2023 is looking absolutely amazing for book releases. I have been busily populating my ‘to be read’ list for some time now, so it was hard to whittle it down to just 10, but I have selected these for my usual diverse variety! Are any of these on your reading list?
Note: Books have been listed in the order that they will be released.
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Title: Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute
Author: Talia Hibbert
Genre: YA Romance
Publication Date: 3 Jan 2023
With a release date just after New Year, Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute looks like it will be just perfect for reading whilst tucking into all of those holiday choccies and treats!
Bradley Graeme is pretty much perfect. He’s a star football player, manages his OCD well (enough), and comes out on top in all his classes . . . except the ones he shares with his ex-best friend, Celine. Celine Bangura is conspiracy-theory-obsessed. Social media followers eat up her takes on everything from UFOs to holiday overconsumption—yet, she’s still not cool enough for the popular kids’ table. Which is why Brad abandoned her for the in-crowd years ago. (At least, that’s how Celine sees it.) These days, there’s nothing between them other than petty insults and academic rivalry. So when Celine signs up for a survival course in the woods, she’s surprised to find Brad right beside her. Forced to work as a team for the chance to win a grand prize, these two teens must trudge through not just mud and dirt but their messy past. And as this adventure brings them closer together, they begin to remember the good bits of their history. But has too much time passed . . . or just enough to spark a whole new kind of relationship?
Title: River Sing Me Home
Author: Eleanor Shearer
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: 19 Jan 2023
As a fantasy lover first and foremost, I was surprised to find that it was the three historical fiction titles I read last year that turned out to be the most stirring and beautiful tales of them all. And this title looks set to continue the trend for 2023.
Her search begins with an ending.…
The master of the Providence plantation in Barbados gathers his slaves and announces the king has decreed an end to slavery. As of the following day, the Emancipation Act of 1834 will come into effect. The cries of joy fall silent when he announces that they are no longer his slaves; they are now his apprentices. No one can leave. They must work for him for another six years. Freedom is just another name for the life they have always lived. So Rachel runs.
Away from Providence, she begins a desperate search to find her children—the five who survived birth and were sold. Are any of them still alive? Rachel has to know. The gruelling, dangerous journey takes her from Barbados then, by river, deep into the forest of British Guiana and finally across the sea to Trinidad. She is driven on by the certainty that a mother cannot be truly free without knowing what has become of her children, even if the answer is more than she can bear. These are the stories of Mary Grace, Micah, Thomas Augustus, Cherry Jane and Mercy. But above all this is the story of Rachel and the extraordinary lengths to which a mother will go to find her children…and her freedom.
Author: Elanor Miller
Genre: Dystopian/ Noir Thriller
Publication Date: 24 Jan 2023
If you are looking to read an incredible story and support indie authors in 2023, Tenebrium is a great choice! I was given the honour of reviewing this earlier in the year and it covers some BIG topics! Written by award-winning screen writer and actress Elanor Miller, this debut novel is sure to turn heads this coming year.
The year is 2425, and the jazz age is in full swing—again. Guys, dolls, gangsters and molls, drugs and prohibition are just the tip of the iceberg for Detective Thea Williams and her mentor Walt as they struggle to solve a horrific series of murders, all the while dealing with the consequences and complications of their not-so-professional relationship. Embroiled in the case and stymied at every turn by the corrupt District Attorney, who also happens to be her estranged father, Thea quickly discovers a much more sinister plot. Thrown into a dark world of cults and corruption, Thea must fight for survival lest Tenebrium City eat her alive. In Tenebrium City, even neon lights cast shadows…
Title: The House of Eve
Author: Sadeqa Johnson
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: 7 Feb. 2023
After reading Yellow Wife for a book club meeting earlier in the year, Sadeqa Johnson became my very first auto-buy author. Her writing is simply stunning and I cannot wait to see what she comes up with this time.
1950s Philadelphia: fifteen-year-old Ruby Pearsall is on track to becoming the first in her family to attend college, in spite of having a mother more interested in keeping a man than raising a daughter. But a taboo love affair threatens to pull her back down into the poverty and desperation that has been passed on to her like a birthright. Eleanor Quarles arrives in Washington, DC, with ambition and secrets. When she meets the handsome William Pride at Howard University, they fall madly in love. But William hails from one of DC's elite wealthy Black families, and his par-ents don't let just anyone into their fold. Eleanor hopes that a baby will make her finally feel at home in William's family and grant her the life she's been searching for. But having a baby--and fitting in--is easier said than done. With their stories colliding in the most unexpected of ways, Ruby and Eleanor will both make decisions that shape the trajectory of their lives.
