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There’s never a dull moment in the Land of Books. Let’s start with the mess. After 16 years of leading the way for feminist media coverage, the site Jezebel has come to an end. The Guardian wrote about how this leaves us worse off. On the censorship front, our Editor Kelly Jensen’s book was banned again in retaliation, and Book Riot writer Katie Moench gave a history of book bans in Ireland. Publishing-wise, the super popular Iron Flame — which sold more than half a million copies just last week alone — had a hot mess of a publishing week. It’s not all trash, though; We Need Diverse Books launched a site dedicated to Indigenous children’s and teen lit, and Barnes & Noble announced their book of the year.
As for today’s newly published books, there’s YA romance Artifacts of an Ex by Jennifer Chen, about teens who think of a creative way to survive breakups, and The Risk It Takes to Bloom: On Life and Liberation by Raquel Willis, a memoir about being a Black transgender activist.
A couple other nonfiction releases give us some insight into random but interesting things: Gator Country: Deception, Danger, and Alligators in the Everglades by Rebecca Renner looks at alligator poaching in Florida, and The Cactus Hunters: Desire and Extinction in the Illicit Succulent Trade by Jared D. Margulies busts open the illegal succulent trade (who knew?!).
The books featured below include a new entry into one of my favorite sci-fi series, a return to form for Pulitzer Prize-winning Michael Cunningham, the history of eyeliner, and more.
System Collapse by Martha Wells
So, this is the seventh installation in an award-winning sci-fi series. And while I know the seventh book isn’t exactly the best place to enter a series, I honestly feel like it wouldn’t hurt you. Also, I am extremely biased, so there’s that. I love Murderbot, the security unit who stars as the main character in the series, and who would rather be watching the soap opera The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon than protecting the blundering humans it’s usually tasked with. In this latest series entry, Murderbot isn’t feeling like its usual self, which is really a shame because the powerful corporation Barish-Estranza has just sent rescue ships and other security units to take control of a newly colonized planet. If Murderbot can’t get it together in time to help its friends stop the corporation, the entire colony of humans will become enslaved.
Day by Michael Cunningham
The Pulitzer-winning author of The Hours serves up a meditation on the complexities of family. Dan and Isabel are married and also both “a little bit in love with Isabel’s younger brother, Robbie.” When the pandemic hits, each family member’s anxieties manifest in different ways: young Violet obsesses over her family’s safety, while teenage Nathan focuses on breaking rules. Meanwhile, Isabel and Dan are having communication issues, and Robbie is stranded in Iceland with little more than his secret Instagram life as solace.
Eyeliner: A Cultural History by Zahra Hankir
From nomads in Chad to geishas in Japan and drag queens in New York City, eyeliner is one of the most enduring kinds of makeup that appeals to different cultures across time periods. Here, Hankir looks at the cosmetic product’s history through the ages, showing how its application has denoted religious affiliation, acted as a shield from the sun, and even warded off evil spirits.
Pritty by Keith F. Miller Jr.
In this YA novel, Jay is used to being a wallflower when he attracts the handsome, popular Leroy. But as the two get closer, a young Black journalist is killed, and already-fraught tensions threaten to erupt in their neighborhood. Suddenly, Jay is dragged into the world of the Black Diamonds, who aim to protect Savannah’s Black neighborhoods but who are surrounded by violence. Now, Jay and Leroy must sort through secrets to find out who is at the root of everything happening before others get hurt.
The Professor by Lauren Nossett
When a student, Ethan Haddock, is found dead in his apartment in Athens, Georgia, the media takes a special interest. It’s rumored that his death came as a result of a romance between him and professor Dr. Verena Sobek, who has since been suspended and taken in for questioning. Elsewhere, former detective Marlitt Kaplan is asked by her professor mother — a colleague of Dr. Sobek — to investigate the alleged relationship. But proving something didn’t happen isn’t exactly Kaplan’s forte, and gaining access to what she needs is harder without detective clearance. Still, she’s able to get into Haddock’s apartment, hang out with his roommates, and more. As she gets confronted with all the issues that come with a historic campus (see: problematic power structures), she’ll have to ask herself at some point if she’s too close to see what’s really going on.
Before We Say Goodbye by Toshikazu Kawaguchi
Here’s another entry into a popular series, this time from Japan. In the Before the Coffee Gets Cold series, customers at the Café Funiculi Funicula are able to travel back in time to make amends and say goodbye to loved ones. They just have to be back to the present before their coffee gets cold. This latest installation has a new cast of characters whose sweet and touching stories are interconnected. A husband speaks his peace, a woman says goodbye to her dog, and more. Kawaguchi provides a dreamy and surreal setting for his characters to explore grief, love, and regret.
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!