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Hi there! I’m Grace and this is my weekly post on what book releases I’m excited for and why I’m intrigued by them. There are no hard and fast rules about what goes on this list as I’ll pick up anything as long as it sparks an interest in me. We don’t discriminate against different reading tastes here.
That being said, I do have my MA in English, but this list is not based on “literary value” (or whatever that means). The choices are based solely on what catches my eye. I am a one person machine, meaning I might miss out on some new releases–if you have a title you think is worth mentioning, do bring it up in the comments. Now, let’s help you find your next read.
Welcome to the first New Release Tuesday post of the year, in which we have several fabulous books and authors making their debut.
That is not to say there haven’t been wonderful books already released this year (hint, Leigh Bardugo’s Hell Bent), but that my holiday hiatus dragged a couple of weeks and that is absolutely okay. When you’re feeling a little burnt out, taking a break is healthy. However, I’m back now and hope I provide you with a new read or two this year.
Title: The Sense of Wonder
Author: Matthew Salesses
Publisher: Little, Brown
Previous works: Disappear Doppelgänger Disappear, Craft in the Real World
An Asian American basketball star walks into a gym. No one recognizes him, but everyone stares anyway. It is the start of a joke but what is the punchline? When Won Lee, the first Asian American in the NBA, stuns the world in a seven-game winning streak, the global media audience dubs it “The Wonder”–much to Won’s chagrin.
Meanwhile, Won struggles to get attention from his coach, his peers, his fans, and most importantly, his hero, Powerball!, who also happens to be Won’s teammate and the captain.
Covering it all is sportswriter Robert Sung, who writes about Won’s stardom while grappling with his own missed hoops opportunities as well as his place as an Asian American in media.
And to witness it all is Carrie Kang, a big studio producer, who juggles a newfound relationship with Won while attempting to bring K-drama to an industry not known to embrace anything new or different.
I’m not usually a big fan of the “sports story” but here for the Asian American perspective, which is regrettably unique in basketball. Also super intrigued about how Carrie King is going to fit in — what do basketball and K-drama have to do with each other, if anything? I must admit, the blurb could have been written better, but I’m into it nonetheless.
Title: The Fraud Squad
Author: Kyla Zhao
Genre: fiction, romance
For as long as she can remember, Samantha Song has dreamed of writing for a high-society magazine–and she’d do anything to get there. But the constant struggle to help her mom make ends meet and her low social status cause her dream to feel like a distant fantasy.
Now Samantha finds herself working at a drab PR firm. Living vicariously through her wealthy coworker and friend, Anya Chen, is the closest she’ll get to her ideal life. Until she meets Timothy Kingston: the disillusioned son of one of Singapore’s elite families–and Samantha’s one chance at infiltrating the high-society world to which she desperately wants to belong.
To Samantha’s surprise, Timothy and Anya both agree to help her make a name for herself on Singapore’s socialite scene. But the borrowed designer clothes and plus-ones to every glamorous event can only get her so far. The rest is on Samantha, and she’s determined to impress the editor in chief of Singapore’s poshest magazine.
But the deeper Samantha wades into this fraud, the more she fears being exposed–especially with a mysterious gossip columnist on the prowl for dirt–forcing her to reconcile her pretense with who she really is before she loses it all.
The Fraud Squad has been all over the book socials recently, so hopefully it has the banger of a release everyone expects. There was also that interview answer in which the author spoke of just how many agents/publishers encouraged her to make the book more “appealing” to American (a.k.a. white) audiences, which both shocking and not all at the same time. Luckily, she stuck to her guns and now we have this gorgeous, high-flying caper out in the world.
Also, this cover is so gorgeous, I wanna cry. I rarely approve of characters being pictured on the cover (it so often goes horribly wrong) but this is a stunner.
