Books I’m Looking Forward to in 2023 – January and February

Bookworms! It’s a new year, which means there will be more BOOKS! I’ve been keeping an eye out on my various bibliophile-ish platforms to keep track of what books will be published this year. If you’re the same, look no further!

Here are some books I am looking forward to in January and February.


The Stolen Heir: A Novel of Elfhame by Holly Black (1/3/23)

Return to the opulent world of Elfhame, filled with intrigue, betrayal, and dangerous desires, with this first book of a captivating new duology from the #1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black. 

A runaway queen. A reluctant prince. And a quest that may destroy them both.

Eight years have passed since the Battle of the Serpent. But in the icy north, Lady Nore of the Court of Teeth has reclaimed the Ice Needle Citadel. There, she is using an ancient relic to create monsters of stick and snow who will do her bidding and exact her revenge.

Suren, child queen of the Court of Teeth, and the one person with power over her mother, fled to the human world. There, she lives feral in the woods. Lonely, and still haunted by the merciless torments she endured in the Court of Teeth, she bides her time by releasing mortals from foolish bargains. She believes herself forgotten until the storm hag, Bogdana chases her through the night streets. Suren is saved by none other than Prince Oak, heir to Elfhame, to whom she was once promised in marriage and who she has resented for years. 

Now seventeen, Oak is charming, beautiful, and manipulative. He’s on a mission that will lead him into the north, and he wants Suren’s help. But if she agrees, it will mean guarding her heart against the boy she once knew and a prince she cannot trust, as well as confronting all the horrors she thought she left behind.

Song of Silver, Flame Like Night by Amélie Wen Zhao (1/3/23)

In a fallen kingdom, one girl carries the key to discovering the secrets of her nation’s past—and unleashing the demons that sleep at its heart. An epic fantasy series inspired by the mythology and folklore of ancient China.

Once, Lan had a different name. Now she goes by the one the Elantian colonizers gave her when they invaded her kingdom, killed her mother, and outlawed her people’s magic. She spends her nights as a songgirl in Haak’gong, a city transformed by the conquerors, and her days scavenging for what she can find of the past. Anything to understand the strange mark burned into her arm by her mother in her last act before she died.

The mark is mysterious—an untranslatable Hin character—and no one but Lan can see it. Until the night a boy appears at her teahouse and saves her life.

Zen is a practitioner—one of the fabled magicians of the Last Kingdom. Their magic was rumored to have been drawn from the demons they communed with. Magic believed to be long lost. Now it must be hidden from the Elantians at all costs.

When Zen comes across Lan, he recognizes what she is: a practitioner with a powerful ability hidden in the mark on her arm. He’s never seen anything like it—but he knows that if there are answers, they lie deep in the pine forests and misty mountains of the Last Kingdom, with an order of practitioning masters planning to overthrow the Elantian regime.

Both Lan and Zen have secrets buried deep within—secrets they must hide from others, and secrets that they themselves have yet to discover. Fate has connected them, but their destiny remains unwritten. Both hold the power to liberate their land. And both hold the power to destroy the world.

Now the battle for the Last Kingdom begins. 

Hell Bent (Alex Stern #2) by Leigh Bardugo (1/10/23)

Wealth. Power. Murder. Magic. Alex Stern is back and the Ivy League is going straight to hell in #1 New York Times bestselling author Leigh Bardugo’s Hell Bent.

Find a gateway to the underworld. Steal a soul out of hell. A simple plan, except people who make this particular journey rarely come back. But Galaxy “Alex” Stern is determined to break Darlington out of purgatory―even if it costs her a future at Lethe and at Yale.

Forbidden from attempting a rescue, Alex and Dawes can’t call on the Ninth House for help, so they assemble a team of dubious allies to save the gentleman of Lethe. Together, they will have to navigate a maze of arcane texts and bizarre artifacts to uncover the societies’ most closely guarded secrets, and break every rule doing it. But when faculty members begin to die off, Alex knows these aren’t just accidents. Something deadly is at work in New Haven, and if she is going to survive, she’ll have to reckon with the monsters of her past and a darkness built into the university’s very walls.

Thick with history and packed with Bardugo’s signature twists, Hell Bent brings to life an intricate world full of magic, violence, and all too real monsters. 

Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun by Elle Cosimano (1/31/23)

Author and single mom Finlay Donovan has been in messes before―after all, she’s a pro at removing bloodstains for various unexpected reasons―but none quite like this. When Finlay and her nanny/partner-in-crime Vero accidentally destroyed a luxury car that they had “borrowed” in the process of saving the life of Finlay’s ex-husband, the Russian mob did her a favor and bought the car for her. And now Finlay owes them.

Mob boss Feliks is still running the show from behind bars, and he has a task for Finlay: find and identify a contract killer before the cops do. The problem is, the killer might be an officer themself.

