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New Releases Tuesday: The Best Books Out This Week

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Erica Ezeifedi

Associate Editor

Erica Ezeifedi, Associate Editor, is a transplant from Nashville, TN that has settled in the North East. In addition to being a writer, she has worked as a victim advocate and in public libraries, where she has focused on creating safe spaces for queer teens, mentorship, and providing test prep instruction free to students. Outside of work, much of her free time is spent looking for her next great read and planning her next snack. Find her on Twitter at @Erica_Eze_.

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, as well as a few others you may have missed from recent weeks. 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.

cover of Violeta by Isabel Allende

Violeta by Isabel Allende

This sweeping novel from the New York Times bestselling author of A Long Petal of the Sea tells the epic story of Violeta Del Valle, a woman whose life spans one hundred years and bears witness to the greatest upheavals of the twentieth century.

Violeta comes into the world on a stormy day in 1920, the first girl in a family with five boisterous sons. From the start, her life is marked by extraordinary events, for the ripples of the Great War are still being felt, even as the Spanish flu arrives on the shores of her South American homeland almost at the moment of her birth.

Through her father’s prescience, the family will come through that crisis unscathed, only to face a new one as the Great Depression transforms the genteel city life she has known. Her family loses everything and is forced to retreat to a wild and beautiful but remote part of the country. There, she will come of age, and her first suitor will come calling.

She tells her story in the form of a letter to someone she loves above all others, recounting times of devastating heartbreak and passionate affairs, poverty and wealth, terrible loss and immense joy. Her life is shaped by some of the most important events of history: the fight for women’s rights, the rise and fall of tyrants, and ultimately not one, but two pandemics.

Through the eyes of a woman whose unforgettable passion, determination, and sense of humor carry her through a lifetime of upheaval, Isabel Allende once more brings us an epic that is both fiercely inspiring and deeply emotional.

Reasons to read it: For a historical novel told by a 100-year-old narrator that feels as real as if it were a memoir. This personal epic paints a mesmerizing portrait of all the relationships— family members, friends— that are formed and must fade, during a one hundred year life. Violeta recounts to her grandson through letters how she grew up with a country that is unnamed but may be likened to Chile, surviving military coups and revolts just as she survived abusive relationships. Violeta balances the trauma in her life with many instances of joy.

cover Civil Rights Queen by Tomiko Brown-Nagin

Civil Rights Queen by Tomiko Brown-Nagin

The first major biography of one of our most influential but least known activist lawyers that provides an eye-opening account of the twin struggles for gender equality and civil rights in the 20th Century.

Born to an aspirational blue-collar family during the Great Depression, Constance Baker Motley was expected to find herself a good career as a hair dresser. Instead, she became the first Black woman to argue a case in front of the Supreme Court, the first of ten she would eventually argue. The only Black woman member in the legal team at the NAACP’s Inc. Fund at the time, she defended Martin Luther King in Birmingham, helped to argue in Brown vs. The Board of Education, and played a critical role in vanquishing Jim Crow laws throughout the South. She was the first Black woman elected to the state Senate in New York, the first woman elected Manhattan Borough President, and the first Black woman appointed to the federal judiciary.

Civil Rights Queen captures the story of a remarkable American life, a figure who remade law and inspired the imaginations of African Americans across the country. Burnished with an extraordinary wealth of research, award-winning, esteemed Civil Rights and legal historian and dean of the Harvard Radcliffe Institute, Tomiko Brown-Nagin brings Motley to life in these pages. Brown-Nagin compels us to ponder some of our most timeless and urgent questions–how do the historically marginalized access the corridors of power? What is the price of the ticket? How does access to power shape individuals committed to social justice? In Civil Rights Queen, she dramatically fills out the picture of some of the most profound judicial and societal change made in twentieth-century America.

Reasons to read it: Get ready to learn about someone you’ll be surprised you don’t know more about. Constance Baker Motley was the first of many things and a history breaker many times over in her fight against discrimination in all its forms. Reading through this biography means seeing Motley pop up at so many critical turning points during the Civil Rights Movement. She was so ahead of her time in many ways— she supported gay peoples’ right to protest in front of a cathedral, for instance—and her life so remarkable that you’re sure to finish this book feeling wholly inspired.

cover of A Letter to Three Witches by Elizabeth Bass

A Letter to Three Witches by Elizabeth Bass

Bewitched meets Practical Magic in this bubbly, quirky romantic comedy with an enchanted twist from acclaimed author Elizabeth Bass. When romance problems cause their powers to go berserk, a trio of witches whose family was banned from practicing magic risk getting in serious trouble with the Grand Council of Witches. Can they get their magic—and their love lives—in order before it’s too late? 

In the sleepy college town of Zenobia, New York, the only supernatural trace on display is the name of Gwen Engel’s business—Abracadabra Odd Job Service. But Gwen’s family has some unusual abilities they’ve been keeping under wraps—until one little letter spells big trouble…

Nearly a century ago, Gwen Engel’s great-great-grandfather cast a spell with catastrophic side-effects. As a result, the Grand Council of Witches forbade his descendants from practicing witchcraft. The Council even planted anonymous snitches called Watchers in the community to report any errant spellcasting…

Yet magic may still be alive and not so well in Zenobia. Gwen and her cousins, Trudy and Milo, receive a letter from Gwen’s adopted sister, Tannith, informing them that she’s bewitched one of their partners and will run away with him at the end of the week. While Gwen frets about whether to trust her scientist boyfriend, currently out of town on a beetle-studying trip, she’s worried that local grad student Jeremy is secretly a Watcher doing his own research.

