I have to admit something that is maybe going to get me canceled as an artist who vocally advocates for supporting art you love. (Especially with your dollars.) I don’t track new releases. I’m always coming to things late – books, Netflix shows, Broadway musicals, whatever. I may accidentally stumble upon the next big thing before it pops off, but trust me… it is truly by accident. But this year, this year of being Intentional, I’m trying to change that. I want to know what’s going on in the spaces I navigate in. So, without further ado, here are the 2023 new book releases that I am excited about.
Happy Place by Emily Henry
Harriet and Wyn are the perfect couple – they go together like bread and butter, gin and tonic, Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds. Except, now they don’t.
They broke up six months ago. And they still haven’t told anyone.
Which is how they end up sharing a bedroom at the cottage that has been their yearly getaway with their best friends for the past decade. For one glorious week they leave behind their lives, drink far too much wine and soak up the sea air with their favourite people.
Only this year, Harriet and Wyn are lying through their teeth. The cottage is for sale so this is the last time they’ll all be together here and they can’t bear to break their friends’ hearts. So, they’ll fake it for one more week.
It’s a flawless plan (if you look at it through a pair of sunscreen-smeared sunglasses).
But how can you pretend to be in love with someone – and get away with it – in front of the people who know you best?
Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo
(Note: I’m not including a picture of the cover. I love Leigh Bardugo, I really like the Ninth House series, but I just cannot see that on my own blog every day y’all.)
Find a gateway to the underworld. Steal a soul out of hell. A simple plan, except people who make this particular journey rarely come back. But Galaxy “Alex” Stern is determined to break Darlington out of purgatory―even if it costs her a future at Lethe and at Yale.
Forbidden from attempting a rescue, Alex and Dawes can’t call on the Ninth House for help, so they assemble a team of dubious allies to save the gentleman of Lethe. Together, they will have to navigate a maze of arcane texts and bizarre artifacts to uncover the societies’ most closely guarded secrets, and break every rule doing it. But when faculty members begin to die off, Alex knows these aren’t just accidents. Something deadly is at work in New Haven, and if she is going to survive, she’ll have to reckon with the monsters of her past and a darkness built into the university’s very walls.
Thick with history and packed with Bardugo’s signature twists, Hell Bent brings to life an intricate world full of magic, violence, and all too real monsters
Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey
Maggie is fine. She’s doing really good, actually. Sure, she’s broke, her graduate thesis on something obscure is going nowhere, and her marriage only lasted 608 days, but at the ripe old age of twenty-nine, Maggie is determined to embrace her new life as a Surprisingly Young Divorcée™.
Now she has time to take up nine hobbies, eat hamburgers at 4 am, and “get back out there” sex-wise. With the support of her tough-loving academic advisor, Merris; her newly divorced friend, Amy; and her group chat (naturally), Maggie barrels through her first year of single life, intermittently dating, occasionally waking up on the floor and asking herself tough questions along the way.
Brutes by Dizz Tate
We would not be born out of sweetness, we were born out of rage, we felt it in our bones.
In Falls Landing, Florida–a place built of theme parks, swampy lakes, and scorched bougainvillea flowers–something sinister lurks in the deep. A gang of thirteen-year-old girls obsessively orbit around the local preacher’s daughter, Sammy. She is mesmerizing, older, and in love with Eddie. But suddenly, Sammy goes missing. Where is she? Watching from a distance, they edge ever closer to discovering a dark secret about their fame-hungry town and the cruel cost of a ticket out. What they see will continue to haunt them for the rest of their lives.
Through a darkly beautiful and brutally compelling lens, Dizz Tate captures the violence, horrors, and manic joys of girlhood. Brutes is a novel about the seemingly unbreakable bonds in the we of young friendship, and the moment it is broken forever.
VenCo by Cherie Dimaline
Lucky St. James, a Métis millennial living with her cantankerous but loving grandmother Stella, is barely hanging on when she discovers she will be evicted from their tiny Toronto apartment. Then, one night, something strange and irresistible calls out to Lucky. Burrowing through a wall, she finds a silver spoon etched with a crooked-nosed witch and the word SALEM, humming with otherworldly energy.
Hundreds of miles away in Salem, Myrna Good has been looking for Lucky. Myrna works for VenCo, a front company fueled by vast resources of dark money.
Lucky is familiar with the magic of her indigenous ancestors, but she has no idea that the spoon links her to VenCo’s network of witches throughout North America. Generations of witches have been waiting for centuries for the seven spoons to come together, igniting a new era, and restoring women to their rightful power.
But as reckoning approaches, a very powerful adversary is stalking their every move. He’s Jay Christos, a roguish and deadly witch-hunter as old as witchcraft itself.
To find the last spoon, Lucky and Stella embark on a rollicking and dangerous road trip to the darkly magical city of New Orleans, where the final showdown will determine whether VenCo will usher in a new beginning…or remain underground forever.
