The 2023 Releases I’ve Read So Far

Some reviewers and book bloggers are constantly reading three to six months ahead of what’s out on the shelves, but I tend to get behind on proof copies and read from the library instead. (Who am I kidding? I’m no influencer.)

In any case, I happen to have read a number of pre-release books, generally for paid review for Foreword, Shelf Awareness, etc. Most of my reviews haven’t been published yet; I’ll give very brief excerpts and ratings here to pique the interest.

Early in January I’ll follow up with my 20 Most Anticipated titles of the coming year.


My top recommendations so far:

(In alphabetical order)

Shoot the Horses First by Leah Angstman [Feb. 28, Kernpunkt Press]: Sixteen sumptuous historical stories ranging from flash to novella length depict outsiders and pioneers who face disability and prejudice with poise.


The House Is on Fire by Rachel Beanland [April 4, Simon & Schuster]: Four characters – two men and two women; two white people and two Black slaves – are caught up in the Richmond Theater Fire of 1811. Painstakingly researched and a propulsive read.


Tell the Rest by Lucy Jane Bledsoe [March 7, Akashic Books]: A high school girl’s basketball coach and a Black poet, both survivors of a conversion therapy camp in Oregon, return to the site of their spiritual abuse, looking for redemption.


All of Us Together in the End by Matthew Vollmer [April 4, Hub City Press]: A pensive memoir investigates the blinking lights that appeared in his family’s woods soon after his mother’s death from complications of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s in 2019.


Other 2023 releases I’ve read:

(In publication date order; links to the few reviews that are already available online)

Pusheen the Cat’s Guide to Everything by Claire Belton [Jan. 10, Gallery Books]: Good-natured and whimsical comic scenes delight in the endearing quirks of Pusheen, everyone’s favorite cartoon cat since Garfield. Belton creates a family and pals for her, too.


Everything’s Changing by Chelsea Stickle [Jan. 13, Thirty West]: The 20 weird flash fiction stories in this chapbook are like prizes from a claw machine: you never know whether you’ll pluck a drunk raccoon or a red onion the perfect size to replace a broken heart.


Decade of the Brain by Janine Joseph [Jan. 17, Alice James Books]: With formal variety and thematic intensity, this second collection by the Philippines-born poet ruminates on her protracted recovery from a traumatic car accident and her journey to U.S. citizenship.


For Thy Great Pain Have Mercy on My Little Pain by Victoria Mackenzie [Jan. 19, Bloomsbury]: Two female medieval mystics, Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe, are the twin protagonists of Mackenzie’s debut. She allows each to tell her life story through alternating first-person strands that only braid together very late on.


The Faraway World by Patricia Engel [Jan. 24, Simon & Schuster]: These 10 short stories contrast dreams and reality. Money and religion are opposing pulls for Latinx characters as they ponder whether life will be better at home or elsewhere.


Your Hearts, Your Scars by Adina Talve-Goodman [Jan. 24, Bellevue Literary Press]: The author grew up a daughter of rabbis in St. Louis and had a heart transplant at age 19. This posthumous collection gathers seven poignant autobiographical essays about living joyfully and looking for love in spite of chronic illness.


God’s Ex-Girlfriend: A Memoir About Loving and Leaving the Evangelical Jesus by Gloria Beth Amodeo [Feb. 21, Ig Publishing]: In a candid memoir, Amodeo traces how she was drawn into Evangelical Christianity in college before coming to see it as a “common American cult” involving unhealthy relationship dynamics and repressed sexuality.


Zig-Zag Boy: A Memoir of Madness and Motherhood by Tanya Frank [Feb. 28, W. W. Norton]: A wrenching debut memoir ranges between California and England and draws in metaphors of the natural world as it recounts a decade-long search to help her mentally ill son.


The Distance from Slaughter County by Steven Moore [March 7, The University of North Carolina Press]: An Iowan now based in Oregon, Moore balances nostalgia and critique to craft nuanced, hypnotic autobiographical essays about growing up in the Midwest. The piece on Shania Twain is a highlight.


Currently reading:

(In release date order)

My What If Year: A Memoir by Alisha Fernandez Miranda [Feb. 7, Zibby Books]: “On the cusp of turning forty, Alisha Fernandez Miranda … decides to give herself a break, temporarily pausing her stressful career as the CEO of her own consulting firm … she leaves her home in London to spend one year exploring the dream jobs of her youth.”

