Bookish Goods

Bookish Good of the Week: September 24, 2023

What To Read Spinning Wheel Keychain

What To Read Spinning Wheel Keychain by BooksproutCo

This is a very cute and creative way to chip away at your TBR for those of us who are a little indecisive *raises hand.* $19

What's Up in YA

Heists, Mermaids, Immigration: YA Book Talk, September 25, 2023

Hey YA Readers!

This will be my last YA newsletter for a couple of weeks, as I’m taking some time off to celebrate my birthday (today!) and to soak in the wonder of early fall. You’ll be left in capable hands, as always.

Today, we’re going to hit new releases in hardcover and then look at a pair of titles published in the last couple of months that offer powerful stories about Vietnamese immigration.

But before we get there, did you know that Book Riot’s editorial team is writing for casual and power readers alike over at The Deep Dive? During the month of September, all new free subscribers will be entered to win Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, plus five mystery books from The Deep Dive. To enter, simply start a free subscription to The Deep Dive. No payment method required! (My piece for this month centers on the increase of book prices over the last 5 years, and previously, I wrote about the publishing power of Barbie!)

Bookish Goods

bookmark featuring a bookstore in fall colors

Fall Bookstore Magnetic Bookmark by kmariecreations

Don’t you just want to walk into this bookstore with a warm beverage and sprawl out with tons of books for the rest of the day? I know I do. Grab this magnetic bookmark for $5.

New Releases

It is such a packed week of new YA releases, so I’m cheating a tiny bit and offering three titles below to highlight. You can grab the entire list over here.

mermaids never drown book cover

Mermaids Never Drown edited by Zoraida Córdova, Natalie C. Parker

Are you looking for a diverse collection of mermaid stories? Look no further. The editor duo of Córdova and Parker, who brought you Vampires Never Get Old are back with a host of fresh tales about all things mermaid. The contributor list is out of this world, too: Darcie Little Badger, Kalynn Bayron, Preeti Chhibber, Rebecca Coffindaffer, Julie C. Dao, Maggie Tokuda-Hall, Adriana Herrera, June Hur, Katherine Locke, Kerri Maniscalco, Julie Murphy, Gretchen Schreiber, and Julian Winters.

an impossible thing to say book cover

An Impossible Thing to Say by Arya Shahi

Omid feels like he can’t form the words he needs, either when it comes to talking to the girl he has feelings for, the grandfather he’s just met, his Iranian heritage, and even to explain that he does belong in Tucson, Arizona, the only place he has ever called home. All of this, despite the fact he knows Farsi, knows Shakespearean English, knows how to write those words.

It’s not until he discovers rap music that he truly finds his voice–but that voice will be rattled when a terrorist attack changes his entire world.

This one is being compared to The Poet X and A Very Large Expanse of Sea, and it’s written in verse.

thieves gambit book cover

Thieves’ Gambit by Kayvion Lewis

Ross is 17…and she’s a master thief. She’s really good at escape plans in particular. At least she was until she tried to escape her family of thieves, and her mom’s life is at stake.

Desperate to save her mother, she decides to enter the Thieves’ Gambit, which requires her to undertake a series of international heists. She could die, and her competition is stiff. But winning the Thieves’ Gambit means getting any wish she wants granted, and she wants to save her mom’s life.

How can she win when she’s also fighting off feelings she might be developing for one of her competitors?

This is a high-stakes heist adventure being compared to Oceans Eleven and The Inheritance Games.

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

I’ve read two YA books recently–both published this summer–that explore the experiences of Vietnamese immigrants. Both are challenging reads but compelling ones.

family style book cover

Family Style: Memories of an American from Vietnam by Thien Pham

This graphic memoir is told through a series of chapters that focus on a particular food. Pham and his family immigrated from Vietnam, and the beginning chapters center around the experience of travel then being stuck in a camp until a placement for them in the States was secured. The remaining chapters explore how his parents find work, how he and his brother acclimate to a new country, and ultimately, the book ends with Pham securing his U.S. citizenship. The art is gorgeous, the story compelling, and the framing of the book around these meals–including the one that begins and ends the story–really savvy.

