Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Over the Counter #445

What book caught my eye this week? (Not over the counter and under the scanner though!) The picture and colour of this cover would have me picking it up to look inside....

Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby.

From Knopf Doubleday:

"From Samantha Irby--beloved author of New York Times bestseller We Are Never Meeting in Real Life--a rip-roaring, edgy and unabashedly raunchy new collection of hilarious essays.

Irby is forty, and increasingly uncomfortable in her own skin despite what Inspirational Instagram Infographics have promised her. She has left her job as a receptionist at a veterinary clinic, has published successful books and has been friendzoned by Hollywood, left Chicago, and moved into a house with a garden that requires repairs and know-how with her wife in a Blue town in the middle of a Red state where she now hosts book clubs and makes mason jar salads. This is the bourgeois life of a Hallmark Channel dream. She goes on bad dates with new friends, spends weeks in Los Angeles taking meetings with "tv executives slash amateur astrologers" while being a "cheese fry-eating slightly damp Midwest person," "with neck pain and no cartilage in [her] knees," who still hides past due bills under her pillow.

The essays in this collection draw on the raw, hilarious particulars of Irby's new life. Wow, No Thank You is Irby at her most unflinching, riotous, and relatable."

(Over the Counter is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. I've sadly come the realization that I cannot physically read every book that catches my interest as it crosses over the counter at the library. But...I can mention them and maybe one of them will catch your eye as well. See if your local library has them on their shelves!)

Monday, April 6, 2020

In Five Years - Rebecca Serle

Rebecca Serle's latest book, In Five Years, is already a New York Times Bestseller and is a Good Morning America Book Club pick.

Lawyer Dannie Cohan interviews with a prestigious firm and knows she nailed the last question - where will you be in five years? She goes out to celebrate with boyfriend David and he pops the question. She happily goes to sleep that night, knowing that her five year plan is right on track. But when she wakes up, it's in a strange apartment with a strange man, a different engagement ring on her finger. And the date? Five years in the future. Aaron seems to know her....is she dreaming? When she goes to sleep again, she wakes up with David in the 'right' time.

Oh, lots of places this one could go! And I really liked where Serle took it.

In Five Years is told from Dannie's viewpoint, so we get to know her pretty well. But we get to know her best friend Bella just as well. Serle has created a wonderful friendship between the two women. I have to admit, it was Bella who stole my heart. She's the opposite of Dannie, definitely not a type A. But. Yes, there's a but. Fate, karma, the universe steps into their lives and changes things. And suddenly all of Dannie's carefully laid plans mean nothing. And that mystery man from five years hence? He appears again...and that's all I'm saying! (Note - you may need a few tissues - I did.)

I chose to listen to In Five Years. The reader was Megan Hilty and she was great. The voice for Dannie suited the mental image I had created - a little uptight, exacting, but emotive. Bella's voice was a bit gravelly, quite engaging and suited the artistic nature of this character. I'm always in awe when I listen and realize that the conversation between two characters is being narrated by one person. Hilty also provided believable voices for two male characters. Hilty really interpreted the book well. Not gonna lie, there's a lot of emotions in this tale and Hilty captured them with her voice. Her voice is clear, easy to understand and is pleasant to listen to. Hear for yourself - here's an audio excerpt of In Five Years. I've always enjoyed listening to books, but even more so in these uncertain times. I love becoming immersed in the story and escaping for a wee bit.

I really appreciated Serle's writing. She has penned a wonderful tale of friendship, love, loss and living. She caught me off guard with the ending, but on reflection, it's just right.

If you like JoJo Moyes, you'd enjoy this book.

Friday, April 3, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #307

- You can't judge a book by its cover - which is very true.
 But you can like one cover version better than another...

