2022 was a big year for me and young adult fiction, marking many lovely book-to-screen adaptations and the release of several highly enjoyable books. And somehow, 2023 holds even more in store for my reading pleasure! Here are four of my most anticipated releases for the upcoming year, along with some updated thoughts since 2023 has begun.
Hoped For: Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo
Fans of Leigh Bardugo—including myself—eagerly await Hell Bent, the second book in the Alex Stern series, set to release on January 10th, 2023. Hell Bent’s predecessor, Ninth House, is an urban fantasy said to be much darker than Bardugo’s young adult novels. It is highly rated on Goodreads, and reviewers seem to have a generally positive opinion. Based on my wonderful reading experiences with Bardugo’s other books, I hope Hell Bent does not disappoint!
Despite seeing lots of content from Leigh on Instagram about the release of Hell Bent, I did not get around to reading the prequel or even thinking about reading it. I’m hopeful that it will happen soon, but the approach of musical season’s whirlwind will probably push this one to spring break. I do love a good Leigh Bardugo novel though, so perhaps I will have to crack into the first book soon.
Hoped For: Immortality: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz
Dana Schwartz’s Anatomy: A Love Story was something of an instant success, gaining much of its popularity from TikTok. Its sequel, Immortality: A Love Story, is set to release on February 28th, 2023. Apart from the gorgeous cover art, Anatomy was a mix of history, medicine, gothic literature, and romance, and I absolutely adored it. Most of the major plot points were left quite unresolved at the end, so I hope Immortality will be able to bring it all together, and I am eagerly awaiting its release!
Since this one still is not out, I do not have any opinions or thoughts to report. However, ARCs (advance reader copies) have been sent out, so some legitimate reviews have begun to circulate. Most of them are very positive, citing that it is fast-paced and easy to get through—just what I need during a busy time! I’m still really excited about this one, and I will hopefully be able to carve out some time to stop by Barnes and Noble and get a copy.
Although less well-known, I can confidently say that Sorcery of Thorns is one of my favorite novels. From talking books, demons, and romance to lush worldbuilding and hilarious characters, it has something for every reader. In October 2022, several years after Sorcery’s initial release, Rogerson announced she would be publishing its companion novella: Mysteries of Thorn Manor. It is expected to release on January 17th, 2023 and I am so excited to return to the world and the characters of Sorcery of Thorns!
Of all the books on the list, I did actually manage to read this one! I got through it in one sitting, since the book is adorably tiny (pictured with my average-sized hand as a comparison), and also has a rather slim page count. The cover is even more gorgeous in real life! And there’s a cat engraved on the front of the book, an allusion to Silas’ white cat form. Anyways, I absolutely loved this. It focused a lot more on the romance than the novel did, but I didn’t mind at all—it felt like reading your favorite piece of comfort fanfiction. Rogerson’s writing is gorgeous, as usual, and the whole warm-and-fuzzy atmosphere is perfect, and it fits really well. I will definitely be coming back to this over and over when I need something lighthearted, and I would encourage anyone to check it out along with Sorcery of Thorns!
Hoped For: Keeper of the Lost Cities #10 by Shannon Messenger
Funnily enough, Messenger’s Keeper of the Lost Cities—often abbreviated to Keeper—was originally intended to be a three-book series. It has been so wonderful to see these characters grow up alongside me—and a bit scary that the first book was released when I was in kindergarten, and now I’m writing about how the last book will be published in my junior year of high school. Despite being intended for middle-grade audiences, Keeper is full of magic, wit, wonderful characters, and a thrilling plot that I have thoroughly enjoyed. The book currently lacks a cover, a title, and an official release date, but it is expected to come out in November 2023 as its previous installments have. It’s bittersweet to watch this series come to a close, but I am still so thrilled to get to experience Keeper one last time.
Reality: This one also still lacks a cover, title, and official release date. I expect that information to be withheld for quite a while longer, but I have plenty to read while I wait.
More Reading Updates…
So far this year, I’ve been feeling quite accomplished in terms of reading goals. I’ve read 6 books, including Mysteries of Thorn Manor. One was for school, finishing Julius Caesar. The other four all related to the USA Gymnastics and Larry Nassar case, since I had found myself fascinated with it after watching “Athlete A” on Netflix: The Girls by Abigail Pesta, Little Girls in Pretty Boxes by Joan Ryan, What Is A Girl Worth? By Rachael Denhollander, and Start by Believing by John Barr. I thought that all of these were excellent reads, but can confidently say that Little Girls in Pretty Boxes is the best of the four. I don’t think it would be appropriate to say that I enjoyed it, but I do think that it is an important book with an important message about the cost of winning.
Currently, I’m reading Solito by Javier Zamora and The Princess Bride by William Goldman. Solito is for a Global Scholars book club, but I am enjoying it nonetheless. It’s evident that Zamora is a talented writer, and the descriptions in the book are so specific I feel I can almost taste the scene as it is happening in the book.
On the other hand, The Princess Bride was borrowed on a whim on my phone’s e-reader app. The movie has been one of my favorites since I first watched it a few years ago. Something about the blend of humor, whimsy, and fantasy-action-adventure is absolutely timeless and I always find myself coming back.
I can say that I was very bored by the book’s introduction because it took me a bit too long to figure out that S. Morgenstern didn’t actually write anything and Goldman was just making all of that up. Then, when I finally got past the first 82 pages of the introduction, I got to read a bit about Buttercup, before there was a tangent about Count Rugen’s wife.
Goldman then makes an italicized note about Morgenstern’s use of parentheses, which have provided completely unnecessary information about Annette eating chocolate, Voltaire, perfect complexions in India, 104 suitors, mirrors, Buttercup’s appearance, Buttercup’s lack of imagination, acres, arguments, Europe, Paris, taste, and glamour, in that order.
Goldman suggests that I shouldn’t read the parentheses if they bother me. I think I will take his advice. Overall, I’m enjoying the actual story parts of The Princess Bride, but I do wish that there were fewer tangents and a shorter introduction. Hopefully, it’s part of the charm of the story.
Finally, I would like to finish the Throne of Glass series, a project that has been in the works for about two years. I only have the final installment, Kingdom of Ash, left to read, but it is quite intimidating at 980 pages long. (I’ve put off reading it for a while simply because the hardback is too heavy to carry around to school.) Kingdom of Ash will probably accompany me to Chicago, where I expect it will be excellent company for a good portion of the 8-hour car ride.