For readers who love learning about process, Pham offers a peek behind how he put this book together at the end, as well as how he talked with his family and friends about the story.

my father the panda killer book cover

My Father, The Panda Killer by Jamie Jo Hoang

This book is told in dual timelines, and it’s one that comes with a pre-story content warning–it’s not an easy read, so take care.

The first timeline is in 1999, in San Jose, California, and it follows Jane, who is 17, just about to graduate from high school, and who has a big secret she’s been keeping: she got into her dream college and will be moving away at the end of the summer. This is a big secret for several reasons, including the fact that she’s sort of the glue holding her family together. Mom disappeared, and Jane has stepped in to be her little brother Paul’s rock. She feels obligated to be that way because of their demanding and, at times, physically abusive father. She is scared to tell Paul she’s leaving because she’s worried he’ll feel like she’s abandoning him and leaving him to fend for himself. At the same time, Jane knows this is her opportunity to finally live her own life rather than live the life she believes she’s supposed to live. Plus, she’ll get away from the rigid expectations of her father. 

The second timeline is 1975, and it follows Phuc, who is attempting to leave his war-torn country of Vietnam during the war. It’s been a brutal war and one where even family has been split in their loyalties. But for Phuc, getting out of Vietnam is not easy in the least. Every attempt to get out has left him battered or in danger of losing his life. When he finally does get the chance to get out, even the boat becomes a place of fear. He witnesses murder, death, and the limits of human suffering–all of which he feels deeply and which embeds in him in each attempt to escape. When he finally gets to America, he marries and moves to San Jose. But even if there is no war in America, he carries with him the burden of survival, as well as the challenges that come from being an immigrant. 

Phuc is Jane and Paul’s father, and this is not a spoiler–you know early on that you’re seeing both sides of what has been a traumatic immigration experience, one riddled with violence, pain, and suffering. This split perspective gives insight into why Phuc behaves how he does toward his children, never apologizing for it but giving it context; it also gives Jane a lot to think about when it comes to why she feels the pull to be as similar to her white American classmates as possible and eschew her Vietnamese heritage. This will shift and change through the story as Jane is able to reconnect with family overseas and comes to see that her best friend–also a second-generation immigrant–may be misguided in her attempts to forget her family’s past. 

This is a slow read, without romance, and it is a powerful story of family, immigration, trauma and its effect on mental health, intergenerational trauma, and what it is to make a life for yourself when the world has been the furthest thing from kind for you. Both Jane and Phuc are deeply flawed characters, but their flaws are what makes their stories so compelling.

Thanks for hanging out, and even though I won’t see you for a couple of weeks, the next YA newsletter will hit your inbox as normal on Thursday.

Until then, happy reading!

— Kelly Jensen, currently reading In Limbo by Deb JJ Lee.

Kissing Books

Love Letters in Romance

Greetings and salutations! Welcome, or welcome back, to the Kissing Books newsletter. I’m PN Hinton, here to give you the rundown on the world of romance, including new releases, recommendations, and other entertaining ways to pass your time.

We’re almost at the end of September, and out of the originally planned books on my TBR pile, I have finished five. There was one last-minute addition, specifically the arc of Late Bloomer. Since it’s Sapphic, I didn’t mind adding it in. Overall, I am happy with how I did with keeping the original list and not being overly distracted by other books. I already have a tentative list for next month, which, as one might expect, is full of horror novels. I’ve already met my Goodreads goal and have read roughly half of my (currently) purchased books, which means that now I can be just a little more chaotic with my reading.

Have you signed up for The Deep Dive yet? This literary publication features writing from Book Riot’s editorial staff, and is perfect for both casual and power readers alike. Now is the perfect time to join, since for all of September, brand-new free subscribers will be entered to win a copy of Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler as well as five mystery books.

Click here to sign up at no cost and be entered to win.

