And I’m back with one of my favourite book lists to curate! My most anticipated reads of 2023 – the ones that have caught my eye and I’m determined to read at some point in the year.
Whether I actually succeed is an entirely different conversation.
I’ve been sent a few books and there’s a couple I can’t wait to read eventually! Regardless let’s get into it!
The Final Offer – Lauren Asher
Release Date: 31st January 2023
I’m the Kane brother everyone gossips about behind closed doors.
Trust fund brat. Washed-up athelete. High-functioning alcoholic.
No one know the real me but her.
Lana Castillo – my childhood best friend and the only woman I ever loved.
When I broke her heart six years ago, I promised to never return to Lake Wisteria.
I kept my word until my grandfather’s will changed everything.
To receive my inheritance, I was tasked with spending a summer at the family lake house before selling it.
The request was simple in theory, until my entire my plan blew up on the very first day.
Turns out Lana doesn’t just live at the house, but she claims to own it too.
Falling in love with Callahan Kane was a mistake.
He told me so before destroying my heart and our friendship six summers ago.
When he promised never to come back, I foolishly believed him.
But then Cal showed up again, intending to sell his grandfather’s lake house.
The biggest flaw in his plan?
My name is on the deed.
A Spell of Good Things – Ayòbámi Adébáyò
Release Date: 9th February 2023
From the author of the amazing Stay With Me, comes A Spell of Good Things.
Eniola is tall for his age, a boy who looks like a man. His father has lost his job, so Eniola spends his days running errands for the local tailor, collecting newspapers and begging, dreaming of a big future.
Wuraola is a golden girl, the perfect child of a wealthy family. Now an exhausted young doctor in her first year of practice, she is beloved by Kunle, the volatile son of family friends.
When a local politician takes an interest in Eniola and sudden violence shatters a family party, Wuraola and Eniola’s lives become intertwined. In this breathtaking novel, Ayòbámi Adébáyò shines her light on Nigeria, on the gaping divide between the haves and the have-nots, and the shared humanity that lives in between.
Maame – Jessica George
Release Date: 14th February 2023
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?
Dazzling – Chikodili Emelumadu
Release date: 16th February 2023
Treasure and her mother lost everything when Treasure’s daddy died. Haggling for scraps in the market, Treasure meets a spirit who promises to bring her father back – but she has to do something for him first.
Ozoemena has an itch in the middle of her back that can’t be scratched. An itch that speaks to her patrilineal destiny, to defend her people by becoming a leopard. Her father impressed upon her what an honour this was before he vanished, but it’s one she couldn’t want less.
But as the two girls reckon with their burgeoning wildness and the legacy of their fathers’ decisions, Ozoemena’s fellow students at her new boarding school start to vanish. Treasure and Ozoemena will face terrible choices as each must ask herself: in a world that always says ‘no’ to women, what must two young girls sacrifice to get what is theirs?
Hungry Ghosts – Kevin Jared Hosein
Release date: 16th February 2023
On a hill overlooking Bell Village sits the Changoor farm, where Dalton and Marlee Changoor live in luxury unrecognisable to those who reside in the farm’s shadow. Down below is the barrack, a ramshackle building of wood and tin, divided into rooms occupied by whole families. Among these families are the Saroops – Hans, Shweta, and their son, Krishna, who live hard lives of backbreaking work, grinding poverty and devotion to faith.
When Dalton Changoor goes missing and Marlee’s safety is compromised, farmhand Hans is lured by the promise of a handsome stipend to move to the farm as watchman. But as the mystery of Dalton’s disappearance unfolds their lives become hellishly entwined, and the small community altered forever.
Hungry Ghosts is a mesmerising novel about violence, religion, family and class, rooted in the wild and pastoral landscape of colonial central Trinidad.
Rose and the Burma Sky – Rosanne A Brown
Release date: 23rd February 2023
One war, one soldier, one enduring love
1939: In a village in south-east Nigeria on the brink of the Second World War, young Obi watches from a mango tree as a colonial army jeep speeds by, filled with soldiers laughing and shouting, their buttons shining in the sun. To Obi, their promise of a smart uniform and regular wages is hard to resist, especially as he has his sweetheart Rose to impress and a family to support.
