Best Books of April
Welcome to the Best of the Month for April. In addition to our Significant Seven picks (our favourite books of the month), you'll find seven more picks on the side--since we always have more books we want to share--along with notable new paperbacks, and our choices for the month's best new books for kids and teens.

The Forgotten Garden | Genesis | Always Looking Up | Carbon Shift | The Day We Lost the H-Bomb | The Song Is You | Vanished Smile


Spotlight Title: The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
Forgotten Garden Like Frances Hodgson Burnett's beloved classic The Secret Garden, Kate Morton's The Forgotten Garden takes root in your imagination and grows into something enchanting--from a little girl with no memories left alone on a ship to Australia, to a fog-soaked London river bend where orphans comfort themselves with stories of Jack the Ripper, to a Cornish sea heaving against wind-whipped cliffs, crowned by an airless manor house where an overgrown hedge maze ends in the walled garden of a cottage left to rot. This hidden bit of earth revives barren hearts, while the mysterious Authoress's fairy tales (every bit as magical and sinister as Grimm's) whisper truths and ignite the imaginary lives of children. As Morton draws you through a thicket of secrets that spans generations, her story could cross into fairy tale territory if her characters weren't clothed in such complex flesh, their judgment blurred by the heady stench of emotions (envy, lust, pride, love) that furtively flourished in the glasshouse of Victorian society. While most ache for a spotless mind's eternal sunshine, the Authoress meets the past as "a cruel mistress with whom we must all learn to dance," and her stories gift children with this vital muscle memory.--Mari Malcolm
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Genesis by Bernard BeckettAlways Looking Up by Michael J. Fox
Genesis If robots began to self-evolve, learning to feel and create as we do, what traits would set humans apart--and help us survive? Beckett isn't the first to dramatize this question, and his Genesis pays subtle homage to the likes of Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Philip K. Dick. But his near-future tale feels unique, and oddly credible. We're brought up quickly on a catastrophic backstory: accelerating climate change, dust storms, rising fear and fundamentalism, the Last War, and the rise of a new Plato, who builds an island republic and seals it behind a Great Sea Fence. Plagues decimate human populations outside, while the Republic's surveillance society (thick with shadows of Huxley, Atwood, and Moore) flourishes under the Orwellian motto "Forward towards the past"--until it falls to forces led by rebel Adam Forde. Decades later, the young historian Anax endures an examination by the ruling Academy on Adam's imprisonment with the most advanced android of his time, and we witness their vicious sparring on the virtues of men and machines. It may not sound gripping, but Genesis reads like a thriller, propelled by the power of ideas longing to be unleashed. Always Looking Up There are many ways to describe Michael J. Fox: Star. Husband. Father. Activist. But one word encapsulates everything he stands for, everything he's accomplished: Optimist. Struck with Parkinson's--a debilitating, degenerative disease--at the height of his fame, Fox has taken what some might consider cause for depression and turned it into a beacon of hope for millions. Now, in Always Looking Up , he writes about the personal philosophy that carried him through his darkest hours, and speaks with others who have emerged from difficult periods with optimism to spare. With the humour and wit that dazzled fans and reviewers alike in his bestselling memoir, Lucky Man, Fox shows how he became a happier, more satisfied person by recognizing the gifts of everyday life.
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Carbon Shift by Thomas Homer-DixonThe Day We Lost the H-Bomb by Barbara Moran
Carbon Shift The twin crises of climate change and peaking oil production are converging on us. If they are not to cook the planet and topple our civilization, we will need informed and decisive policies, clear-sighted innovation, and a lucid understanding of what is at stake. We will need to know where we stand, and which direction we should start out in. Thomas Homer-Dixon, author of The Ingenuity Gap and The Upside of Down, argues that the two problems are really one--a carbon problem--which we have to tackle with one innovative solution: clean, low-carbon energy. Carbon Shift brings together six of Canada's world-class experts to explore the question of where we stand now, and where we might be headed. Densely packed with information, but accessible and timely, Carbon Shift will make an indispensable handbook to the difficult choices that lie ahead. The Day We Lost the H-Bomb In 1966, a mid-air collision off the coast of Spain between a fueling tanker and a B2 bomber resulted in loss of life, strained international relations, and a PR nightmare for the U.S. government. Not only had the crash put innocent civilians at risk from raining debris, but it also produced a much larger problem once the dust had cleared: four hydrogen bombs were now unaccounted for. The Day We Lost the H-Bomb explores an awakening to the realities of a nuclear age. Despite a handful of plutonium-grade foul-ups on American soil, the population was seemingly at ease with a burgeoning arsenal of nuclear weaponry. Cold War anxiety over the ever-reaching arm of Communism fueled massive increases in U.S. military spending, yet not enough attention was given to the dangers of an arms race until this fatal accident.
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The Song Is You by Arthur PhillipsVanished Smile by R.A. Scotti
The Song Is You A not-quite-young-anymore man, his relationship trouble, and his iPod: at first glance Arthur Phillips's The Song Is You sounds like strictly Nick Hornby territory, but it turns out to be a lot closer to The Red Shoes, a story of love and art in which the two are confused and jealously compete. And as in The Red Shoes, but so rarely in other works of art, it's the art-making that carries the most power and mystery. Julian Donahue is a "creative": a skilled director of commercials who has come to know his limits. Cait O'Dwyer is a singer, and a bit of a comet that Julian somehow catches the tail of. Their courtship--as Julian evades a marriage split by an unbearable loss and Cait shoots single-mindedly toward stardom--is an intricately constructed pas de deux that is both surprising and convincing throughout. It's Phillips's first novel set in the present since Prague, and in its artful structure, style, and heart it's a match for that smart and charming debut. Vanished Smile In 1911, Leonardo's da Vinci's Mona Lisa was stolen off its hooks from the Louvre, remaining missing for over two years. Who took the most famous painting in the world? Was it Pablo Picasso, the upstart Spaniard--and modern counterpoint to the Italian master--in a fit of nationalistic pride, or the avant-garde poet Guillaume Apollinaire as an act of artistic revolution? R.A. Scotti's Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa investigates this largely forgotten caper, and along the way we're treated to a tour of turn-of-the-century Paris, the birth of modern forensics, and a biography of the enigmatic painting itself. To this day the mysterious theft of the painting the French call La Joconde remains unsolved--only Mona Lisa knows, and she's not talking.
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Seven on the Side