Author: Lauren Blackwood
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: 7 Feb. 2023
Inspired by Jamaican folklore, Wildblood is said to be both lyrical and poignant. With jungle vines and magic woven into this complex tale of love and healing, Wildblood looks like a title too good to miss.
Eighteen-year-old Victoria is a Wildblood. Kidnapped at the age of six and manipulated by the Exotic Lands Touring Company, she’s worked as a tour guide ever since with a team of fellow Wildbloods who take turns using their magic to protect travellers in a jungle teeming with all the ghostly monsters of Jamaican legend. When the boss denies Victoria the promotion that was promised to her in favour of Dean, her backstabbing ex, Victoria is determined to prove herself. Her magic may be the most powerful on the team, but she’s the wrong image the boss wants to send their new client, Laertes Thorn, a renowned goldminer determined to reach an untouched gold supply deep in the jungle. Thorn is everything Victoria isn’t – confident, impossibly kind, and so handsome he leaves her speechless. And when he entrusts the mission to her, kindness turns to mutual respect, turns to affection, turns to love. But the jungle is treacherous, and between hypnotic river spirits, soul-devouring women that shed their skin like snakes, and her ex out for revenge, Victoria has to decide – is promotion at a corrupt company really what she wants? A fierce, lush fantasy by New York Times bestselling author Lauren Blackwood, Wildblood tells the story of a girl who must find the strength to defeat the demons of the jungle as well as her own to find where she truly belongs.
Author: Jessica George
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publication Date: 16 Feb 2023
Debuts are coming in hot for 2023, and Maame is set to be one of the hottest! Feedback has said that it is unique, moving and funny and I am here for it! I have been lucky enough to get my hands on an ARC copy of this novel and hope to post a review in the new year.
Maame (ma-meh) has many meanings in Twi, but in my case, it means woman. Meet Maddie. All her life, she's been told who she is. To her Ghanaian parents, she's Maame: the one who takes care of the family. Her mum's stand-in. The primary carer for her father, who suffers from Parkinson's. She's the responsible sister, the quiet friend. The one who keeps the peace - and the secrets. It's time for her to speak up. Maddie knows what kind of woman she wants to be. One who wears a bright yellow suit, dates men who definitely aren't on her mum's list of prospective husbands, and stands up to her boss's microaggressions. Someone who doesn't have to google all her life choices. Who demands a seat at the table. But will it take losing everything to find her voice?
Title: Blood Debts
Author: Terry J. Benton-Walker
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: 4 Apr. 2023
Should I be worried that I have two titles on this list that include the word blood in the title? Nonetheless, I love a family saga and I love a magical story so this had to go on my wish list.
In New Orleans gods meddle and magic will betray you, but this time justice will reign. Thirty years ago, a young woman was murdered, a family was lynched, and New Orleans saw the greatest magical massacre in its history. In the days that followed, a throne was stolen from a queen. On the anniversary of these brutal events, Clement and Cristina Trudeau – the sixteen-year-old twin heirs to the powerful, magical, dethroned family – are mourning their father and caring for their sick mother. Until, by chance, they discover their mother isn’t sick – she’s cursed. Cursed by someone on the very magic council their family used to rule. Someone who will come for them next. Cristina, once a talented and dedicated practitioner of Generational magic, has given up magic for good. An ancient spell is what killed their father and she was the one who cast it. For Clement, magic is his lifeline. A distraction from his anger and pain. Even better than the random guys he hooks up with. Cristina and Clement used to be each other’s most trusted confidant and friend, now they barely speak. But if they have any hope of discovering who is coming after their family, they’ll have to find a way to trust each other and their family’s magic, all while solving the decades – old murder that sparked the still – rising tensions between the city’s magical and non-magical communities. And if they don’t succeed, New Orleans may see another massacre. Or worse.
Title: Dust Child
Author: Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai
Genre: Historical /War Fiction
Publication Date: 20 Apr. 2023
The Mountains Sing was probably my favourite book in 2022 (I’m writing this in November, so there is a slim chance that something else could snatch that title at the last minute), and was the only book that I bought both in paperback and audio formats so that I could enjoy it twice (the audiobook comes highly recommended). This book made me laugh, give thanks and cry buckets. Like Sadeqa Johnson, Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai has gone straight on my auto-buy list.
