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  • Writer's picturePatti Callahan Henry

13 Books I Would Like to Get for My Birthday Tomorrow

By Hannah Reynolds

June 09, 2023

The best thing about running a book blog is that I get to talk about books all the time. The worst thing is that now I know about so many books and I have no idea how I’m going to find time to read all of them.

I adore books about books — add in childhood imagination and sisterhood, and I’m sold. When Hazel and Flora were evacuated to the English countryside in 1939, Hazel kept her little sister entertained by spinning tales about a magical world she called Whisperwood. Then Flora vanishes, and Hazel never talks about their games again. Twenty years later, Hazel is working in a bookstore when she receives a manuscript called Whisperwood and the River of Stars, which sends her on a quest to find out what really happened to her sister so long ago. BUY THE BOOK

Girls trip to France with a side of murder? Sign me up! (Joking!!) But seriously, I will read any book about deathly doings in glamorous locations. The Chateau follows four friends who head to France 20 years after meeting there during study abroad. Darcy’s grandmother owns a chateau in Provence, where the four girls often gathered; now, two decades later, they’ve been invited for a reunion. Each one of them has their own reason for visiting the chateau — and one of those reasons is deadly. When the lady of the chateau is murdered, it becomes apparent one of the friends did it, and they all have motives…

Set at an elite New England college in 1998, My Last Innocent Year follows Isabel Rosen, a college senior who feels like she’s finally found her place at school after years as an outsider — only to have her life shattered after a nonconsensual sexual encounter. As she tries to move on, she starts an affair with her writing professor, a formerly famous poet. This coming-of-age tale sounds powerful and fascinating, so it’s definitely on my wishlist.

The Three of Us Ore Agbaje-Williams This books sounds messy. I like mess. Told from the perspective of three different people — a wife, a husband, and the wife’s best friend — this book explores the story of a marriage where everything looks perfect from the outside, but a few confessions can disrupt everything. Both the best friend and the husband serve as confidents to the wife, though they hate each other. With the wife torn between both of them, tensions slowly rise over the course of a single day.

I recently picked up Rowley’s book, The Guncle, and it was one of those most heartwarming books I’d read in recent memory. So I can’t wait for his latest release, which follows a group of college friends who reunite almost 30 years after graduation. They’ve made a pact to celebrate their lives with “living funerals,” but this time, they’ll have to deal with old secrets and new revelations as well.

If you’re a sci-fi reader, you’ve probably heard of The Murderbot Diaries, a heartwarming series of novellas by Martha Wells featuring an irritable but beloved protagonist. Witch King is Wells’s latest work, a full-length fantasy novel, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Wells is a champion of world-building and character development, and here she delivers the story of a magical being who awakens after his former body is assassinated, and has to figure out who killed him.

If you’re a book lover, you might be curious about what goes on behind the scenes in the publishing industry. Yellowface tackles racism and cultural appropriation when a white author steals an Asian American author’s book after the latter’s death, and claims it as her own. Kuang is an excellent writer, and I’m here for any book that takes on publishing and author culture.

Maybe it’s from years of watching too much Scandal and Madam Secretary, but I love stories set in Washington, DC — and even better if it’s a psychological thriller. Sloane Chase is recently married to Senator Whit Montgomery, and she’s trying to get used to White House events after years away. She’s also recently hired a home health aide, Athena Karras. But there’s something strange about Athena, no matter how helpful she is — she asks too many questions and seems to flirt with Sloane’s husband. Will something bad happen? Probably! I can’t wait to find out.

Mary Balogh’s books soothe me. She’s been one of my go-to comfort reads for years, so I’m looking forward to her latest release! Phillipa is the daughter of the Earl of Stratton, but years ago a scandal surrounding her father ruined her chance at a good marriage. Now she’s finally taking her place among the ton, only to come across the Marquess of Roath — a man who insulted her long ago. But as it happened, the marquess’s grandparents want him to marry, and think Phillipa would be the perfect bride…

Any book about time travel is immediately on my TBR list, especially with as good a hook as Throwback. After a huge fight with her mom, Sam finds herself thrust back in time — to the ’90s, when her mom was an All-American cheerleader at a high school full of old-fashioned attitudes. I’m sure I could travel back to the ’90s by looking at my closet, but I can’t wait to get a Gen Z take on all our fashion and trendy choices (will inflatable furniture make an appearance?). Also, there’s a romance between Sam and a sweet football player, and I have to know how that ends up working out.

I love an intergenerational mystery, especially involving an unexpected inheritance. When Kitty Karr Tate, a famous white actress, dies and leaves her millions to three young Black sisters, the world is shocked. Elise, one of the sisters, decides to investigate, and as she reads Kitty Karr’s old journals, she uncovers long buried secrets from old Hollywood.

I can’t have this book for my birthday because it’s not out for two more months. Still, I would like it. I grew up reading Ally Carter’s spy-girl young adult series, and I’m so excited for her adult debut. When a woman wakes up in Paris with amnesia, she has no idea why people keep trying to kill her — until a very hot agent tells her it’s because she’s the identical twin sister of a super spy. This sounds super fun — I’ve always been a sucker for spy stories — and I know Carter delivers. Release date: August 8

I love fantasy novels, and I also love cozy, low-key books, so this cozy fantasy is on my radar. Viv is an orc who just wants to open up a coffee shop and relax. Relatable! Will she be able to with old friends and frenemies constantly appearing — and will her past as a warrior come back to haunt her? Promising wholesome vibes and lots of found family and friendship, this book sounds like a delight.


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