There are a lot of new book releases in 2021! Check out all the titles we read in April, including Hello, Cruel Heart and Aru Shah and the City of Gold.
Welcome to the first of what we hope to be many of Hypable’s book review roundup articles. We’ve elected to replace our quarterly bite-sized book review articles with a monthly rendition that will bring you more book recommendations every month.
There are no restrictions here—it’s whatever the Hypable staff has been reading and wants to tell you about. As a whole, we tend to lean into YA fantasy and sci-fi genres, but you may also come across some horror, romance, thriller, historical, and contemporary tales. We may even throw in a non-fiction book once in a while if it strikes our fancy.
Some of our books get the V.I.P treatment, which means they’ll also have full reviews on the Hypable website. Check out our book section for all our literary coverage!
New book releases April 2021
Table of Contents
Click on any of the titles to jump to that review!
- Aru Shah and the City of Gold by Roshani Chokshi (Middle Grade, Fantasy, Adventure)
- Go the Distance by Jen Calonita (Young Adult, Fairy Tale, Adventure, Adaptation)
- Goodbye, Again by Jonny Sun (Essays, Mental Health, Memoir)
- Hello, Cruel Heart by Maureen Johnson (Young Adult, Tie-In, Coming of Age)
- In Deeper Waters by F.T. Lukens (Young Adult, LGBTQIA+, Action, Adventure)
- Pause by Kylie Scott (Adult, Contemporary, Romance)
- Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne (New Adult, Romance, Contemporary)
‘Aru Shah and the City of Gold’ by Roshani Chokshi — April 6, 2021
If you’re a big fan of mythology and haven’t read any of the Rick Riordan Presents authors, now is the time to rectify that mistake. The RRP imprint gives us more of what we loved about Percy Jackson but from authors of color. The Pandava Quintet, starring Aru Shah and her friends, was the perfect place to start, and Aru Shah and the City of Gold was one of my favorite new book releases in 2021.
These books are full of pop culture references, life lessons, and more magic than you can shake a lightning bolt at. Aru has her flaws, but over the course of four books, she’s learned how to navigate a world full of monsters and myth alongside some colorful characters and devoted friends. In Book 4, she has to contend with heartbreak while trying to keep her hope alive. A new character joins the fray, complicating Aru’s life in a way she never could’ve imagined. With a little romance, a little humor, and whole lot of action, these books are entertaining for kids and adults alike.
In just one more book, this series will be wrapped, and I can’t wait to see what Roshani Chokshi gives us next, whether it’s set in this world or another one. Either way, I hope Aru Shah and the Nectar of the Gods isn’t the end of our beloved Pandavas. Read my full Aru Shah and the City of Gold book review. — Karen Rought
‘Go the Distance’ by Jen Calonita — April 6, 2021
If you love Disney’s Hercules as much as I do, you’ll jump at the chance to see what happens after the movie ends. Remember how Hercules said he’d give up his newfound godhood in order to stay on Earth with Meg? Well, what if Zeus had said no?
That’s how Go the Distance begins, but this time the spotlight is on Megara instead of Wonder Boy. Hera’s got a special quest for her, and if she can complete it within the allotted time, then she can stay on Mount Olympus with Hercules and the other gods. The only problem is that it forces Meg to face her worst fears, as well as the man she gave up her soul for.
This book isn’t going to be for everyone (as a superfan of the movie, I found it hard to reconcile this narrative with the original one), but for those who want to explore the book’s premise of “what if Meg had to become a Greek god,” then it will undoubtedly be an interesting thought experiment. Plenty of familiar faces make their return for the novel, and you’ll get to see a different side to just about every single one of them. In Go the Distance, heroes and villains are more complex than you could ever imagine, whether they’re mortal or not. — Karen Rought
‘Goodbye, Again’ by Jonny Sun — April 20, 2021
Never in my life have I dog-eared pages in a book as much as I did with Jonny Sun’s Goodbye, Again. Mainly, to come back to them and sit with them further, but also to share certain passages and fleeting thoughts with others.
Because that’s very much what Goodbye, Again is. It’s a compilation of passing thoughts and ruminations, extracted from their fleetingness and held up to the light in order to examine their many facets. It’s stream of consciousness but with certain themes and refrains that are not unlike ones running through my own head.
This book of essays and reflections makes me feel far less alone in my thoughts and perceptions. The way Jonny Sun captures how certain thoughts and feelings come up again and again, sometimes in new ways and sometimes in the same forms. He perfectly illustrates the existentialism of living in an overly connected productivity-oriented world and the way in which there’s a disconnect in the throughline between this world and the one we grew up in. Themes of life (portrayed through plant ownership and observation, which I very much connected to) and purpose as well as importance and permanence flow throughout the book, combining in different ways and to different conclusions.
Reading this book felt like a calmer walk through my own thoughts, including those that keep me up at night, the ones that race across my mind during the day and speed off as quickly as they’ve come, and those that pop up again and again at the most unexpected times. There’s a comfort to be found in solidarity, and so if you have depression, anxiety, or are just otherwise very aware of what your brain is doing at any given moment, you’ll find multiple passages here that make you feel less alone.
And that’s really what this whole book strives for. A way to feel less alone as well as okay in one-ness. In knowing that you as well as someone else has felt this way before and are likely to do it again.
I very much look forward to returning to Goodbye, Again, especially the dog-eared pages, again and again and am grateful to Jonny Sun for putting thoughts to pen to paper and creating this collection. — Danielle Zimmerman
‘Hello, Cruel Heart’ by Maureen Johnson — April 6, 2021
Whether or not you’re anticipating Emma Stone’s portrayal of the villainess Cruella in the forthcoming feature film of the same name, I’d highly recommend picking up Maureen Johnson’s Hello, Cruel Heart, which takes place in London during the summer of 1967 when the villain-to-be is merely a teenager hanging on by a thread. In terms of new book releases in 2021, this one presented one of the biggest surprises.
