It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time for a new batch of book releases! Here are a few of the books out today you should add to your TBR. This is a very small percentage of the new releases this week, though, so stick around until the end for some more Book Riot resources for keeping up with new books, including our YouTube channel, where I talk about each of these! The book descriptions listed are the publisher’s, unless otherwise noted.
She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
“I refuse to be nothing…”
In a famine-stricken village on a dusty yellow plain, two children are given two fates. A boy, greatness. A girl, nothingness…
In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass. The fate of nothingness received by the family’s clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected.
When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, it is Zhu Chongba who succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother’s identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. There, propelled by her burning desire to survive, Zhu learns she is capable of doing whatever it takes, no matter how callous, to stay hidden from her fate.
After her sanctuary is destroyed for supporting the rebellion against Mongol rule, Zhu takes the chance to claim another future altogether: her brother’s abandoned greatness.
Reasons to read it: This is being pitched as Mulan meets The Song of Achilles, with hints of The Poppy War. It’s a feminist historical epic that grapples with the concept of destiny and is also queer, with two genderqueer main characters. Be prepared for a brutal war story, but one that focuses on resilience and the main character’s defiance of the role she’s been placed in.
For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing
Teddy Crutcher has won Teacher of the Year at the esteemed Belmont Academy, home to the best and brightest.
He says his wife couldn’t be more proud — though no one has seen her in a while.
Teddy really can’t be bothered with the death of a school parent that’s looking more and more like murder or the student digging a little too deep into Teddy’s personal life. His main focus is on pushing these kids to their full academic potential.
All he wants is for his colleagues — and the endlessly meddlesome parents — to stay out of his way.
It’s really too bad that sometimes excellence can come at such a high cost.
Reasons to read it: This is being called a viciously fun read and a slick and chilling thriller. It’s about a teacher at a prestigious private school who wants to teach interfering parents, his irritating coworkers, and overeager students a lesson. Told from five points of view, it’s filled with twists and reveals. Our resident velocireader Liberty says, “If you’re looking for a deliciously nasty thriller, this is it!”
Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder
One day, the mother was a mother, but then one night, she was quite suddenly something else…
An ambitious mother puts her art career on hold to stay at home with her newborn son, but the experience does not match her imagination. Two years later, she steps into the bathroom for a break from her toddler’s demands, only to discover a dense patch of hair on the back of her neck. In the mirror, her canines suddenly look sharper than she remembers. Her husband, who travels for work five days a week, casually dismisses her fears from faraway hotel rooms.
As the mother’s symptoms intensify, and her temptation to give in to her new dog impulses peak, she struggles to keep her alter-canine-identity secret. Seeking a cure at the library, she discovers the mysterious academic tome which becomes her bible, A Field Guide to Magical Women: A Mythical Ethnography, and meets a group of mommies involved in a multilevel-marketing scheme who may also be more than what they seem.
An outrageously original novel of ideas about art, power, and womanhood wrapped in a satirical fairy tale, Nightbitch will make you want to howl in laughter and recognition. And you should. You should howl as much as you want.
Reasons to read it: This is a debut about a new mom who becomes convinced she’s turning into a dog. Jenny Offill calls this an expert examination of the “uncanny and quotidian moments of early motherhood.” It’s a satirical fairytale about art, power, and womanhood that promises to be equal parts unnerving and funny, and it also comes recommended by Carmen Maria Machado.
What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad
More bodies have washed up on the shores of a small island. Another overfilled, ill-equipped, dilapidated ship has sunk under the weight of its too many passengers: Syrians, Ethiopians, Egyptians, Lebanese, Palestinians, all of them desperate to escape untenable lives back in their homelands. But miraculously, someone has survived the passage: nine-year-old Amir, a Syrian boy who is soon rescued by Vänna. Vänna is a teenage girl, who, despite being native to the island, experiences her own sense of homelessness in a place and among people she has come to disdain. And though Vänna and Amir are complete strangers, though they don’t speak a common language, Vänna is determined to do whatever it takes to save the boy.
In alternating chapters, we learn about Amir’s life and how he came to be on the boat, and we follow him and the girl as they make their way toward safety. What Strange Paradise is the story of two children finding their way through a hostile world. But it is also a story of empathy and indifference, of hope and despair — and about the way each of those things can blind us to reality.
Reasons to read it: This is from the author of American War, an acclaimed novel that I’ve often seen taught in high schools. This one is about the global refugee crisis, told from the perspective of a child. It’s a tender story that exposes the callousness and indifference of the bystanders of this crisis. I expect this will be a popular book club pick.
Believers: Making a Life at the End of the World by Lisa Wells
We find ourselves at the end of the world. How, then, shall we live?
Like most of us, Lisa Wells has spent years overwhelmed by increasingly urgent news of climate change on an apocalyptic scale. She did not need to be convinced of the stakes, but she could not find practical answers. She embarked on a pilgrimage, seeking wisdom and paths to action from outliers and visionaries, pragmatists and iconoclasts. Believers tracks through the lives of these people who are dedicated to repairing the earth and seemingly undaunted by the task ahead.
Wells meets an itinerant gardener and misanthrope leading a group of nomadic activists in rewilding the American desert. She finds a group of environmentalist Christians practicing “watershed discipleship” in New Mexico and another group in Philadelphia turning the tools of violence into tools of farming―guns into ploughshares. She watches the world’s greatest tracker teach others how to read a trail, and visits botanists who are restoring land overrun by invasive species and destructive humans. She talks with survivors of catastrophic wildfires in California as they try to rebuild in ways that acknowledge the fires will come again.
Through empathic, critical portraits, Wells shows that these trailblazers are not so far beyond the rest of us. They have had the same realization, have accepted that we are living through a global catastrophe, but are trying to answer the next question: How do you make a life at the end of the world?
Reasons to read it: This is a book that spotlights leaders in responding to the climate crisis. It accepts the huge stakes at play, but responds with hope for transformation and asks readers to consider how they can make an impact and ensure a better inheritance for generations to come.
The Dire Days of Willowweep Manor by Shaenon K. Garrity and Christopher Baldwin
One dark and stormy night, Haley sees a stranger drowning in the river. Since her greatest passion is Gothic romance novels, she knows her moment has come. But when Haley leaps into the water to rescue the stranger, she awakens in Willowweep. It certainly looks like the setting of one of her favorite books: A stately manor. A sinister housekeeper. Three brooding brothers. There’s even a ghost.
Except Willowweep is not what it seems. Its romantic exterior hides the workings of a pocket universe—the only protection our world has against a great force of penultimate evil, and its defenses are crumbling. Could cruel fate make Haley the heroine that Willowweep needs?
Reasons to read it: This is a YA graphic novel about a teenager pulled into another universe that looks suspiciously similar to a gothic romance. She must save it from evil to be able to get home. It’s a satirical take on gothic romance tropes that includes LGBTQ and disability representation.
Other Book Riot New Releases Resources
This is only scratching the surface of the books out this week! If you want to keep up with all the latest new releases, check out:
Book Riot’s YouTube channel, where I discuss the most exciting books out every Tuesday!All the Books, our weekly new releases podcast, where Liberty and a cast of co-hosts (including me!) talk about eight books out that week that we’ve read and loved.The New Books Newsletter, where we send you an email of the books out this week that are getting buzz.Finally, if you want the real inside scoop on new releases, you have to check out Book Riot Insiders’ New Releases Index! That’s where I find 90% of new releases, and you can filter by trending books, Rioters’ picks, and even LGBTQ new releases!