Since the pandemic started, it’s been difficult for authors to promote their books, especially if they are debut novelists. In this post-pandemic world, you must be trending on social media (we all know we are thinking of TikTok) or be an instant bestseller. There are so many great books being published that it doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
So from now on, at the beginning of the new year, I will highlight debut books that should be on your radar. Let’s begin the new year by reading someone new for your bookshelf!
2023 books are jampacked with fantastic storytelling. From mismatched romances to action-packed dystopian, with these worthy books, you’ll find your next favorite author in the following books:
The Stranded by Sarah Daniels
Welcome to the Arcadia.
Once a luxurious cruise ship, it became a refugee camp after being driven from Europe by an apocalyptic war. Now it floats near the coastline of the Federated States–a leftover piece of a fractured USA.
For forty years, residents of the Arcadia have been prohibited from making landfall. It is a world of extreme haves and have nots, gangs and make-shift shelters.
Esther is a loyal citizen, working flat-out to have the rare chance to live a normal life as a medic on dry land. Nik is a rebel, planning something big to liberate the Arcadia once and for all.
When events throw them both together, their lives, and the lives of everyone on the ship, will change forever… (Credit: Sourcebooks Fire)
Game Over Girl by Naomi Gibson
Lola’s been selected to play a new virtual reality game – Better Than Life.
In her game, she’s loved. Is beautiful. Can do whatever she wants. But she quickly breaks the one rule: not to recreate people or places from real life. She recreates her house and a boy she fancies. Soon she’s skipping school to play.
But Lola has secrets – dark ones that begin to surface inside her game – and the more she tries to fix her problems, the more she overlooks a much bigger threat …
An original, high-concept psychological thriller – Holly Jackson meets VR horror
Set in an exclusive boarding school, this rollercoaster ride of a story involves an unreliable narrator, immersive gaming, a dark secret and a huge twist. (Credit: Chicken House)
The Love Match by Priyanka Taslim
Zahra Khan is basically Bangladeshi royalty, but being a princess doesn’t pay the bills in Paterson, New Jersey. While Zahra’s plans for financial security this summer involve working long hours at Chai Ho and saving up for college writing courses, Amma is convinced that all Zahra needs is a “good match,” Jane Austen style.
Enter Harun Emon, who’s wealthy, devastatingly handsome, and…aloof. As soon as Zahra meets him, she knows it’s a bad match. It’s nothing like the connection she has with Nayim Aktar, the new dishwasher at the tea shop, who just gets Zahra in a way no one has before. So, when Zahra finds out that Harun is just as uninterested in this match as she is, they decide to slowly sabotage their parents’ plans. And for once in Zahra’s life, she can have her rossomalai and eat it too: “dating” Harun and keeping Amma happy while catching real feelings for Nayim.
But life–and boys–can be more complicated than Zahra realizes. With her feelings all mixed up, Zahra discovers that sometimes being a good Bengali kid can be a royal pain. (Credit: Saalam Reads)
Godkiller by Hannah Kaner
You are not welcome here, godkiller
Kissen’s family were killed by zealots of a fire god. Now, she makes a living killing gods, and enjoys it. That is until she finds a god she cannot kill: Skedi, a god of white lies, has somehow bound himself to a young noble, and they are both on the run from unknown assassins.
Joined by a disillusioned knight on a secret quest, they must travel to the ruined city of Blenraden, where the last of the wild gods reside, to each beg a favour.
Pursued by demons, and in the midst of burgeoning civil war, they will all face a reckoning – something is rotting at the heart of their world, and only they can be the ones to stop it. (Credit: HarperCollins UK)
The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff
Five years ago, Geeta lost her no-good husband. As in, she actually lost him–he walked out on her and she has no idea where he is. But in her remote village in India, rumor has it that Geeta killed him. And it’s a rumor that just won’t die.
It turns out that being known as a “self-made” widow comes with some perks. No one messes with her, harasses her, or tries to control (ahem, marry) her. It’s even been good for business; no one dares to not buy her jewelry.
Freedom must look good on Geeta, because now other women are asking for her “expertise,” making her an unwitting consultant for husband disposal.
And not all of them are asking nicely.
With Geeta’s dangerous reputation becoming a double-edged sword, she has to find a way to protect the life she’s built–but even the best-laid plans of would-be widows tend to go awry. What happens next sets in motion a chain of events that will change everything, not just for Geeta, but for all the women in their village. (Credit: Ballantine Books)
Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey
Maggie is fine. She’s doing really good, actually. Sure, she’s broke, her graduate thesis on something obscure is going nowhere, and her marriage only lasted 608 days, but at the ripe old age of twenty-nine, Maggie is determined to embrace her new life as a Surprisingly Young Divorcée(TM).