Bookish Goods

picture of subtle pride bookmark

Subtle Pride Bookmark by FordandFern

It’s been a while since I shared a bookmark and this seemed perfect for the beginning of the end to this month. It’s a gorgeous and “if you know you know” way of showing off Bi-pride and, as an added bonus, a love of all the phases of the moon. Even though, just for the record, it’s never “just a phase.” $5

New Releases

cover of Three Holidays and a Wedding

Three Holidays and a Wedding by Uzma Jalaluddin and Marissa Stapley

Strangers and seatmates Maryam and Anna are flying to Toronto for the holidays for different reasons; the former for her sister’s wedding and the latter to meet her boyfriend’s family. When some unexpected turbulence leads to spilled secrets, an unexpected emergency landing, and being snowbound at a local inn, both women are suddenly at a crossroads in their love lives, wondering what the next step will be.

cover of Reunions and Ruses

Reunions and Ruses by Marie Landry

After all the knockbacks that her life has taken, Stella refuses to show up at her high school reunion solo and convinces LeLand, her brother’s best friend, to act as her fake boyfriend for the event. As the two prepare for that night, she begins to genuinely enjoy their time together, although the hurts of the past, including a failed marriage, are still very present. Will she throw caution to the wind and try to make this fake relationship a real one, or will they part ways after the reunion is done?

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

Tomorrow is Love Notes Day! I am a huge fan of epistolary novels, regardless of genre. But there is something about that writing style in romances that just makes me heart so happy. In some situations, it is how the main characters meet and fall in love all before even seeing each other. In others, it is how they stoke the embers of their attraction.

Regardless of the specifics, though, these types of novels always bring a big smile to my face. And that is something I want to share with y’all so, without further delay, here are a few books that feature love letters as part of the love story.

cover of Rock Courtship

Rock Courtship by Nalini Singh

As the drummer for the hit rock band Schoolboy Choir, many people may expect David to live the stereotypical life of a rock star and have groupies constantly hanging around. However, he is a one-woman man and only has eyes for Thea. Trouble there is that she is their publicist and she has a firm rule against dating musicians or clients, which is two strikes against him. She is also fresh off a heartbreak and has no desire to be another notch in his belt. David is more than prepared to prove to her that she is it for him and he wants no one else.

cover of Goodnight Tweetheart

Goodnight Tweetheart by Teresa Medeiros

Writer Abigail knows that she should be focusing on her latest manuscript. But the pressure is high, especially with all the accolades her first novel got, so instead of doing that, she spends most of her time on the Twitter account her publicist made for her. There she meets Mark, a professor who is on sabbatical. They quickly develop a friendship and Abigail finds herself inspired by Mark’s travel adventures to write more. But then a deception is revealed which puts their friendship and possibly romance at danger.

And that’s all I have for y’all today. I’ll be back in your inboxes on Thursday with a fresh newsletter. In the meantime, you can still find me over on Twitter (at least for the time being) under @PScribe801. Until then, happy reading and stay hydrated.

The Fright Stuff

Bits of Horror You Might Have Missed Because 2023 is Speeding By Like a Bullet Train

Hello, horror fans! It’s me, Emily, your friend in all things frightful. Or fiend, if you prefer. I know I’ve been super hyped about October, but on the other hand, it’s kind of scary how quickly September is flying by, isn’t it? Like, give us time to prepare, September! I haven’t even figured out my Halloween costume yet!

Because the year is just speeding by, I wanted to take a moment this week to recommend some horror books that came out in 2023 that you might have missed. And because life moves fast, I’m featuring three anthologies of short horror works so you can get your quick horror fix!

But real quick! Book Riot’s editorial team is writing for casual and power readers alike over at The Deep Dive! During the month of September, all new free subscribers will be entered to win Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, plus 5 mystery books from The Deep Dive.

To enter, simply start a free subscription to The Deep Dive. No payment method required!

Bookish Goods

horror care package

Horror Care Package with Book and Extra Goodies by Bookages

Wanting fewer tricks and more treats this Halloween season? Why not gift yourself a little horror mystery package? As a Libra, I hate picking things out for myself and I love having other people chose things for me, so this is the ideal bookish goodie for me! What will be in your cute little horror care package? Order and find out…and definitely let me know, because like I said, I LIVE for a mystery box! $22

New Releases

black river orchard book cover

Black River Orchard by Chuck Wendig

What screams fall more than horror books and apple orchards? As the season changes to fall in the town of Harrow, the orchard is starting to sprout strange new fruit: apples so red they look black. Taking a bite from these apples makes you stronger, happier, more confident, more powerful. And with every bite, you only want to eat more. Soon, everyone in Harrow becomes obsessed with this new fruit. But what they don’t know is that the apples have a dark history.

and then she fell book cover

And Then She Fell by Alicia Elliott

And Then She Fell tells the story of Alice, a young Indigenous woman who has just given birth to a baby girl named Dawn and has recently moved to Toronto with her white husband, Steve. Between all these changes in her life and the recent loss of her own mother, Alice feels lost. She has trouble connecting with her daughter, and her feelings of depression and self-doubt are hindering her from moving forward with her own work. When, on top of everything else, she starts hearing voices in her head and starts losing time, her husband tells her it’s all in her head. But Alice can’t help but feel that something is very wrong.