Sea Change by Gina Chung [April 11, Vintage]: “With her best friend pulling away to focus on her upcoming wedding, Ro’s only companion is Dolores, a giant Pacific octopus who also happens to be Ro’s last remaining link to her father, a marine biologist who disappeared while on an expedition when Ro was a teenager.”


Additional pre-release books on my shelf:

(In release date order)

Will you look out for one or more of these?

Any 2023 reads you can recommend already?


24 responses

  1. I don’t think there’s much there with my name on it. Possibly the last one? I’m never in a real hurry to access new releases. There’s already so much piling on the TBR shelf. But then, I’m not a professional reviewer so my reading lists are probably compiled differently.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Because much of my paid reviewing is for U.S. outlets, there’s a lot here that won’t be readily accessible to UK readers. The House Is on Fire is the one I might think to personally recommend to you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks! I’ll look into that.


  2. The Beanland, Talve-Goodman and Chung sound interesting! I usually read a few months ahead but for some reason I always try and read releases in their publication year, so I’ve not read my h from 2023 yet either.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Octopi seem like a ‘thing’ for 2023. (Claire Fuller’s forthcoming novel as well.)

      I sometimes get discouraged because there’s no way I can keep up with other months-ahead bloggers what with my review backlog and the fact that I usually have to beg to get early releases whereas others seem to get sent loads of them as a matter of course. Maybe I’ll cut back on review copies in the new year in general.


      1. Yes! And it’s a 2022 release, but Ray Nayler’s A Mountain in the Sea.

        Nobody ever sends me any review copies, but netgalley is more than enough for me!


      2. That’s true, NetGalley is a reliable source. I still somehow feel that books aren’t as ‘real’ if I don’t have them in print in front of me.


  3. I’m excited about The House is on Fire. I know the author (we both got MFAs from VCU in Richmond) and I’m thinking heavily-researched is probably her metier.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, that’s cool! She works in her research really well so that it’s not overwhelming. The perspective shifts often to keep the pace brisk.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The House Is On Fire has local appeal for me, since I grew up an hour from Richmond! I read For Thy Great Pain… in late November and really came around to it, and Sea Change by Gina Chung also appeals (an octopus named Dolores! Wonderful.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was surprised I hadn’t heard of the Richmond fire as it was one of the greatest tragedies in early U.S. history. Beanland draws deliberate parallels with other national events like 9/11.


  5. I don’t read more than a month ahead of publishing date – so the July ARC I’ve been sent won’t be read until June at the very earliest! I loved the Barbery, her best yet. I asked for a copy of the Magnusson but haven’t heard anything – fingers crossed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always like the idea of getting books very early (like the Brandon Taylor above), but then I generally fail to read them in advance.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m particularly looking forward to the Katherine May and Florentyna Leow. They look right up my street.
    However my spare bedroom now resembles a library/book shop so I’ve decided to try and resist shiny new books and Read From Home in 2023.
    As a volunteer Librarian I know there will be temptation coming my way, especially as on my weekly shift the van arrives with new books!
    I’m also reminded of Susan Hill’s comment on her overflowing book problem – “each time one goes out the front door two come in the back”!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, that sounds about right. For as many books as go out, several more come in!


  7. I’m more often years behind the curve, not on the cutting edge, but a couple of these sound intriguing; though I’m not thrilled by the title – Shoot the Horses First, The House is on Fire, For Thy Great Pain… and A Single Rose is on the TBR. Look forward to your thoughts on the books in the pile!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If it’s any help, I never did figure out what “Shoot the Horses First” had to do with the contents of the book.


  8. Super excited for the Katherine May and Brandon Taylor!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Me too! Though having said that, I probably won’t now read those books until their pub. month.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. […] latest publication dates falling in August. I’ve already read 14 releases from 2023 (written up here), and I’m also looking forward to new work from Margaret Atwood, Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, Tessa […]


  10. Most of these are new to me, but I’m looking forward to Camp Zero!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Camp Zero was sent to me unsolicited; I’d never heard of it before it came through the letterbox. But now there seems to be a lot of buzz about! I have the chance to review it for pay, so I might start it soon.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hope it’s good!!


      2. I’m really enjoying it — I wish I had more time to prioritize it, but the deadline isn’t until next month so I’ll be focusing on other stuff first.


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