Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.
This week’s topic is Bookish Goals for 2023, but I decided to switch it up this week. I have a ton of books on my TBR, and last year I participated in the Beat the Backlist Challenge to try and read some of the books that fell to the wayside. I’m not doing the challenge this year (I failed epically last year), but I still want to make a dent in my ever-growing TBR. Here are some I’m determined to get to this year:
1. My Killer Vacation by Tess Bailey
Page Length: 295
Publication Date: June 6, 2022
Synopsis: An all-new, spicy murder mystery from Tessa Bailey, New York Times bestselling author of It Happened One Summer…
It was supposed to be a relaxing vacation in sweet, sunny Cape Cod—just me and my beloved brother—but discovering a corpse in our rental house really throws a wrench into our tanning schedule. Now a rude, crude bounty hunter has arrived on the back of his motorcycle to catch the killer and refuses to believe I can be helpful, despite countless hours of true crime podcast listening. Not to mention a fulfilling teaching career of wrangling second graders.
A brash bounty hunter and an energetic elementary schoolteacher: the murder-solving team no one asked for, but thanks to these pesky attempts on my life, we’re stuck together, come hell or high tide.
I’m just here to do a job, not babysit an amateur sleuth. Although…it is becoming less and less of a hardship to have her around. Sure, she’s stubborn, distracting and can’t stay out of harm’s way. She’s also brave and beautiful and reminds me of the home I left behind three years ago. In other words, the painful hunger and protectiveness she is waking up in me is a threat to my peace of mind. Before I sink any deeper into this dangerous attraction, I need to solve this murder and get back on the road. But will fate take her from me before I realize the road has been leading to her all along?
2. Glow by Raven Kennedy
Series: The Plated Prisoner #4
Page Length: 705
Publication Date: June 18, 2022
Synopsis: “I was nothing but a road to Midas. A means to get to where he wanted to go, and I paved that path in gold.”
My life has been made up of gilded lies. But death has been shaped from rot.
Like a phoenix caught fire, I will need to rise from the ashes and learn to wield my own power. Because my wings may have been clipped, but I am not in a cage, and I’m finally free to fly from the frozen kingdoms I’ve been kept in.
Yet the world doesn’t want to let me.
That’s the thing when you turn against a king—everyone else turns against you.
Good thing I have a different king in my corner.
But even with the dark threat of Slade Ravinger, the other monarchs are coming for me.
So I will fight for him and he will kill for me, and if we need to become the villains, then so be it.
Because so long as I live in this world, I won’t be used again.
3. Book Lovers by Emily Henry
Page Length: 377
Publication Date: May 3, 2022
Publisher: Berkley Books
Synopsis: One summer. Two rivals. A plot twist they didn’t see coming….
Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.
Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small-town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute.
If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.
4. Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer
Series: Defy the Night #1
Page Length: 496
Publication Date: Sept. 14, 2021
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Synopsis: From New York Times bestselling author Brigid Kemmerer comes a blockbuster fantasy series about a kingdom divided by corruption, the prince desperately holding it together, and the girl who will risk everything to bring it crashing down.
The kingdom of Kandala is on the brink of disaster. Rifts between sectors have only worsened since a sickness began ravaging the land, and within the Royal Palace, the king holds a tenuous peace with a ruthless hand.
King Harristan was thrust into power after his parents’ shocking assassination, leaving the younger Prince Corrick to take on the brutal role of the King’s Justice. The brothers have learned to react mercilessly to any sign of rebellion–it’s the only way to maintain order when the sickness can strike anywhere, and the only known cure, an elixir made from delicate Moonflower petals, is severely limited.
Out in the Wilds, apothecary apprentice Tessa Cade is tired of seeing her neighbors die, their suffering ignored by the unyielding royals. Every night, she and her best friend Wes risk their lives to steal Moonflower petals and distribute the elixir to those who need it most–but it’s still not enough.
As rumors spread that the cure no longer works and sparks of rebellion begin to flare, a particularly cruel act from the King’s Justice makes Tessa desperate enough to try the impossible: sneaking into the palace. But what she finds upon her arrival makes her wonder if it’s even possible to fix Kandala without destroying it first.
Set in a richly imaginative world with striking similarities to our own, Brigid Kemmerer’s captivating new series is about those with power and those without . . . and what happens when someone is brave enough to imagine a new future.
5. Saint by Adrienne Young
Series: Fable #0
Page Length: 336
Publication Date: Nov. 29, 2022
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Synopsis: As a boy, Elias learned the hard way what happens when you don’t heed the old tales.
Nine years after his lack of superstition got his father killed, he’s grown into a young man of piety, with a deep reverence for the hallowed sea and her fickle favor. As stories of the fisherman’s son who has managed to escape the most deadly of storms spreads from port to port, his devotion to the myths and creeds has given him the reputation of the luckiest bastard to sail the Narrows.
Now, he’s mere days away from getting everything his father ever dreamed for him: a ship of his own, a crew, and a license that names him as one of the first Narrows-born traders. But when a young dredger from the Unnamed Sea with more than one secret crosses his path, Elias’ faith will be tested like never before. The greater the pull he feels toward her, the farther he drifts from the things he’s spent the last three years working for.