Years later, when Rose falls pregnant to another man, his heart is shattered. As the Burma Campaign mounts, and Obi is shipped out to fight, he is haunted by the mystery of Rose’s lover. When his identity comes to light, Obi’s devastation leads to a tragic chain of unexpected events.
Rootless – Krystle Zara Appiah
Release Date: 16th March 2023
There are two sides to every love story…
Teenagers Efe and Sam first meet in London in the 1990s. Years later the best friends are married. Their love story couldn’t seem more perfect. But Sam wants to start a family.
Efe wants to be free from children to focus on her dreams. When an unplanned pregnancy forces them to confront their differences, Efe and Sam must discover if what they really want is still each other…
A poignant, heart-breaking debut about a British-Ghanaian marriage in crisis, Rootless is a story of friendship, family, societal obligation and motherhood. But above all, it’s a story of love.
Dust Child – Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai
Release Date: 20th April 2023 (differs on sites)
From the author of When the Mountains Sing, comes Dust Child.
In 1969, two sisters from rural Việt Nam leave their parents’ home and travel to the bustling city of Sài Gòn. Soon their lives are swept up in the unstoppable flames of a war that is blazing through their country. They begin working as ‘bar girls’ in one of the drinking dens frequented by American GIs, forced to accept that survival now might mean compromising the values they once treasured.
Decades later, two men wander through the streets and marketplaces of a very different Sài Gòn: modern, forward-looking, healing. Phong – the son of a Black American soldier and a Vietnamese woman – embarks on a search to find his parents and a way out of Việt Nam, while Dan, a war veteran, hopes that retracing the steps of his youth will ease the PTSD that has plagued him for decades.
When the lives of these unforgettable characters converge, each is forced to reckon with the explosive events of history that still ripple through their lives. Now they must work out what it takes to move forward in this richly poetic saga from Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai at her very best.
Rosewater – Liv Little
Release date: 20th April 2023
Elsie is a sexy, funny, and fiercely independent woman in South London. But, at just 28, she is also tired. Though she spends her days writing tender poetry in her journal, her nights are spent working long hours for minimum wage at a neighbourhood gay bar.
The difficulty of being estranged from her family, struggle of being continually rejected from jobs, and fear of never making money doing what she loves, is too great. But Elsie is determined to keep the faith, for a little longer at least. Things will surely turn around. They have to.
As she tries to breathe through the panic attacks, sleeping with her hot and spirited co-worker Bea isn’t exactly straightforward and offers Elsie just another place to hide.
As Elsie tries to reconnect with her best friend Juliet, her fragile world spirals out of control. Can Elsie steady herself and not fall through the cracks?
Happy Place – Emily Henry
Release Date: 27th April 2023
Two exes. One pact.
Could this holiday change everything?
Harriet and Wyn are the perfect couple – they go together like bread and butter, gin and tonic, Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds.
Every year for the past decade, they have run away from their lives to drink far too much wine and soak up the sea air with their favourite people in the world.
Except this year, they are lying through their teeth. Harriet and Wyn broke up six months ago. And they still haven’t told anyone.
But this is the last time they’ll all be together here. The cottage is for sale, and since they can’t bear to break their best friends’ hearts, they’ll fake it for one more week.
But how can you pretend to be in love – and get away with it – in front of the people who know you best?
The Three of Us – Ore Agbaje-Williams
Release Date: 11th May 2023
Wife. Husband. Best friend. What if your two favourite people hated each other with a passion?
A nice house, a carefree life, a doting husband , a best friend who never leaves your side. What more could you ask for? There’s just one problem, your husband and best friend love you, but they hate each other.
Set over the course of a single day, husband, wife and best friend Temi toe the lines of compromise and betrayal. Told in three parts, each voice as compelling as the next, three people’s lives, and their visions of themselves and each other begin to slowly unravel, until a startling discovery throws everyone’s integrity into question.
