It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time for new books! 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. Make sure to stick around until the end for some more Book Riot resources for keeping up with new books. The book descriptions listed are the publisher’s, unless otherwise noted.
Carmilla: The First Vampire by Amy Chu, Illustrated by Soo Lee, Sal Cipriano
Before Dracula, before Nosferatu, there was…CARMILLA.
At the height of the Lunar New Year in 1990s New York City, an idealistic social worker turns detective when she discovers young, homeless LGBTQ+ women are being murdered and no one, especially the police, seems to care.
A series of clues points her to Carmilla’s, a mysterious nightclub in the heart of her neighborhood, Chinatown. There she falls for the next likely target, landing her at the center of a real-life horror story — and face-to-face with illusions about herself, her life, and her hidden past.
Inspired by the gothic novel that started the vampire genre and layered with dark Chinese folklore, this queer, feminist murder mystery is a tale of identity, obsession and fateful family secrets.
Reasons to read it: This classic, queer vampire tale has been brought into the modern era with this new graphic novel, published by Dark Horse Comics. The elements of Chinese folklore help to make the story feel more weighted, and the art style and color scheme encapsulates the mood perfectly. Yes, I’m already ready for the next installment.
The Unfortunates by J.K. Chukwu
An edgy, bitingly funny debut about a queer, half-Nigerian college sophomore who, enraged and exhausted by the racism at her elite college, is determined to reveal the truth about The Unfortunates — the unlucky subset of Black undergrads who Just. Keep. Disappearing.
Sahara is Not Okay. Entering her sophomore year, she already feels like a failure: her body is too much, her love life is nonexistent, she’s not Nigerian enough for her family, her grades are subpar, and, well, the few Black classmates she has are vanishing — or dying. Sahara herself is close to giving up: depression has been her longtime “Life Partner.” She believes that this narrative — taking the form of an irreverent, no-holds-barred “thesis” addressed to the powerful University Committee that will judge her — may be her last chance to document the Unfortunates’ experience before she joins their ranks…But maybe, just maybe, she and her complex community of BIPOC women aren’t ready to go out without a fight.
Reasons to read it: While the premise of this novel may not literally be what happens at PWIs — that is, that Black students physically vanish — the main effect of it is true to life. Something is very wrong in academia, and Chukwu’s book addresses it in novel ways — Sahara’s struggle is told through emails, collages, and other unique forms.
She Is a Haunting by Trang Thanh Tran
This house eats and is eaten . . .
A House with a terrifying appetite haunts a broken family in this atmospheric horror, perfect for fans of Mexican Gothic.
When Jade Nguyen arrives in Vietnam for a visit with her estranged father, she has one goal: survive five weeks pretending to be a happy family in the French colonial house Ba is restoring. She’s always lied to fit in, so if she’s straight enough, Vietnamese enough, American enough, she can get out with the college money he promised.
But the house has other plans. Night after night, Jade wakes up paralyzed. The walls exude a thrumming sound while bugs leave their legs and feelers in places they don’t belong. She finds curious traces of her ancestors in the gardens they once tended. And at night Jade can’t ignore the ghost of the beautiful bride who leaves cryptic warnings: Don’t eat.
Neither Ba nor her sweet sister Lily believe that there is anything strange happening. With help from a delinquent girl, Jade will prove this house — the home they have always wanted — will not rest until it destroys them. Maybe, this time, she can keep her family together. As she roots out the house’s rot, she must also face the truth of who she is and who she must become to save them all.
Reasons to read it: This was one of this year’s releases I mentioned for our Most Anticipated episode of Hey YA, and I’m excited that everyone else can finally read it. Gothic horror, family dynamics, and the horrors of colonialism all merge in what Angeline Boulley, author of The Firekeeper’s Daughter, calls “A riveting debut from a remarkable new voice! Trang Thanh Tran weaves an impressive gothic mystery…”
Time’s Undoing by Cheryl A. Head
A searing and tender novel about a young Black journalist’s search for answers in the unsolved murder of her great-grandfather in segregated Birmingham, Alabama, decades ago — inspired by the author’s own family history.
Birmingham, 1929: Robert Lee Harrington, a master carpenter, has just moved to Alabama to pursue a job opportunity, bringing along his pregnant wife and young daughter. Birmingham is in its heyday, known as the “Magic City” for its booming steel industry, and while Robert and his family find much to enjoy in the city’s busy markets and vibrant nightlife, it’s also a stronghold for the Klan. And with his beautiful, light-skinned wife and snazzy car, Robert begins to worry that he might be drawing the wrong kind of attention.
