Happy New Year! I am manifesting all of the best for 2023, and that includes you all reading the best possible books. Last year was a record year for me in terms of reading, and I plan on carrying that right over into January. Here are the 10 books coming out this month that I’m most excited about and why!
Books are listed in order of release date.
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Release Date: January 3rd, 2023
Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Goodreads Summary: From New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hawkins comes a deliciously wicked gothic suspense, set at an Italian villa with a dark history, for fans of Lucy Foley and Ruth Ware.
As kids, Emily and Chess were inseparable. But by their 30s, their bond has been strained by the demands of their adult lives. So when Chess suggests a girls trip to Italy, Emily jumps at the chance to reconnect with her best friend.
Villa Aestas in Orvieto is a high-end holiday home now, but in 1974, it was known as Villa Rosato, and rented for the summer by a notorious rock star, Noel Gordon. In an attempt to reignite his creative spark, Noel invites up-and-coming musician, Pierce Sheldon to join him, as well as Pierce’s girlfriend, Mari, and her stepsister, Lara. But he also sets in motion a chain of events that leads to Mari writing one of the greatest horror novels of all time, Lara composing a platinum album––and ends in Pierce’s brutal murder.
As Emily digs into the villa’s complicated history, she begins to think there might be more to the story of that fateful summer in 1974. That perhaps Pierce’s murder wasn’t just a tale of sex, drugs, and rock & roll gone wrong, but that something more sinister might have occurred––and that there might be clues hidden in the now-iconic works that Mari and Lara left behind.
Yet the closer that Emily gets to the truth, the more tension she feels developing between her and Chess. As secrets from the past come to light, equally dangerous betrayals from the present also emerge––and it begins to look like the villa will claim another victim before the summer ends.
Inspired by Fleetwood Mac, the Manson murders, and the infamous summer Percy and Mary Shelley spent with Lord Byron at a Lake Geneva castle––the birthplace of Frankenstein––The Villa welcomes you into its deadly legacy.
Thoughts: I’m so excited to explore this “deadly legacy” that the Goodreads summary boasts. This thriller novel that reunites two childhood best friends who’ve been separated by time and circumstance with a trip to Italy. I just went to Italy last year and I am separated from many of my (college) best friends due to the “demands of [our] adult lives” so this book is basically about me.
Friday I’m in Love
Author: Camryn Garrett
Release Date: January 10th, 2023
Genre: Young Adult Romance
Goodreads Summary: It’s too late for a Sweet Sixteen but what if Mahalia had a Coming Out Party? A love letter to romantic comedies, sweet sixteen blowouts, black joy and queer pride.
Mahalia Harris wants.
She wants a big Sweet Sixteen like her best friend Naomi.
She wants the super cute new girl Siobhan to like her back.
She wants a break from worrying–about money, snide remarks from white classmates, pitying looks from church ladies . . . all of it.
Then inspiration strikes: It’s too late for a Sweet Sixteen, but what if she had a Coming Out Party? A singing, dancing, rainbow-cake-eating celebration of queerness on her own terms.
The idea lights a fire in her, and soon Mahalia is scrimping and saving, taking on extra hours at her afterschool job, trying on dresses, and awkwardly flirting with Siobhan, all in preparation for the Coming Out of her dreams. But it’s not long before she’s buried in a mountain of bills, unfinished schoolwork, and enough drama to make her English Lit teacher blush. With all the responsibility on her shoulders, will Mahalia’s party be over before it’s even begun?
A novel about finding yourself, falling in love, and celebrating what makes you you.
Thoughts: I love books unapologetically out and proud queer teens. It’s such an emotional reminder of what this new generation has that my own (and the generations before me) did not even have the luxury of imagining. I love Camryn Garrett, and am excited to read this latest book from her.
Author: Prince Harry
Release Date: January 10th, 2023
Goodreads Summary: It was one of the most searing images of the twentieth century: two young boys, two princes, walking behind their mother’s coffin as the world watched in sorrow – and horror. As Diana, Princess of Wales, was laid to rest, billions wondered what the princes must be thinking and feeling – and how their lives would play out from that point on.
For Harry, this is that story at last.
With its raw, unflinching honesty, Spare is a landmark publication full of insight, revelation, self-examination, and hard-won wisdom about the eternal power of love over grief.
Prince Harry wishes to support British charities with donations from his proceeds from Spare. The Duke of Sussex has donated $1,500,000 to Sentebale, an organisation he founded with Prince Seeiso in their mothers’ legacies, which supports vulnerable children and young people in Lesotho and Botswana affected by HIV/AIDS. Prince Harry will also donate to the non-profit organisation WellChild in the amount of £300,000. WellChild, which he has been Royal patron of for fifteen years, makes it possible for children and young people with complex health needs to be cared for at home instead of hospital, wherever possible.
