Let’s Get Lit-erary: Books to look forward to in 2023 


With the new year one month away, here are some 2023 releases to keep on your radar:  

“Hell Bent” by Leigh Bardugo  

“Hell Bent,”  the long-anticipated sequel to Leigh Bardugo’s “Alex Stern” series, is set to release on Jan. 10, 2023. The first book, “Ninth House,” was released way back in 2019; the delay was likely a result of Bardugo’s commitment to other projects, like the Netflix adaptation of “Shadow and Bone.” The show is based on Bardugo’s Grishaverse, a world in which her “Shadow and Bone” trilogy and “Six of Crows” duology take place. The series has been renewed for a second season, which will be released next year.  

The rights to “Ninth House” have been bought by Amazon Studios, which could very well mean an “Alex Stern” series adaptation in the near future. For now, however, the release of “Hell Bent” will have to suffice.  

Like the first novel, “Hell Bent” takes place at Yale and explores the arcane charms and secrets of the university’s secret societies. As someone from Connecticut, the history entrenched in the first book was a delight to read. “Hell Bent” will surely be just as compelling and certainly more sinister, given the rise of magic and monsters making their way to New Haven. Plus, there’s the complex cast of characters, most of whom are already battling demons of their own.  

“Happy Place” by Emily Henry 

From the author of “Beach Read,” “The People We Meet on Vacation” and “Book Lovers,” comes “Happy Place —” a sweet second-chance romance set on the coast of Maine.  

The novel follows Harriet and Wyn, who clicked after meeting in college years prior. When the two of them break up — for reasons they refuse to discuss — they keep it a secret from their long-distance friends. Things are great until it comes time for their friend group’s annual getaway to Maine, and the two find themselves sharing a room once again. Not wanting to ruin their last summer at the cottage, Harriet and Wyn keep up the ruse whilst fighting their lingering feelings for each other. 

“Happy Place” comes out on April 25, 2023, but you can read an exclusive excerpt at “Entertainment Weekly.” In the meantime, I’ll continue my desperate quest to get hold of an advanced reader’s copy.  

“Hello Beautiful” by Ann Napolitano 

“Hello Beautiful” comes from the author of the acclaimed emotional journey that was “Dear Edward.” The story follows William Waters, who is desperate to get out of his childhood home after it was hit by a suffocating tragedy. Securing a basketball scholarship lets him relocate and William soon falls for the effervescent Julia Padavano. She and her three sisters, all joined at the hip, welcome William into their family — until his dark past resurfaces, threatening their visions for the future.  

“Hello Beautiful” seems to be a cross between the novelized version of “Dear Evan Hansen” and “Little Fires Everywhere,” especially with its incorporation of an adoptive family dynamic. The novel comes out on March 28, 2023.  

“Meet Me at the Lake” by Carley Fortune 

“Meet Me at the Lake,” which will be out on May 2, 2023, will be Canadian author Carley Fortune’s second novel. Fortune originally began her career as a journalist, working for companies like Refinery 29. But her debut novel, “Every Summer After,” blew up after its release last spring; it is currently a contender for top debut novel in the 2022 Goodreads Choice Awards.  

The novel follows Fern Brooksbanks, who spent an idyllic 24 hours with artist Will Baxter in her early twenties. After the magical day, the two made a pact to meet one year later; much to Fern’s chagrin, Will was a no-show. Almost a decade later, Fern is back in town, running her mother’s run-down lakeside resort when she unexpectedly reunites with Will — who offers to help Fern out.  

“Meet Me at the Lake” has some seriously gorgeous cover art — created by Toronto-based painter Elizabeth Lennie. Though the book is unrelated to “Every Summer After,” the cover image fits well alongside Fortune’s debut novel.  

You can read a sneak peek of the lakeside romance at the “Today” show website

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