enjoyed them.
4. Deadloch 🔍
This was my favorite show of the year. A total surprise that we tried on a whim, and that I watched twice back to back because I loved it so much. This is very much “Sooz” humor (i.e. dark and dry), and the mystery had be guessing—and on the edge of my seat—up until the final episode.
5. Wheel of Time 🐺
While I really enjoyed season 1 of this show, season 2 absolutely blew me away. I won’t say it’s perfect—you can tell they are condensing a lot of material into a shorter timeframe and different format.
But wow. There’s just something so YA, so hopeful, so epic about it. It feels like what I want the Witchlands to be.
I rewatched all of S1 in preparation for S2, and I’m so glad I did.
6. Rings of Power 💍
This show is so not what the Witchlands is in terms of fantasy vibes. But I loved it. I’m not a LOTR fangirl, so I have no attachment to the original lore…but this series actually prompted me to go back and reread the books. And rewatch the original trilogy of films.1
I found Galadriel to be such a refreshing heroine. She is driven in a way that is, I’m sure, unlikeable to some. But I loved it. It’s her fatal flaw, and I am here for it.
This was another show I watched twice back to back.2
7. The Expanse 🚀
I watched the first seasons of this years ago, but stopped at the final season. It was just too intense for me after having a child. I needed easy fare for a while then.
But I decided to try reading the books (listed below) and that pushed me to also rewatch and finish the series. It remains amazing. Even though I knew what would, I was still breathless watching it all play out. This show does tension so well.
It was also really fun to read the books simultaneously and see the changes they made for the show. I totally get why they did what they did, and sometimes I think they actually improved on the source material.
Honorable Mention: Miss Scarlet and the Duke 🕵🏼♀️
Unnnnnnngh, I ship them so much it hurts! 😭 I cannot wait for season 4 in just a few weeks!
Stream this on PBS!
Honorable Mention: Girls5Eva 🎹
You can stream this on Peacock, and oh boy did I love it. Maybe because I loved boy bands in the 90s and I am 100% the target audience…but wow. It was great!
Side note: I really appreciated how Sara Bareilles looks her actual age. It was just really refreshing to see a woman with lines. I’ll admit I was startled at first (which is a really sad statement on how we don’t let our celebrities age), and then I just fell in love with her face. She’s so stinking talented.
This list is shorter than the others, not because I didn’t read in 2023 (I read so much!) but a lot of what I read was only “meh”—or they were books for blurbing or books I critiqued for friends (so you can’t buy them yet 😌).
Of the stuff I read that you can go buy today and I think are awesome, we have:
8. The Expanse series by James S.A. Corey 🪐
I tried to read the first book in this series years ago (Leviathan Awakes), but I couldn’t connect at the time. I’m so glad I tried again this year because WOW. I binged this series, and it’s a long series. It took me months to get through.
That said, if you like the Witchlands, I think this would be a good fit for you! Yes, the series are two different genres, but the character-driven nature and world complexity of the Expanse—as well as the moments of brevity mixed in with all the excitement—really remind me what I’m trying to do in the Witchlands.
Bonus: the audiobooks are fantastic.
9. Clean by James Hamblin 🧼
I read a lot of nonfiction, but I’m not sure I would have picked this up if I hadn’t seen it mentioned by a writer I follow.
I’m so glad I gave it a try. Hamblin takes you through the history of the word “clean”—from the evolution of soap, the unregulated world of beauty and skincare, to the future of our skin’s microbiomes.
Fascinating and surprisingly funny!
10. The Author Stuck List by Becca Syme 📝
This list wouldn’t be complete without a book by my favorite writing teacher, Becca Syme.
As I’ve talked about often in the last two years, working with Becca helped me finally crack my own creative methodology—and, more importantly, to accept and embrace it. even if it doesn’t match what everyone else thinks a writer should do.
This book is a very thorough look at why you’re stuck and what to do about it. Highly recommend!
Honorable Mention: Silver in the Bone by Author Alexandra Bracken 👑
I was an early critique reader for this book long ago, so I didn’t feel like I could rank it in my top 10, since I admit, I’m slightly biased. 😂 But y’all!!!! EMRYS 5EVA!!!I totally recommend for YA fantasy lovers.
Honorable Mention: Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas 🛏️
This is the second in a series, and I preferred it over the first book (which you don’t need to read to enjoy this one!). Very steamy, very entertaining.
Honorable Mention: the LOTR audiobooks narrated by Andy Serkis 💍
WOW. These audiobooks are just so well-narrated by Andy Serkis. As mentioned above, I’m not a LOTR fangirl. I’ve read the original trilogy and The Hobbit, but I never really connected with the writing style. (Sorry. Don't hate me! 😬)
That said, I had a lot of driving earlier this year thanks to a very sick dog that needed multiple emergency vet visits—and said vet was hours away! And since I was driving through snowstorms, me and that dog got to listen to a lot of LOTR.
Andy Serkis + Rings of Power turned me into a low-key LOTR fangirl. And I can now finally appreciate the world building and scope of what Tolkien did for the fantasy genre.
As you can see, I consumed a lot of media this year. And I think filling the well so much also helped me to write a lot of words.
Was there anything you loved this year? Share in the comments!
And just to round out this post, thank you SO MUCH for reading and supporting and being an amazing friend!
You all know how hard 2023 was for me on a personal level, and I truly cannot put into words how grateful I am that you all stuck with me through those tough times. Knowing I had this amazing group of people willing to read my books and emails…
Y’all, thank you. Just thank you.
I hope you have amazing holiday seasons, and I’ll see you again in 2024!
💚 - Sooz
I was so filled with LOTR lore in January that when I had to have surgery that month, I came out of anesthesia and the first thing I said—to the anasthesiologist—was: “Don’t worry. I delivered the ring to Mordor.” Needless to say, he was like 🤨.
Although I did fast forward through a lot of the Harfoot stuff on my second watch. I’m just here for the Halbrand/Galadrial ship, okay?