2023 Book Releases

Unlike the past years I’ve reduced my anticipated book releases to the ones I’m really prioritizing reading in the new year. In past years I’ve filled the list to the brim and never manage to make my way through all of them. With this list of 10 I’m more confident I can prioritize these top book releases for 2023.

The Books

Secretly Yours by Tessa Bailey

February 7


grumpy professor+ bubbly neighbor, opposites attract

Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey

January 17


28-year old grad student divorcee takes on modern love

Happy Place by Emily Henry

April 25


Broken up couple pretends to date during annual vacation with friends

Lesbian Love Story: A Memoir in Archives by Amelia Possanza

May 30

Queer Nonfiction

The untold lesbian love stories of the 20th century

Family Lore by Elizabeth Acevedo

August 1

Adult Fiction

Seer of death days plans her own living wake, family reunion + secret revealed.

The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty

March 7


Pirates, sorcerers, forbidden artifacts, ancient mysteries, a quest.

Spice Road by Maiya Ibrahim

January 24

YA Fantasy

Arabian-land inspired. Secret coveted magic, djinn, protecting loved ones, loyalty.

The Water Outlaws by S.L. Huang

May 9

Historical Fantasy

Martial arts retelling, battles, queer love, bandits and outlaws.

A Day of Fallen Night by Samantha Shannon

February 28

Priory of Orange Tree prequel

Younger generation, dragons, epic fantasy

Untethered Sky by Fonda Lee

April 11

Epic Fantasy

Manticore kills family, hunting and path to revenge.

Knives Out 2: Glass Onion, Falls Flat on Arrival

★ ★ ★

I hate to say it, but I was bored. There was so much build up of the storyline that it left hardly any time for the actual mystery to unfold. Most of the reveals didn’t feel exciting or surprising, some characters were just too over-the-top and a bit much.
I wanted to love this movie and I’ll definitely be seeing any future Knives Out movies but this one just fell flat.

There wasn’t much mystery to the murder, just complicated storylines that too far too much runtime. Such a disappointment after the success and masterpiece of the first Knives Out. Hopefully audiences won’t be so far deterred from this limp film that they will end the series. Benoit Blanc makes a fascinating character and this murder mystery format lends itself well to developing further mysteries, but perhaps with a little more thought to the script next time.

Although, I did love Benoit Blanc’s bathing costume.

Netflix’s Wednesday Hypes Expectations, Sticks the Landing

★ ★ ★ ★

With much hype and anticipation, it’s no easy feat to stick the landing for an overhyped show plastered across everyone’s social media feeds. Even for a pessimist of the show, it impresses with its finger on the modern age while making timeless callbacks to the classics. The mixture of humor and eerie lends itself well to the character and the well-known Addams Family.

While the season took a moment to find its footing, after episode two it had settle firmly into the funny, eerie, teen detective show it claimed to be. Although it wasn’t initially apparent this was the genre it wanted for itself. Many reviews and recommendations of the show made it out to be much creepier and never quite gave away any details of the actual plot of the show. I’ll make it clear here, it’s an introvert outcast finding her way in a school for outcasts by solving a few murders, gaining a loyal following around her, and looking at her own family’s past. While she may have a dark sense of humor, the show itself isn’t really dark, creepy, or scary. No jump scares, and not many trigger warnings come to mind.

The main fallacy in the show is everyone’s obsession with Wednesday. For someone who insists on not wanting or needing friends and being altogether mean to everyone around her, no one seems to take the hint. Some characters go so far as stalking her, giving her surprise gifts she is uninterested in and actively dislikes. Her constant rejection of any romantic advances somehow are unclear to the many parties interested, which becomes honestly uncomfortable at times. Then when she does show some interest, it is wholly unclear if she is doing it out of curiosity or actual self-interest.

Enid’s character is the most pleasant surprise of the show. Her constant communicate and candor in difficult situations is something to inspire viewers. And while the character of Ajax is rather one-dimensional, there is some room for interesting character development in the future.

