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.
The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray
In her twenties, Belle da Costa Greene is hired by J. P. Morgan to curate a collection of rare manuscripts, books, and artwork for his newly built Pierpont Morgan Library. Belle becomes a fixture on the New York society scene and one of the most powerful people in the art and book world, known for her impeccable taste and shrewd negotiating for critical works as she helps build a world-class collection.
But Belle has a secret, one she must protect at all costs. She was born not Belle da Costa Greene but Belle Marion Greener. She is the daughter of Richard Greener, the first Black graduate of Harvard and a well-known advocate for equality. Belle’s complexion isn’t dark because of her alleged Portuguese heritage that lets her pass as white–her complexion is dark because she is African American.
The Personal Librarian tells the story of an extraordinary woman, famous for her intellect, style, and wit, and shares the lengths to which she must go–for the protection of her family and her legacy–to preserve her carefully crafted white identity in the racist world in which she lives.
Reasons to read it: This is historical fiction based on the true story of Belle da Costa Greene, who became a prominent and powerful figure in New York at the turn of the century while passing as white. This one is sure to be a popular book club pick, because it will start a lot of conversations about race and whose stories from history get told.
This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron
Briseis has a gift: she can grow plants from tiny seeds to rich blooms with a single touch.
When Briseis’s aunt dies and wills her a dilapidated estate in rural New York, Bri and her parents decide to leave Brooklyn behind for the summer. Hopefully there, surrounded by plants and flowers, Bri will finally learn to control her gift. But their new home is sinister in ways they could never have imagined – it comes with a specific set of instructions, an old-school apothecary, and a walled garden filled with the deadliest botanicals in the world that can only be entered by those who share Bri’s unique family lineage.
When strangers begin to arrive on their doorstep, asking for tinctures and elixirs, Bri learns she has a surprising talent for creating them. One of the visitors is Marie, a mysterious young woman who Bri befriends, only to find that Marie is keeping dark secrets about the history of the estate and its surrounding community. There is more to Bri’s sudden inheritance than she could have imagined, and she is determined to uncover it…until a nefarious group comes after her in search of a rare and dangerous immortality elixir. Up against a centuries-old curse and the deadliest plant on earth, Bri must harness her gift to protect herself and her family.
Reasons to read it: This is from the author of the hugely popular Cinderella Is Dead, and it’s another queer Black fantasy YA that is sure to get a lot of fans. The main character is bisexual, there is a female love interest, and Bri has two moms. This is the beginning of a series, and it’s supposed to have gothic vibes and Greek mythology elements!
Survive the Night by Riley Sager
It’s November 1991. Nirvana’s in the tape deck, George H. W. Bush is in the White House, and movie-obsessed college student Charlie Jordan is in a car with a man who might be a serial killer.
Josh Baxter, the man behind the wheel, is a virtual stranger to Charlie. They met at the campus ride board, each looking to share the long drive home to Ohio. Both have good reasons for wanting to get away. For Charlie, it’s guilt and grief over the shocking murder of her best friend, who became the third victim of the man known as the Campus Killer. For Josh, it’s to help care for his sick father — or so he says.
The longer she sits in the passenger seat, the more Charlie notices there’s something suspicious about Josh, from the holes in his story about his father to how he doesn’t want her to see inside the trunk. As they travel an empty, twisty highway in the dead of night, an increasingly anxious Charlie begins to think she’s sharing a car with the Campus Killer. Is Josh truly dangerous? Or is Charlie’s jittery mistrust merely a figment of her movie-fueled imagination?
One thing is certain — Charlie has nowhere to run and no way to call for help. Trapped in a terrifying game of cat and mouse played out on pitch-black roads and in neon-lit parking lots, Charlie knows the only way to win is to survive the night.
Reasons to read it: This is the newest thriller from the author of Final Girls and Lock Every Door. It’s a story that’s sure to keep you in suspense and is full of twists and turns. It’s also structured like a screenplay — which matches the film major main character!