He is dangerously close to repeating his mistakes and he’s seen first hand how vicious the jealous sea can be. If he’s going to survive her retribution, he will have to decide which he wants more, the love of the girl who could change their shifting world, or the sacred beliefs that earned him the name that he’s known for―Saint.
6. This Woven Kingdom by Tehereh Mafi
Series: This Woven Kingdom #1
Page Length: 512
Synopsis: Clashing empires, forbidden romance, and a long-forgotten queen destined to save her people—bestselling author Tahereh Mafi’s first in an epic, romantic trilogy inspired by Persian mythology.
To all the world, Alizeh is a disposable servant, not the long-lost heir to an ancient Jinn kingdom forced to hide in plain sight.
The crown prince, Kamran, has heard the prophecies foretelling the death of his king. But he could never have imagined that the servant girl with the strange eyes, the girl he can’t put out of his mind, would one day soon uproot his kingdom—and the world.
Perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo, Tomi Adeyemi, and Sabaa Tahir, this is the explosive first book in a new fantasy trilogy from the New York Times bestselling and National Book Award-nominated author Tahereh Mafi.
7. A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross
Series: Elements of Cadence #1
Page Length: 480
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Synopsis: Jack Tamerlaine hasn’t stepped foot on Cadence in ten long years, content to study music at the mainland university. But when young girls start disappearing from the isle, Jack is summoned home to help find them. Enchantments run deep on Cadence: gossip is carried by the wind, plaid shawls can be as strong as armor, and the smallest cut of a knife can instill fathomless fear. The capricious spirits that rule the isle by fire, water, earth, and wind find mirth in the lives of the humans who call the land home. Adaira, heiress of the east and Jack’s childhood enemy, knows the spirits only answer to a bard’s music, and she hopes Jack can draw them forth by song, enticing them to return the missing girls.
As Jack and Adaira reluctantly work together, they find they make better allies than rivals as their partnership turns into something more. But with each passing song, it becomes apparent the trouble with the spirits is far more sinister than they first expected, and an older, darker secret about Cadence lurks beneath the surface, threatening to undo them all.
With unforgettable characters, a fast-paced plot, and compelling world building, A River Enchanted is a stirring story of duty, love, and the power of true partnership, and marks Rebecca Ross’s brilliant entry on the adult fantasy stage.
8. Only a Monster by Vanessa Len
Series: Monsters #1
Page Length: 416
Synopsis: It should have been the perfect summer. Sent to stay with her late mother’s eccentric family in London, sixteen-year-old Joan is determined to enjoy herself. She loves her nerdy job at the historic Holland House, and when her super cute co-worker Nick asks her on a date, it feels like everything is falling into place.
But she soon learns the truth. Her family aren’t just eccentric: they’re monsters, with terrifying, hidden powers. And Nick isn’t just a cute boy: he’s a legendary monster slayer, who will do anything to bring them down.
As she battles Nick, Joan is forced to work with the beautiful and ruthless Aaron Oliver, heir to a monster family that hates her own. She’ll have to embrace her own monstrousness if she is to save herself, and her family. Because in this story . . .
. . . she is not the hero.
9. Good Girl Complex by Elle Kennedy
Page Length: 368
Publisher: St. Martin’s
Synopsis: She does everything right. So what could go wrong?
Mackenzie “Mac” Cabot is a people pleaser. Her demanding parents. Her prep school friends. Her long-time boyfriend. It’s exhausting, really, always following the rules. Unlike most twenty-year-olds, all she really wants to do is focus on growing her internet business, but first she must get a college degree at her parents’ insistence. That means moving to the beachside town of Avalon Bay, a community made up of locals and the wealthy students of Garnet College.
Mac’s had plenty of practice suppressing her wilder impulses, but when she meets local bad boy Cooper Hartley, that ability is suddenly tested. Cooper is rough around the edges. Raw. Candid. A threat to her ordered existence. Their friendship soon becomes the realest thing in her life.
Despite his disdain for the trust-fund kids he sees coming and going from his town, Cooper soon realizes Mac isn’t just another rich clone and falls for her. Hard. But as Mac finally starts feeling accepted by Cooper and his friends, the secret he’s been keeping from her threatens the only place she’s ever felt at home.
10. In the Shadow Garden by Liz Parker
Page Length: 336
Publication Date: Sept. 13, 2022
Synopsis: There’s something magical about Yarrow, Kentucky. The three empathic witches of the Haywood family are known for their shadow garden—from strawberries that taste like chocolate to cherry tomatoes with hints of basil and oregano. Their magic can cure any heartache, and the fruits of their garden bring a special quality to the local bourbon distillery. On one day every year, a shot of Bonner bourbon will make your worst memory disappear.
But twenty years ago, the town gave up more than one memory for the year; they forgot an entire summer. One person died. One person disappeared. And no one has any idea why.
As secrets from that fateful summer start to come to light, there must be a reckoning between the rival Haywood and Bonner families. But the only clue Irene Haywood has is in her tea leaves: a stranger’s arrival will bring either love or betrayal…
Have you read any of these? Which backlist books are you hoping to read this year? Comment below!