Now she has time to take up nine hobbies, eat hamburgers at 4 am, and “get back out there” sex-wise. With the support of her tough-loving academic advisor, Merris; her newly divorced friend, Amy; and her group chat (naturally), Maggie barrels through her first year of single life, intermittently dating, occasionally waking up on the floor and asking herself tough questions along the way. (Credit: William Morrow & Company)
This Book Kills by Ravena Guron
When Hugh Henry Van Boren, one of the most popular and richest kids in Jess Choudhary’s school, is found dead, the student body is left reeling and wondering who the murderer could be… Jess, a student under strict instructions to keep her record clean or risk losing her scholarship, finds herself at the centre of the investigation when it’s revealed that Hugh died in the exact same way as a character in a short story she wrote.
And then Jess receives an anonymous text thanking her for the inspiration.
With time running out, Jess knows if she doesn’t solve this mystery she’ll finally have something in common with Hugh Henry.
She’ll be dead too. (Credit: Usborne Publishing Ltd)
Influential by Amara Sage
Almond Brown has no friends in real life . . . but 3.5 million followers online. A heart-felt, whip-smart deep dive into what it would really be like to be internet famous at 17: a cautionary tale for our time from a writer who has grown up with social media.
Almond is forced into the spotlight when she was just a perfectly filtered bump: her mum has been documenting their family through social media since before she was born. And her family enjoy all the rewards that come from that level of influence. Only, it’s not the life Almond would have chosen for herself, and being on a platform all the time has made her anxious and insecure. When the darkest side of the internet begins to haunt her, Almond feels like she’s going to lose everything . . . If only she could see that she has a real-life, too, full of friends and family who love her, and that it could save her. (Credit: Faber & Faber)
The Things We Do To Our Friends by Heather Darwent
Clare arrives at the University of Edinburgh with a secret. This is her chance for a blank slate: to find the right people and reinvent herself.
And then she meets Tabitha.
Tabitha is charismatic, beautiful and intimidatingly wealthy. Soon Clare is sucked into her enigmatic circle of friends and their dizzying world of champagne on rooftops and summers in France.
Her new life has begun.
Then Tabitha reveals the little project they’re working on, a project they need Clare’s help with. It’s reckless, possibly perilous and might finally allow Clare to become who she was meant to be…
But how much is an extraordinary life worth if others have to pay? (Credit: Penguin Books UK)
City Under One Roof by Iris Yamashita
When a local teenager discovers a severed hand and foot washed up on the shore of the small town of Point Mettier, Alaska, Cara Kennedy is on the case. A detective from Anchorage, she has her own motives for investigating the possible murder in this isolated place, which can be accessed only by a tunnel.After a blizzard causes the tunnel to close indefinitely, Cara is stuck among the odd and suspicious residents of the town–all 205 of whom live in the same high-rise building and are as icy as the weather. Cara teams up with Point Mettier police officer Joe Barkowski, but before long the investigation is upended by fearsome gang members from a nearby native village.
Haunted by her past, Cara soon discovers that everyone in this town has something to hide. Will she be able to unravel their secrets before she unravels?” (Credit: Berkley Books)
The Davenports by Krystal Marquis
The Davenports are one of the few Black families of immense wealth and status in a changing United States, their fortune made through the entrepreneurship of William Davenport, a formerly enslaved man who founded the Davenport Carriage Company years ago.
Now it’s 1910, and the Davenports live surrounded by servants, crystal chandeliers, and endless parties, finding their way and finding love–even where they’re not supposed to.
There is Olivia, the beautiful elder Davenport daughter, ready to do her duty by getting married . . . until she meets the charismatic civil rights leader Washington DeWight and sparks fly. The younger daughter, Helen, is more interested in fixing cars than falling in love–unless it’s with her sister’s suitor. Amy-Rose, the childhood friend turned maid to the Davenport sisters, dreams of opening her own business–and marrying the one man she could never be with, Olivia and Helen’s brother, John. But Olivia’s best friend, Ruby, also has her sights set on John Davenport, though she can’t seem to keep his interest . . . until family pressure has her scheming to win his heart, just as someone else wins hers. (Credit: Dial Books)
Maame by Jessica George
It’s fair to say that Maddie’s life in London is far from rewarding. With a mother who spends most of her time in Ghana (yet still somehow manages to be overbearing), Maddie is the primary caretaker for her father, who suffers from advanced stage Parkinson’s. At work, her boss is a nightmare and Maddie is tired of always being the only Black person in every meeting.
When her mum returns from her latest trip to Ghana, Maddie leaps at the chance to get out of the family home and finally start living. A self-acknowledged late bloomer, she’s ready to experience some important “firsts” She finds a flat share, says yes to after-work drinks, pushes for more recognition in her career, and throws herself into the bewildering world of internet dating. But it’s not long before tragedy strikes, forcing Maddie to face the true nature of her unconventional family, and the perils–and rewards–of putting her heart on the line. (Credit: St. Martin’s Press)
The Black Queen by Jumata Emill
Nova Albright, the first Black homecoming queen at Lovett High, is dead. Murdered the night of her coronation, her body found the next morning in the old slave cemetery she spent her weekends rehabilitating.