The Applicant by Nazli Koca
It’s 2017 and Leyla, a Turkish twenty-something living in Berlin is scrubbing toilets at an Alice in Wonderland-themed hostel after failing her thesis, losing her student visa, and suing her German university in a Kafkaesque attempt to reverse her failure.
Increasingly distant from what used to be at arm’s reach—writerly ambitions, tight knit friendships, a place to call home—Leyla attempts to find solace in the techno beats of Berlin’s nightlife, with little success. Right as the clock winds down on the hold on her visa, Leyla meets a conservative Swedish tourist and—against her political convictions and better judgment—begins to fall in love, or something like it. Will she accept an IKEA life with the Volvo salesman and relinquish her creative dreams, or return to Turkey to her mother and sister, codependent and enmeshed, her father’s ghost still haunting their lives?
While she waits for the German court’s verdict on her future, in the pages of her diary, Leyla begins to parse her unresolved past and untenable present. An indelible character at once precocious and imperiled, Leyla gives voice to the working-class and immigrant struggle to find safety, self-expression, and happiness. The Applicant is an extraordinary dissection of a liminal life between borders and identities, an original and darkly funny debut.
I Have Some Questions For You by Rebecca Makkai
A successful film professor and podcaster, Bodie Kane is content to forget her past—the family tragedy that marred her adolescence, her four largely miserable years at a New Hampshire boarding school, and the murder of her former roommate, Thalia Keith, in the spring of their senior year. Though the circumstances surrounding Thalia’s death and the conviction of the school’s athletic trainer, Omar Evans, are hotly debated online, Bodie prefers—needs—to let sleeping dogs lie.
But when the Granby School invites her back to teach a course, Bodie is inexorably drawn to the case and its increasingly apparent ﬂaws. In their rush to convict Omar, did the school and the police overlook other suspects? Is the real killer still out there? As she falls down the very rabbit hole she was so determined to avoid, Bodie begins to wonder if she wasn’t as much of an outsider at Granby as she’d thought—if, perhaps, back in 1995, she knew something that might have held the key to solving the case.
In I Have Some Questions for You, award-winning author Rebecca Makkai has crafted her most irresistible novel yet: a stirring investigation into collective memory and a deeply felt examination of one woman’s reckoning with her past, with a transﬁxing mystery at its heart. Timely, hypnotic, and populated with a cast of unforgettable characters, I Have Some Questions for You is at once a compulsive page-turner and a literary triumph.
Lone Women by Victor LaValle
Blue skies, empty land—and enough room to hide away a horrifying secret. Or is there? Discover a haunting new vision of the American West from the award-winning author of The Changeling.
Adelaide Henry carries an enormous steamer trunk with her wherever she goes. It’s locked at all times. Because when the trunk is opened, people around her start to disappear…
The year is 1914, and Adelaide is in trouble. Her secret sin killed her parents, and forced her to flee her hometown of Redondo, California, in a hellfire rush, ready to make her way to Montana as a homesteader. Dragging the trunk with her at every stop, she will be one of the “lone women” taking advantage of the government’s offer of free land for those who can cultivate it—except that Adelaide isn’t alone. And the secret she’s tried so desperately to lock away might be the only thing keeping her alive.
Told in Victor LaValle’s signature style, blending historical fiction, shimmering prose, and inventive horror, Lone Women is the gripping story of a woman desperate to bury her past—and a portrait of early twentieth-century America like you’ve never seen.
Backpacking Through Bedlam by Seanan McGuire
Now in trade paperback, the twelfth book in the fast-paced InCryptid urban fantasy series returns to the mishaps of the Price family, eccentric cryptozoologists who safeguard the world of magical creatures living in secret among humans.
With the wonders of the cosmos open to them, Thomas and Alice Price have returned to the most exciting place they could think of: home.
But it’s been a while, and they’re out of step. What’s more, trouble is brewing in New York, trouble that threatens both their family and the fragile peace they’ve been maintaining for generations. Time to get weird.
How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix
Every childhood home is haunted, and each of us are possessed by our parents.
When their parents die at the tail end of the coronavirus pandemic, Louise and Mark Joyner are devastated but nothing can prepare them for how bad things are about to get. The two siblings are almost totally estranged, and couldn’t be more different. Now, however, they don’t have a choice but to get along. The virus has passed, and both of them are facing bank accounts ravaged by the economic meltdown. Their one asset? Their childhood home. They need to get it on the market as soon as possible because they need the money. Yet before her parents died they taped newspaper over the mirrors and nailed shut the attic door.
Sometimes we feel like puppets, controlled by our upbringing and our genes. Sometimes we feel like our parents treat us like toys, or playthings, or even dolls. The past can ground us, teach us, and keep us safe. It can also trap us, and bind us, and suffocate the life out of us. As disturbing events stack up in the house, Louise and Mark have to learn that sometimes the only way to break away from the past, sometimes the only way to sell a haunted house, is to burn it all down.
And there you have it, my friends! These are the 2023 new book releases that I am most excited about… at least in the first half of the year. Will I read them all? Well, I’m going to link my reviews back to this post, so come visit in 6 months to see!
What 2023 new releases are you most excited for?