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New Releases Tuesday: The Best Books Out This Week

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It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time for new 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 Harlem Sunset

Harlem Sunset by Nekesa Afia

Harlem, 1927. Twenty-seven-year-old Louise Lloyd has found the perfect job! She is the new manager of the Dove, a club owned by her close friend Rafael Moreno. There Louise meets Nora Davies, one of the girls she was kidnapped with a decade ago. The two women — along with Rafael and his sister, Louise’s girlfriend, Rosa Maria — spend the night at the Dove, drinking and talking. The next morning, Rosa Maria wakes up covered in blood, with no memory of the previous night. Nora is lying dead in the middle of the dance floor.

Louise knows Rosa Maria couldn’t have killed Nora, but the police have a hard time believing that no one can remember anything at all about what happened. When Louise and Rosa Maria return to their apartment after being questioned by the police, they find the word GUILTY written across the living room wall in paint that looks a lot like blood. Someone has gone to great lengths to frame and terrify Rosa Maria, and Louise will stop at nothing to clear the woman she loves.

Reasons to read it: I have been looking forward to this second book in the Harlem Renaissance mystery series since reading the first last year. With that said, I don’t think you have to read the first to enjoy this one, but you’ll want to after being immersed in Harlem’s Jazz Age. In fact, so much of the appeal of this series for me, in addition to featuring engaging mysteries, is the setting. The interesting factor is upped another notch by centering queer characters of color. Love.

cover of Dele Weds Destiny

Dele Weds Destiny by Tomi Obaro

Funmi, Enitan, and Zainab first meet at university in Nigeria and become friends for life despite their differences. Funmi is beautiful, brash, and determined; Enitan is homely and eager, seeking escape from her single mother’s smothering and needy love; Zainab is elegant and reserved, raised by her father’s first two wives after her mother’s death in childbirth. Their friendship is complicated but enduring, and over the course of the novel, the reader learns about their loves and losses. How Funmi stole Zainab’s boyfriend and became pregnant, only to have an abortion and lose the boyfriend to police violence. How Enitan was seduced by an American Peace Corps volunteer, the only one who ever really saw her, but is culturally so different from him — a Connecticut WASP — that raising their daughter together put them at odds. How Zainab fell in love with her teacher, a friend of her father’s, and ruptured her relationship with her father to have him.

Now, some 30 years later, the three women are reunited for the first time, in Lagos. The occasion: Funmi’s daughter, Destiny, is getting married. Enitan brings her American daughter, Remi. Zainab travels by bus, nervously leaving her ailing husband in the care of their son. Funmi, hosting the weekend of elaborate festivities with her wealthy husband, wants everything to go perfectly. But as the big day approaches, it becomes clear that something is not right. As the novel builds powerfully toward the big event, the complexities of the mothers’ friendship — and the private wisdom each has earned — come to bear on a riveting, heartrending moment of decision. Dele Weds Destiny is a sensational debut from a dazzling new voice in contemporary fiction.

Reasons to read it: First of all, I want to hang this cover on my wall! Pick this one up for a take on complex female friendship that features women from a culture we don’t always see this from. The messy lives of Funmi, Enitan, and Zainab is set against the backdrop of Nigerian food, clothing, and music, which are all brought to life brilliantly by Obaro.

cover of Patricia Wants to Cuddle

Patricia Wants to Cuddle by Samantha Allen

The contestants of a reality television dating show compete for love — and their lives — in this pulse-pounding and viciously funny fiction debut from the GLAAD Award-winning author of Real Queer America.

When the final four women in competition for an aloof, if somewhat sleazy, bachelor’s heart arrive on a mysterious island in the Pacific Northwest, they mentally prepare themselves for another week of extreme sleep deprivation, invasive interviews, and of course, the salacious drama that viewers nationwide tune in to eagerly devour. Each woman came on “The Catch” for her own reasons — brand sponsorships, followers, and yes, even love — and they’ve all got their eyes steadfastly trained on their respective prizes.

Enter Patricia, a temperamental, but woefully misunderstood local, living alone in the dark, verdant woods and desperate to forge a connection of her own. As the contestants perform for the cameras that surround them, Patricia watches from her place in the shadows, a queer specter haunting the bombastic display of heterosexuality before her. But when the cast and crew at last make her acquaintance atop the island’s tallest and most desolate peak, they soon realize that if they’re to have any hope of making it to the next Elimination Event, they’ll first have to survive the night.