Gearbreakers by Zoe Hana Mikuta
We went past praying to deities and started to build them instead…
The shadow of Godolia’s tyrannical rule is spreading, aided by their giant mechanized weapons known as Windups. War and oppression are everyday constants for the people of the Badlands, who live under the thumb of their cruel Godolia overlords.
Eris Shindanai is a Gearbreaker, a brash young rebel who specializes in taking down Windups from the inside. When one of her missions goes awry and she finds herself in a Godolia prison, Eris meets Sona Steelcrest, a cybernetically enhanced Windup pilot. At first Eris sees Sona as her mortal enemy, but Sona has a secret: She has intentionally infiltrated the Windup program to destroy Godolia from within.
As the clock ticks down to their deadliest mission yet, a direct attack to end Godolia’s reign once and for all, Eris and Sona grow closer — as comrades, friends, and perhaps something more…
Reasons to read it: This is one of my most-anticipated 2021 releases. It’s YA cyberpunk with mechas that has an enemies-to-lovers romance between two queer Asian teenage girls who give each other tattoos! If you liked Crier’s War, this should be at the top of your TBR.
The Sea We Swim In by Frank Rose
In The Sea We Swim In, Frank Rose leads us to a new understanding of stories and their role in our lives. For decades, experts from many fields — psychologists, economists, advertising and marketing executives — failed to register the power of narrative. Scientists thought stories were frivolous. Economists were knee-deep in theory. Marketers just wanted to cut to the sales pitch. Yet stories, not reasoning, are the key to persuasion.
Whether we’re aware of it or not, stories determine how we view the world and our place in it. That means the tools of professional storytellers — character, world, detail, voice — can unlock a way of thinking that’s ideal for an age in which we don’t passively consume media but actively participate in it. Building on insights from cognitive psychology and neuroscience, Rose shows us how to see the world in narrative terms, not as a thesis to be argued or a pitch to be made but as a story to be told.
Leading brands and top entertainment professionals already understand the vast potential of storytelling. From Warby Parker to Mailchimp to The Walking Dead, Rose explains how they use stories to establish their identity and turn ordinary people into fans — and how you can do the same.
Reasons to read it: I don’t usually include business books on these lists, because they don’t often appeal to me, but I am a firm believer in the idea that stories are how we structure our understanding of the world, and knowing how to tell a story effectively is crucial to persuading others.
Stranger Things: Rebel Robin by A.R. Capetta
High school is a monster, and it’s eating everyone Robin knows. Discover the backstory of the new Stranger Things fan favorite character, Robin, played by Maya Hawke!
It’s the beginning of sophomore year, and Robin’s Odd Squad friends have decided: this time, they’re going to fit in. They couple up, they won’t stop talking about college and their future careers, and they’re obsessed with trying to act “normal.” Robin knows that game well — she’s been pretending for years, hoping nobody would notice the sarcastic polyglot French horn player with a bad perm in the back of the room. But there’s one aspect of her identity that she knows for sure doesn’t fit in with her carefully controlled image — something she’s only just now realizing: Robin likes girls.
How exactly is she supposed to be her true self in teeny-tiny Hawkins, Indiana? Robin is convinced the only way she can experience real life is by fleeing to Europe for the summer — aka Operation Croissant. But she has no money, no permission, and no one to share the adventure with — and it will take a heck of a lot more than that to escape Hawkins in one piece.
Sprinkled with references to your favorite Stranger Things characters, this prequel chronicles one girl’s realization that the only person she really needs to be accepted by is herself.
Reasons to read it: I’m obviously biased in including this one. I like Stranger Things, and Robin was a stand-out character for me (of course). A.R. Capetta is also one of my favorite YA authors, especially their books The Lost Coast and Once & Future, so I was bound to be excited about this one. Even better, there’s an accompanying podcast voiced by the actor!
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!