My 10 Most Anticipated Reads of 2023
*While most of these books will be released in 2023 a few of them have already been/will already be released this year or years previous. This blog pertains to books I plan to READ next year and not my most anticipated RELEASES of 2023.
1. Nine Liars by Maureen Johnson (Truly Devious #5) (YA Mystery)
The Truly Devious books follow true crime aficionado and aspiring detective Stevie Bell and her friends. The first three books all took place at her elite, remote boarding school Ellingham Academy while the fourth took place at a summer camp. This one sees Stevie and company traveling to London to solve a cold case about nine friends who played a deadly game of hide and seek. These books are my comfort reads and what really made me fall in love with the mystery genre. Stevie has an anxiety disorder/panic attacks and the representation is accurate and so important to see portrayed in a genre that so often gets mental health grossly wrong. I have an extra soft spot for the first three books and Ellingham Academy but I also liked seeing Stevie in a new environment but still in her element in the fourth. I’m looking forward to seeing her in London. I plan for this to be my first read of the new year to start my reading year off right!
2. Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo (Alex Stern #2) (Adult Fantasy)
This is the sequel to Ninth House, which was Bardugo’s adult debut about a troubled young woman (Alex) who finds herself as part of Lethe which monitors the secret societies of Yale. The first book featured a lot of things I love in books: morally grey characters, fantasy, and mystery (it’s also perfect for dark academia fans). Alex and her mentor Darlington had a complicated relationship and given what happens in the first book I’m so intrigued to see what becomes of them both in this one. I always joke that Bardugo could sell me literal garbage and I’d eat it up for breakfast but I genuinely believe she’s not an overrated author but that she possesses real talent. I know people are always skeptical when YA authors start to write adult books but I applaud them for branching out of their comfort zones. As an adult debut Ninth House was so good (and what convinced me to start reading other adult books) so I have high expectations for this sequel. I hope it’s as dark and secretive as the first!
3. Shamanborn #3 by Lori M. Lee (YA Fantasy)
Sigh. I put this (still untitled) book on last year’s list as well, having mistakenly thought it came out this year. Unfortunately, it seems I have to wait until November of next year which will be almost a year and a half after the second book came out (and I’m admittedly impatient). The first book is about a girl (Sirscha) who discovers she is shamanborn and has magical elemental powers. I’d describe it sort of like Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse. The first book has a bit of a horror vibe (taking place in a haunted forest and decrepit castle) while the second book tackles a lot more of the fantasy politics of the world. I gave both books 5 stars (and I don’t often give sequels the same rating as the first book) so I am beyond eager for the conclusion. I am torn because the logical part of me urges me to just put it on a Christmas wish list, but the part of me that’s been waiting so long knows I’m probably just going to preorder it…
4. A Curse for True Love by Stephanie Garber (Once Upon a Broken Heart #3) (YA Fantasy)
This series is about a girl (Evangeline) and a Fate (magical being) named Jacks who form a reluctant alliance. The world is very immersive. It’s like dunking yourself into a frosty fairy tale. Evangeline is such a sweetheart and Jacks is a real heartbreaker. I don’t typically like enemies to lovers romances but theirs works so well because it is a slow, angsty but glorious slow burn. The second book ended on a massive cliffhanger that broke my fragile heart and left me with endless questions. I will be devouring the finale when it comes out next year, believe me. I love these characters and am enchanted by this world. If I had to live in any fantasy world (outside of the ones I create for my own stories) it would be this one for sure. I don’t know how things are going to be resolved, but I’m going to make sure I have a box of tissues in hand when reading.
5. What the River Knows by Isabel Ibañez (YA Historical Fiction)
Ibañez is one of my favorite authors and she is criminally underrated. This book is about a Bolivian-Argentinian (Inez Olivera) who investigates her parents’ deaths in 19th century Egypt. I’m a sucker for a cross genre book and this one seems like it blends mystery and historical fiction. She’s a fantasy writer so I’m not sure if there will be magic in this book. In her newsletter Ibañez talked about a trip to Egypt where she traveled in the same manner as her characters would have. She consulted with Egyptian guides and Egyptologists as well. It’s obvious this is something she’s very passionate about and dedicated to and so I will be preordering, reading, and reviewing this book!
6. Never a Hero by Vanessa Len (Monsters #2) (YA Fantasy)
This is the sequel to Only a Monster about a girl (Joan) who learns she’s half-monster and has unknowingly fallen in love with a monster hunter. Joan and the son of her family’s mortal enemies must team up to save their families after Joan’s crush attacks. This was a debut and it was in my top books of the year and my overall favorite YA fantasy I read. The magic system involves time travel and the stakes are super high. This book is very emotional and the ending left me feeling strangely hollow in a good way. This is going to be a trilogy and because of the time travel aspect of the plot in some ways we are beginning from scratch. Everyone is going to be on a different wavelength so I imagine this will be (a good kind of) chaos.
7. Caraval by Stephanie Garber (YA Fantasy)
In this book protagonist Scarlett and her sister Tella live with their cruel father who plans to force Scarlet into a union she doesn’t want. She dreams of seeing Caraval – a performance where the audience participates in the show, but when she finally does her sister is kidnapped. This book takes place in the same world as the Once Upon a Broken Heart books which is why I want to read it. The premise is also intriguing; both fun and dangerous and very high stakes. I'm ready for Garber to enchant me once more!
8. The Lives of Puppets by T. J. Klune (Adult Fantasy)
This book follows a family of robots and one human who take in a new robot (Hap) who has a dark history with one of the family bots (Gio). The novel follows the family saving Gio after he is captured and taken to a laboratory. This is referred to on Goodreads as a standalone fantasy adventure but it personally sounds to me more like a sci-fi. Admittedly, the premise for this book doesn’t particularly appeal to me in the sense that I don’t read robot stories and rarely read sci-fi adjacent stories. I do love adventure stories though as well as found family themes, so that part still excites me. Really, though, I added this to the list because the author’s two previous books are on my all time favorite books list. There’s so much heart in the stories he tells so I have hope for this one.
9. Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fall by Ashley Herring Blake (Bright Falls #2) (Adult Romance)
I’d classify this as more of a companion book than an actual sequel as is the case with many romance books. The first book followed Delilah who was a photographer for her stepsister Astrid’s wedding. However, Astrid’s relationship fell apart and this book sees her falling for the granddaughter of an Inn she is renovating. I was just as invested in Delilah and Astrid’s relationship in the first book (Delilah Green Doesn’t Care) as I was in the romance of the book (between Delilah and Astrid’s friend Claire). Sisterhood/family is one of the big themes in the first book and Herring Blake did a good job of setting up Astrid’s character and arc to present her as the protagonist in this book. I’m looking forward to getting to read all about her love story because she deserves it after what her ex-fiancé put her through.
10. Happy Place by Emily Henry (Adult Romance)
This book is about exes who pretend to still be together for their annual vacation with their best friends. It sounds like it might have a similar feel to one of her previous books, People We Meet on Vacation. I’m a sucker for second chance romances. Henry still has yet to top her adult romance debut for me (Beach Read), but I’ve never not liked one of her books. She’s pretty much the queen of adult romance. I plan to read this book in the summertime since that just seems a fitting time.