Riley Heruska
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With hundreds of books hitting bookstore shelves every month, it can be difficult to sift through new releases for the best find. That’s why we’ve done the heavy lifting for you! Here are ten of the most praised novels that were published in April.

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti

Samuel Hawley moves to Massachusetts with his teenage daughter and beings to work as a fisherman. His daughter, Loo, struggles to fit in at school, and both characters attempt to deal with the loss of Loo’s mother. When Hawley’s mysterious past catches up with them, the father-daughter duo is forced to pay the price.

“Can a man be both a violent criminal and a good father? Imagine a Quentin Tarantino movie crossed with a John Green novel, and you’ll have a sense of what this coming-of-age novel is like.” - Entertainment Weekly

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

The girls of Sweet Mercy have been raised to kill. Over the course of ten years, Red Sisters are trained to fight, but even they cannot prepare for the enemies that will threaten them. When Nona’s violent past catches up with her, she must face her inner demons and take drastic measures to survive. This recently-published novel will hook you into a new series and leave you wanting more.

“Dark, passionate, tense, with a female hero anyone could relate to—I was utterly fascinated! This is no pretty, flowery tale, but one of vastly different people struggling to survive when a hostile government comes to power.” - Tamora Pierce, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Battle Magic

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

This best-seller offers a dazzling tale about a junior ice hockey team and the pressure they feel in their small town home. Beartown explores the interesting dynamics of a small community, as well as the courage of young boys and the less pleasant side of living in a tiny town.

“A thoroughly empathetic examination of the fragile human spirit, Backman's latest will resonate a long time.” - Kirkus Reviews

Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

Bestselling author Claudia Gray returned to the young adult fiction this scene with a thrilling new science fiction novel. The story follows Noemi Vidal, a seventeen-year-old who has sworn to protect her home planet, Genesis, by defending it against Earth. Abel, a lonely boy stuck in space, is her enemy. Under strange circumstances, the two must work together to fight for what they hope is true.

“Startlingly original and achingly romantic...nothing short of masterful." - Kass Morgan, bestselling author of The 100 series

The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve

Bestselling author Jessica Shattuck returns to the literary scene with an extraordinary tale of catastrophe. Based on the true story of the largest fire in Maine’s history, the novel follows Grace Holland and her best friends as they watch their world turn to chaos.

“Shreve is masterful at creating compelling characters whose inner conversations about love and intimacy are both heartfelt and heartrending…Shreve’s quiet novel about marriage, duty, and passion lingers long after the last page is turned, like the smoke from a wildfire.”- USA Today

American War by Omar El Akkad

This isn’t the Civil War you’re thinking of: it’s the second one, which takes place in a dark future. America faces a terrible plague and horrifying political changes, and one family is caught right in the middle. Forced into Camp Patience, Sara and her family struggle to maintain their humanity while living in a world rife with violence and war. 

“Powerful... If violence and conflict feel distant, journalist Omar El Akkad’s debut novel brings them home. . . . Despite its future setting, it’d feel wrong to call American War a work of science fiction. Hell, it’d even feel off to call it dystopian, given that it’s so few steps removed from our reality.” - Kevin Nguyen, GQ

Marlena by Julie Buntin

Buntin’s new novel weaves a story of love, addiction, and loss. Fifteen-year-old Cat meets Marlena, who is unlike anyone else she knows. Together, the two girls experiment with drinking, smoking, and much more. Suddenly, all of the exciting firsts come to a screeching halt when Marlena is found dead in the woods. Years later, Cat is forced to deal with the tragedy as best she can.

"In this icy and accomplished first novel, the intoxicating friendship between an inexperienced loner and her manic, wild-child neighbor continues to exert an irresistible pull on our narrator decades later" - O, the Oprah Magazine

The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

This World War II novel is both powerful and shocking. Marianne von Lingenfels returns to her home in Germany after the Nazi defeat and attempts to protect her fellow resistance widows. Together, they face terrible challenges and utter emotional turmoil. Shattuck’s dramatic story provides piercing insight into one of the most tumultuous times in history.

"Mesmerizing... The Women in the Castle stands tall among the literature that reveals new truths about one of history’s most tragic eras."- USA Today

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

This story of unrequited teenage love will bring you back to the awkwardness of first love and put a smile on your face. Seventeen-year-old Molly can’t handle the idea of rejection, and yet she longs to meet someone special. Thus, she embarks on a quest to win the love a cute boy (and definitely not the affection of her dorky co-worker, Reid).

“Heart-fluttering, honest, and hilarious. I can’t stop hugging this book.” - Stephanie Perkins, New York Times bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

Even after her mother dies, Juliet Young continues to write letters to her. It helps her cope, and she leaves heartfelt messages on her mother's grave often. When Declan Murphy finds one of these letters and reads it, he feels compelled to write back to Juliet. The two immediately connect, and a story of secrets and passion ensues.

"A great concept, delivered in a compulsively readable package... romance readers will stay up late to finish this very satisfying and heartfelt read." - Booklist

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