April: Book Reviews

And just like that, April is done! Here are 6 of my favourite reads from the past month. If you have an recommendations, I’d love to know about them- I’m always looking for new books, especially fiction. I usually reserve recommendations at the library to check them out. Let me know in the comments!

Best Poetry: Bright Dead Things 

This is a wonderful collection of poems by Ada Limon, an American poet whose work I’ve admired for a while. Poetry is such a niche literary form that usually poets from one country don’t often get much play in other countries. So as a Canadian, I definitely had to take a chance and just order the book, based on a couple of poems I read. The Amazon link does allow you to ‘look inside’, and if you like the first poem, I bet you’ll like the whole book.

 The One I’m Recommending to Just About Everyone: All Our Wrong Todays

Fast-paced, funny, moving, and a great choice if you are looking to gift a book to a man in your life (I can see a lot of men enjoying it, possibly more than women). The story is set in the current day, but endless clean energy developed in the 1960s has created a global utopia and ALL our futuristic dreams have come true.

Everyone is living their best life except for Tom Barren, our protagonist – son of a genius who can’t possibly live up to any expectations, in love with a brilliant woman whose life he’s utterly destroyed by accident, he makes a foolish choice to go back in time with his father’s newly developed time machine and (of course!) unwittingly changes the entire outcome of the present day. Tom wakes up in our current day (in Toronto!), and it looks just like how we know it. As he sets about trying to find people he knew from his previous life, everyone is an alternate version of the people he knew from before- including the woman he loved. Grappling with the side effects of memories from his original life and the life he has in the new timeline, he sets about trying to fix his mistakes from both timelines. The ending a little too fast-paced (are there any books with time travel that have a truly satisfying and believable ending? Probably not) but this book was hugely enjoyable, and compulsively readable. My copy is about to start making the lending rounds of everyone I know.

Best Nonfiction: What Happened

I don’t remember exactly why I took this out of the library- I know I read some very good reviews somewhere- and I was surprised at how engaging it was, even to a Canadian (sometimes she was talking about American politicians that I don’t know from a tin of soup, I just glossed over those parts). This book is not without its flaws – if you are a huge Bernie Sanders fan, it’s clear there is no love lost between those two – but it is a surprisingly moving account of someone who has failed at achieving her dream on a level so huge it will always be a part of American history. No matter how any of us fail, it will never be so big as all that. How does someone move on from that? How do you accept the revised version of your life? Clinton doesn’t mince words, she faces down her own failures as well as the absolutely batsh*t crazy Russian involvement that the rest of the world is all kind of surprised isn’t a bigger deal in the US. If you are trying to get over a spectacular failure in your own life, I bet reading this book will make you feel a million times better — At least you are not Hillary Clinton.

Currently re-reading: Big Little Lies

If somehow you haven’t heard about this book (now HBO series), I’d be surprised. A trio of moms whose kids are all in the same kindergarten class are center stage when a series of events and a death threaten to expose the secrets underlying their carefully constructed lives.  I’m re-reading this book because as a writer, I’m incredibly impressed with how addictive this book is, especially when there are 3 main characters and a cast of supporting characters that rival a russian novel in their number.  This book completely deserves to be a bestseller – it’s just a mighty good book. I wish I had written it. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend, it would be an especially good beach read.

Crafty Book I’m Loving (okay, it’s actually a cookbook): Jamie Oliver Five Ingredients

I’m not usually a cookbook person – I’ll make 3 recipes and then never touch it again. But this one is my new favourites- tonnes of recipes that are super easy and really do just have 5 ingredients (not including things like salt and pepper, etc). Perfect for weeknight suppers, and quick desserts, which is pretty much how I live. I have about twenty different recipes marked, and none have failed me yet- every one is worth making again. If I was going to give anyone a cookbook, it would be this one.

Lila and James are Loving: Cookiesaurus Rex

This book has both Lila and James in hysterics! It’s about a dinosaur cookie that wants to have fancier frosting than all the other cookies, and the baker keeps remaking the T-rex over with different costumes that he just does not enjoy. The humour is perfect for little kids, Lila asks for this book all the time.

 

Looking for book reviews from the previous months? Check them out here.

9 comments

  1. Tanis   •  

    I love these book review posts. My reading list just keeps growing!

    • Julie   •     Author

      Yay, so glad you enjoy them! I read so many books in a month, but I never finish anything that isn’t really holding my attention. So I’ve half read a whole bunch more, they just didn’t make the cut Sometimes it’s just a mood- I know that I’ll the book, but in a different season or a a couple of years.

    • Julie   •     Author

      Oooh, you are going to love it! It’s not too sci-fi, either. I wouldn’t normally consider myself a reader of the genre, but it’s really engaging.

  2. Val   •  

    All our Wrong Todays sounds right up my alley, I’m going to check the hold list on that one today.
    I’ve bought all of Liane Moriarty’s books (but one) for girlfriends, they’re such addictive commute or beach reads! I’m too nervous to watch the HBO version of BLL, the actors cast didn’t match my vision of the characters at all! Have you watched it?

    • Julie   •     Author

      I haven’t watched Big Little Lies the TV show- same reason, once it’s cast it just seems SO different from the vision in my head. I might give it a go at some point, but then I find that I’ll confuse the movie/tv version of a book with the actual bok, when there are almost always differences. Except if it’s been a really long time since I’ve read the book- I’ve watched Alias Grace on Netflix, and it’s been more than a decade since I read the book. It’s fantastic! Probably because I can’t remember the details of the book anymore. 😉

      • Val   •  

        Alias Grace is on my watch list! I found Away from Her so moving even though I’d studied the short story beforehand. Goodness, Netflix is really bringing it!

  3. Brenda   •  

    Definitely putting both your fiction recs on The List. And I haven’t looked at that particular Jamie Oliver, but I have to say, I do love the ones of his that I have. They’re just so simultaneously practical and mindful, with a surprising amount of reference material. Might have to investigate this one, too.

  4. martha   •  

    Thank you, Julie, for the recommendations & reviews. I recently mentioned to my partner that I feel sad for folks who don’t read or like to read. “Book” is a good 4-letter word for me.
    Stuart O’Nan is a wonderful author & his book, LAST NIGHT AT THE LOBSTER, is a fave. It’s a short-ish novel that was recommended to me by a close pal.
    My local library is my best bookstore & I borrow on a regular basis.

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