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter!

Riot Recommendations

cover of Never Whistle at Night: An Indigenous Dark Fiction Anthology; black with brightly colored illustrated cartoon border of flowers, snakes, and monsters

Never Whistle at Night, ed. Shane Hawk and Theodore C. Van Alst Jr.

This first collection just came out earlier this month! This dark fantasy/horror anthology features a collection of “wholly original and shiver-inducing tales” from Indigenous authors and an introduction from Stephen Graham Jones. Other authors include Darcie Little Badger, Cherie Dimaline, Rebecca Roanhorse, and many more!

cover of horrorscope

Horrorscope: A Zodiac Anthology, ed. H. Everend

If you’re a fan of astrology, then you know that sometimes your fate written in the stars can be encouraging and enlightening. Sometimes, it can be downright horrifying. This anthology of dark fantasy poems and short stories, all inspired by the Zodiac, are for those latter times when destiny is less than kind.

bound in flesh book cover

Bound in Flesh: An Anthology of Trans Body Horror, ed. Lor Gislason

This cover really gives me the creeps! And the stories inside are even creepier. This anthology is a collection of horror short stories written by 13 different trans and nonbinary writers. Bound in Flesh includes stories by Hailey Piper, Joe Koch, Bitter Karella, and others.

Well, horror fans, that’s a wrap for this week! I’ll see you next week when it’s…oooooooh Octobeerrrrr (said in a ghost voice). In the meantime, you can follow me (and message me) on Instagram at emandhercat. Sweet dreams, horror fans!

Book Radar

Tomi Adeyemi’s Long-Awaited Trilogy Finale is Coming Soon and More Book Radar!

Dear Book Friends,

Happy Monday, and welcome to another round of Book Radar! I feel like I need a weekend from my weekend, but it’s going to be okay! We’ve made it through Monday before, and we’ll do it again. With the help of memes, book chat, and a good cat pic or two. Let’s do this, book friends.

Book Riot’s editorial team is writing for casual and power readers alike over at The Deep Dive! During the month of September, all new free subscribers will be entered to win Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, plus five mystery books from The Deep Dive. To enter, simply start a free subscription to The Deep Dive. No payment method required!

Book Deals and Reveals

cover of  Four Eids and a Funeral.

We Need Diverse Books has shared the cover of Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé and Adiba Jaigirdar’s Four Eids and a Funeral. The romantic YA novel will be out on June 4.

Paramount Animation and Temple Hill is adapting Superworld, created and illustrated by Yarrow and Carrie Cheney, into an animated movie. 

Author Jane Riordan has unveiled a new Winnie the Pooh character for her upcoming authorized sequel, Winnie-the-Pooh: Tales From the Forest.

Tomi Adeyemi is sharing the cover of Children of Anguish, the third and final book in her Legacy of Orïsha series. The highly-anticipated book will be published on June 25, 2024, through Macmillan’s imprint Henry Holt Books for Young Readers.

The 2023 Booker Prize shortlist has been announced! It is comprised of six novels that span the globe and the decades, all from authors new to the Booker Prize.

Reading advocate and icon Levar Burton will serve as the first actor to lead Banned Books Week as the honorary chair.

More than 150 artists, musicians, actors, and writers have signed an open letter decrying book bans across the country.

Lionsgate has dropped a full-length trailer for The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, a feature film based on the novel of the same name by Suzanne Collins.

Book Riot Recommends

Hi, welcome to everyone’s favorite segment of Book Radar called Book Riot Recommends. This is where I’ll talk to you about all the books I’m reading, the books I’m loving, and the books I can’t wait to read and love in the near future. I think you’re going to love them too!

Book Riot has podcasts to keep your ears listening for days! Check them out and subscribe.

