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.
A Novel Obsession by Caitlin Barasch
A wry and bold debut novel, which is at once an irresistible catastrophe waiting to happen and an unflinching exploration of how we narrate the stories of our lives, as an aspiring novelist finds herself stalking—and writing about—her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend.
“I can’t help but compare our worth as writers, as lovers, as women. Is anything solely mine, or will I always dwell in someone else’s shadow?”
Twenty-four-year-old bookseller and New Yorker Naomi Ackerman, desperate to write a novel, struggles to find the right story to tell. When, after years of disastrous Tinder dates, she meets Caleb—a perfectly nice guy with a Welsh accent and a unique patience for all of her quirks—she feels she’s finally stumbled onto a time-honored subject: love. But then Caleb’s ex-girlfriend, Rosemary, enters the scene.
When Naomi learns that Rosemary is not safely tucked away overseas as she’d assumed but in fact lives in New York and works in the literary world, she is fundamentally threatened and intrigued in equal measure. On paper, Rosemary sounds like a better version of Naomi—but if they both fell for the same man, they must have something more essential in common.
Determined to figure out how their stories intertwine, Naomi’s casual Instagram stalking morphs into a full-blown friendship under false pretenses. She can’t seem to get herself to quit Rosemary, in whom she discovers an unexpected confidant—and she can’t stop writing about her either, having now found a more interesting subject for her nascent novel. As her lies and half-truths spiral out of her control, and fact and fiction become increasingly difficult to separate, Naomi manipulates the most important people in her life—her family, her friends, Caleb, Rosemary, and, perhaps most devastatingly, herself—in pursuit of her craft. Ultimately, she’s forced to decide who and what she’s willing to sacrifice to write them all the perfect ending.
Reasons to read it: Naomi as a narrator is both entertaining and anxiety-inducing, as you know her actions won’t culminate into a good ending. But you’ll stay to see it through, in any case. This thriller can be both funny and smart and showcases such an unhealthy example of female friendship. Raven Leilani, best-selling author of Luster, said that “this book is a ride. An unruly study of fixation, performance, and the exquisite agony of anonymity.”
Vagabonds! by Eloghosa Osunde
In the bustling streets and cloistered homes of Lagos, a cast of vivid characters—some haunted, some defiant—navigate danger, demons, and love in a quest to lead true lives.
As in Nigeria, vagabonds are those whose existence is literally outlawed: the queer, the poor, the displaced, the footloose and rogue spirits. They are those who inhabit transient spaces, who make their paths and move invisibly, who embrace apparitions, old vengeances and alternative realities. Eloghosa Osunde’s brave, fiercely inventive novel traces a wild array of characters for whom life itself is a form of resistance: a driver for a debauched politician with the power to command life and death; a legendary fashion designer who gives birth to a grown daughter; a lesbian couple whose tender relationship sheds unexpected light on their experience with underground sex work; a wife and mother who attends a secret spiritual gathering that shifts her world.
As their lives intertwine—in bustling markets and underground clubs, churches and hotel rooms—vagabonds are seized and challenged by spirits who command the city’s dark energy. Whether running from danger, meeting with secret lovers, finding their identities, or vanquishing their shadowselves, Osunde’s characters confront and support one another, before converging for the once-in-a-lifetime gathering that gives the book its unexpectedly joyous conclusion.
Blending unvarnished realism with myth and fantasy, Vagabonds! is a vital work of imagination that takes us deep inside the hearts, minds, and bodies of a people in duress—and in triumph.
Reasons to read it: Through connected short stories, Osunde gives the ultimate shout out to Nigeria’s outcasts, who are ostracized simply for being themselves. Magic is just as much a part of life as struggle, and there are sometimes fantastical solutions to things like domestic violence. The characters, who are shown to be vital to Nigeria’s very existence, may go through it, but they are not without joy.
The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James
A true crime blogger gets more than she bargained for while interviewing the woman acquitted of two cold case slayings in this chilling new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Sun Down Motel.
In 1977, Claire Lake, Oregon, was shaken by the Lady Killer Murders: Two men, seemingly randomly, were murdered with the same gun, with strange notes left behind. Beth Greer was the perfect suspect—a rich, eccentric twenty-three-year-old woman, seen fleeing one of the crimes. But she was acquitted, and she retreated to the isolation of her mansion.
Oregon, 2017. Shea Collins is a receptionist, but by night, she runs a true crime website, the Book of Cold Cases—a passion fueled by the attempted abduction she escaped as a child. When she meets Beth by chance, Shea asks her for an interview. To Shea’s surprise, Beth says yes.
They meet regularly at Beth’s mansion, though Shea is never comfortable there. Items move when she’s not looking, and she could swear she’s seen a girl outside the window. The allure of learning the truth about the case from the smart, charming Beth is too much to resist, but even as they grow closer, Shea senses something isn’t right. Is she making friends with a manipulative murderer, or are there other dangers lurking in the darkness of the Greer house?