2019: Meghan McKenzie, the youngest reporter at the Detroit Free Press, has grown up hearing family lore about her great-grandfather’s murder — but no one knows the full story of what really happened back then, and his body was never found. Determined to find answers to her family’s long-buried tragedy and spurred by the urgency of the Black Lives Matter movement, Meghan travels to Birmingham. But as her investigation begins to uncover dark secrets that spider across both the city and time, her life may be in danger.
Inspired by true events, Time’s Undoing is both a passionate tale of one woman’s quest for the truth behind the racially motivated trauma that has haunted her family for generations and, as newfound friends and supporters in Birmingham rally around Meghan’s search, the uplifting story of a community coming together to fight for change.
Reasons to read it: Lovers of historical fiction steeped in realistic elements will appreciate this one. Though it is fiction, the writing and premise ring true enough to actual unsolved murders and missing persons cases of Black Americans, including the author’s family’s case. And the addition of some thriller elements make the original crime even more relevant to the present day.
The Neighbor Favor by Kristina Forest
A shy bookworm enlists her charming neighbor to help her score a date, not knowing he’s the obscure author she’s been corresponding with, in this sparkling and heart-fluttering romance by Kristina Forest.
Shy, bookish, and admittedly awkward, Lily Greene has always felt inadequate compared to the rest of her accomplished family, who strive for Black excellence. She dreams of becoming a children’s books editor, but she’s been frustratingly stuck in the nonfiction division for years without a promotion in sight. Lily finds escapism in her correspondences with her favorite fantasy author, and what begins as two lonely people connecting over email turns into a tentative friendship and possibly something else Lily won’t let herself entertain — until he ghosts her without a word.
Months later, Lily is still crushed, but she’s determined to get a hold of her life, starting with finding a date to her sister’s wedding. And the perfect person to help her is Nick Brown, her charming, attractive new neighbor, who she feels drawn to for reasons she can’t explain. But little does she know, Nick is an author — her favorite fantasy author.
Nick, who has his reasons for using a pen name and pushing people away, soon realizes that the beautiful, quiet girl from down the hall is the same Lily he fell in love with over email months ago. Unwilling to complicate things even more between them, he agrees to set her up with someone else, though this simple favor between two neighbors is anything but — not when he can’t get her off his mind…
Reasons to read it: This gives You Got Mail, but more current and even more Black. Nick and Lily have great chemistry, and the epistolary component adds something a little different. All together, this is a sweet, cute, and bookish romance.
Liliana’s Invincible Summer: A Sister’s Search for Justice by Cristina Rivera Garza
A haunting, unforgettable memoir about a beloved younger sister and the painful memory of her murder, from “one of Mexico’s greatest living writers” (Jonathan Lethem).
I seek justice, I finally said. I seek justice for my sister. . . . Sometimes it takes twenty-nine years to say it out loud, to say it out loud on a phone call with a lawyer at the General Attorney’s office: I seek justice.
September 2019. Cristina Rivera Garza travels from her home in Texas to Mexico City, in search of an old, unresolved criminal file. “My name is Cristina Rivera Garza,” she wrote in her request to the attorney general, “and I am writing to you as a relative of Liliana Rivera Garza, who was murdered on July 16, 1990.” It’s been twenty-nine years. Twenty-nine years, three months, and two days since Liliana was murdered by an abusive ex-boyfriend — and Cristina knows there is only a slim chance of recovering the file. And yet, inspired by feminist movements across the world and enraged by the global epidemic of femicide and intimate partner violence, she embarks on a path toward justice. Liliana’s Invincible Summer is the account — and the outcome — of that extraordinary quest.
In luminous, poetic prose, Rivera Garza tells a singular yet universally resonant story: that of a spirited, wondrously hopeful young woman who tried to survive in a world of increasingly normalized gendered violence. Following her decision to recover her sister’s file, Rivera Garza traces the history of Liliana’s life, from her early romance with a handsome but possessive and short-tempered man, to that exhilarating final summer of 1990 when Liliana loved, thought, and traveled more widely and freely than she ever had before.
Using her remarkable talents as an acclaimed scholar, novelist, and poet, Rivera Garza collected and curated evidence — handwritten letters, police reports, school notebooks, interviews with Liliana’s loved ones — to render and understand a life beyond the crime itself. Through this remarkable and genre-defying memoir, Rivera Garza confronts the trauma of losing her sister and examines from multiple angles how this tragedy continues to shape who she is — and what she fights for — today.
Reasons to read it: Through collected evidence and research, Garza poetically reconstructs her sister’s last summer, in which she tried to find herself, even while immersed in a culture riddled with woman-hating violence. Her writing does justice to her sister, but is also a cry out against gendered violence in her native Mexico and all over the world.
Other Book Riot New Releases Resources
- All the Books, our weekly new book releases podcast, where Liberty and a cast of co-hosts 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’s 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!