2023 Best of Shelf Predictions

Hello readers! Today’s post is another in my series of Bookish Lists – my predictions for which new releases this year will make it onto my 2023 Best of Shelf list. This post was technically supposed to go up last month along with my other start of year posts, but I couldn’t find a good slot on my posting schedule to fit it into, hence the delay. I suppose it’s not too bad, since I’ve only read one book from this list so far.

This set of predictions is based on the list of new books for the year I have as of right now. I fully expect more additions to the list around mid to late summer when we’ll know more about releases for October-December. Without further ado, here are the titles I feel have the potential to be on my best of shelf this year – it’s quite a long list, so it’ll be interesting to see how many actually do end up there!

Hell Bent (Alex Stern #2) – Leigh Bardugo

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.

It feels like it’s been forever since I read Ninth House and the wait for this book has been interminable! But it’s finally here and I just got my copy last week – I can’t wait to get started! Ninth House was amazing but I did have a little trouble with it in some aspects such as pacing that kept it from my best of shelf that year. I have a good feeling about the sequel though!

Chain of Thorns (The Last Hours #3) – Cassandra Clare

Cordelia Carstairs has lost everything that matters to her. In only a few short weeks, she has seen her father murdered, her plans to become parabatai with her best friend, Lucie, destroyed, and her marriage to James Herondale crumble before her eyes. Even worse, she is now bound to an ancient demon, Lilith, stripping her of her power as a Shadowhunter.

After fleeing to Paris with Matthew Fairchild, Cordelia hopes to forget her sorrows in the city’s glittering nightlife. But reality intrudes when shocking news comes from home: Tatiana Blackthorn has escaped the Adamant Citadel, and London is under new threat by the Prince of Hell, Belial.

Cordelia returns to a London riven by chaos and dissent. The long-kept secret that Belial is James and Lucie’s grandfather has been revealed by an unexpected enemy, and the Herondales find themselves under suspicion of dealings with demons. Cordelia longs to protect James but is torn between a love for James she has long believed hopeless, and the possibility of a new life with Matthew. Nor can her friends help – ripped apart by their own secrets, they seem destined to face what is coming alone.

For time is short, and Belial’s plan is about to crash into the Shadowhunters of London like a deadly wave, one that will separate Cordelia, Lucie, and the Merry Thieves from help of any kind. Left alone in a shadowy London, they must face Belial’s deadly army. If Cordelia and her friends are going to save their city – and their families – they will have to muster their courage, swallow their pride, and trust one another again. For if they fail, they may lose everything – even their souls.

Chain of Thorns is probably my single most anticipated book this year. Both of the previous books in the series, Chain of Gold and Chain of Iron made my best of shelf, and I’m almost certain this will too. My copy will likely be here within the week, and I have every intention of ignoring everything else until I’m done reading this.

Stardust In Their Veins (Castles In Their Bones #3) – Laura Sebastian

Princesses Beatriz and Daphne have lost their older sister, but their mother’s grand scheme of taking the continent of Vesteria is far from complete. With the country of Temarin now under the Empress’s control, only the nations of Cellaria and Friv remain free from her rule. What’s worse, an ominous prophecy has begun to shine through the constellations: the blood of stars and majesty spilled.

Usurped by conniving cousins Nico and Gigi, Beatriz fears for her life, while in icy Friv, Daphne continues her shaky alliance with the rebels even as she struggles to stay a step ahead of them. But when an unlikely ally offers Beatriz a deal, she finds herself back in her mother’s sights.

With enemies around every corner and the stars whispering of betrayal, Daphne and Beatriz can’t trust anyone – least of all each other. If they’ve learned anything, though, it’s that the Empress’s game is constantly changing. And the arrival of surprise visitors from Temarin just might tip the scales in the princesses’ favor… if they manage to avoid meeting their sister’s fate before they can make their next move.

Castles In Their Bones was such an explosive start to the series last year that my expectations for this book are extremely high, especially given the cliffhanger it ended on!

Clytemnestra – Costanza Casati

For fans of Madeline Miller’s Circe, a stunning debut following Clytemnestra, the most notorious villainess of the ancient world and the events that forged her into the legendary queen.