Prepare Your Shelves!

the unmaking of june farrow

The Unmaking of June Farrow by Adrienne Young (Delacorte Press, October 17)

The Unmaking of June Farrow has a little bit of something for everyone. Mystery. Romance. Magic. Family drama. And if you love reading about all of those things (like most people do), then you’re in for a treat. This book from Adrienne Young, the author of Spells for Forgetting, is hitting shelves in just a few short weeks!

This book is set in Jasper, North Carolina, a small mountain town where the Farrow women have a thriving family farm…and a family curse that has followed them through several generations. But more than anything, the Farrow family is known for the rumors surrounding June Farrow’s mother and her strange disappearance. What happened to Susanna Farrow?

June is tired of the mysteries surrounding her family, and she’s determined to end the Farrow curse once and for all. In search of answers, June embarks on a strange magical journey and puts everything — even her own heart — on the line.

What I’m Reading This Week

cover of Lunar Love

Lunar Love by Lauren Kung Jessen

Yellowface by R.F. Kuang

You, Again by Kate Goldbeck

Immortal Longings by Chloe Gong

The Beast You Are by Paul Tremblay

People Collide by Isle McElroy

Monday Memes

Love the celeb auction memes? Here are some literary ones!

And Here’s A Cat Picture!

an orange cat being held by a white person's hand

I love writing this newsletter for all of you, but you know what slows me down sometimes? Cats who hop into my lap and use my arms (the arms I need to write) as a little cradle.

But it’s cute, so at least I got a good pic out of it. I hope you enjoy.

And…you know what time it is. It’s time to wrap up Monday’s Book Radar! I wish you the best throughout your week.


The Kids Are All Right

Hawaiian History Month, Coloring Books, And More!

Happy Sunday, kidlit friends! It’s Margaret covering for Karina as she goes on tour for her latest Vanderbeeker book, Vanderbeekers Ever After. Hooray for Karina!

Today I review four books for Hawaiian History Month as well as two intergenerational new releases. Before I get to those reviews, Book Riot’s editorial team is writing for casual and power readers alike over at The Deep Dive! During the month of September, all new free subscribers will be entered to win Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, plus 5 mystery books from The Deep Dive.

To enter, simply start a free subscription to The Deep Dive. No payment method required!

Bookish Goods

Amigos Canarios Coloring Book by Veronika Tralo

Amigos Canarios Coloring Book by VeronikaTralo

I don’t know why Etsy had this adorable coloring book on my front page, but I’m glad they did! It’s so cute! Each page can be torn out of the book for framing when finished. $22

New Releases

Cover of Babo by Kamalyan

Bábo: A Tale of Armenian Rug-Washing Day by Astrid Kamalyan, illustrated by Anait Semirdzhyan (picture book)

In this joyful picture book, young Tato, along with her siblings and cousins, wash her Bábo’s rug. She loves rug-washing day; it’s her favorite chore! The text sings and the illustrations are playful and vibrant. I’m not sure I’ve read a picture book set in Armenia before, and I’m thankful to read such a happy one.

Cover of Bompa's Insect Exhibition by Suzuki

Bompa’s Insect Expedition by David Suzuki and Tanya Lloyd Kyi, illustrated by Qin Leng (picture book)

Bug-loving kids will adore this colorful and imaginative foray into insects based on author and science broadcaster David Suzuki’s experiences with his grandchildren. At first two twins are disappointed about their outdoor adventure with their bompa. There’s nothing interesting to look at! But when Bompa points out all the amazing insect life as they walk, their family expedition becomes a lot more interesting.

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter!

Riot Recommendations

September is Hawaiian History Month, and here are four Hawaiian children’s books by Hawaiian authors I love.

Cover of Aloha Everything by George

Aloha Everything by Kaylin Melia George, illustrated by Mae Waite (picture book)

In this stunning mythic picture book, a young Hawaiian girl learns the traditions and stories behind Hula, the Hawaiian folkloric dance. The more she learns, the closer she comes to understanding the true meaning of aloha. The illustrations in this are gorgeous. You can see a few inside pages on my Instagram review of it. The author sells the book through Kickstarter, and she’s donating 100% of September sales to ‘Āina Momona to help provide direct support to those affected by the Maui wildfires.