US cover
UK cover
Woohoo! A new book by Karin Slaughter is on the way! The Silent Wife is the 10th book in the Will Trent series and is most definitely on my TBR list. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right.  The first time I looked at the UK cover, I thought the image was of a lake and some sort of barrier. (Yes, I need an eye checkup!) It is instead a braid with a red  ribbon. That red denotes danger. The title of the book is not as noticeable as it is on the US cover. And like most UK books, there's a cover blurb to catch your attention. Knowing from the UK cover that 'someone's watching you', that heart drawn on a window on the US cover seems very ominous, with the drip of condensation adding to that feeling. And the red underscores the danger. Title and author name are the same size on this cover. I'm going with the US cover this week. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read The Silent Wife?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Misconduct of the Heart - Cordelia Strube

I've been looking forward to Cordelia Strube's forthcoming book, Misconduct of the Heart. (releases April 21)  The premise had intrigued me....

"Stevie, a recovering alcoholic and kitchen manager of Chappy’s, a small chain restaurant, is frantically trying to prevent the people around her from going supernova: her PTSD-suffering veteran son, her uproariously demented parents, the polyglot eccentrics who work in her kitchen, the blind geriatric dog she inherits, and a damaged five-year-old who landed on her doorstep and might just be her granddaughter."

I picked it last week, sat in the sun and turned the first page....and was immediately hooked by the first few chapters. The introduction to Stevie et al is rough, raw and yes, powerful. Inside Chappy's you'll find the walking wounded, the marginalized, the forgotten and largely dysfunctional cast. And I wondered where in the world would Strube take this story from such a grab ya by the throat introduction?

But that was my initial gut response. As I kept reading, I found my perception changed - I cared about what happened to Stevie, her family and co-workers. I wanted more for them. My own emotions ran the gamut - anger, sadness, outrage (gotta love corporate - not) but also on the flip side hope, love and yes, humour.

One of the Chappy workers regals the others with animal kingdom facts. The facts given relate directly to what is happening in the book at that time - very clever. Stevie's inner dialogue and thoughts will make you stop and think. There is much wisdom to be found in her thoughts and dialogue. And I would challenge you to think about this character's observation...

"Olivia has this theory we go through life not really seeing what's around us or really knowing who's around us. And because we're shit-scared of what we don't know, we close our eyes to stuff."

When I first started to read the book, it was like a train wreck that I couldn't stop staring at. But by the end? Yeah, I wanted to know these people. They're so, so.... well, so real, so well depicted. Just people doing the best they can in the situation they're in - bad and good. Each player has a tale to tell and I was interested in each and every one. But Stevie? She was one of the best characters I've met in a long time.

And yes, there are some really heavy situations. Gentle readers - this is no holds barred read, certain situations may be triggers for some.

Strube is a very, very talented wordsmith with a sharp eye for the human condition. I absolutely loved this book. Hands down one of my faves for 2020.

PS - I really started wondering about the behind the scenes at the restaurant. Makes you wonder how much is truth - and how much of that is fiction.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Over the Counter #444

What book caught my eye this week? (Not over the counter and under the scanner though!) The title.....

Race Me in a Lobster Suit: Absurd Internet Ads and the Real Conversations that followed by Kelly Mahon.

From Quirk Books:

"his collection of prank Craigslist ads and the real email exchanges that followed is the perfect gift for fans of offbeat humor.

When New York City copywriter Kelly Mahon started posting fake gig ads online as a creative outlet, she was surprised to find that there was someone interested in every bizarre job offer she dreamed up. Race Me in a Lobster Suit collects Mahon’s funniest posts, along with the improvised email exchanges with would-be cocoon knitters and lobster racers. Some correspondents became suspicious, while others seemed willing to play along. The result is good-natured comedy gold and a kind of collaborative entertainment that could only exist in the internet gig economy. Irreverent illustrations by cartoonist Graham Annable (creator of the Harvey Award nominated Grickle comics) ensure that this small book offers outsize laughs. A quick, hilarious read, Race Me in a Lobster Suit is perfect for anyone who needs a bit of absurdity to brighten their day."