Luckily, hot cop Nick has just been tasked with starting up a citizen’s police academy, and combined pressure from Finlay’s looming book deadline and Feliks is enough to convince Finlay and Vero to get involved. Through firearm training and forensic classes (and some hands-on research with a tempting detective), Finlay and Vero use their time in police academy to sleuth out the real contract killer to free themselves from the mob’s clutches―all the while dodging spies, confronting Vero’s past, and juggling the daily trials of parenthood.


The Friendship Breakup by Annie Cathryn (2/7/23)

For fans of Laura Hankin and Jennifer Weiner, this fresh, clever, and complex debut “mom-com” explores the bonds of friendship—and the bounds of loyalty.

A plucky protagonist who’s far from figuring it all out—but powers through with wit and determination—will instantly capture readers.

Fallon Monroe, mother of one, self-help book junkie, and budding chocolatier, has always relied on her neighborhood friends to get her through the trials of adulthood. So when her bestie Beatrice inexplicably starts ghosting her and takes all their mutual friends with her, Fallon’s left wondering how everything went so wrong. Pushing down a lifetime of insecurities, Fallon doubles down and decides to win them back. First, she hosts an epic Cinco de Mayo party that goes epically wrong. Then she joins a friendship app but discovers a disturbing secret about one of her new friends—a discovery that will test the strength of her loyalty to Beatrice.

Just when she’s about to throw in the towel on the whole friendship mess, Fallon reads a recently unearthed letter she’d refused to open decades earlier—and reading it forces her to finally face the deep-seated fears she’d desperately tried to bury. Now, looking at her friendships through fresh eyes, she must decide between hanging on and letting go.

Fallon is an instantly likeable heroine—as vulnerable as she is determined—and she’ll have readers eagerly turning the pages as they join her on an emotional journey into the hopes and fears of adulthood.

The Porcelain Moon by Janie Chang (2/21/23)

France, 1918. In the final days of the First World War, a young Chinese woman, Pauline Deng, runs away from her uncle’s home in Paris to evade a marriage being arranged for her in Shanghai. To prevent the union, she needs the help of her cousin Theo, who is working as a translator for the Chinese Labour Corps in the French countryside. In the town of Noyelles-sur-Mer, Camille Roussel is planning her escape from an abusive marriage, and to end a love affair that can no longer continue. When Camille offers Pauline a room for her stay, the two women become friends. But it’s not long before Pauline uncovers a perilous secret that Camille has been hiding from her. As their dangerous situation escalates, the two women are forced to make a terrible decision that will bind them together for the rest of their lives.

Set against the little-known history of the 140,000 Chinese workers brought to Europe as non-combatant labor during WWI, The Porcelain Moon is a tale of forbidden love, identity and belonging, and what we are willing to risk for freedom.

2023: The Year of Health

One of my favorite traditions at the end of each year is to sit down with a cup of something hot (in this instance, hot chocolate with whipped cream), and set my theme for the year ahead. Seven years ago, I decided to form habits rather than set resolutions, and since then, it has stuck. I enjoy coming up with a theme for the year and setting smart, realistic goals that I can follow to live a happier, more productive life.

Last year, my theme was “joy” and boy, oh boy, did I fulfill that! Welcoming our daughter to this world has been incredible; Nora is a gift, a constant joy in our lives.

Here’s a little snapshot from 2022:

  • I used my iPad and the Calm app to practice yoga and meditation. This led to living intentionally and finding joy and peace during very stressful times.
  • I embraced the small moments, whether that was during early-morning nursing sessions or while making a latte, reading a book, on a walk, or while sitting on my porch in the evening.
  • I started a daily movement challenge and completed 117 days of consistent movement (until I fell and sprained my foot!)
  • I started an herb garden, added a new garden bed out front, and planted new perennials in my garden beds.

While 2022 was a challenging year, I look back at the past year and feel joy. My husband and I did the damn thing. I am proud.

2023: The Year of Health

The past year has been one of the hardest years of my life. Once my daughter was born, postpartum depression and anxiety hit very fast. I immediately went on anti-depressants and resumed my therapy sessions. I struggled with my weight and body image after gaining 53 pounds during pregnancy. Nursing and pumping left me ravenous, and I gained more weight eating lots of rice krispy treats (delish). My mental, emotional, and physical health seemed damaged beyond repair.

Here’s what I’m thinking for 2023.

Personal therapy and medication: I have been seeing the same therapist since 2013, and I am forever grateful for this resource. I plan to see my therapist twice a month and continue taking my anti-depressants.

Marriage therapy: Ian and I started seeing a marriage therapist in 2022 (more to come on that and how it has helped us navigate parenthood), and we plan to continue our bi-weekly sessions throughout 2023 and implement what we’ve learned into our daily lives to strengthen our communication and help our marriage thrive.