Cousin Trudy is so stressed that she accidentally enchants her cupcakes, creating havoc among her bakery customers—and in her marriage. Perhaps it’s time the family took back control and figured out how to harness their powers. How else can Gwen decide whether her growing feelings for Jeremy are real—or the result of too many of Trudy’s cupcakes?

Reasons to read it: This lighthearted and fun read is like having a romp through the ’90s show Sabrina, but for adults. It’s a funny, quick read that has things like BrewTube and eCharmed as features in its witchy world. The three cousins, and supporting characters, are just as extra as you might expect from a book that leans into campy, witchy tropes as much as this one.

cover of Goliath by Tochi Onyebuchi

Goliath by Tochi Onyebuchi

In the 2050s, Earth has begun to empty. Those with the means and the privilege have departed the great cities of the United States for the more comfortable confines of space colonies. Those left behind salvage what they can from the collapsing infrastructure. As they eke out an existence, their neighborhoods are being cannibalized. Brick by brick, their houses are sent to the colonies, what was once a home now a quaint reminder for the colonists of the world that they wrecked.

A primal biblical epic flung into the future, Goliath weaves together disparate narratives—a space-dweller looking at New Haven, Connecticut as a chance to reconnect with his spiraling lover; a group of laborers attempting to renew the promises of Earth’s crumbling cities; a journalist attempting to capture the violence of the streets; a marshal trying to solve a kidnapping—into a richly urgent mosaic about race, class, gentrification, and who is allowed to be the hero of any history.

Reasons to read it: Fans of Onyebuchi’s YA novels will welcome his adult debut, which Leigh Bardugo has called “Riveting, disturbing, and rendered in masterful detail.” By interlocking vignettes of various characters, Onyebuchi gives an urgent warning of the ramifications of gentrification, climate change, and all their trappings, adjusted for the future. The world building here is excellent and has been likened to Station Eleven.

cover of The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections by Eva Jurczyk

The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections by Eva Jurczyk

Liesl Weiss long ago learned to be content working behind the scenes in the distinguished rare books department of a large university, managing details and working behind the scenes to make the head of the department look good. But when her boss has a stroke and she’s left to run things, she discovers that the library’s most prized manuscript is missing.

Liesl tries to sound the alarm and inform the police about the missing priceless book, but is told repeatedly to keep quiet, to keep the doors open and the donors happy. But then a librarian unexpectedly stops showing up to work. Liesl must investigate both disappearances, unspooling her colleagues’ pasts like the threads of a rare book binding as it becomes clear that someone in the department must be responsible for the theft. What Liesl discovers about the dusty manuscripts she has worked among for so long—and about the people who care for and revere them—shakes the very foundation on which she has built her life.

The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections is a sparkling book-club read about a woman struggling to step out from behind the shadows of powerful and unreliable men, and reveals the dark edge of obsession running through the most devoted bookworms.

Reasons to read it: Lovers of books about books and cozy mysteries will have a lot to like about this one. Liesl Weiss offers the main perspective, but the book also includes multiple points of view and two different timelines.Read for an interesting mystery that isn’t easily solved, and that has been described as Anxious People + bookishness, and a welcomed examination of what it’s like working at a library while having a marginalized identity. Matthew Sullivan, author of Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, called it “… a rare treat for readers.” Bonus points for the author actually being a librarian.

cover of Devil House by John Darnielle

Devil House by John Darnielle

From John Darnielle, the New York Times bestselling author and the singer-songwriter of the Mountain Goats, comes an epic, gripping novel about murder, truth, and the dangers of storytelling.

Gage Chandler is descended from kings. That’s what his mother always told him. Years later, he is a true crime writer, with one grisly success―and a movie adaptation―to his name, along with a series of subsequent less notable efforts. But now he is being offered the chance for the big break: to move into the house where a pair of briefly notorious murders occurred, apparently the work of disaffected teens during the Satanic Panic of the 1980s. Chandler finds himself in Milpitas, California, a small town whose name rings a bell––his closest childhood friend lived there, once upon a time. He begins his research with diligence and enthusiasm, but soon the story leads him into a puzzle he never expected―back into his own work and what it means, back to the very core of what he does and who he is.

Devil House is John Darnielle’s most ambitious work yet, a book that blurs the line between fact and fiction, that combines daring formal experimentation with a spellbinding tale of crime, writing, memory, and artistic obsession.

Reasons to read it: This gives both the satisfaction of a true crime novel while also criticizing the genre and how it tends to desensitize us to human suffering. During the journey to solve the Milpitas mystery, get ready to be taken on an interesting ride that somehow involves Arthurian legends. Darnielle gives great insight into abusive environments and how stereotyping by appearances isn’t accurate, a theme that tends to crop up in his work.

Other Book Riot New Releases Resources

  • All the Books, our weekly new 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 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!