(Over the Counter is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. I've sadly come the realization that I cannot physically read every book that catches my interest as it crosses over the counter at the library. But...I can mention them and maybe one of them will catch your eye as well. See if your local library has them on their shelves!)

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Girls With Razor Hearts - Suzanne Young

I listened to the first book in Suzanne Young's YA series 'Girls With Sharp Sticks last year (my review). I quite enjoyed it and happily settled in with the newly released second book, Girls With Razor Hearts.

Mena and some of her friends discovered the truth about the  experiments and violence at their school, Innovations Academy, in the first book. They escaped and are now on the hunt for the Corporation, determined to take it down and free the girls still at the Academy. (Now, I am deliberately leaving out a few details in order to prevent spoilers.) They head to another school, hoping to make contact with an investor's child that reportedly attends this institution.

I had to shut down my default pragmatic thinking. I could see flaws in their plan (and had suggestions on alternates!) But without that flawed scheme we wouldn't have the plotlines that lead to ever increasingly dangerous places and people on the way to the final aha! So, my advice? Just go with it. And take note that the words futuristic and dystopian are good descriptors of this series.

I liked the cast of characters I met in the first book. And Mena is a great lead. You'll have no problem knowing who to dislike and suspect - although there are some that I'm not sure about. Are they working with or against the girls? The friendships between the girls are well depicted. And a blossoming romance is well done and well paced.

Gentle readers, there are some 'darker' matter in Girls With Razor Hearts. Some of it may be triggers for certain readers and listeners. I will say that the phrase..'but he's such a nice guy' was powerfully used.

GWRH does explore a number of  themes - bullying, sexism, classism, abuse and more. Perhaps a few too many more as I started feeling overwhelmed with the issues, feeling like they were taking precedence over the plot.

I did choose to listen to Girls With Razor Hearts. I was so very glad to see that Caitlin Davies was also narrating this second book. She did a great job with the first book and continuity is important with series. Her voice has created mental images of all the players. She uses a well enunciated, almost clipped, naive voice for Mena that is just right for the character and plot. Davies provides many different voices for the other players (including males) that make it easy to differentiate who is speaking. Her voice is clear and easy to understand. She uses her voice well, interpreting and presenting anger, fear, action and more. Hear for yourself - listen to an audio excerpt of Girls With Razor Hearts.

While the girls found some answers in this second entry, there are still more questions and more 'baddies' to chase down. We'll see what book three brings!

Monday, March 30, 2020

Giveaway - A Mother's Lie - Sarah Zettel

Maybe a giveaway would brighten up your day a wee bit? I hope so! I've got a copy of Sarah Zettel's new book, A Mother's Lie (releasing April 7/20) to giveaway to one lucky reader!

What it about? From Grand Central Publishing:

"A compulsive family drama about a mother's desperate search to reclaim her daughter from the horrors of her own past, perfect for fans of Then She Was Gone.

Beth Fraser finally has her life together. She's built a successful career in the tech sector, has a bright fifteen-year-old daughter, and she's completely erased all evidence of her troubled past. At least that's what she thought.

Dana Fraser always wondered why she's the only kid with two backup phones, emergency drills, and a non-negotiable check-in time every single day. When a stranger approaches her on the street claiming to be her grandmother, Dana starts to question what else her mother has been hiding.

Soon Beth's worst nightmare is coming true: Dana is in grave danger, and unless Beth is willing to pull one last con job for her parents, she may never see her daughter again." Read an excerpt of A Mother's Lie.

"Sarah Zettel is an award-winning author. She has written more than thirty novels and multiple short stories over the past twenty-five years, in addition to hiking, cooking, stitching all the things, marrying a rocket scientist, and raising a rapidly growing son."You can connect with Sarah on her website, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

And if you'd like to read A Mother's Lie, enter to win a coy using the Rafflecopter form below. OPen to US and Canada, no po boxes please. Ends April 11/20.