Thoughts: I do not want to even put this book on my list, but what type of book list writer would I be to not include it. Now that Prince Harry and Meghan have broken their silence with both their documentary and this book, it’s fascinating to hear everything they have to say. Goodreads has unfortunately already been flooded with negative reviews of people who simply hate Prince Harry, but I will be intrigued to see what comes out of it regardless.
All the Dangerous Things
Author: Stacy Willingham
Release Date: January 10th, 2023
Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Goodreads Summary: One year ago, Isabelle Drake’s life changed forever: her toddler son, Mason, was taken out of his crib in the middle of the night while she and her husband were asleep in the next room. With little evidence and few leads for the police to chase, the case quickly went cold. However, Isabelle cannot rest until Mason is returned to her—literally.
Except for the occasional catnap or small blackout where she loses track of time, she hasn’t slept in a year.
Isabelle’s entire existence now revolves around finding him, but she knows she can’t go on this way forever. In hopes of jarring loose a new witness or buried clue, she agrees to be interviewed by a true-crime podcaster—but his interest in Isabelle’s past makes her nervous. His incessant questioning paired with her severe insomnia has brought up uncomfortable memories from her own childhood, making Isabelle start to doubt her recollection of the night of Mason’s disappearance, as well as second-guess who she can trust… including herself. But she is determined to figure out the truth no matter where it leads.
Thoughts: This book is a parent’s AND an insomniac’s nightmare. Isabelle cannot sleep until she finds the toddler who was stolen from her bed in the middle of the night. It sounds like this book could either fall into cliches of superhero parents or be emotionally resonant. We’ll have to wait and see!
The Bandit Queens
Author: Parni Shroff
Release Date: January 17th, 2023
Genre: Adult Contemporary / Mystery
Goodreads Summary: Geeta’s no-good husband disappeared five years ago. She didn’t kill him, but everyone thinks she did–no matter how much she protests.
But she soon discovers that being known as a “self-made” widow has some surprising perks. No one messes with her, no one threatens her, and no one tries to control (ahem, marry) her. It’s even been good for her business; no one wants to risk getting on her bad side by not buying her jewelry.
Freedom must look good on Geeta, because other women in the village have started asking for her help to get rid of their own no-good husbands…but not all of them are asking nicely.
Now that Geeta’s fearsome reputation has become a double-edged sword, she must decide how far to go to protect it, along with the life she’s built. Because even the best-laid plans of would-be widows tend to go awry.
Thoughts: I’m so delighted by this girl power X murder story where a woman (who did not kill her husband) is tasked with killing the husbands of other women in her village. It’s going to be so good and I cannot wait for it to come out!
Really Good, Actually
Author: Monica Heisey
Release Date: January 17th, 2023
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Literary Fiction
Goodreads Summary: A hilarious and painfully relatable debut novel about one woman’s messy search for joy and meaning in the wake of an unexpected breakup, from comedian, essayist, and award-winning screenwriter 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.
Laugh-out-loud funny and filled with sharp observations, Really Good, Actually is a tender and bittersweet comedy that lays bare the uncertainties of modern love, friendship, and our search for that thing we like to call “happiness”. This is a remarkable debut from an unforgettable new voice in fiction.
Thoughts: I’m so excited to see where this debut novel is going to go! Books that try too hard to be funny are sometimes the least funny of all, but I have high hopes for Heisey given that she is a comedian in her own right. We’ve talked at length— on this site and on the internet at large— about the Unhinged Woman, and I can’t wait to see whether this book leans into or subverts the trope.
I Am Ace: Advice on Living Your Best Asexual Life
Author: Cody Daigle-Orians
Release Date: January 19th, 2023
Goodreads Summary: How do I know if I’m actually sexual?
How do I come out as asexual?
What kinds of relationship can I have as an ace person?
If you are looking for answers to these questions, Cody is here to help. Within these pages lie all the advice you need as a questioning ace teen.
Tackling everything from what asexuality is, the asexual spectrum and tips on coming out, to intimacy, relationships, acephobia and finding joy, this guide will help you better understand your asexual identity alongside deeply relatable anecdotes drawn from Cody’s personal experience.
Whether you are ace, demi, gray-ace or not sure yet, this book will give you the courage and confidence to embrace your authentic self and live your best ace life.
Thoughts: I Am Ace was such an incredibly captivating read. As someone who only knew the basics of asexuality, I enjoyed hearing Daigle-Orians specific experience as well as the more generalized details he provided. If you are looking for a primer on asexuality, or just want to feel a little less alone in your identity, this is well worth the read.
