Looking for new book releases in August 2021? Here’s what we’ve read in the past month, including titles from Tehlor Kay Mejia, Lemony Snicket, and more.
Our new book releases for July 2021 brought you several titles across all genres, and we’re back again with our next installment. This time, we’re tackling our favorite releases for August.
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 Hypable’s book section for all our literary coverage!
New book releases August 2021
Table of Contents
Click on any of the titles to jump to that review!
- Emily’s House by Amy Belding Brown (Adult, Historical Fiction)
- Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche by Nancy Springer (Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, Action/Adventure)
- Gone for Good by Joanna Schaffhausen (Mystery, Crime Thriller, Female Detective)
- Living Beyond Borders: Stories About Growing Up Mexican in America by Margarita Longoria (Young Adult, Short Story Anthology, Mexican American Culture, Own Voices)
- Other Me, The by Sarah Zachrich Jeng (Sci-Fi, Mystery, Tech Thriller, Sliding Doors)
- Paola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares by Tehlor Kay Mejia (Middle Grade, Fantasy, Mexican Folklore and Legends)
- Poison for Breakfast by Lemony Snicket (Young Adult, Mystery, Humor, Novella)
- Woods Are Always Watching, The by Stephanie Perkins (Young Adult, Thriller, Suspense)
Better late than never titles
- She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan (Alternative History, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Asian Myths and Legends)
‘Emily’s House’ by Amy Belding Brown — August 3, 2021
The basic premise behind this book is that you follow Margaret Maher during her time as Emily Dickinson’s maid. That was enough to keep me interested, but I found this book to be particularly rich and moving, and not just because we got a peek inside the famous poet’s mysterious life. Instead, it was her maid who stole my heart and kept me reading.
A note at the back of the books tells us that the author spent seven years researching and writing this book. Emily Dickinson was a mysterious figure during her time, and that certainly hasn’t changed in the century since her passing. But it was Margaret’s words that caught Brown’s attention, and once you meet her, it’s clear why. Margaret is a spirited character, with a sharp tongue, a quick wit, and notions about her place in the world that one could only interpret as modern. It’s true that Emily steals the show from time to time, but Margaret has no trouble holding her own place in the spotlight.
Despite not typically reading historical novels, I found this one to be an easy read, both because of the subject matter and the evocative writing. Though it covers many decades of Margaret’s life, I never once felt like the story dragged. If you want a different perspective on Emily’s life, as well as a peek into what it was like to live as an Irish immigrant in America during the 1800s, I’d highly recommend Emily’s House. — Karen Rought
‘Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche’ by Nancy Springer — August 31, 2021
If you, like me, first found Enola Holmes through the Netflix Original movie starring Millie Bobby Brown, you’ll be delighted to learn there are a whole host of books to discover, including the one from which the film was adapted, The Missing Marquess.
Nancy Springer’s latest novel in the series, The Black Barouche, brings us a brand new case in which a woman’s twin sister has supposedly died under odd conditions. Enola and her brother Sherlock then do what they do best—solve the mystery.
Enola is a charming young woman, who’s fierce and feminist and yet doesn’t mind leaning into her more delicate sensibilities when the occasion calls for it. She’s whip-smart and just as capable as Sherlock, if only society did not deem it necessarily to hold her back. I love this character because she’s not afraid to be herself, as boisterous, commanding, and unconventional as that may be. — Karen Rought
‘Gone for Good’ by Joanna Schaffhausen — August 10, 2021
An addictive mystery from start to finish, you’ll have a very difficult time putting Gone for Good down once you’ve cracked it open. Set in Chicago, this novel focuses on an unsolved serial killer case that reignites after going cold for 20 years. Annalisa, the central character, is the main detective on the case, but things are made far more complicated when you realize that she has very personal ties to the original murders.
Gone for Good is so, well, GOOD. It expertly drops vital information at the perfect time and constantly makes you shift your theorizing as to who the murderer could possibly be. There’s also what some would call a “twist” at the end (but what I would call just great writing) that will really cement your interest in the main character and the world the author has built, making you want to read the next book in the series.
Gone for Good also has a healthy double dose of romantic tension which I hadn’t expected but absolutely fell for. It’s not the focus of the story nor is it Annalisa’s focus, but it’s such a humanizing and character developmental addition that’s perfectly balanced.
I’d been in a bit of a reading funk lately but I feel confident in saying that Gone for Good broke me out of that. It’s a story full of all of your favorite thriller and crime novel beats with its own surprises and fantastic writing on top of all that. I give this one a huge thumbs up. — Danielle Zimmerman
‘Living Beyond Borders: Stories About Growing Up Mexican in America’ by Margarita Longoria — August 21, 2021
Living Beyond Borders is a beautiful collection of short stories, poems, and works that describe a broad range of experiences of what it’s like to grow up Mexican or Mexican-American. Not only that, but what it’s like to grow up or even just exist in a country that views the Mexican/Mexican-American/Latinx culture and experience as a monolith.
From the very beginning, this anthology strives to break all of the most pervasive stereotypes and celebrate all of the aspects of life that are distinctly related to Mexican culture. Each and every story is incredibly unique, just like the voice that tells it, and highlights a wide array of lives and lifestyles, as well as all of the ways in which culture, racism, and class play a role in day-to-day lives.
I tended to love the short stories in this compilation most of all, especially one toward the end called “La Princess Mileidy Dominguez” by Rubén Degollado. This particular story is just the perfect balance of heartfelt and heartache, with such a beautiful softness. It had me smiling and tearing up in equal measure.