Tinsley McArthur was supposed to be queen. Not only is she beautiful, wealthy, and white, it’s her legacy–her grandmother, her mother, and even her sister wore the crown before her. Everyone in Lovett knows Tinsley would do anything to carry on the McArthur tradition.
No one is more certain of that than Duchess Simmons, Nova’s best friend. Duchess’s father is the first Black police captain in Lovett. For Duchess, Nova’s crown was more than just a win for Nova. It was a win for all the Black kids. Now her best friend is dead, and her father won’t face the fact that the main suspect is right in front of him. Duchess is convinced that Tinsley killed Nova–and that Tinsley is privileged enough to think she can get away with it. But Duchess’s father seems to be doing what he always does: fall behind the blue line. Which means that the white girl is going to walk.
Duchess is determined to prove Tinsley’s guilt. And to do that, she’ll have to get close to her.
But Tinsley has an agenda, too.
Everyone loved Nova. And sometimes, love is exactly what gets you killed. (Credit: Delacorte Press)
Promise Boys by Nick Brooks
The Urban Promise Prep School vows to turn boys into men. As students, J.B., Ramón, and Trey are forced to follow the prestigious “program’s” strict rules. Extreme discipline, they’ve been told, is what it takes to be college bound, to avoid the fates of many men in their neighborhoods. This, the Principal Moore Method, supposedly saves lives.
But when Moore ends up murdered and the cops come sniffing around, the trio emerges as the case’s prime suspects. With all three maintaining their innocence, they must band together to track down the real killer before they are arrested. But is the true culprit hiding among them? (Credit: Henry Holt & Company)
Someone is Watching You by Tess James-Mackey
An abandoned prison. A deadly game. How far would you go for a dare?
Nia would do anything to win the approval of her boyfriend Scott and his friends, especially mean girl Olivia. When Olivia dares Nia to explore an abandoned prison, she sees it as the perfect opportunity to prove herself. Facing dark tunnels, distant noises and creepy mementoes left behind by incarcerated criminals will surely all be worth it.
But it isn’t long before Nia and her little sister, Kayla, find themselves trapped inside. And then Kayla vanishes.
Suddenly, this feels like more than a game gone wrong. Someone is hellbent on making Nia and Kayla the prison’s last inmates . . . (Credit: Hachette Children’s Group)
This Is How You Fall In Love by Anika Hussain
Zara and Adnan are just friends. Always have been, always will be. Even if they have to pretend to be girlfriend and boyfriend…
Zara loves love in all forms: 90s romcoms and romance novels and grand sweeping gestures. And she’s desperate to have her own great love story. Crucially, a real one. So when her best friend Adnan begs her to pretend to date him to cover up his new top-secret relationship, Zara is hesitant. This isn’t the kind of thing she had in mind. But there’s something in it for Zara too: making her parents, who love Adnan, happy might just stop them arguing for a while. She may not be getting her own love story, but she could save theirs.
So Zara agrees and the act begins: after all, how different can pretending to be in a relationship with your best friend be to just hanging around with them like usual? Turns out, a lot. With fake dating comes fake hand-holding and fake kissing and real feelings… And when a new boy turns up in Zara’s life, things get more confusing than ever.
The course of true love never did run smooth, but Zara’s love story is messier than most… (Credit: Hot Key Books)
The Girl Who Broke the Sea by A. Connors
Lily’s emotional problems run deep – three miles deep.
After she gets kicked out of school for her destructive behaviour, Lily agrees to an unusual fresh start: going with her mum to live at Deephaven, an experimental deep-sea mining rig and research station located at the bottom of the ocean.
Lily instantly regrets her decision: claustrophobic and isolated, it’s hardly her idea of home.
Turns out, Deephaven has problems of its own. The head scientist, they quickly learn, has disappeared – just as he was on the brink of a shocking discovery. In the darkness of the deep, something is stirring … something dangerous.
And it’s calling out to Lily. (Credit: Scholastic UK)
A Game of Life or Death by Triona Campbell
An addictive thriller from the most sensational new voice in YA fiction. When sixteen-year-old Asha Kennedy discovers her older sister Maya’s dead body in their home, her world falls apart. Desperate for answers, and to stay out of the hands of the social services she grew up in, Asha turns to her hacker friends for help.
Her search leads her to Zu Tech, the hit games studio where Maya was a lead coder. As Asha begins to unravel the riddle of her death, she realises that the only way to uncover the truth is from the inside.