Overall, Tim Burton delivers in his usual style, although audiences expecting something more creepy and disturbing may be left disappointed. We can surely expect a second season, as this is Netflix and the show has been in the top 10 in multiple countries for a few weeks.

“Taproot: A Story About a Ghost and a Gardener” by Keezy Young, Book Review

★ ★ ★

Taproot is a cute graphic novel, perfect for fans of “The Tea Dragon Society” or “Sheets.”
The art style and soothing color palette is exactly what you need on a cozy weekend afternoon, looking for some sweet queer love between a gardener and a ghost. The two main characters and the cast of side characters paint a picture of comfortable existence in their word where a gardener becomes an accidental necromancer. 

The mood shifts about halfway through with the introduction of a few slightly darker elements, but not to worry, the story continues on with a careless breeze and pops of humor throughout. The ending will leave you wondering what’s next in store of these characters. 

While I enjoyed the story, some of the dialogue felt a little stiff and juvenile, and the plot had a few too many almost endings for my taste. It’s difficult to tell if the characters are 14 or 25 years old. And there isn’t quite a climax, more like the first half is one story, followed by some short stories. 

Overall, it was a pleasant and cozy read, great to slip back into reading after a longer break.

We Can’t Fault a Viking Film for What it is: “The Northman” Review

★ ★ ★

Honestly, it was a Viking film. It portrayed rather accurate depiction of a time when it Vikings ruled the Nordic region, therefore however grotesque the violence was, I would say it is accurate to the time.

Of course I will watch anything with Anya Taylor-Joy, and any of the Skarsgård family. This was definitely an all star cast with a lot of fun surprise appearances and there was strong characterization throughout. 
I do believe that about 30 minutes of the movie could have been cut and it definitely could’ve benefited from a little bit faster pace.

Overall, I would say I was entertained, even though I did end up checking my watch a few times to see how much longer I would have to endure.

The Downfall of “Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness” (no spoilers)

★ ★ ★

This movie clearly had good bones and a fascinating plot. However the poor choice in its direction — by notable horror film director Sam Raimi — is what derailed this film for so many viewers and Marvel fans. What would have been a strong and fascinating look into the multiverse felt both too much while also being lackluster. The moments that intertwined the multiverse alternatives of characters we may know and love felt unimportant with the disregard of those characters within the storyline.

Also the blatant villainization of Wanda as a mother felt callous and unnecessarily evil. While I think showcasing her motherly instincts would’ve been a strong move on the part of the plot, where it fell through is in the direction of the movie. By having a horror movie director there were grotesque horrific scenes that did not lend themselves to the Marvel cinematic universe, there were moments that felt disjointed with the rest of the universe.

Some of these elements could have been interesting and possibly even well done if the director had more knowledge of the fan base and knew what people were looking for in a movie. This movie left a lot of questions for the audience, which could be interesting to explore in a follow up movie or within one of the other upcoming Marvel movies. But a lot of the final choices were entirely unnecessary and were clearly seeking shock factor and to service the fans, in all the wrong ways.

Bo Burnham’s “Inside” Comedy Special

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

I’m not a typical viewer of Bo Burnham, nor do I partake in Comedy Specials. But one late afternoon, while scrolling on Netflix — this is by no means a unique experience — I came across the new “Inside” Comedy Special by Bo Burnham and without my consent it start to play the trailer. I decided to indulge and watch the trailer. And damn, if that wasn’t the most well-crafted trailer for visual media I have seen in a long while. I sat back for the evening, cheese puffs, seaweed snacks, and See’s chocolates at the ready and decided to watch the full special.

As I mentioned, I’m not a typical viewer of Comedy Specials, so I was a little surprised how entertained I was the whole way through. A few days later I went back to previous Comedy Specials of Bo’s and found that I enjoyed his most recent work the best. I know many people have joked that the forced isolation of quarantine brought forth a type of creative energy, or maybe the lack of socialization made us all reach a special kind of madness where creativity flourishes.

I now regularly hum my favorite songs from the special under my breath at work. I listen to them every day.