Cover of Kapaemahu by Wong-Kalu

Kapaemahu by Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer, and Joe Wilson, illustrated by Daniel Sousa (picture book)

This is also a picture book based on Indigenous Hawaiian myths. It’s about how the Mahu — people with both male and female spirits — brought the healing arts and science to Hawaii in the 15th century. The Hawaiians honored their legacy with a monument of four boulders. When white colonists move onto the island, the legend behind the boulders is forgotten, but not forever.

Cover of Punky Aloha by Tuiasoa

Punky Aloha by Shar Tuiasoa (picture book)

In this vibrant picture book, a shy girl, Punky, finds her courage with some advice from her grandmother as well as her grandmother’s supposedly magic sunglasses that help her share her aloha. With sunglasses on, she manages to make friends and help her community. It’s an adorable read!

Lei and the Fire Goddess cover

Lei and the Fire Goddess by Malia Maunakea (middle grade)

This is such an entertaining contemporary middle grade fantasy centering Hawaiian folklore. Twelve-year-old Anna/Leilani spends her summers with her grandmother, Tutu, in a small village near a volcano. Tutu teaches Anna Hawaiian folklore and language in the hopes that Anna will remember and carry her Hawaiian heritage proudly, but after a falling out with her best friend in Colorado, Anna believes that by embracing her Hawaiian heritage, she’s separating herself from her friend. At first, she tries to reject Tutu’s teachings, but when she picks the wrong flower in a fury, she triggers the goddess Pela’s rage.

Marian looking at fall leaves, the kids are all right

Fall is suddenly here! Tennessee has a slow transition into fall, but the leaves are officially falling, on a few trees at least. The temperatures vary a lot. When we leave for the school bus stop in the morning, it’s in the 50s, and when I pick her up in the afternoon, it’s in the 80s.

If you’d like to read more of my kidlit reviews, I’m on Instagram @BabyLibrarians, Twitter @AReaderlyMom, and blog irregularly at Baby Librarians. You can also read my Book Riot posts. If you’d like to drop me a line, my email is

All the best,

Margaret Kingsbury



We’re giving away three copies of Phantom by Helen Power to three lucky Riot readers!

Enter here for a chance to win, or click the image below!

For fans of John Marrs’ The One and Blake Crouch’s Dark MatterPhantom is a spooky horror thriller perfect for fall. When down-on-her-luck Regan Osbourne sells her hand for quick cash, debilitating phantom limb pain causes her to try an experimental drug and soon feels an eerie psychic connection to her missing limb that is being used . . . to kill.

Unusual Suspects

Chris Evans Reveals His Favorite Scene From KNIVES OUT

Hello mystery fans! I am currently enjoying watching The Other Black Girl (Hulu) and am totally curious to see if and how the ending will be the same or different.

Newish newsletter alert + a chance to win books! Book Riot’s editorial team is writing for casual and power readers alike over at The Deep Dive! During the month of September, all new free subscribers will be entered to win Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler plus five mystery books from The Deep Dive. To enter, simply start a free subscription to The Deep Dive. No payment method required!

Bookish Goods

magnetic book marks of a sloth playing with a butterfly and a sloth reading a book

Sloth Magnetic Bookmarks by JwlssAndCo

This had me at “sloth”. ($4.50)

New Releases

cover image for Viper's Dream

Viper’s Dream by Jake Lamar

For fans of gritty, historical crime novels!

Clyde “The Viper” Morton decided to leave Alabama in 1936 to pursue his dream of being a jazz musician in Harlem. But when his dream doesn’t happen, he finds a “career” in selling pot. That is until heroine becomes the drug, which he won’t sell, but it still manages to threaten the life he’s made for himself. Follow Viper from the ’40s to the ’60s as the music scene and crime scene unfold around him—including why he’s about to be arrested for murder.

cover image Murder in the Family

Murder in the Family by Cara Hunter

For fans of murder mysteries with unique formats!

You will be fully immersed in solving this cold case murder mystery, which is entirely told through interviews, newspaper articles, text messages, and docuseries episode transcripts.

