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The Best New Book Releases Out August 22, 2023

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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_.

This summer has been a lot. While there have been some positive highlights, it’s also had some devastating moments, and I am eagerly looking forward to having my spirit replenished with fall’s cozy offerings. Speaking of which, Goodreads has released its roundup of fall’s most anticipated releases, if you haven’t caught that already. Some of these books are coming out in just two weeks!

With that said, I’m still excited to share with you the last book releases of the summer. This week, we have an explosive romance between a Victorian vigilante member and a detective, a queer retelling of a wuxia classic, a nonfiction portrait of poverty and its consequences, and more. We’ve also got a cute-n-cozy mystery written by one of our contributing writers. It’s all very exciting, really.

Before we get to the books, the Maui Relief Effort Readathon is still going on and will end on August 28th. It benefits the victims of the devastating wildfires in Hawai’i, so if you’re able to donate to that or even just spread the word, that would be wonderful.

cover of Knockout by Sarah Maclean

Knockout by Sarah Maclean

Lady Imogen Loveless is part of the Victorian women’s vigilante group Hell’s Belles and knows her way around chemistry and explosives. Which, as you’ve probably realized, isn’t super ladylike. It’s her explosiveness that leads her family to seek out a keeper for her. And it’s that same fiery spirit that makes this guardian, Scotland Yard detective Thomas Peck, so enamored with her. That’s why when Imogen starts investigating a string of explosions in London, Detective Peck is right along for the mess.

The Water Outlaws by S. L. Huang Book Cover

The Water Outlaws by S. L. Huang

This retelling of the classic Water Margin has a lot going on in the best way. It’s an action-packed wuxia fantasy that follows Lin Chong, who trains the emperor’s soldiers on how to use weapons. Though the empire is clearly unfair and very hierarchical, Lin is fine with doing her job and not stirring up trouble for the sake of better treatment. Until someone in power tries to assault her and her resistance leads to her being branded a criminal. She’s saved from her fate as a prisoner by a flower monk, who shares magic with her and leads her to the Lianshan bandits, a group of women and queer people who have been pushed to the margins. Her newfound family may be thieves and cutthroats, but they’re also the only ones out there willing to protect others like them who society has rejected.

cover of Live to See the Day: Coming of Age in American Poverty by Nikhil Goyal

Live to See the Day: Coming of Age in American Poverty by Nikhil Goyal

Goyal writes the true story of three Latine kids trying to survive in the poorest large city in the U.S. Though each of their particular starting situations is different — Ryan enters the school-to-prison pipeline just trying to survive, Giancarlos protests unfair school conditions and is kicked out, and Emmanuel’s mother makes him houseless because he’s queer — they all end up in an alternative school. By following their lives, we see how precarious housing conditions, violence (both sexual and not), hunger, and all the other elements of a poverty-stricken community can make simply growing up feel like living in a war zone.

cover of Swim Home to the Vanished by Brendan Shay Basham

Swim Home to the Vanished by Brendan Shay Basham

If the phrase “battle of the brujas” resonates with you, this is one for you TBR. When Damien’s brother Kai vanished, swallowed by the river, Damien was swallowed by grief. He literally tries to run from his despair by traveling as far away from his small town as he can, until he reaches a village totally new to him. But the day he arrives, another’s sibling was being laid to rest, and Damien’s status as an outsider leaves him ignored by all except the mother of the dead girl, Ana Maria. Now Ana Maria has her own darkness hovering over her — there are those who suspect that she was involved somehow with her daughter’s death — and soon the tension between her remaining daughters and her will result in that battle of the brujas I mentioned earlier.

cover of Plantains and our Becoming by Melania Luisa Marte

Plantains and our Becoming by Melania Luisa Marte

Marte meditates on all that comes with having an identity that isn’t even in the dictionary. While dictionaries aren’t the end-all, be-all of human existence, the absence of the word “Afro-Latina” and its definition speaks to what gets valued. It also means that Marte and other Afro-Latine people are building their own words to define themselves. This poetry collection travels all the way from the Dominican Republic and Haiti, to New York and Texas, all the while dipping into things like displacement, nationalism, and the wisdom of ancestors in order to write a new definition of Black identity and joy.

cover of Board to Death by CJ Connor

Board to Death by CJ Connor

Book Riot writer CJ Connor‘s whodunnit is right in time for Cozy Season. Ben Rosencrantz used to have it going on. He was an English professor in Settle, and (seemingly) happily married. Now he’s back in his hometown in Utah, divorced, and the caretaker for his ill father and Beans the chihuahua. He’s also running his family’s boardgame shop, the proceeds of which are barely helping him pay for his father’s medical expenses. When game collector Clive makes him a sus offer on a super rare game, Ben declines. But then Clive winds up with a knife in his back, and Ben is a suspect unless he and the cute and flirty Ezra can find the actual killer and prove Ben’s innocence.

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 Release Index! That’s where I find 90% of new releases, and you can filter by trending books, Rioters’ picks, and even LGBTQ new releases!