Small Worlds – Caleb Azumah Nelson
Release Date: 11th May 2023
From the best-selling author of Open Water, comes Small Worlds.
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.
Yellowface – R F Kuang
Release date: 25th May 2023
From the best-selling author of The Poppy War series and Babel, comes Yellowface.
Athena Liu is a literary darling. Juniper Hayward is literally nobody.
When Athena dies in a freak accident, Juniper steals her unpublished manuscript and publishes it as her own under the ambiguous name June Song.
But as evidence threatens Juniper’s stolen success, she will discover exactly how far she will go to keep what she thinks she deserves.
What happens next is entirely everyone else’s fault.
Everything’s Fine – Cecilia Rabess
Release date: 6th June 2023
When Jess lands a job as an analyst at Goldman Sachs, she’s less than thrilled to learn she’ll be on the same team as Josh, her old sparring partner from college. Josh loves playing the devil’s advocate and is just…the worst.
But when Jess finds herself the sole Black woman on the floor, overlooked and underestimated, it’s Josh who shows up for her in surprising–if imperfect ways. Before long, an unlikely friendship–one tinged with undeniable chemistry–forms between the two. A friendship that gradually, and then suddenly, turns into an electrifying romance that shocks them both.
Despite their differences, the force of their attraction propels the relationship forwards, and Jess realizes maybe it’s more important to be happy than right. But then it’s 2016, and the cultural and political landscape shifts underneath them. And Jess, who is just beginning to discover who she is and who she has the right to be, is forced to ask herself what she’s willing to compromise for love and whether, in fact, everything’s fine.
The List – Yomi Adegoke
Release Date: 6th July 2023
Ola Olajide, a high-profile journalist at Womxxxn magazine, is marrying the love of her life in one month’s time. Young, beautiful, successful – she and her fiance Michael are the ‘couple goals’ of their social networks and seem to have it all.
That is, until one morning when they both wake up to the same message:
‘Oh my god, have you seen The List?’
The Situationship – Taylor-Dior Rumble
Release date: 17th August 2023
When the love of her life shows up with a girlfriend, Tia decides it’s time to put herself out there.
Expectations of dating apps are low, so it’s a surprise when she instantly connects with handsome photographer Nate. He’s everything she’s looking for; he makes her feel safe, seen, and desired.
Tia assumes they’re on the same page – the only catch? They’re yet to have The Talk.
In a generation that’s normalised competing over who cares the least, can Tia overcome her fears and lay her cards on the table, in the pursuit of something real?
To My Sisters: A Guide to Building Lifelong Friendships – Courtney Daniella Boateng and Renee Kapuku
Release date: 9th March 2023
Everyone needs someone to love, support and cherish them unconditionally. Except, it doesn’t always take the form of a spouse or a parent. What if the relationship you craved was a good ol’ sister?
From the hosts of the hit podcast, To My Sisters, comes this essential guide to sisterhood.
Renee Kapuku and Courtney Daniella Boateng have one goal – to see women win. With their own friendship spanning a decade, their mission to reinvigorate sisterhood and redefine womanhood has turned into a global community of women helping each other to reclaim their power.
Join these ‘online big sisters’ as they draw from their intimate experiences to teach, guide and show you how to embrace the power of friendship and community in an authentic way. Packed with practical advice, reflective activities and wise words, To My Sisters will teach you how to find, build and nourish lifelong friendships.
Let’s grow and glow together
Mandem – Iggy London, Christian Adofo, Ashley Hickson-Lovence, Athian Akec, Dipo Faloyin, Jordan Stephens, Okechukwu Nzelu, Jeffrey Boakye, Phil Samba, Sope Soetan and Yomi Sode
Release date: 9th March 2023
Told from the perspective of some of the finest contemporary Black writers and thinkers, MANDEM is an ode to the moments in our pasts that shape us, and gratitude at being able to appreciate these lessons in the present.