That docuseries you’re reading is put together by Guy Howard, who, as a child, was the only person in the house when his stepfather, Luke Ryder, was murdered in the garden. It’s been almost two decades since it happened, and no one was ever arrested, so Guy thinks this docuseries, and going over all the information of the case, will finally solve it. His mom has dementia, and his sisters want nothing to do with the show, but Guy is determined to have the case solved…

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

This week’s backlist theme is inspired by two things: I recently listened to the audiobook Conspirituality: How New Age Conspiracy Theories Became a Public Health Threat by Derek Beres, Matthew Remski, and Julian Walker, and I finally got around to listening to the podcast Maintenance Phase—the hosts, Aubrey Gordon and Michael Hobbes, are hilarious and I highly recommend it!. So here are two mystery/thrillers that go into the “wellness” world.

cover image for Kismet

Kismet by Amina Akhtar

Ronnie Khan will grab at any opportunity to leave her aunt in NY, which is how she ends up following Marley Dewhurst to Sedona, Arizona. But has she traded one bad situation for another by moving to a place where she only knows her recently met socialite wellness guru? It seems the town is being overrun by crows, and even worse, there’s a string of murders…

book cover for The Vicious Circle

The Vicious Circle by Katherine St. John

Sveta Bentzen ends up inheriting Xanadu, a wellness center in Mexico, when her uncle, the guru of said place, dies. But things are anything but okay when she arrives: her aunt wants the estate for herself, there are signs that maybe her uncle was murdered, and things are maybe not well in this wellness center.

News and Roundups

Chris Evans Reveals His Favorite Scene From Knives Out

Millie Bobby Brown Wrote a Wartime Mystery Historical Fiction Novel That She’ll Adapt Into a Film

Lily Gladstone Will Campaign for Lead Actress for Killers of the Flower Moon, and Could Make History as First Native American Nominee

54 New Books to Discover This Hispanic Heritage Month

Want to Crack the Case? These Are The 101 Best Mystery Books of All Time

Why mystery-lit icon Kate Atkinson went apocalyptic

Browse all the books recommended in Unusual Suspects previous newsletters on this shelf. See 2023 releases and upcoming 2024 releases. Check out this Unusual Suspects Pinterest board and get Tailored Book Recommendations!

Until next time, keep investigating! In the meantime, come talk books with me on Bluesky, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and Litsy — you can find me under Jamie Canavés.

If a mystery fan forwarded this newsletter to you and you’d like your very own, you can sign up here.

Read This Book

Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that I think you absolutely must read. The books will vary across genre and age categories to include new releases, backlist titles, and classics. If you’re ready to explode your TBR, buckle up!

Book Riot’s editorial team is writing for casual and power readers alike over at The Deep Dive! During the month of September, all new free subscribers will be entered to win Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler plus five mystery books from The Deep Dive. To enter, simply start a free subscription to The Deep Dive. No payment method required!

Today’s pick is a book that you’ve probably seen around because it’s a big TikTok buzz title, but I’m recommending it anyway because 1) I am an Old who is barely on TikTok, and I only know it’s a TikTok fave because people told me, 2) this book genuinely made me laugh, and 3) maybe you’re wondering, is it worth the hype? I say yes! Give it a shot!

Assistant the Villain cover

Assistant to the Villain by Hannah Nicole Maehrer

Evie Sage has just had another very disheartening day at her village job fair, where she’s been unable to secure a job. Ever since her last position ended rather badly, she’s been desperate for work to help her support her sick father and young sister. When she wanders into the forest in a state of despondency, she’s not thinking about the Villain—but that’s exactly who she runs into. The Villain is feared throughout the kingdom for his dastardly deeds and is wanted by the king. Evie knows she should be afraid, but she’s weirdly…not. And it doesn’t hurt that the Villain is hot, either. Fascinated by Evie and her lack of fear, the Villain offers her a job as his assistant, and Evie readily agrees, even if people finding out means she’ll be ostracized. Sure, the job isn’t always easy or pleasant (lots of heads on spikes), but it turns out Evie’s good at it…but when it becomes clear that someone from within the Villain’s manor is out to get him, she becomes determined to root out the mole.