Georgie, All Along
Author: Kate Clayborn
Release Date: January 24th, 2023
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Goodreads Summary: The acclaimed author of Love Lettering weaves a wise and witty new novel that echoes with timely questions about love, career, reconciling with the past, and finding your path while knowing your true worth.
Longtime personal assistant Georgie Mulcahy has made a career out of putting others before herself. When an unexpected upheaval sends her away from her hectic job in L.A. and back to her hometown, Georgie must confront an uncomfortable truth: her own wants and needs have always been a disconcertingly blank page.
But then Georgie comes across a forgotten artifact—a “friendfic” diary she wrote as a teenager, filled with possibilities she once imagined. To an overwhelmed Georgie, the diary’s simple, small-scale ideas are a lifeline—a guidebook for getting started on a new path.
Georgie’s plans hit a snag when she comes face to face with an unexpected roommate—Levi Fanning, onetime town troublemaker and current town hermit. But this quiet, grouchy man is more than just his reputation, and he offers to help Georgie with her quest. As the two make their way through her wishlist, Georgie begins to realize that what she truly wants might not be in the pages of her diary after all, but right by her side—if only they can both find a way to let go of the pasts that hold them back.
Honest and deeply emotional, Georgie, All Along is a smart, tender must-read for everyone who’s ever wondered about the life that got away…
Thoughts: This looks so cute! From the cover to the book description, I cannot wait to hold it in my hands. I have never heard of a “friendfic” diary personally, so I will be doing some googling after this to see if it is real or if it is something that’s been invented by Clayborn for the purpose of this novel. Either way, I cannot wait to find out more and watch Georgie achieve her dreams.
Behind the Scenes
Author: Karelia Stetz-Waters
Release Date: January 31st, 2023
Genre: Adult LGBTQ+ Romance
Goodreads Summary: Fans of Abby Jimenez and Meryl Wilsner will fall in love with this hilarious and refreshingly authentic novel about second chances, pugs, and finding the perfect muse . . .
Business consultant Rose Josten might not have officially reached “pug lady” middle age, but she’s already got the pugs—along with their little Gucci coats and trash-lovin’ appetites. Still, life is good, with her work, her sisters, and a secret hobby creating incredibly tactile (if surprisingly sexy) mindfulness videos. So why does it feel like it’s not quite enough? Which is exactly when former filmmaker Ash Stewart enters camera left, and Rose’s world suddenly goes full technicolor . . .
Ash never looks at anyone. Not since her ex ripped her heart from her chest in Spielberg-esque style, crushing Ash’s reputation, dreams, and directorial career in one brutal blow. But Rose is altogether different. She’s curvy, beautiful, and just so damn put together. And her business expertise might be Ash’s best bet for getting her last film—and her last chance—financed. Now if they can just keep their attraction under wraps, Ash’s lost dream could finally come true. But are they creating movie magic . . . or setting the stage for disaster?
Thoughts: This was the first 2023 e-ARC I received and reviewed, and it most definitely set my standards high. The romance in this book was well-crafted, and I felt seen by the “workaholic nearly passes up a chance at love” trope. If you’re looking for a cheesy and fun lesbian romance novel this month, Behind the Scenes is definitely worth the read.
Author: Jessica George
Release Date: January 31st, 2023
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Goodreads Summary: Maame (ma-meh) has many meanings in Twi but in my case, it means woman.
It’s fair to say that Maddie’s life in London is far from rewarding. With a mother who spends most of her time in Ghana (yet still somehow manages to be overbearing), Maddie is the primary caretaker for her father, who suffers from advanced stage Parkinson’s. At work, her boss is a nightmare and Maddie is tired of always being the only Black person in every meeting.
When her mum returns from her latest trip to Ghana, Maddie leaps at the chance to get out of the family home and finally start living. A self-acknowledged late bloomer, she’s ready to experience some important “firsts”: She finds a flat share, says yes to after-work drinks, pushes for more recognition in her career, and throws herself into the bewildering world of internet dating. But it’s not long before tragedy strikes, forcing Maddie to face the true nature of her unconventional family, and the perils––and rewards––of putting her heart on the line.
Smart, funny, and deeply affecting, Maame deals with the themes of our time with humor and poignancy: from familial duty and racism, to female pleasure, the complexity of love, and the life-saving power of friendship. Most important, it explores what it feels like to be torn between two homes and cultures―and it celebrates finally being able to find where you belong.
Thoughts: The cover of this book captivated me instantly; it’s gorgeous. After reading the description, I’m sure that Maame will absolutely tear me apart and leave me in emotional ruin. The fact that it’s going to be a modern day book that actually explores the world of dating apps is so fun and something that I feel like other authors just avoid. I cannot wait to read it!
What books are you most excited for this month?