In a beautiful blend of prose and lyricism, each essay sees its author tap into their most vulnerable place ― engaging honestly in conversations often silently grappled with by Black British men because of socially enforced beliefs around Black masculinity.
The themes in this essay collection range from the importance of male role-models, and the unique relationship between mother and son to the sexual pressure placed on young heterosexual men, while also asking the question: “what does contemporary Black queerness actually look like?”
It’s Not That Radical: Climate Action to Transform Our World – Mikaela Loach
Release date: 6th April 2023
For too long, representations of climate action in the mainstream media have been white-washed, green-washed and diluted to be made compatible with capitalism.
We are living in an economic system which pursues profit above all else; harmful, oppressive systems that heavily contribute to the climate crisis, and environmental consequences that have been toned down to the masses. Tackling the climate crisis requires us to visit the roots of poverty, capitalist exploitation, police brutality and legal injustice. Climate justice offers the real possibility of huge leaps towards racial equality and collective liberation as it aims to dismantle the very foundations of these issues.
In this book, Mikaela Loach offers a fresh and radical perspective for real climate action that could drastically change the world as we know it for the benefit of us all. Written with candour and hope, It’s Not That Radical will galvanise readers to take action, offering an accessible and transformative appraisal of our circumstances to help mobilise a majority for the future of our planet.
Young Adult Fiction
Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute – Talia Hibbert
Release date: 3rd January 2023
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?
These Infinite Threads – Tahereh Mafi
Release Date: 2nd February 2023
This is the sequel to the best-selling This Woven Kingdom.
With the heat of a kiss, the walls between Alizeh, the long-lost heir to an ancient Jinn kingdom, and Kamran, the crown prince of the Ardunian empire, have crumbled. And so have both of their lives.
Kamran’s grandfather, the king of Ardunia, lays dead, the terrible secret of his deal with the devil exposed to the world. Cyrus, the mysterious copper-haired royal, has stolen Alizeh away to Tulan, the neighboring kingdom where he rules. Cyrus has made his own deal with the devil―one that would require Alizeh to betray her feelings for Kamran if she’s to reclaim the Jinn throne.
Alizeh wants nothing to do with Cyrus, or his deal with Iblees. But with no means of escaping Tulan, and with the tantalizing promise of fulfilling her destiny as the heir to the Jinn, she’s forced to wonder whether she can set aside her emotions―and finally become the queen her people need.
Kamran, meanwhile, is picking up the pieces of his broken kingdom. Facing betrayal at every turn, all he knows for certain is that he must go to Tulan to avenge his grandfather. He can only hope that Alizeh will be waiting for him there―and that she’s not yet become queen of Tulan.
You Don’t Know Me – Ayaan Mohamud
Release Date: 2nd February 2023
Hanan has always been encouraged to be a good girl, a quiet girl, never making trouble. When her classmates treat her as a target for their racist bullying, and her teachers use her as their perfect Muslim poster girl, she keeps smiling and keeps her mouth shut. They don’t see past her headscarf, but she knows she is so much more than that. Then a local man is murdered, tensions run high and Muslims become targets for even worse abuse. After a terrifying attack, Hanan decides that it’s time to make her voice heard…it’s time to shake the world.
The Davenports – Krystal Marquis
Release Date: 2nd February 2023
A swoon-worthy historical romance for fans of bingeable Netflix smash-hits Bridgerton, Emily in Paris and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.
This is the story of the Davenport daughters, their maid, and their best friend, as they try to navigate life and love in a rapidly changing country.
The year is 1910. The Davenports are one of the few African-American families of wealth and status in the United States, their fortune made by former slave William Davenport.
Now the family live surrounded by servants, crystal chandeliers, and endless parties. But the world around these young women is changing for better or worse. Can romance blossom in these turbulent times?