Reasons to read it: Does Simone St. James ever disappoint with her paranormal mystery thrillers? The answer is no. No, she doesn’t. Well, this book is no different. It’s told from the perspectives of both Beth and Shea, including the past in Beth’s case. The apprehension is so well built up to by St. James that, if you’re like me, you may have to put the book down at times. But read on for tropes that are both fulfilled and subverted.
The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd
From the critically acclaimed author of The Book of M, a highly imaginative thriller about a young woman who discovers that a strange map in her deceased father’s belongings holds an incredible, deadly secret—one that will lead her on an extraordinary adventure and to the truth about her family’s dark history.
What is the purpose of a map?
Nell Young’s whole life and greatest passion is cartography. Her father, Dr. Daniel Young, is a legend in the field, and Nell’s personal hero. But she hasn’t seen or spoken to him ever since he cruelly fired her and destroyed her reputation after an argument over an old, cheap gas station highway map.
But when Dr. Young is found dead in his office at the New York Public Library, with the very same seemingly worthless map hidden in his desk, Nell can’t resist investigating. To her surprise, she soon discovers that the map is incredibly valuable, and also exceedingly rare. In fact, she may now have the only copy left in existence… because a mysterious collector has been hunting down and destroying every last one—along with anyone who gets in the way.
To answer that question, Nell embarks on a dangerous journey to reveal a dark family secret, and discover the true power that lies in maps…
Perfect for fans of Joe Hill and V.E. Schwab, The Cartographers is an ode to art and science, history and magic—a spectacularly imaginative, modern story about an ancient craft and places still undiscovered.
Reasons to read it: Come get your Indiana Jones vibes here with this twist-filled mystery. Diagrams of maps included within the pages here help to fully immerse you into The Cartographers‘ world where history is shown through maps and some map-centered mysteries. The ending features an intricate, magical reveal that Shepard’s expert pacing builds up so well. In other words, if you love history+antiques+murder mystery+ a little magic, this is for you!
When We Were Birds by Ayanna Lloyd Banwo
A mythic love story set in Trinidad, Ayanna Lloyd Banwo’s radiant debut introduces two unforgettable outsiders brought together by their connection with the dead.
“Heartwarming and heartbreaking, fantastical and familiar, with characters that burrow their way into your heart and mind . . . [When We Were Birds] is glorious.”–ROBERT JONES JR., New York Times bestselling author of THE PROPHETS
In the old house on a hill, where the city meets the rainforest, Yejide’s mother is dying. She is leaving behind a legacy that now passes to Yejide: one St Bernard woman in every generation has the power to shepherd the city’s souls into the afterlife. But after years of suffering her mother’s neglect and bitterness, Yejide is looking for a way out.
Raised in the countryside by a devout Rastafarian mother, Darwin has always abided by the religious commandment not to interact with death. He has never been to a funeral, much less seen a dead body. But when the only job he can find is grave digging, he must betray the life his mother built for him in order to provide for them both. Newly shorn of his dreadlocks and his past, and determined to prove himself, Darwin finds himself adrift in a city electric with possibility and danger.
Yejide and Darwin will meet inside the gates of Fidelis, an ancient and sprawling cemetery, where the dead lie uneasy in their graves and a reckoning with fate beckons them both. A masterwork of lush imagination and exuberant storytelling, When We Were Birds is a spellbinding and hopeful novel about inheritance, loss, and love’s seismic power to heal.
Reasons to read it: This is one even people who don’t usually read fantasy or magical realism will like. It will take you on a journey exploring family dynamics, magic, urban living, Caribbean mythologies, and characters who you root for. Robert Jones Jr., author of The Prophets, has said that it’s “heartwarming and heartbreaking, fantastical and familiar, with characters that burrow their way into your heart and mind…[When We Were Birds] is glorious.”
Nine Lives by Peter Swanson
Nine strangers receive a list with their names on it in the mail. Nothing else, just a list of names on a single sheet of paper. None of the nine people know or have ever met the others on the list. They dismiss it as junk mail, a fluke—until very, very bad things begin happening to people on the list.
First, a well-liked old man is drowned on a beach in the small town of Kennewick, Maine. Then, a father is shot in the back while running through his quiet neighborhood in suburban Massachusetts. A frightening pattern is emerging, but what do these nine people have in common? Their professions range from oncology nurse to aspiring actor, and they’re located all over the country. So why are they all on the list, and who sent it?
FBI agent Jessica Winslow, who is on the list herself, is determined to find out. Could there be some dark secret that binds them all together? Or is this the work of a murderous madman? As the mysterious sender stalks these nine strangers, they find themselves constantly looking over their shoulders, wondering who will be crossed off next…
Reasons to read it: The premise, as delicious as it sounds to mystery-thriller fans, sounds fairly familiar. It’s been done a few times, but Agatha Christie lovers may recognize it specifically as being derivative of And Then There Were None. Whether you’ve read a book with a similar mystery set-up, Swanson keeps it fresh. This is quite the page turner.
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!