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.
Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano
From the New York Times bestselling author of Dear Edward comes a poignant and engrossing family story that asks: Can love make a broken person whole?
William Waters grew up in a house silenced by tragedy, where his parents could hardly bear to look at him, much less love him — so when he meets the spirited and ambitious Julia Padavano in his freshman year of college, it’s as if the world has lit up around him. With Julia comes her family, as she and her three sisters are inseparable: Sylvie, the family’s dreamer, is happiest with her nose in a book; Cecelia is a free-spirited artist; and Emeline patiently takes care of them all. With the Padavanos, William experiences a newfound contentment; every moment in their house is filled with loving chaos.
But then darkness from William’s past surfaces, jeopardizing not only Julia’s carefully orchestrated plans for their future, but the sisters’ unshakeable devotion to one another. The result is a catastrophic family rift that changes their lives for generations. Will the loyalty that once rooted them be strong enough to draw them back together when it matters most?
An exquisite homage to Louisa May Alcott’s timeless classic, Little Women, Hello Beautiful is a profoundly moving portrait of what is possible when we choose to love someone not in spite of who they are, but because of it.
Reasons to read it: This is a family drama with echoes of classics and characters who are distinctly written. As a reader, you’ll laugh and grieve with William and the Padavanos as they go through life — soaring as much as they stumble.
Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q. Sutanto
A lonely shopkeeper takes it upon herself to solve a murder in the most peculiar way in this captivating mystery by Jesse Q. Sutanto, bestselling author of Dial A for Aunties.
Vera Wong is a lonely little old lady — ah, lady of a certain age — who lives above her forgotten tea shop in the middle of San Francisco’s Chinatown. Despite living alone, Vera is not needy, oh no. She likes nothing more than sipping on a good cup of Wulong and doing some healthy detective work on the Internet about what her Gen-Z son is up to.
Then one morning, Vera trudges downstairs to find a curious thing — a dead man in the middle of her tea shop. In his outstretched hand, a flash drive. Vera doesn’t know what comes over her, but after calling the cops like any good citizen would, she sort of…swipes the flash drive from the body and tucks it safely into the pocket of her apron. Why? Because Vera is sure she would do a better job than the police possibly could, because nobody sniffs out a wrongdoing quite like a suspicious Chinese mother with time on her hands. Vera knows the killer will be back for the flash drive; all she has to do is watch the increasing number of customers at her shop and figure out which one among them is the killer.
What Vera does not expect is to form friendships with her customers and start to care for each and every one of them. As a protective mother hen, will she end up having to give one of her newfound chicks to the police?
Reasons to read it: Right off the bat, this starts off funny, with Sutanto’s lovably intrusive Vera Wong, who really feels like someone’s aunt I know. The murder — and its possible suspects — are set up in a way that immediately pulls you into the mystery, and how the Amateur Auntie Sleuth™ decides to go about solving it feels novel in a world full of cozy mysteries that are sometimes formulaic. This is super fun.
We Were Once a Family: A Story of Love, Death, and Child Removal in America by Roxanna Asgarian
One of Literary Hub’s most anticipated books of 2023
The shocking, deeply reported story of a murder-suicide that claimed the lives of six children ― and a searing indictment of the American foster care system.
On March 26, 2018, rescue workers discovered a crumpled SUV and the bodies of two women and several children at the bottom of a cliff beside the Pacific Coast Highway. Investigators soon concluded that the crash was a murder-suicide, but there was more to the story: Jennifer and Sarah Hart, it turned out, were a white married couple who had adopted the six Black children from two different Texas families in 2006 and 2008. Behind the family’s loving facade, however, was a pattern of abuse and neglect that went ignored as the couple withdrew the children from school and moved across the country. It soon became apparent that the State of Texas knew very little about the two individuals to whom it had given custody of six children ― with fateful consequences.
In the manner of Adrian Nicole LeBlanc’s Random Family and other classic works of investigative journalism, Roxanna Asgarian’s We Were Once a Family is a revelation of vulnerable lives; it is also a shattering exposé of the foster care and adoption systems that produced this tragedy. As a journalist in Houston, Asgarian became the first reporter to put the children’s birth families at the center of the story. We follow the author as she runs up against the intransigence of a state agency that removes tens of thousands of kids from homes each year in the name of child welfare, while often failing to consider alternatives. Her reporting uncovers persistent racial biases and corruption as children of color are separated from birth parents without proper cause. The result is a riveting narrative and a deeply reported indictment of a system that continues to fail America’s most vulnerable children while upending the lives of their families.