What made this special so… “special”? Talent, time, and a pinch of, perhaps, madness. Of course anything based off the past year and a half (2020-2021) will be relatable for a majority of the population. At least when we’re assuming the viewership are from a certain sample size.

But look I made you some content

Daddy made you your favorite, open wide

Here comes the content

It’s a beautiful day to stay inside

— Bo Burnham

My personal favorites are “Bezos I” and “Bezos II,” “FaceTime with my Mom (Tonight),” and “Problematic.” But, before you listen on Spotify, I do recommend experiencing their performance in the special first. It adds a whole extra layer to the songs, experiencing in their full chaos and art.

Perhaps the most striking was the mixture of media, while there were aesthetic film shots throughout, incorporating a vivid array of colorful lights and projections, there were also moments behind the creative process, showing mistakes and moments of silence. Whether those “behind-the-scene” moments were carefully crafted to elicit a specific response, or if they were natural goofs during the filming process, is unclear. However, for me it doesn’t matter, it’s the idea of perfection and chaos that makes the special stand-out.

To those who have yet to view the Comedy Special, I’d say I highly recommend it. Even if just to watch the opening 3 minutes, which are what drew me in. Even if comedy, stand-out, or Bo Burnham aren’t your usual “cup of tea,” this one feels a bit different and I think it’s a worth — in the least — those 3 minutes of your time.

By the Book by Amanda Sellet

★ ★ ★ ★

I received an e-ARC for review on Netgalley, but all thoughts are my own.

This book was absolutely sweet and heartwarming! I finished it within a day and it was everything that I needed. The characters were dynamic and I loved all the different kinds of relationships present throughout the story. The banter between the protagonist and the love interesting was on fire! Super cute and fast read, I can’t wait to read more from Amanda Sellet.

My only concern with “By the Book” is if you don’t want to be spoiled about the ending of MANY popular and classic romantic novels, read with caution. This book is filled with spoilers to major twists and ending to classic romantic literature. I didn’t mind it at all, but I know others may. Just be aware!

I Think I Love You by Auriane Desombre

★ ★ ★ ★

I received an e-ARC for review on Netgalley, but all thoughts are my own.

I finished this book so quickly! It was easy to dive into the plot and find the characters lives. I loved the bisexual and lesbian representation in this! I don’t think there were any tropes or stereotypes throughout which really made me happy. The characters had a lot of valuable and big conversations, but there was never too much weight put on those conversations. There were a lot of minor plot twists that kept me intrigued but it never felt over the top. The whole plot was realistic and believable, which I think aided the book overall. The book was very balanced in the young adult genre, the characters were naïve in some aspects, as would be expected, but grew throughout and became more dynamic.

I just wish the ending had given a little more romance! But still a super cute, fun, and emotional read.

Coffee Days, Whiskey Nights by Cyrus Parker

★ ★ ★ ★

I received an e-ARC for review on Netgalley, but all thoughts are my own.

The hook for this poetry collection is: “A lot can happen between the first sip of coffee and the last taste of whiskey.” And damn if that’s not true.

There is an enchanting juxtaposition between the early mornings with a strong cup of coffee jolting your senses and then the late evening with a glass of whiskey dulling your surroundings. That is where this poetry collection lives. Cyrus Parker discusses the darkest and most beautiful parts of humanity.

I particularly enjoyed the section on 4 o’clock in the morning, “this desperate longing to hear everything there is to be said before the hour is up because five o’clock is for the living…it’s for realizing that in order to live, you must first survive.”

Some poetry collections are more for the artist than for the reader, many of them actually. And I think as readers we sometimes forget that writers write for themselves. The write to be seen in the world, they write to cope, and they write to feel. Some collections aren’t meant for the satisfaction of others. I felt that in this collection. While I connected to many of the poems throughout, there were others where I felt Cyrus Parker speaking to the reader as if in an empty room. And that’s okay too.

I’ll leave this review with some words from this collection that meant a lot more to me than I expected them to:

“i make my morning coffee the long way; the slow way, to force myself to simply be.”

Cyrus Parler