Exercise: Now that my ankle is healed, I will continue my daily movement challenge, starting fresh on Jan. 1. Exercise is the catalyst for my mental, physical, and emotional health. When I exercise, my mood improves, my productivity soars, and I feel like I am a better wife and mother. Plus, exercising will help me continue to lose weight (down 30 pounds!) and get closer to my pre-pregnancy weight.

Diet: Before the pandemic, I was a pescatarian and ate a mostly vegetarian diet (because let’s face it, fish is expensive). In 2023, I plan to adopt a Mediterranean diet and be conscious about what I eat.

Wish me luck! And wishing you and yours a happy and healthy new year!

January Musings | ‘Sup, 2023?!

Happy New Year! This year marks 12 years of keeping a blog, so thanks for sticking around.

December was a whirlwind of a month. After being sick the entire month of November and hurting my ankle, I was happy to find a little bit of normalcy in December … with some holiday chaos mixed in. December was filled with holiday parties, Christmas shopping, and tying up loose ends at work before the end of the year. We made it through the month relatively healthy, and my daughter is loving daycare and growing so fast.

Our holidays were super low-key and enjoyable. We saw my dad on Christmas Eve morning and hosted my mom and her partner on Christmas Eve. We were going to my have dinner with mom’s side of the family, but due to a sickness in the family, we decided to keep it small at our house. It was a very special evening and our daughter was in good spirits throughout the day. We also enjoyed keeping our evening routine with her and putting her in her crib at her normal bedtime.

Christmas morning was magical watching Nora open her first Christmas presents from her mama and dada. We then went to my husband’s mom’s house and spent the entire day there. We got there around 11 and came home at 8:00 p.m. Luckily, Nora went right to sleep in the car and transferred like a dream. It was a fantastic holiday.

What am I up to this month?

A new year is always so exciting. I spend time thinking hard about my “theme” for each year and how I can meet my goals in the coming months. I’m hoping I can get back into a consistent workout routine bow that my ankle is healed. Having a good exercise schedule boosts my mood and productivity.

I will be returning to the office a little more this month, and work will be busy after a nice break. I will be traveling to Phoenix for work at the end of the month, so I am looking forward to exploring a new city. I will also be planning Nora’s first birthday party, because, believe it or not, she will be ONE soon. I cannot believe how fast a year has gone by.

What I’m Reading

  • City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy #1) by S. A. Chakraborty
  • The Winners (Beartown #3) by Fredrik Backman
  • Adult Assembly Required by Abbi Waxman
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

What I’m Watching

  • Wednesday (AGAIN)
  • Emily in Paris (Season 3)
  • Rings of Power (still…)
  • The Crown (Season 5 …. still…)

What I’m Listening to

  • Midnights
  • HAIM
  • Lizzy McAlpine
  • Phoebe Bridgers
  • Maisie Peters
  • Gracie Abrams
  • The Lumineers
  • Anything “sad girl winter” …

Top Books of 2022

At the end of last year, I made a promise to not judge the number of books that I read in 2022, but rather, the quality. I knew that as a first-time mom, reading books for leisure would be a luxury, and as long as I dedicated some time to reading, I’d be happy.

Reflecting on the past year, I am pleased with my relationship with my favorite hobby. I snuck in some reading time during late-night pumping sessions, my daughter’s naps, and even on the treadmill. I rediscovered my Kindle and its lightweight convenience and would read while walking on my treadmill or cycling on the Peloton. I joined a book club and downloaded audiobooks for driving back and forth from work and doctor’s appointments. And all of this intentional self-care resulted in 34 books! Not bad, huh?

And while not all of the books were 5-star reads, I am happy with the books that I chose. This year’s books were certainly a mix of fantasy, contemporary fiction, and romance. I steered away from thriller and historical fiction, my usual go-to’s, and discovered some series that I really loved.

My favorite books this year

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Goodness. A little late to the party with this one, but boy, I loved every second. This book is hilarious, romantic, sweet, heartwarming, and everything in between. I will be rereading this one in 2023.

The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon

The perfect book. Public radio nerd meets romance meets super fun storyline. I loved it. Another book I could read again.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

Every trigger warning possible, but Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow was a super interesting story. It had very complicated characters and introduced me to the art of video game design. Takes some smarrttt people to make a video game.

Babel: An Arcane History by R.F. Kuang

A triumph. Incredibly brilliant. Complicated and smart and interesting and dense and everything in-between. Kuang is one of my favorite authors. No question.

Book Lovers by Emily Henry

If this book was a movie it would be my favorite book and movie. ‘Nuff said.

My favorite series this year

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

Mentally prepare yourself for the densest and most interesting fantasy series you’ll ever read. Kuang is brilliant. Oh, and read my series review.

Honorable Mentions

Your turn: What were your favorite books from 2022?