I picked this book up and read just a page before I knew that I definitely needed to continue. I loved the charming and hilarious voice, and while I know the over-the-top plot scenarios and character depictions might not work for everyone, I was really into this one as a fun fantasy escape. A lot of your favorite classic fantasy tropes can be found here, hilariously inverted and retooled to make for a hilarious “will they or won’t they?” romantic fantasy that kept me turning the pages. Despite the absurdities of the plot points, the author does a good job grounding the story in Evie’s desire to belong and to take care of those she loves, all while dealing with a messy past. The author also plays around with the idea of what makes someone “evil” or villainous, and surprise! There’s some nuance there! I enjoyed the hilarious romantic banter, the sexual tension, and the slow reveal of Evie and the Villain’s secrets. My only complaint? The cliffhanger ending that has me impatiently waiting for the next book!

Important note—this is an adult fantasy novel! While it’s not too gory, and there’s no on-the-page sex that might put off a younger audience, I wanted to make that distinction because I know some people have been confused.

TL;DR? Pick this up if you want a funny fantasy escape in the vein of India Holton.

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Happy reading!

True Story

New Nonfiction for Fall!

Fall book event season is well underway, and my TBR cart is looking a bit worse for wear. Just the other day, my spouse said, “Don’t think I haven’t noticed the second TBR cart that has just appeared in our house.” I pleaded innocence. At any rate, there are so many incredible new books out, including one of my most anticipated disability releases.

But first, bookish goods and a reminder that Book Riot’s editorial team is writing for casual and power readers alike over at The Deep Dive! During the month of September, all new free subscribers will be entered to win Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, plus five mystery books from The Deep Dive. To enter, simply start a free subscription to The Deep Dive. No payment method required!

Bookish Goods

a photo of a bee bookmark. The book clips to a page and two charms hang over the book. One charm is a bee, and the other is honeycomb.

Bee and Honeycomb Charm Bookmark Paperclip by Nyla Books

I love a good bee moment. And this cute charm bookmark is just the ticket. The bookmark clips on the top of the page and hangs off the top. $8

New Releases

a graphic of the cover of We Survived the End of the World: Lessons from Native America on Apocalypse and Hope by Steven Charleston

We Survived the End of the World: Lessons from Native America on Apocalypse and Hope by Steven Charleston

Author Steven Charleston, a member of the Choctaw Nation, reflects on how the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island have already survived the apocalypse of colonization. And in the wake of the pandemic, he believes Indigenous cultural wisdom and the words of their ancestors will help provide a way for society to move forward with “courage and dignity.”

a graphic of the cover of When My Ghost Sings: A Memoir of Stroke, Recovery, and Transformation by Tara Sidhoo Fraser

When My Ghost Sings: A Memoir of Stroke, Recovery, and Transformation by Tara Sidhoo Fraser

In one of my most anticipated disability literature releases of the season, Tara Sidhoo Fraser describes her experience of losing her memory after a stroke in her early 30s. She wakes up, seemingly dropped in someone else’s body. Who is she? And will she ever regain her memories and sense of self?

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

a graphic of the cover of Disability Visibility edited by Alice Wong

Disability Visibility, edited by Alice Wong

Edited by the incredible disability rights activist, Alice Wong, this collection is a celebration of disabled people. As a disabled person myself, I found this collection such a joy to read. There are difficult circumstances discussed in the book, but each essay focuses on disabled lives and centers disabled people in the conversation. There’s such a broad collection of authors included in this essay, representing a wide range of races, ethnicities, sexualities, genders, religions, and economic status.

a graphic of the cover of Broken (in the Best Possible Way) by Jenny Lawson

Broken (in the Best Possible Way) by Jenny Lawson

Dark humor is a staple of disability humor and few people do it better than Jenny Lawson. In her latest essay collection, Lawson shares hilarious personal anecdotes and gives a frank portrait of her life with chronic illness, anxiety, and depression. Balancing both serious and humorous topics can be quite the challenge, but Lawson is always more than up for the task!

a photo of Gwen, a black and white Cardigan Welsh Corgi, holding a large stuffed whale toy. She's looking up at the camera with large puppy dog eyes.
Gwen and Her Comfort Whale

That’s it for this week! You can find me over on my substack Winchester Ave, over on Instagram @kdwinchester, or on my podcast Read Appalachia. As always, feel free to drop me a line at For even MORE bookish content, you can find my articles over on Book Riot.

Happy Reading, Friends!

~ Kendra