As for queens, they are either hated or forgotten. She already knows which option suits her best…

You were born to a king, but you marry a tyrant. You stand by helplessly as he sacrifices your child to placate the gods. You watch him wage war on a foreign shore, and you comfort yourself with violent thoughts of your own. Because this was not the first offence against you. This was not the life you ever deserved. And this will not be your undoing. Slowly, you plot.

But when your husband returns in triumph, you become a woman with a choice.

Acceptance or vengeance, infamy follows both. So, you bide your time and force the gods’ hands in the game of retribution. For you understood something long ago that the others never did.

If power isn’t given to you, you have to take it for yourself.

I greatly enjoy Greek mythology based books or retellings, and a book from Clytemnestra’s perspective was too intriguing to pass up. The early reviews for this look extremely promising so I have a good feeling about it. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this book late last year and I can’t wait to pick it up!

Her Lost Words: A Novel of Mary Wollstonecraft & Mary Shelley
– Stephanie Marie Thornton

1792. As a child, Mary Wollstonecraft longed to disappear during her father’s violent rages. Instead, she transforms herself into the radical author of the landmark volume A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, in which she dares to propose that women are equal to men. From conservative England to the blood-drenched streets of revolutionary France, Mary refuses to bow to society’s conventions and instead supports herself with her pen until an illicit love affair challenges her every belief about romance and marriage. When she gives birth to a daughter and is stricken with childbed fever, Mary fears it will be her many critics who recount her life’s extraordinary odyssey…

1818. The daughter of infamous political philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft, passionate Mary Shelley learned to read by tracing the letters of her mother’s tombstone. As a young woman, she desperately misses her mother’s guidance, especially following her scandalous elopement with dashing poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Mary struggles to balance an ever-complicated marriage with motherhood while nursing twin hopes that she might write something of her own one day and also discover the truth of her mother’s unconventional life. Mary’s journey will unlock her mother’s secrets, all while leading to her own destiny as the groundbreaking author of Frankenstein.

A riveting and inspiring novel about a firebrand feminist, her visionary daughter, and the many ways their words transformed our world.

Stephanie Thornton is one of my auto read authors for historical fiction and though I’ve found in the past that her books aren’t necessarily the easiest to get through because they tend to move a little slowly for my taste, they’re always worth the effort in the end and frequently make it to my best of shelf. I can’t wait to see how this one turns out!

Silver In The Bone (Silver In The Bone #1) – Alexandra Bracken

Tamsin Lark didn’t ask to be a Hollower. As a mortal with no magical talent, she was never meant to break into ancient crypts, or compete with sorceresses and Cunningfolk for the treasures inside. But after her thieving foster father disappeared without so much as a goodbye, it was the only way to keep herself – and her brother, Cabell – alive.

Ten years later, rumors are swirling that her guardian vanished with a powerful ring from Arthurian legend. A run-in with her rival Emrys ignites Tamsin’s hope that the ring could free Cabell from a curse that threatens both of them. But they aren’t the only ones who covet the ring.

As word spreads, greedy Hollowers start circling, and many would kill to have it for themselves. While Emrys is the last person Tamsin would choose to partner with, she needs all the help she can get to edge out her competitors in the race for the ring. Together, they dive headfirst into a vipers’ nest of dark magic, exposing a deadly secret with the power to awaken ghosts of the past and shatter her last hope of saving her brother…

This book has been on my TBR since 2021 and after Lore and the Passenger duology, I’m ready to read anything this author writes. This sounds like an intriguing new series and I’m interested to see how it will measure up to the author’s previous books!

Lords of Uncreation (The Final Architecture #3) – Adrian Tchaikovsky

He’s found a way to end their war, but will humanity survive to see it?

Idris Telemmier has uncovered a secret that changes everything – the Architects’ greatest weakness. A shadowy Cartel scrambles to turn his discovery into a weapon against these alien destroyers of worlds. But between them and victory stands self-interest. The galaxy’s great powers would rather pursue their own agendas than stand together against this shared terror.

Human and inhuman interests wrestle to control Idris’ discovery, as the galaxy erupts into a mutually destructive and self-defeating war. The other great obstacle to striking against their alien threat is Idris himself. He knows that the Architects, despite their power, are merely tools of a higher intelligence.

Deep within unspace, where time moves differently, and reality isn’t quite what it seems, their masters are the true threat. Masters who are just becoming aware of humanity’s daring – and taking steps to exterminate this annoyance forever.