WildlivesOur longlist of April favourites includes a new translation of Monique Proulx's powerful, gently surreal Wildlives, nominated for the GG Award for French Fiction. Forced to interact through loneliness and proximity, a loose community of misfits on the fringes of a small Laurentian town learns each others' secrets, with stunning consequences.

More notable releases:

The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt
Not Yet by Wayson Choy
Coal Black Heart by John Demont
Filthy Lucre by Joseph Heath
Grizzlyville by Jake MacDonald
Six Months in Sudan by James Maskalyk



Best Paperbacks of April

A Wolf at the TableMany of the books we loved in hardcover are new in paperback this month, including A Wolf at the Table, Augusten Burroughs's harrowing and remarkably tender memoir of a childhood spent in thrall to a predatory, deeply unpredictable father. More of this month's best paperbacks:

Love the One You're With by Emily Giffin
Asylum by André Alexis
The Physics of the Impossible by Michio Kaku
Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
Who's Your City? by Richard Florida
The Man Who Loved China by Simon Winchester
See more new and upcoming paperbacks



April Picks for Kids and Teens


How Robin Saved Spring by Debbie Ouellet

How Robin Saved Spring If Lady Winter has her way, Sister Spring will slumber forever and the winter will never end. Through beautiful words and pictures, this enchanting tale about the battle of the seasons highlights one special bird who saves much more than just the day.

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Toby Alone by Timothee de Fombelle

Meet Toby Lolness, a boy who stands smaller than the tip of a pencil. In this thrilling eco-allegory, Toby is in the race of his life to rescue himself, his family, and his home from imminent destruction. It's a fast-paced adventure of unusual proportions and unexpected perspectives.

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Wake by Robert J. Sawyer

Wake Caitlin Decter is young, pretty, feisty, a genius at math--and blind. When she undergoes an experimental procedure to regain her sight, the results are unexpected: the landscape of the world wide web explodes into her consciousness, a dimension she can explore. But then she discovers some "other" lurking in the background, and it's getting smarter....

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