From the internationally bestselling author of The Mountains Sing, a suspenseful and moving saga about family secrets, hidden trauma, and the overriding power of forgiveness, set during the war and in present-day Việt Nam. In 1969, sisters Trang and Quỳnh, desperate to help their parents pay off debts, leave their rural village and become “bar girls” in Sài Gòn, drinking, flirting (and more) with American GIs in return for money. As the war moves closer to the city, the once-innocent Trang gets swept up in an irresistible romance with a young and charming American helicopter pilot, Dan. Decades later, Dan returns to Việt Nam with his wife, Linda, hoping to find a way to heal from his PTSD and, unbeknownst to her, reckon with secrets from his past. At the same time, Phong—the son of a Black American soldier and a Vietnamese woman—embarks on a search to find both his parents and a way out of Việt Nam. Abandoned in front of an orphanage, Phong grew up being called “the dust of life,” “Black American imperialist,” and “child of the enemy,” and he dreams of a better life for himself and his family in the U.S. Past and present converge as these characters come together to confront decisions made during a time of war—decisions that force them to look deep within and find common ground across race, generation, culture, and language. Suspenseful, poetic, and perfect for readers of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko or Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing, Dust Child tells an unforgettable and immersive story of how those who inherited tragedy can redefine their destinies through love, hard-earned wisdom, compassion, courage, and joy.
Title: Small Worlds
Author: Caleb Azumah Nelson
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publication Date: 11 May 2023
I aim to read diverse and women-centred fiction, but I would be the first to admit that I tend to gravitate towards women-centred fiction more than anything else. I hope to address that with this title. Small Worlds focuses on fathers and sons, and I am excited to hear the voice of this widely-acclaimed writer, whose previous novel Open Water was winner of the Costa First Novel Award in 2021, and winner of Debut Novel of the Year at the British Book Awards 2022.
The one thing that can solve Stephen's problems is dancing. Dancing at Church, with his parents and brother, the shimmer of Black hands raised in praise; he might have lost his faith, but he does believe in rhythm. Dancing with his friends, somewhere in a basement with the drums about to drop, while the DJ spins garage cuts. Dancing with his band, making music which speaks not just to the hardships of their lives, but the joys too. Dancing with his best friend Adeline, two-stepping around the living room, crooning and grooving, so close their heads might touch. Dancing alone, at home, to his father's records, uncovering parts of a man he has never truly known. Stephen has only ever known himself in song. But what becomes of him when the music fades? When his father begins to speak of shame and sacrifice, when his home is no longer his own? How will he find space for himself: a place where he can feel beautiful, a place he might feel free? Set over the course of three summers in Stephen's life, from London to Ghana and back again, Small Worlds is an exhilarating and expansive novel about the worlds we build for ourselves, the worlds we live, dance and love within.
Title: Immortal Longings (Flesh and False Gods, #1)
Author: Chloe Gong
Genre: Fantasy Fiction
Publication Date: 25 July 2023
I tried to pick mostly standalones for this list, but I couldn’t resist this title, which looks like it will be everything an epic fantasy fan could want. Please note that the UK cover hasn’t been revealed as yet, but you can read the first chapter on the book website by clicking here.
Every year, thousands in the kingdom of Talin will flock to its capital twin cities, San-Er, where the palace hosts a set of games. For those confident enough in their ability to jump between bodies, competitors across San-Er fight to the death to win unimaginable riches. Princess Calla Tuoleimi lurks in hiding. Five years ago, a massacre killed her parents and left the palace of Er empty…and she was the one who did it. Before King Kasa’s forces in San can catch her, she plans to finish the job and bring down the monarchy. Her reclusive uncle always greets the victor of the games, so if she wins, she gets her opportunity at last to kill him. Enter Anton Makusa, an exiled aristocrat. His childhood love has lain in a coma since they were both ousted from the palace, and he’s deep in debt trying to keep her alive. Thankfully, he’s one of the best jumpers in the kingdom, flitting from body to body at will. His last chance at saving her is entering the games and winning. Calla finds both an unexpected alliance with Anton and help from King Kasa’s adopted son, August, who wants to mend Talin’s ills. But the three of them have very different goals, even as Calla and Anton’s partnership spirals into something all-consuming. Before the games close, Calla must decide what she’s playing for—her lover or her kingdom.
That’s my list for 2023. Will you be adding any of these to your wish list? Do you have any books that you are looking forward to having in your hands? Let me know!
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