A whirlwind romp careening toward a last-girl-standing conclusion and a scathing indictment of contemporary American media culture, Patricia Wants to Cuddle is also a love story: between star-crossed lesbians who rise above their intolerant town, a deeply ambivalent woman and her budding self-actualization, and a chosen family of misfit islanders forging community against all odds.

Reasons to read it: For something unique! This is part reality show, part horror featuring a (possible) cryptid in an area that’s been known as a queer getaway. The story takes turns being told from different contestant’s point of view, teen love letters, and posts from a fan site. It’s fun, gruesome, and queer!

cover of Thrust

Thrust by Lidia Yuknavitch

As rising waters — and an encroaching police state — endanger her life and family, a girl with the gifts of a “carrier” travels through water and time to rescue vulnerable figures from the margins of history.

Lidia Yuknavitch has an unmatched gift for capturing stories of people on the margins — vulnerable humans leading lives of challenge and transcendence. Now, Yuknavitch offers an imaginative masterpiece: the story of Laisvė, a motherless girl from the late 21st century who is learning her power as a carrier, a person who can harness the power of meaningful objects to carry her through time. Sifting through the detritus of a fallen city known as the Brook, she discovers a talisman that will mysteriously connect her with a series of characters from the past two centuries: a French sculptor; a woman of the American underworld; a dictator’s daughter; an accused murderer; and a squad of laborers at work on a national monument. Through intricately braided storylines, Laisvė must dodge enforcement raids and find her way to the present day, and then, finally, to the early days of her imperfect country, to forge a connection that might save their lives — and their shared dream of freedom.

Reasons to read it: One of the great things about speculative fiction is that it allows for people to understand social dynamics by looking through an imaginative lens. And Thrust does just that by giving credit to the marginalized people — from a disabled sex worker to a Mohawk laborer — that America has used throughout its history.

cover of The Romance Recipe

The Romance Recipe by Ruby Barrett

A fiery restaurant owner falls for her enigmatic head chef in this charming, emotional romance.

Amy Chambers: restaurant owner, micromanager, control freak.

Amy will do anything to revive her ailing restaurant, including hiring a former reality-show finalist with good connections and a lot to prove. But her hopes that Sophie’s skills and celebrity status would bring her restaurant back from the brink of failure are beginning to wane…

Sophie Brunet: grump in the kitchen/sunshine in the streets, took 30 years to figure out she was queer.

Sophie just wants to cook. She doesn’t want to constantly post on social media for her dead-in-the-water reality TV career, she doesn’t want to deal with Amy’s take-charge personality and she doesn’t want to think about what her attraction to her boss might mean…

Then, an opportunity: a new foodie TV show might provide the exposure they need. An uneasy truce is fine for starters, but making their dreams come true means making some personal and painful sacrifices and soon, there’s more than just the restaurant at stake.

Reasons to read it: For a queer romcom that starts its protagonists off on shaky ground. Once they start to understand themselves better — and reveal certain sides to the other — a sweet romance blossoms. Their struggles, both personal and professional, are easy to relate to, and this gets bonus points for foodie appeal.

cover of Elsewhere

Elsewhere by Alexis Schaitkin

Vera grows up in a small town, removed and isolated, pressed up against the mountains, cloud-covered and damp year-round. This town, fiercely protective, brutal and unforgiving in its adherence to tradition, faces a singular affliction: some mothers vanish from their families. It is the exquisite pain and intrinsic beauty of their lives; it sets them apart from people elsewhere and gives them meaning.

Vera, a young girl when her own mother went, is on the cusp of adulthood herself. As her peers begin to marry and become mothers, they speculate about who might be the first to go, each wondering about her own fate. Reveling in their gossip, they witness each other in motherhood, waiting for signs: this one devotes herself to her child too much, this one not enough — that must surely draw the affliction’s gaze. When motherhood comes for Vera, she is faced with the question: will she be able to stay and mother her beloved child, or will she go?

Provocative and hypnotic, Alexis Schaitkin’s Elsewhere is at once a spellbinding revelation and a rumination on the mysterious task of motherhood and all the ways in which a woman can lose herself to it; the self-monitoring and judgment, the doubts and unknowns, and the legacy she leaves behind.

Reasons to read it: This has been described as being similar to Shirley Jackson’s stories with Margaret Atwood themes. As she explores motherhood, an especially relevant topic in a time of reproductive injustice, Schaitkin takes special care building the world of her fabled town. In the end, it makes for a very complex, imaginative story with an engaging mystery at its center.

Other Book Riot Resources for New Book Releases

  • 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 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!
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