Title: I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself
Author: Marisa Crane
In a United States not so unlike our own, the Department of Balance has adopted a radical new form of law enforcement: rather than incarceration, wrongdoers are given a second (and sometimes, third, fourth, and fifth) shadow as a reminder of their crime–and a warning to those they encounter. Within the Department, corruption and prejudice run rampant, giving rise to an underclass of so-called Shadesters who are disenfranchised, publicly shamed, and deprived of civil rights protections.
Kris is a Shadester and a new mother to a baby born with a second shadow of her own. Grieving the loss of her wife and thoroughly unprepared for the reality of raising a child alone, Kris teeters on the edge of collapse, fumbling in a daze of alcohol, shame, and self-loathing.
Yet as the kid grows, Kris finds her footing, raising a child whose irrepressible spark cannot be dampened by the harsh realities of the world. She can’t forget her wife, but with time, she can make a new life for herself and the kid, supported by a community of fellow misfits who defy the Department to lift one another up in solidarity and hope.
The blurb for I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself makes me so jealous. Like, why didn’t I write this myself? I adore a shady fictional government department that is so clearly horrible but also mimics our own reality in some scary ways.
Title: The Motion Picture Teller
Author: Colin Cotterill
Publisher: Soho Crime
Genre: crime, mystery
Previous works: The Dr. Siri Paiboun series
Thailand, 1996: Supot, a postman with the Royal Thai Mail service, hates his job. The only bright spot in his life is watching classic movies with his best friend, Ali, the owner of a video store. These cinephiles adore the charisma of the old Western stars, particularly the actresses, and bemoan the state of modern Thai cinema–until a mysterious cassette, entitled Bangkok 2010, arrives at Ali’s store.
Bangkok 2010 is a dystopian film set in a near-future Thailand–and Supot and Ali, immediately obsessed, agree it’s the most brilliant Thai movie they’ve ever seen. But nobody else has ever heard of the movie, the director, the actors, or any of the crew. Who would make a movie like this and not release it, and why?
Feeling a powerful calling to solve the mystery of Bangkok 2010, Supot journeys deep into the Thai countryside and discovers that powerful people are dead set on keeping the film buried.
Conspiracy and mystery. Enough said.
Title: The Shards
Author: Bret Easton Ellis
Genre: suspense & thriller
Previous works: American Psycho
Bret Easton Ellis’s masterful new novel is a story about the end of innocence, and the perilous passage from adolescence into adulthood, set in a vibrantly fictionalized Los Angeles in 1981 as a serial killer begins targeting teenagers throughout the city.
Seventeen-year-old Bret is a senior at the exclusive Buckley prep school when a new student arrives with a mysterious past. Robert Mallory is bright, handsome, charismatic, and shielding a secret from Bret and his friends even as he becomes a part of their tightly knit circle.
Bret’s obsession with Mallory is equaled only by his increasingly unsettling preoccupation with the Trawler, a serial killer on the loose who seems to be drawing ever closer to Bret and his friends, taunting them–and Bret in particular–with grotesque threats and horrific, sharply local acts of violence.
The coincidences are uncanny, but they are also filtered through the imagination of a teenager whose gifts for constructing narrative from the filaments of his own life are about to make him one of the most explosive literary sensations of his generation.
Can he trust his friends–or his own mind–to make sense of the danger they appear to be in? Thwarted by the world and by his own innate desires, buffeted by unhealthy fixations, he spirals into paranoia and isolation as the relationship between the Trawler and Robert Mallory hurtles inexorably toward a collision.
I’ll admit, I’ve never read American Psycho, but the legacy is there nevertheless and I was immediately enthused by Ellis’s new release. An exclusive prep school and a serial killer plays to my tastes so well, I can’t imagine others won’t be thrilled by this premise. Also, teenagers. Still my favorite protagonists.
What do you think of this week’s releases? Any you’ll pick up? Perhaps you are already into a book that released in the first two Tuesday’s of 2023 — if so, drop the title below!
All the love and best wishes for the beginning of your year,