One of the few science fiction series to make it onto my best of shelf over the years, I discovered the first book two years ago through a blog tour and was instantly hooked. It’s probably going to be a bit of a time consuming read, but the previous two books have proven that it will be worth it. Eyes of the Void left many unanswered questions including some very crucial ones that I expected to see sorted out long before the finale, so I’m curious to see how it will all be handled.

The King’s Pleasure (Tudor Rose #2) – Alison Weir

Having completed her Six Tudor Queens series of novels on the wives of Henry VIII, extensively researched and written from each queen’s point of view, Alison Weir now gives Henry himself a voice, telling the story of his remarkable thirty-six-year reign and his six marriages.

Young Henry began his rule as a magnificent and chivalrous Renaissance prince who embodied every virtue. He had all the qualities to make a triumph of his rule, yet we remember only the violence. Henry famously broke with the Pope, founding the Church of England and launching a religious revolution that divided his kingdom. He beheaded two of his wives and cast aside two others. He died a suspicious, obese, disease-riddled tyrant, old before his time. His reign is remembered as one of dangerous intrigue and bloodshed – and yet the truth is far more complex.

The King’s Pleasure brings to life the idealistic monarch who expanded Parliament, founded the Royal Navy, modernized medical training, composed music and poetry, and patronized the arts. A passionate man in search of true love, he was stymied by the imperative to produce a male heir, as much a victim of circumstance as his unhappy wives. Had fate been kinder to him, the history of England would have been very different.

Here is the story of the private man. To his contemporaries, he was a great king, a legend in his own lifetime. And he left an extraordinary legacy – a modern Britain.

Alison Weir’s books are my go-to for historical fiction, particularly anything Tudor related, and her books regularly end up on my favorites list, so this was an auto-add to my shelves. The reason I have such high expectations for this book is because despite reading so many Tudor-era novels, I have yet to come across a book from Henry’s perspective and I’m extremely eager to see how the author writes this.

Immortal Longings (Flesh and False Gods #1) – Chloe Gong

Every year, thousands in the kingdom of Talin will flock to its capital twin cities, San-Er, where the palace hosts a set of games. For those confident enough in their ability to jump between bodies, competitors across San-Er fight to the death to win unimaginable riches.

Princess Calla Tuoleimi lurks in hiding. Five years ago, a massacre killed her parents and left the palace of Er empire…and she was the one who did it. Before King Kasa’s forces in San can catch her, she plans to finish the job and bring down the monarchy. Her reclusive uncle always greets the victor of the games, so if she wins, she gets her opportunity at last to kill him.

Enter Anton Makusa, an exiled aristocrat. His childhood love has lain in a coma since they were both ousted from the palace, and he’s deep in debt trying to keep her alive. Thankfully, he’s one of the best jumpers in the kingdom, flitting from body to body at will. His last chance at saving her is entering the games and winning.

Calla finds both an unexpected alliance with Anton and help from King Kasa’s adopted son, August, who wants to mend Talin’s ills. But the three of them have very different goals, even as Calla and Anton’s partnership spirals into something all-consuming. Before the games close, Calla must decide what she’s playing for – her lover or her kingdom.

I’m not one for romance novels at all usually, but These Violent Delights put such an intriguing twist on Romeo and Juliet and I loved it! This new series is supposed to be an Antony and Cleopatra retelling – and how can I pass up a Shakespeare retelling? Immortal Longings is also the author’s adult fantasy debut and I’m really excited to see how it will be!

He Who Drowned The World (The Radiant Emperor #2) – Shelley Parker-Chan

How much would you give to win the world?

Zhu Yuanzhang, the Radiant King, is riding high after her victory that tore southern China from its Mongol masters. Now she burns with a new desire: to seize the throne and crown herself emperor.

But Zhu isn’t the only one with imperial ambitions. Her neighbour in the south, the courtesan Madam Zhang, wants the throne for her husband – and she’s strong enough to wipe Zhu off the map. To stay in the game, Zhu will have to gamble everything on a risky alliance with an old enemy: the talented but unstable eunuch general Ouyang, who has already sacrificed everything for a chance at revenge on his father’s killer, the Great Khan.

Unbeknownst to the southerners, a new contender is even closer to the throne. The scorned scholar Wang Baoxiang has maneuvered his way into the capital, and his lethal court games threaten to bring the empire to its knees. For Baoxiang also desires revenge: to become the most degenerate Great Khan in history – and in so doing, make a mockery of every value his Mongol warrior family loved more than him.