Asha ghosts her old life and infiltrates a Zu Tech eSport tournament as they launch ‘SHACKLE’, the revolutionary Virtual Reality video game Maya was working on – and which hides a monstrous secret…(Credit: Scholastic UK)
Death of a Bookseller by Alice Slater
Roach would rather be listening to the latest episode of her favorite true crime podcast than assisting the boring and predictable customers at her local branch of the bookstore Spines, where she’s worked her entire adult life. A serious true crime junkie, Roach looks down her nose at the pumpkin-spice-latte-drinking casual fans who only became interested in the genre once it got trendy. But when Laura, a pretty and charismatic children’s bookseller, arrives to help rejuvenate the struggling bookstore branch, Roach recognizes in her an unexpected kindred spirit.
Despite their common interest in true crime, Laura keeps her distance from Roach, resisting the other woman’s overtures of friendship. Undeterred, Roach learns everything she can about her new colleague, eventually uncovering Laura’s traumatic family history. When Roach realizes that she may have come across her very own true crime story, interest swiftly blooms into a dangerous obsession. (Credit: Scarlet)
She Started It by Sian Gilbert
Annabel, Esther, Tanya, and Chloe are best friends–or were, as children. Despite drifting apart in adulthood, shared secrets have kept them bonded for better or worse, even as their childhood dreams haven’t quite turned out as they’d hoped. Then one day they receive a wholly unexpected–but not entirely unwelcome–invitation from another old friend. Poppy Greer has invited them all to her extravagant bachelorette party: a first-class plane ticket to three days of white sand, cocktails, and relaxation on a luxe private island in the Bahamas.
None of them has spoken to Poppy in years. But Poppy’s Instagram pics shows that the girl they used to consider the weakest link in their group has definitely made good–and made money. Curiosity gets the better of them. Besides, who can turn down a posh all-expenses-paid vacation on a Caribbean island?
The first-class flight and the island’s accommodations are just as opulent as expected…even if the scenic island proves more remote than they’d anticipated. Quite remote, in fact, with no cell service, and no other guests. The women quickly discover they’ve underestimated Poppy, and each other. As their darkest secrets are revealed, the tropical adventure morphs into a terrifying nightmare. (Credit: William Morrow & Company)
The Shadow Sister by Lily Meade
Sutton going missing is the worst thing to happen to Casey, to their family. She’s trying to help find her sister, but Casey is furious. And she can’t tell anyone about their argument before Sutton disappeared. Everyone paints a picture of Sutton’s perfection: the popular cheerleader with an entourage of friends, a doting boyfriend, and a limitless future. But Sutton manipulated everyone around her, even stole an heirloom bracelet from Casey. People don’t look for missing Black girls–or half-Black girls–without believing there is an angel to be saved.
When Sutton reappears, Casey knows she should be relieved. Except Sutton isn’t the same. She remembers nothing about while she was gone–or anything from her old life, including how she made Casey miserable. There’s something unsettling about the way she wants to spend time with Casey, the way she hums and watches her goldfish swim for hours.
What happened to Sutton? The more Casey starts uncovering her sister’s secrets, the more questions she has. Did she really know her sister? Why is no one talking about the other girls who have gone missing in their area? And what will it take to uncover the truth? (Credit: Sourcebooks Fire)
The Chaperone by M. Hendrix
Like every young woman in New America, Stella knows the rules:
Abstain from sin.
Navigate the world with care.
Respect your chaperone.
Stella can’t go out by herself, or spend time with boys except at Visitations. Girls in New America must have chaperones at all times until they marry, so Stella’s lucky that Sister Helen is like a friend to her. When Sister Helen dies suddenly, she’s devastated, especially when the Constables assign Stella a new chaperone just days later.
Sister Laura is… different. She leaves Stella alone and knows how to get into the “Hush Hush” parties where all kinds of forbidden things happen. As Stella spends more time with Sister Laura, she begins to question everything she’s been taught. What if the Constables’ rules don’t actually protect girls? What if they were never meant to keep them safe?
Once Stella glimpses both real freedom and the dark truths behind New America, she has no choice but to fight back against the world she knows. She sets out on a dangerous journey across what was once the United States, risking everything. (Credit: Sourcebooks Fire)
The Khan by Saima Mir
Successful London lawyer Jia Khan is a long way from the grubby Northern streets she knew as a child, where her father, Akbar Khan, led the Pakistani community and ran the local organized crime syndicate. Often his Jirga rule – the old way – was violent and bloody, but it was always justice of a kind.
Now, with her father murdered, Jia must return to take his place. The police have always relied on the Khan to maintain the fragile order of the streets. But a bloody power struggle has broken out among warring communities and nobody is safe.
Justice needs to be restored, and Jia is about to discover that justice always comes at a cost. (Credit: Agora Books)