The Blood Gift – N. E. Davenport
Release date: 18th April 2023
In this stunning conclusion to the Blood Gift duology, Ikenna and her rogue cohort must outrun bounty hunters, their former comrades, and a megalomaniacal demigod if they hope to save their world from the oppression that threatens from every side…
Since discovering the treachery of Mareen’s Tribunal Council and revealing her blood-gift to save her Praetorian squad, Ikenna has become a fugitive with a colossal bounty on her head.
Yet, somehow, that’s the least of her worries.
Her grandfather’s longtime allies refuse to help, and the Blood Emperor’s Warlord is tracking her. She’s also struggling to control the enormous power she was granted by the Goddess of Blood Rites…and come to terms with the promises she made to get it.
Amidst all of this, the Blood Emperor wages a full-scale invasion against Mareen and leaves a trail of death in his wake. As the horrors increase, Ikenna and her team realize they must end the Blood Emperor to end the war. But the price to do so is steep and has planet-shattering consequences.
The price to do nothing, though, is annihilation.
War has erupted. Alliances are fracturing. And Ikenna is torn between her loyalties, her desires for revenge, and the power threatening to consume her. With the world aflame, only one thing is certain: blood will be spilled.
You Bet Your Heart – Danielle Parker
Release date: 30th May 2023
Sasha Johnson-Sun might not know everything–like how to fully heal after her dad’s passing or how many more Saturdays her mom can spend cleaning houses. But the one thing Sasha is certain of? She will graduate this year as Skyline High’s class valedictorian.
At least, she was sure before the principal calls Sasha and her cute, effortlessly gifted ex-best friend, Ezra Davis-Goldberg, into his office to deliver earth-shattering news: they’re tied for valedictorian and the scholarship attached…
This outcome can’t be left to chance. So, Sasha and Ezra agree on a best-of-three, winner-take-all academic bet. As they go head-to-head, they are forced not only to reexamine why they drifted apart but also to figure out who they’ve become since. With her future hanging in the balance, Sasha must choose: honor her family’s sacrifices by winning (at all costs) or give her heart a shot at finding happiness?
My Week With Him – Joya Goffney
Release date: 11th July 2023
After a painful betrayal by her sister and a heated argument with their mother, Nikki is kicked out of her home. She decides to flee to California to pursue her dream music career.
When her best friend, Malachai, discovers her plan, he begs her to spend the remainder of spring break with him, so he can show her all the reasons she should stay in Texas. But their plans are interrupted when Nikki’s little sister, Vae, goes missing. Nikki is forced to work alongside her difficult mother, while navigating her budding romantic feelings for Malachai, as they all set off in search of Vae.
Over the course of a week, Nikki finds the love she’s always been missing, but will it be enough to convince her to stay in Texas?
Heavenly Tyrant – Xiran Jay Zhao
Release date: 29th August 2023
Zetian, now ruler of Chang’an, must balance dangerous politics with her quest for revenge in the sequel to the #1 New York Times bestseller Iron Widow, a blend of Chinese history and mecha science fiction.
Having reclaimed her homeland from the Hunduns and learned the true nature of the gods, Iron Widow Zetian returns to Chang’an with Emperor-General Qin Zheng to rule together and attempt to deconstruct the corrupt and misogynist system that plagues the country. However, she must not only contend with political unrest and continued Hundun attacks but also with the gods themselves, who hold Li Shimin’s life in their hands and seek to control Zetian as their puppet.
Dangerous forces seek to undermine Zetian at every turn. Can she enact positive changes as a fair and just ruler, and change the system from within? Or will she be forced to rely on fear and violence, and succumb to her darker instincts, becoming almost as corrupt as Chang’an’s previous rulers, in her quest for vengeance?
So many exciting reads! Happy reading all of 2023!
Liz Dexter says
An excellent list I will keep to refer to! I have Maame, Rootless and The Three of Us from NetGalley and I want to read Small Worlds even though I didn’t love his first novel – but I did love some of it, so I want to try him again. Happy reading!
I loved Maame!! So I really hope you do too! Ah I’ve heard good things about Small Worlds so I have my fingers crossed! Happy Reading to you too!!