Riot Rundown


Read This Book

Read This Book: Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

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

This week’s pick is Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram.

Content warning: depression, discussion of suicide, bullying

Darius the Great is Not Okay is a memorable book about Darius, an Iranian-American teen who loves tea, lives with depression, and struggles with feeling like he’s “enough” no matter where he goes. When the book begins, Darius is being bullied at school and his white dad doesn’t seem to know what to do about it. The lack of empathy is frustrating for Darius because his dad is the only other one in the family also taking medication for clinical depression, so Darius thinks he’d understand how hard life can be. Then the family receives word that Darius’s maternal grandfather, who lives in Iran, is sick. The family drops everything and travels across the world, and Darius and his little sister meet his mother’s extended family in person for the first time. In Iran, Darius finds more reasons to stick out–at home, he’s too Persian, and here he’s too American. But he also meets Sohrab, a boy his age who lives next door to his grandparents, and in Sohrab, Darius finds his first real friend.

This book is surprisingly funny amidst all of its soul-searching and family angst, and Darius is a winning protagonist. He’s warm and sensitive, inquisitive and funny, vulnerable and so honest. I adored his love of tea, how he loves his little sister, and his bravery in connecting with people in a new place. This book also offers a great perspective on mental illness–at the beginning of the book, Darius’s depression is managed responsibly with medication, and a lot of his hang ups have to do with his relationship with his dad, who seems so distant to Darius that he refers to him by his first name. The mental illness discussion is further explored when Darius discovers that his Persian family views mental illness very differently, and he has to rely on what he knows to be true about his depression–that it’s manageable with medication–in order to stay strong. The friendship angle is so delightful. It doesn’t quite verge into the territory of romance, but the deep understanding that Darius and Sohrab share is uplifting and allows Darius to learn to be okay with who he is, and who he isn’t. This is a YA book, but I recommend it for fans of great family stories that get to the heart of cultural differences, mental illness, and what it means to find self-acceptance. It’s also great for readers who loved Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

Bonus: I listened to the audio, and it was narrated wonderfully by Michael Levi Harris. Plus, a sequel is on the horizon! Darius the Great Deserves Better will hit shelves on August, so now’s the time to read this great book!

Happy reading!


Find me on Book Riot, the Insiders Read Harder podcast, All the Books, and Twitter.

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Unusual Suspects

Lisbeth Salander To Get Her Own Show!

Hi mystery fans! It is me again with all the crime things: lots of things to click this week, including a handful of news and adaptation announcements, something to watch, and great Kindle deals.

From Book Riot And Around The Internet

Know My Name cover image25 of the Top True Crime Books on Goodreads

Psychological thriller author Jennifer Hillier wrote about 7 Great Books By Writers of Color From the First Half of 2020

Rincey and Katie talk about Jane Harper’s new novel, the French serial killer expert who apparently isn’t an expert and books featuring religious elements that are not by Dan Brown on the latest Read Or Dead.

Vote for the ONE longlisted book that you feel most deserves to make the shortlist for the 2020 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award.

The Most Anticipated Crime Books of 2020: Summer Reading Edition

RSVP now: Nicole Cliffe and the Vox Book Club finish off The Secret History, live on Zoom

Enter to win a 1-year subscription to Kindle Unlimited!

Enter to Win $50 to Your Favorite Independent Bookstore!

News And Adaptations

‘Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ Series Based On Lisbeth Salander Character In Works At Amazon

David E. Kelley and Netflix developing Anatomy of a Scandal TV adaptation

Bill Clinton and James Patterson Announce Next Novel Together

The Sweet Valley High creator goes dark with her new adult novel, Little Crew of Butchers

Michael Connelly Says Amazon Eyeing ‘Lincoln Lawyer’ TV Show That CBS “Killed” (Exclusive)

Get a first look at Dean Koontz’s new novel Elsewhere

Watch Now

HBO Go: Miss Sherlock is a gender swapped reimagining of Sherlock Holmes, set mostly in modern day Tokyo, Japan with Yūko Takeuchi and Shihori Kanjiya starring as Sherlock and Wato. Here’s the trailer.

Kindle Deals

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins cover imageFor historical fiction fans: The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins is $3.99! (Review) (I’m just going to go with all the trigger warnings)

Looking to start a delicious cozy mystery series? Death by Dumpling (A Noodle Shop Mystery) by Vivien Chien is $2.99! (Review)

Need a twisty fun thriller? My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing is $2.99! (Review) (TW suicide)

Need some suspenseful Noir in your life? Sunburn by Laura Lippman is $3.99! (Review) (TW domestic abuse/ rape)

Browse all the books recommended in Unusual Suspects previous newsletters on this shelf. See 2020 upcoming releases. An Unusual Suspects Pinterest board. Get Tailored Book Recommendations!

Until next time, keep investigating! In the meantime, come talk books with me on Twitter, Instagram, 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.

True Story

Memoir Friday!

Let’s talk about people’s LIVES. If you’re observing social distancing, you are likely not seeing other people very often, at least not beyond a computer or phone screen. So let’s look reeeeeal close at some humans through their recounting of their own lives!

Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward. Have you read this book? No, but like, have you read this book? Ward, winner of two National Book Awards for Fiction, is a capital W Writer and this extremely moving and poignant and sad and evocative memoir of her life in rural Mississippi and the loss of four young men in her life is so, so good. If you can handle some heavy stuff now (and no worries if you cannot, my friend), this is highly recommended.


My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead. Have you noticed everyone talking about Middlemarch lately? Or is that just low-key happening all the time? Anyway, here’s something cozy! It’s about books, it’s about her life, if you like Victorian lit, then pick this up. Mead goes nerd-deep into why she loves Middlemarch and some background on author George Eliot, as well as talking about how it’s applied to her life throughout the years, which is charming.


H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. I’ve heard from a number of friends who haven’t liked this! But I love it. Macdonald deals with grieving her father by getting very very into hawks, more particularly, the goshawk. I read it while I was also dealing with the death of a parent, and I found it both relatable and helpful. If you’re on the fence (much like the noble hawk!), check out a preview and see if you like her writing style. I’m genuinely perplexed by my friends, but I feel like I need to throw that suggestion out there now.

brown girl dreaming coverBrown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. It’s so good! And it won the National Book Award! And it’s all in verse! Ok, so Woodson herself says: “I share what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and my growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. It also reflects the joy of finding my voice through writing stories, despite the fact that I struggled with reading as a child.” It’s so good!

Have an excellent weekend, nonfictionites. As always, you can find me on social media @itsalicetime and co-hosting the For Real podcast with Kim here at Book Riot. Until next time, enjoy those facts, fellow nerds.

Today In Books

NINE PERFECT STRANGERS’ Perfect Casting: Today In Books

Nine Perfect Strangers’ Perfect Casting

The author of Big Little Lies, Liane Moriarty, currently has her most recent novel, Nine Perfect Strangers, being adapted into a limited series at Hulu. And the casting alone is something to be excited about: Nicole Kidman, Melissa McCarthy, and Jason Mendoza–er, my bad I mean Manny Jacinto. The series, following nine guests at a boutique wellness-spa, is set to air in 2021.

FIYAH Live Reading

FIYAH, the quarterly speculative fiction magazine which features stories by and about Black people of the African Diaspora, is having a virtual event Saturday May 30th from 12pm to 8pm CST. Check out the eight FIYAH authors who will be reading new and existing works live!

Back To Hulu

Love, Victor–an upcoming Hulu series that is set in the world of Becky Albertalli’s novel, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, and film adaptation, Love, Simon, has an official trailer–and it’s the most adorable. More good news: we don’t have to wait that long, the episodes will stream on Hulu on June 19th.



We’re giving away $50 to spend at your favorite independent bookstore (your selected store must sell e-gift cards)!

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



What's Up in YA

YA Ebook Deals to Snag ASAP

Hey YA Fans!

Get your fingers ready and clear space on your (digital) bookshelf for some great YA ebook deals.

These are current as of Friday, May 29. Note that because deals often expire at the end of the month, you’ll want to act quick to grab what catches your eye this weekend.

The Last 8 by Laura Pohl is $2. If you want an alien story, this one will be up your alley.

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton is $2.

Want a foodie-themed YA? The Art of French Kissing by Brianna R. Shrum is $2.

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim, described as Project Runway meets Mulan is $3.

If you haven’t yet discovered Maurene Goo, you can fix that with The Way You Make Me Feel. It’s $3 and it’s a food-truck themed rom-com that will literally make you LOL.

The Beauty of the Moment by Tanaz Bhathena is a bicultural romance perfect for your summer reading vibes.

Own (if you don’t) and read (if you haven’t) The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. $3.

We Set The Dark on Fire, a fantastic start to a queer fantasy duology, is $3.

Taken by Erin Bowman launched a series, and you can start at the beginning with this title. $3.

Maybe this is the rom-com edition of ebook deals because there are so many. Another one for your list: The Upside of Falling by Alex Light (which is pretty new, too!). $3.

I loved Mindy McGinnis’s wilderness survival novel Be Not Far From Me, which came out in March. It’s available for $3.

Another new book on the cheap: The Lucky Ones by Liz Lawson. $2.

Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian can be yours for $3.

Oh, look! On The Come Up, Angie Thomas’s stellar followup to The Hate U Give, is also on sale. $4!

Start Adam Silvera’s newest fantasy series with Infinity Son at $3.

Looking for a thriller? The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas is a solid choice and $2.

Maybe it’s horror you’re seeking right now, and if that’s the case The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White should be your pick. $2.

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter is $3.

Victoria Schwab’s This Savage Song, with its newly redesigned cover, is on sale for $2.

Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman is for all of the readers itching for a fantasy read with dragons. $2. Hartman’s Seraphina is also $2.

More dragons? Fireborne by Rosaria Munda is $3.

One of my favorite quiet YA books is Calling My Name by Liana Tamani is on sale for $2.

War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi has one heck of a fierce cover, and I suspect it’s equally fierce inside. $3.

Nic Stone’s Odd One Out is $2.