All the contenders are determined to do whatever it takes to win. But when desire is the size of the world, the price could be too much for even the most ruthless heart to bear…

No cover for this book yet, but I’m guessing it won’t be long until we get one given that this is slated for late August. The only reason She Who Became The Sun wasn’t on my best of shelf is because of the way I build that list – only consisting new releases for that year which I also read in that same year. I let myself be convinced by the hype and read this late last year and it was phenomenal! I can’t wait to see what happens in the sequel!

Heavenly Tyrant (Iron Widow #2) – Xiran Jay Zhao

Zetian, now ruler of Chang’an, must balance dangerous politics with her quest for revenge in the sequel to the #1 New York Times bestseller Iron Widow, a blend of Chinese history and mecha science fiction.

Having reclaimed her homeland from the Hunduns and learned the true nature of the gods, Iron Widow Zetian returns to Chang’an with Emperor-General Qin Zheng to rule together and attempt to deconstruct the corrupt and misogynist system that plagues the country. However, she must not only contend with political unrest and continued Hundun attacks but also with the gods themselves, who hold Li Shimin’s life in their hands and seek to control Zetian as their puppet.

Dangerous forces seek to undermine Zetian at every turn. Can she enact positive changes as a fair and just ruler, and change the system from within? Or will she be forced to rely on fear and violence, and succumb to her darker instincts, becoming almost as corrupt as Chang’an’s previous rulers, in her quest for vengeance?

This is my second most anticipated read for the year and I have been eagerly waiting for this sequel ever since I finished reading book one. Iron Widow was the shockingly amazing read I didn’t expect in 2021 and the two year gap between the books seems to be crawling by. I have my fingers crossed for an ARC! Also, what a beautiful cover!

Never A Hero (Only A Monster #2) – Vanessa Len

Despite all of the odds, Joan achieved the impossible. She reset the timeline, saved her family – and destroyed the hero, Nick.

But her success has come at a terrible cost.

She alone remembers what happened. Now, Aaron, her hard-won friend – and maybe more – is an enemy, trying to kill her. And Nick, the boy she loved, is a stranger who doesn’t even know her name. Only Joan remembers that there is a ruthless and dangerous enemy still out there.

When a deadly attack forces Joan back into the monster world as a fugitive, she finds herself on the run with Nick – as Aaron closes in.

As the danger rises – and Nick gets perilously closer to discovering the truth of what Joan did to him – Joan discovers a secret of her own. One that threatens everyone she loves.

Torn between love and family and monstrous choices, Joan must find a way to re-gather her old allies to face down the deadliest of enemies, and to save the timeline itself.

Vanessa Len’s stunning Only a Monster trilogy continues with this second instalment, a thrilling journey where a secret past threatens to unravel everyone’s future.

Another series where the first book almost made my best of shelf last year, so I have high hopes that this sequel will. I love the concept behind this story and the mix of time travel and urban fantasy that made for such an entertaining read.

Storm of Olympus (Daughter of Sparta #3) – Claire M. Andrews

In this heart-pounding conclusion to the Daughter of Sparta series, Daphne must face her past, her deepest fears, and an enemy who can defeat even the all-powerful gods of Olympus in this epic reimagining of classic Greek mythology, for fans of Circe.

After fighting in the Trojan War against her own people and finally facing the Goddess of Darkness, Nyx, Daphne finds herself stranded on the island of Aeaea, where Circe has spent her days. As Daphne struggles to regain her will to fight as well as rein in the new abilities that have been thrust upon her, she reels from the horrendous sacrifice she had to make and her own failure in the battle for Troy.

Memories plague her – of her family, of her shortcomings, of her lover, Apollo, and the secrets he and the gods keep – and as the days turn into months, she is unable to escape the island and return to the fight against the Titans. The fight that she knows continues on without her, and is ripping the world apart because of her.

As Daphne begins to uncover who she is and what her dangerous and powerful lineage truly means, the hope of entire kingdoms rests on her shoulders. But it has been prophesied that she will bring about the ruin of Olympus and the downfall of Sparta, just as she was the destruction of Troy. Now, as she watches her terrible destiny coming true, she must become a hero to rival those of legends and save the gods, her people, and the world. Or she will watch it all burn around her.