Although the book will likely not inform the movie, it’s full of memorable characters and a few familiar faces (yes, Jasper and Horace play a large role). Though the idea of Cruella is stitched into nearly every chapter of the book, it feels more like a story about a poor, homeless girl ready to take the world by storm, if someone would just give her a chance.
Estella learns a few valuable lessons in Hello, Cruel Heart that will undoubtedly inform her decisions when she finally dons the Cruella moniker, but this is a far cry from who she is meant to become—delightfully so. The novel is about music and fashion, love and friendship, family and purpose. And yet it is also full of heartbreak, betrayal, and life’s cruelties. It’s a quick, fun romp that will at least make you wonder whether Cruella is worth your time when it releases on May 28. — Karen Rought
‘In Deeper Waters’ by F.T. Lukens — April 20, 2021
This is the kind of book many adults dreamed of reading when they were kids. It’s an LGBTQIA+ action adventure romance about pirates, mermaids, and magic in a world where homophobia doesn’t exist. It is a sweet, fun, colorful story that truly is a comfort read.
We follow Prince Tal while he is on his coming-of-age tour, but it goes sideways even before it starts. They find a prisoner aboard a burning ship, and Tal is tasked with watching over him. Athlen is a roguish, charismatic, mysterious boy—definitely not suitable for a prince, and yet Tal can’t keep him out of his mind.
Of course, that’s only the beginning. Tal carries magic in his blood, and the wrong sort of people wish to use that to instigate another war. Athlen might be Tal’s only hope, but he’s hiding plenty of secrets of his own. Filled with the type of YA romance that makes people swoon, In Deeper Waters by F.T. Lukens is a fun, charming read. — Karen Rought
‘Pause’ by Kylie Scott — April 13, 2021
This whole pandemic thing has dealt a HUGE blow to my reading attention span, which is why I am so grateful right now to have a new Kylie Scott book in my life. Pause (only available in audiobook until the print release on July 13, 2021) takes place in the same world as Repeat, a story which pretty much stole and ran off with my whole heart two years ago.
This book follows the unexpected love story of Anna, who wakes from a seven-month-long coma to discover she’s going to have to rethink her entire world: husband, friends, job, home, all of it. And what better place to start than with the man who saved her life in the very crash that changed it forever. Leif is dealing with his own traumas, both from the aforementioned crash and from a previous relationship that did way more than crash and burn (see Repeat for details on that).
Kylie Scott never fails to woo my soft but sometimes stubborn heart. Her heroines are usually the perfect blend of feisty, sarcastic, sweet, and witty, a bar I have not yet reached myself. Anna is the latest in a long line of wonderful women, and watching her fall for the man whose damaged but totally woo-able heart beats pretty much only for her was an absolute pleasure.
I can only hope this isn’t the end for this universe of Ms. Scott’s. Ed, Leif, Anna, and Clem are hopefully just the start of the incredible cast of characters who will find love in this new world. And my world needs more characters who are willing to dance for their lover’s clothes or embrace late night baking to cure nightmares and insomnia.
This is a lovely audiobook to kick off your summer reading experience, and if you are more of the ebook/print reading type, you only have a couple of short months to wait ’til you’ll have this delightful story in your hot little hands. Enjoy the latest from one of my most favorite authors! — Kristen Kranz
‘Second First Impressions’ by Sally Thorne — April 13, 2021
“You’re tidy, I’m a mess. Label my life for me.” If the publisher needed a single line from Sally Thorne’s Second First Impressions to encapsulate the story of Ruthie and Teddy, this is the one. Though it eliminates the best aspects of the book, it encapsulates exactly what the novel tries to undo from cover to cover, which is to reveal the wild depths of these characters under labels they take up the mantle to maintain.
Teddy, a gifted artist and apple that falls far, far from the family tree, sketches out the life he wants in small images on scraps of paper and his body, but he is afraid to color in any of the lines. He lives in outlines of the life he wants to have and would be good at, but he believes that no one wants to see the finished product. Ruthie bears the weight of helping everyone else live out the best days they possibly can as they reach the end of their journey. Hidden away in the retirement community she also calls home, Ruthie is someone who may not feel ambition outside of her cozy shell of a world, but does not see anything wrong with that. Perhaps all she needs is someone to show her that the same sense of security she craves can be found somewhere else.
What I found most enjoyable about Thorne’s exploration of Ruthie and Teddy is their independent battles against the trappings of the labels assigned to them at formative moments in their lives. Second First Impressions is not only about the first impression that Ruthie and Teddy are trying to revisit with one another, but with themselves. And it is not an easy journey. I appreciated that the novel leans heavily on the point that these two characters are not trying to change themselves to make the other person see them for who they are. Rather, they are figuring out what, if anything, is worth changing about the way they see themselves.
External expectations challenge Teddy and Ruthie to reach the outer limits of their comfort zones, but time and attention are paid to the moments where they need to retreat and process why those moments do not work for the characters. With Thorne’s third novel you’re going to get your grand gesture, your steamy romance, even a couple of characters you may end up caring more about than the leads (a Parloni sister spin-off series would be a dream). However, its focus on the character development as individuals over as a couple, makes it one of the stand out books of the spring. It’s one of the few romances I’ve read this year where I would have been alright if happily ever after didn’t arrive. — Brittany Lovely