I encourage you to read Lizard Radio by Pat Schmatz, as it’s an excellent choice for Pride Month in June . . . or anytime! $3.

So! Many! Deals!

Thanks for hanging out, and I’ll see you Monday with a preview of some call YA for your TBR.

— Kelly Jensen, @heykellyjensen on Instagram and editor of Body Talk(Don’t) Call Me Crazy, and Here We Are.

Riot Rundown


Today In Books

The Pandemic’s Effect On Publishing: Today In Books

The Pandemic’s Effect On Publishing

While people reading more during self-isolation may seem like a bonus for the publishing industry, in reality the current pandemic has paused many distributions due to physical bookstore closures, changing book release dates, and more. Publishers Weekly’s editorial director, Jim Milliot, chatted with NPR about this and how the publishing industry is changing and adapting.

Stormy Daniels’ Comic Book

Stormy Daniels, the adult film star who claimed to have an affair with Donald Trump and was allegedly paid to keep quiet, has a comic book starring her: Stormy Daniels: Space Force. And it’s getting the bells and whistles as action figures and an animated series are also in the works.

ALA + The Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment, the American Library Association has partnered with the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission to distribute 6,000 women’s suffrage youth books to public and school libraries. Libraries in the U.S. are encouraged to apply by June 15, 2020.

Larry Kramer Has Died

Playwright, LGBTQ+ activist, and AIDS policy advocate Larry Kramer died today in New York City.

Book Radar

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO Will Be a Series and More Book Radar!

Happy Thursday! I hope you had a lovely week and were able to fit in some time for yourself to do things that make you happy. Like read books! That’s why we’re all here, right? I managed to read a few great books over the long weekend, and finish up Steven Universe, too – now I need to see the movie! I also watched the new Hannah Gadsby special on Netflix. I think she is a genius! There is no one who makes me laugh more.

Other than reading, and more reading, I don’t have any upcoming plans. It’s h-o-t here in Maine now, so I will be hiding from the sun the next several days, for sure. But I don’t mind staying inside because that’s where the cats and books reside. They are my favorite things!

Before I share all the bookish news I have to tell you, please remember, whatever you are doing or not doing this week, you are doing a good job! I am sending you virtual hugs. This is hard, but we are doing what is necessary, and I’m so proud of us! I hope you are safe, and please remember to be kind to yourself and others. Thanks for subscribing, and I’ll see you again on Monday! – xoxo, Liberty

Trivia question time! What author issued a public statement in January of 1999, reminding the world that the third millennium really began on January 1, 2001? (Scroll to the bottom for the answer.)

Deals, Reals, and Squeals!

Reese Witherspoon and her production company will adapt The Cactus by Sarah Haywood.

There’s a Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series in the works.

Bryan Washington has been named the winner of the £30,000 Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize.

Naomi Novik’s upcoming YA novel A Deadly Education is getting a film adaptation.

Here’s the trailer for Love, Victor, Hulu’s Love, Simon-inspired series.

J.K. Rowling is offering The Ickabog, a “political fairy tale,” serialized for free on its own website ahead of its publication.

Bill Clinton and James Patterson are writing a second book together.

Lauren Oliver announced that the Netflix adaptation of Before I Fall starts June 8th.

Here’s the amazing cover for What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo.

The Gossip Girl reboot has been postponed.

David E. Kelley and Netflix are developing an Anatomy of a Scandal adaptation, based on the novel by Sarah Vaughan.

The television rights for Juno Dawson’s young adult series have been optioned.

Book Riot Recommends 

At Book Riot, I work on the New Books! email, the All the Books! podcast about new releases, and the Book Riot Insiders New Release Index. I am very fortunate to get to read a lot of upcoming titles, and learn about a lot of upcoming titles, and I’m delighted to share a couple with you each week so you can add them to your TBR! (It will now be books I loved on Mondays and books I’m excited to read on Thursdays. YAY, BOOKS!)

Excited to read:

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins (St. Martin’s Press, January 5, 2021)

I know a lot of people love Jane Austen retellings, but I myself am a big fan of Jane Eyre retellings. Which is why I am so excited for this one! I love the Rebel Belle series that Hawkins wrote, so I am extra-excited for her first adult novel, a Southern gothic present-day twist on Jane Eyre, set in a neighborhood of McMansions in Alabama, where Jane meets widower Eddie Rochester.

What I’m reading this week.

Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas by Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, Margaret Jull Costa (Translator), Robin Patterson (Translator)

Stranger in the Lake: A Novel by Kimberly Belle

The Professor and the Parson: A Story of Desire, Deceit, and Defrocking by Adam Sisman

The Mask Falling by Samantha Shannon

East of Hounslow by Khurrum Rahman

Song stuck in my head:

Let Her Dance by The Bobby Fuller Four

And this is funny:

The new age of working from home.

Happy things:

Here are a few things I enjoy that I thought you might like as well:

And times like these call for a bonus cat picture!

Farrokh, fierce guardian of the Harrow galley.

Trivia answer: Arthur Clarke.

You made it to the bottom! High five. Thanks for reading! – xo, L