I love the cover of this finale! Daughter of Sparta has been a very strong series so far and the plot and characters have been very well written and improving with each book, so I’m almost certain this will be one of my favorite reads this year.

A Curse For True Love (Once Upon A Broken Heart #3) – Stephanie Garber

Two villains, one girl, and a deadly battle for happily ever after.

Evangeline Fox ventured to the Magnificent North in search of her happy ending, and it seems as if she has it. She’s married to a handsome prince and lives in a legendary castle. But Evangeline has no idea of the devastating price she’s paid for this fairytale. She doesn’t know what she has lost, and her husband is determined to make sure she never finds out…but first he must kill Jacks, the Prince of Hearts.

Blood will be shed, hearts will be stolen, and true love will be put to the test in A Curse for True Love, the breathlessly anticipated conclusion to the Once Upon A Broken Heart trilogy.

I’m so excited to see what will happen to Jacks and Evangeline in this finale! I finished reading The Ballad of Never After barely two months ago, and I very nearly added it to my 2022 best of shelf, so I have very high hopes for this one!

Sword Catcher (Sword Catcher #1) – Cassandra Clare

In the vibrant city-state of Castellane, the richest of nobles and the most debauched of criminals have one thing in common: the constant search for wealth, power, and the next hedonistic thrill.

Kel is an orphan, stolen from the life he knew to become the Sword-Catcher – the body-double of a royal heir, Prince Conor Aurelian. He has been raised alongside the prince, trained in every aspect of combat and statecraft. He and Conor are close as brothers, but Kel knows he has one destiny: to die for Conor. No other future is possible.

Lin Caster is one of the Ashkar, a small community who still possess magical abilities. By law, they must live behind walls in the city, but Lin, a physician, ventures out to tend to the sick and dying of Castellane. Despite her skills, she cannot heal her best friend Mariam without access to forbidden knowledge.

After a failed assassination attempt brings Lin and Kel together, they are drawn into the web of the mysterious Ragpicker King, the criminal ruler of Castellane’s underworld. He offers them each what they want most; but as they descend into his world of intrigue and shadow, they discover a conspiracy of corruption that reaches from the darkest gutters of Castellane to the highest tower of its palaces. As long-kept secrets begin to unravel, they must ask themselves: Is knowledge worth the price of betrayal? Can forbidden love bring down a kingdom? And will Lin and Kel’s discoveries plunge their nation into war – and the world into chaos?

I will admit, I’m a bit nervous about this one as it’s Cassandra Clare’s new series and has nothing to do with the Shadowhunter verse so there’s no telling how it might be. But I enjoy the author’s writing style greatly and the synopsis is intriguing enough that I’m looking forward to trying it out.

Are any of these books on your 2023 TBR? What are your predictions for your favorite books this year? Let me know in the comments below!

10 thoughts on “2023 Best of Shelf Predictions

  1. Fadima Mooneira February 9, 2023 / 7:14 am

    Woah… these books sounds awesome. I’m sure they will be a big hit this year. I’m interested to read some of them. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I'm All Booked Up YA February 9, 2023 / 4:48 pm

    Chain of Thorns is easily our most anticipated book of 2023 and we have very high expectations. We just got the book and we can’t wait to start it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jodie | That Happy Reader February 9, 2023 / 8:56 pm

    What a wonderful idea! I think as avid readers we get to know which books we’ll most likely enjoy – whether it be a specific author or sub-genre. I hope that you enjoy all these books Raji!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Charlotte February 10, 2023 / 1:18 pm

    These books sound amazing. There are a few books that I will add to my list such as the Henry VIII one and both Cassandra Clare. I loved reading Cassandra Clare books years ago. Definitely need to get back to read her books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raji (@journeyintofantasy) March 4, 2023 / 12:29 pm

      Hope you enjoy them! Neither author has ever disappointed so I have really high hopes for those two books in particular!


  5. Baby Boomer Super Saver February 10, 2023 / 5:08 pm

    Wow, you’ve got a lot on your reading list! These books all sound intense. Clytemnestra sounds fascinating. Glad to hear there are some authors you go back to over & over. It’s always so hard to wait for a favorite author to write more books!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raji (@journeyintofantasy) March 4, 2023 / 12:34 pm

      Thanks for reading and commenting! It’s definitely a very promising set of books releasing this year so I’m very excited!


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