Needless to say, I really enjoyed this collection and can’t wait to dive in to each of these authors’ individual works. — Danielle Zimmerman
‘The Other Me’ by Sarah Zachrich Jeng — August 10, 2021
The Other Me is an electrifying sci-fi thriller. It’s Sliding Doors mixed with quite a bit of toxic masculinity, constantly grappling with ideas like fate vs. free will as well as woulds vs. coulds vs. SHOULDS.
Plucked from her life as a struggling artist in Chicago, Kelly is thrown into the life of her Michigan homemaker counterpart, where everyone is a stranger yet familiar at the same time and her memories aren’t her own. Going along with Kelly as she works to piece together what happened to her, why, and how best to move forward, it’s impossible not to put yourself in her shoes and puzzle out where linchpin moments were in your own life and theorize where you could be right now had you made different decisions.
The Other Me is very much an introspective novel and *slow-moving* thriller that inspects the ripples of decisions as well as the complicated relationships between people. Here, even the simplest decisions can define whether one is mostly good or mostly bad. The technology of this novel, produced by those people making those small decisions, feels futuristic but not out of reach (or out of the realm of possibility that it’s being worked on right now). And the men? Well, they feel familiar in the worst ways possible, especially when it comes to how easily you’ll find yourself trying to excuse their actions.
If you like your thrillers with a healthy dose of effective but not too heavy-handed social commentary, make the decision to pick up The Other Me. Your alternate selves may not make as good of a choice, but you can. — Danielle Zimmerman
‘Paola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares’ by Tehlor Kay Mejia — August 3, 2021
This is the second book in the Paola Santiago series, and it does not disappoint. We begin in Silver Springs, Arizona, but this next adventure will once again take us to all sorts of exciting new places. This time, Paola has to figure out what’s wrong with Dante’s abuela, as well as decipher the mysterious dreams her father has been using to reach out to her.
I loved the first book in this series because I enjoyed watching Paola’s rational brain try to comprehend fantasmas and immortal warrior children. I also loved her relationship with Dante, and while they go through some difficult times in this book, it’s Emma’s generosity and positive attitude that filled me with joy this time around.
One of the most important lessons this book teaches us is to not diminish our character for the comfort of other people. If someone cannot accept you for who you are, it is not your responsibility to change for them. No matter if you’re a kid or an adult, this is something all of us could do better to keep in mind. — Karen Rought
‘Poison for Breakfast’ by Lemony Snicket — August 31, 2021
Poison for Breakfast is every bit as chaotic as you’d expect from a piece of Lemony Snicket literature. Though (surprisingly, given the title) not nearly as dour as his Series of Unfortunate Events books (which I was obsessed with as a child), this new novella ruminates on life, death, and existence just as much, if not more, than his previous works. However, it does so in ways that I’ve seldom come across, pointing out the value of surprises and just being in the moment.
Poison for Breakfast reads like a strange hybrid of Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man and a memoir, with its stylized stream of consciousness storytelling. Though it’s not my favorite kind of literature structure (as I just can’t concentrate enough to fully appreciate it), it works perfectly to convey some of Snicket’s core points of the book (including the value of clearing your mind to concentrate) and further the general goal of bewilderment he so vehemently shoots for.
There are small breadcrumbs of pop culture references strewn throughout to varying degrees of success, but they all generally work effectively to get the reader’s mind to wander and connect stories and details in the way that Snicket intends. There are also a couple of crumbs I perceived as call-outs to A Series of Unfortunate Events, which made me smile and pause to appreciate the personas and worlds Snicket (Handler) has created over the years. But then, he also liberally uses the phrase “a word which here means,” which I feel works not nearly as well outside of A Series of Unfortunate Events.
Young adults who grew up with A Series of Unfortunate Events and all of Snicket’s antics around the series will enjoy diving back into stories with his brand of frenetic energy and polite yet friendly voice. — Danielle Zimmerman
‘The Woods Are Always Watching’ by Stephanie Perkins — August 31, 2021
I’ve read five of Stephanie Perkins’ books, and she always brings a visceral feeling to the table, whether she’s writing romance or horror. The Woods Are Always Watching is about two girls who decide to go hiking for three days in the mountains of North Carolina. Little do they know, this trip will change everything.
Perkins spends the first third of the book letting us get to know Neena and Josie. These two best friends have been through a lot together, but the trail immediately starts to test their relationship. The heat, the bugs, the weight of their backpacks, and the lurking dangers of the woods are enough to make anyone a little angry.
When an accident befalls one of them, that’s when they are truly tested—both as friends and as individuals. There’s something dangerous lurking in the woods, and the tension Perkins creates is palpable. I had to put the book down several times to take a break from the stress. But as scary as it was at times, my one wish was that the book was a little longer—that’s how easy it was to care about these two characters. — Karen Rought
Better late than never books
Sometimes we get a little behind on our giant to-be-read piles. This section is for books we couldn’t leave off our list just because they’re not new book releases in August 2021!
‘She Who Became the Sun’ by Shelley Parker-Chan — July 20, 2021
If you’re a fan of historical fantasies, then She Who Became the Sun will not disappoint. It’s touted as “a bold, queer, and lyrical reimagining of the rise of the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty,” and it was this description alone that got me interested in reading it in the first place.
This book covers several decades of the main character’s life as she moves through childhood, losing her family and becoming a monk, and joining the rebellion to secure a spot in a future that was never meant to be hers. It’s a lush, full, gorgeous story that encompasses the very definition of an epic. If you’re the type of person who loves to sink right into the pages of a novel and live the story alongside the narrator, She Who Becomes the Sun will happily take you along for the ride.
The other main component of this novel is Zhu’s gender identity and how that affects her relationships with the people around her. The way she views herself slowly unfolds over the years, often complicated by her drive to survive. But the book does not concern itself with labels, and Zhu is often allowed to exist without putting a name to it. It’s refreshing to see such a perspective set against a historical background. — Karen Rought