Reasons to read it: This is a great example of true crime centering and doing justice to its victims. With Asgarian’s research, we see how the old American tradition of separating BIPOC children from their families has been brought into the modern era with the failure that is the foster care system. What’s more, this book shows how the flawed system that ultimately led to the murder of six Black children still threatens other vulnerable kids.
The Next New Syrian Girl by Ream Shukairy
Furia meets I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter about the unlikely friendship between two very different Syrian girls, the pressures and expectations of the perfect Syrian daughter, and the repercussions of the Syrian Revolution both at home and abroad.
Khadija Shami is a Syrian American high school senior raised on boxing and football. Saddled with a monstrous ego and a fierce mother to test it, she dreams of escaping her sheltered life to travel the world with her best friend.
Leene Tahir is a Syrian refugee, doing her best to adjust to the wildly unfamiliar society of a suburban Detroit high school while battling panic attacks and family pressures.
When their worlds collide the result is catastrophic. To Khadija, Leene embodies the tame, dutiful Syrian ideal she’s long rebelled against. And to Leene, Khadija is the strong-willed, closed-off American who makes her doubt her place in the world.
But as Khadija digs up Leene’s past, a startling and life-changing discovery forces the two of them closer together. As the girls secretly race to unravel the truth, a friendship slowly and hesitantly begins blooming. Doubts are cast aside as they realize they have more in common than they each expected. What they find takes them on a journey all the way to Jordan, challenging what each knows about the other and herself.
Fans of Samira Ahmed’s Love, Hate, and Other Filters and Tahereh Mafi’s A Very Large Expanse Of Sea will love Khadija and Leene’s sharp-witted voices in this dual POV narrative. The Next New Syrian Girl is a poignant and timely blend of guilt, nostalgia, devotion, and bad-ass hijabees.
Reasons to read it: Pick this one up for a look at the many complexities of growing up Syrian American. The story being told from alternating points of view, with two Syrian girls with very different circumstances who are forced to be in close proximity of each other, allows for readers to see the obvious differences between the girls, of course, but also the nuances of Syrian American girlhood. Get ready for romance, hard lessons, joy, sadness, and hijabee girl realness.
The Dog of the North by Elizabeth McKenzie
From the National Book Award–longlisted author of The Portable Veblen.
*One of Kirkus’s Top 10 Novels for 2023*
Penny Rush has problems. Her marriage is over; she’s quit her job. Her mother and stepfather went missing in the Australian outback five years ago; her mentally unbalanced father provokes her; her grandmother Dr. Pincer keeps experiments in the refrigerator and something worse in the woodshed. But Penny is a virtuoso at what’s possible when all else fails.
Elizabeth McKenzie, beloved novelist of California and its idiosyncrasies, follows Penny on her quest for a fresh start. There will be a road trip in The Dog of the North, an old van with gingham curtains, a piñata, and stiff brakes. There will be injury and peril. There will be a dog named Kweecoats and two brothers who may share a toupee. There will be questions: Why is a detective investigating her grandmother, and what is “the scintillator”? And can Penny recognize a good thing when it finally comes her way?
This slyly humorous, thoroughly winsome novel finds the purpose in life’s curveballs, insisting that even when we are painfully warped by those we love most, we can be brought closer to our truest selves.
Reasons to read it: Okay, okay, so I was already into this, but the two brothers sharing a toupee got me. If you, unlike me, still need convincing, just know that as extra as this is — and it is Don Quixote levels of extra — it’s also relatable and sweet. The journey Penny goes on starts with her wild granny, but ends with some important realizations.
The Book That No One Wanted to Read by Richard Ayoade
From actor-author-broadcaster-comedian-filmmaker Richard Ayoade comes a book narrated by…a book. Quirky, smart, and genre-busting, this is the saga of a book that nobody wants to read — until the day it meets YOU.
The life of a book isn’t easy, especially when people judge you by your cover (not every book can be adorned with sparkly unicorns!). And this narrator should know — it’s the book itself, and it has a lot of opinions. It gets irritated when readers bend its pages back, and it finds authors quite annoying. But it does have a story to tell. Through witty direct address and charming illustrations, readers meet a book that has never been read, with a cover the boring color of a school lunch table and pages so dry they give bookworms indigestion. But what happens when this book meets you, a curious reader? Multitalented author Richard Ayoade and award-winning illustrator Tor Freeman bring to life a hilariously subversive take on the nature of books and reading, with a heartening theme of finding the courage to tell our own stories. Readers of all ages will be delighted by the myriad bookish references and laughs on every page.
Reasons to read it: The fourth wall gets delightfully broken in this cute and silly book that’s geared towards the middle grade age category, but will be liked by all. Readers who love reading about reading will appreciate its analysis of the act, which is accompanied by creative and fun illustrations. And Ayoade’s humor is on ten here!
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!