What I Read in April 2021

Have I ever told you how much joy this little reading re-cap blog gives me? No pressure to cover certain topics or be particularly thoughtful or make any money or anything. Just, “Hey I read this.” God, it’s my favorite.

So with that extensive intro, on to the books!

OH! Just a reminder and a PS: all the links on this page go to benefit our store, Twice Told Tales in McPherson KS.

Klara and The Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
Order the physical copy on Bookshop.
Download the audiobook on Libro.fm

Okay, so I have two different responses to this book. One is how I would describe it to a customer who wants to know what this book is about. And my response would be something like, “This book takes place in a not-so-distant-but-still-undetermined future. Klara is an Artificial Friend and we get to see the whole world and relationships through her unusual, limited, but also incredibly nuanced perspective. Great for someone who doesn’t need a lot of plot to get sucked in but will easily get immersed in character development.”
But how I actually responded when it was over, “The f*ck was that.” LOL People who are way smarter than me are raving about this book and I’m confident that it’s rightfully beloved by so many people… just not me. Personally.

This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron
Pre-order the book from Bookshop.

This… was fun. From the get-go. So, while I don’t love science fiction or fantasy–I do have a very soft spot for magical realism and this hits the bill perfectly. My personal definition of magical realism is that everything in the world is normal and ordinary except for maybe one small thing that is completely magical. This book starts out that way (though as it goes on, we do enter a realm of more fantasy) and I love it.
So the premise of this book is that Briseis is just out in the world, living her life. It just so happens that she has… a way with plants. They pay attention to her. They turn and look at her. She can bring them back to life just by glancing their way or sticking her fingers in the dirt. Suddenly, Briseis and her family are thrown into a situation where they discover that her powers go way further than just beefing up house plants. She seems immune to poison? And there are people who will do whatever it takes to get their hands on her powers. Good news, it’s the first in a series so the story isn’t over yet!
I loved this and I can’t wait to put it on our shelves at Twice Told Tales this summer!

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins
Order a copy from Bookshop.
Download the audiobook on Libro.fm.

This is a delicious, gothic thriller set in an affluent suburban neighborhood in Mississippi. What I liked about this book was the way that you can never really tell who the hero is and who the villain is. Based on Jane Eyre–anyone who is familiar with the classic will have a vague idea of the bones of this story. I finished this book in a weekend. I got sucked in from the first page. This book is perfect for anyone who just wants to turn their brain off for a while and dive into a dramatic murder mystery.

The Final Revival of Opal and Nev by Dawnie Walton
Order your copy from Bookshop.
Download the audiobook on Libro.fm.

Okay, I have really enjoyed some books lately but I haven’t been completely blown away by a book in this particular way in years. Not until The Final Revival of Opal and Nev. Dawnie Walton is a certain kind of master storyteller.
It’s completely fictionalized but you constantly find yourself wondering, “wait, is this fiction? Or not? It feels true!” It tells the story of Opal and Nev–a powerhouse rock and roll duo from the 1970’s who experienced some short-lived fame before parting ways. The fictional author was brought on to write their biography before they get back together for a reunion tour. This book is compiled from the author’s scraps of interviews, newspaper articles, and her own personal thoughts all pieced together to tell this incredible story. This book is written in such a way that you feel a bit removed from the subject matter at hand–and yet you become so invested in these people. It’s wholly immersive. That’s what I mean when I say that Dawnie Walton is a master story teller. Somehow through newspaper articles and third-hand accounts I still found myself weeping at a certain point (though do not misunderstand–this is not a particularly sad story. It’s a story that will fill you with power and maybe some rage?).

Anyway, this book completely changed what a five-star read is for me.

Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica
Pre-order on Bookshop.
Pre-order the audiobook on Libro.fm.

Mary Kubica is one of those authors that the thriller lovers in my store love. So when I was offered an advance readers copy of this one, I jumped on it to find out what all the hubbub was about! This book was riveting! In the first chapter you think you know where this is going, “Okay, here’s a classic, suburban, missing woman story.” And then the second chapter starts and you’re in a completely different place wondering how on earth these two stories are even remotely connected. This is a propulsive thriller that will keep you turning the pages and gasping at the twists and turns (though I will admit that I clocked something in the first couple chapters that made me certain I know whodunit–and I was right. But it didn’t spoil anything at all. The joy is in the journey after all).
This is not a book for sensitive readers, however. I’m offering a big ole content warning for things like child abuse, forced imprisonment and bullying. This is why I like The StoryGraph–you can see what content warnings readers have flagged for each book they read. This is such a helpful tool for sensitive readers–just so you can be somewhat prepared. Here’s a link to the StoryGraph for this book so you can see what I’m talking about.

Okay! That’s what I read this month! Did you read anything you loved?

What do you think?

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