Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Couple Next Door - Shari Lapena

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena has just released.  And for those of you who love psychological twisty tales like me, you're going to want to pick this one up.

Yes, you've seen those stories in the newspaper. A couple who slip out for just a bit, leaving their sleeping child in the house or room. Close by of course....

That's what Marco and Anne do. They go next door for dinner with their neighbours. They even take the baby monitor with them. And run back to their own home every 1/2 hour to check on little Cora. It will be fine......right? Yep, you've got it - Cora goes missing.

As the search for Cora mounts and the investigation progresses, so do the lies, omissions and secrets. Every character in the book has something to hide. Lapena carefully doles out those secrets, adding a change to the direction of the plot - and to the reader's suspicions with every new revelation.

I had my suspicions - and they did indeed change with every new exposed secret. As the book drew close to the final chapters, I was pretty sure I had it figured out - and I was right. But that in no way detracted from my frantic page turning. I really could not put the book down! And then Lapena hit me with one last gotcha on the final page. Well done Ms. Lapena!

Lapena's previous two books have been of the literary bent. This is a new direction for Lapena - and I really hope to see another in this genre from her. Read an excerpt of The Couple Next Door. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Giveaway - Disney's The Jungle Book on Blu-ray and DVD!

The Jungle Book was one of my favourite storybooks as a child. It's hard to believe it was published in 1893! Walt Disney produced an animated film of The Jungle Book in 1967.

And now, in 2016, Jon Favreau has reimagined that classic with stunning live-action in Disney's The Jungle Book!  The Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere releases on August 23, and the Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and On-Demand on August 30.

And, I have a Blu-ray Combo pack to giveaway to one lucky reader, courtesy of Disney Home Entertainment!!

For those who haven't read the stories  here's a quick synopsis of the movie: "In an epic adventure, Mowgli, a man-cub raised in the jungle by a family of wolves, is forced to abandon his home when fearsome tiger Shere Khan promises to eliminate him. Guided by stern Bagheera and free-spirited Baloo, Mowgli embarks on a captivating journey of self-discovery."

The all-star cast includes Bill Murray (“Lost in Translation”) as the voice of Baloo, Sir Ben Kingsley (“Learning to Drive,” “The Walk”) as Bagheera and Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years a Slave,” “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”) as the voice of mother wolf Raksha. Scarlett Johansson (“Avengers: Age of Ultron”) gives life to Kaa, Giancarlo Esposito (“Breaking Bad”) provides the voice of alpha-male wolf Akela, Idris Elba (“Beast of No Nation”) roars as the voice of Shere Khan, and Christopher Walken (“The Deer Hunter”) lends his iconic voice to King Louie.

Bonus features include ⦁ “The Jungle Book” Reimagined ⦁ I Am Mowgli ⦁ King Louie’s Temple: Layer by Layer ⦁ Audio Commentary. Feature Run Time: Approximately 106 minutes Rating: PG in U.S. and Canada.

Like The Jungle Book on Facebook, follow The Jungle Book on Twitter and connect with The Jungle Book on Instagram.

And if you'd like to own a copy of The Jungle Book, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only. Ends September 10/2016.

Back to School with DK Canada - My First Encyclopedia

Labour Day weekend is around the corner - and you know what that means - so is school! DK Canada has a great selection of children's reference books - perfect for homework help or just exploring!

Little guy isn't quite ready for school, but he loves to look and learn. My First Encyclopedia is perfect for him. It's targeted for the pre-school crowd and those just starting school.

Little guy loves to look at pictures and DK books always have great colour visuals. My First Encyclopedia contains both actual photos and detailed drawings.

So first reading, we looked at pictures he recognized and pointed to and repeated the words for them. Gramma would read some of the facts associated with the entry aloud. We skipped through many pages and sections as he got a feel for the book.

Second and subsequent readings were not as frantic - he knew what the book was like. Basic life info about food, clothing, jobs, going to the dentist/doctor, pets, gardening and more are all part of this first encyclopedia. When reading the section on houses and homes, we had to travel to the different rooms in his house as we looked at them in the book. The book then travels farther afield, exploring science, the living planet , transportation and more. Little guy regularly visits the zoo in his home town and loved seeing pictures of animals that he recognized - camels, lions and zebras.

There's lots of room to grow with My First Encyclopedia - from looking at pictures, taking in the information read to him, pointing out what grabs his attention, to looking at the book alone - and eventually reading by himself. The language used is clear and tailored to young ones.

The layout is clean - with lots of space around each entry, ensuring it isn't overwhelming. Reading a reference book is a different experience than story books.

My First Encyclopedia gets a thumbs up from Gramma and little guy.

Friday, August 26, 2016

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #120

- 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
Canadian cover
Peter Robinson writes one of my favourite series - Inspector Banks. His newest novel, When The Music's Over is the 23rd in the series. The US cover is on the right and the Canadian cover is on the right. Same type of images - ferris wheel, boardwalk and water used on both covers. The nighttime image on the US cover is quite striking and definitely captures my attention. The Canadian cover almost looks like a photo that has gotten wet. Different fonts. I'm not a fan of splitting up the title and changing it's font size on the Canadian cover. So, US cover for me this week. Any plans to read When the Music's Over? Which cover do you prefer? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Giveaway - A Gentleman in Moscow - Amor Towles

Amor Towles' debut novel, Rules of Civility. was one of 2011’s 'biggest breakout literary bestsellers.'

His second novel, A Gentleman in Moscow, releases September 6/16 and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

From the publisher:

"A big novel that embodies the grandiloquent style and spirit of Russia’s Golden Age of literature, A Gentleman in Moscow is a captivating story of personal and emotional discovery that spans more than three decades and takes place almost entirely within the walls of a single building. In 1922, having been deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, Count Alexander Rostov is ordered to spend the rest of his life under house arrest inside the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. An indomitable man of elegance, erudition, and wit, the Count has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in a cramped attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Though stripped of most of his personal possessions and his social standing, the Count remains determined to preserve his dignity and passion for life. As his days are propelled in profound and unanticipated directions, his relationships with the Metropole staff and its guests unlock the doors to larger worlds within the hotel and ultimately himself.

Brimming with humor and wit, an unforgettable cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this remarkable novel casts a spell as it relates the Count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose." Read an excerpt of A Gentleman in Moscow.

Cr: David Jacobs
"Amor Towles was born and raised just outside Boston, Massachusetts. He graduated from Yale University and received an MA in English from Stanford University. For many years a principal at an investment firm in Manhattan, he now devotes himself full time to writing. His first novel, Rules of Civility, published in 2011, was a New York Times bestseller in both hardcover and paperback. Towles lives in Manhattan with his wife and two children." You can connect with Amor Towles on his website, follow him on Twitter and find him on Facebook.

And thanks to Viking Books, I have a copy to giveaway. Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Open to US only. Ends Sept 10/16.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Over the Counter #329

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Going to the dogs this week.......

First up is Tails From the Booth by Lynn Terry.

From the publisher, Gallery Books:

"Furry friends meet photo booths in this quirky photography book that captures all the cute canine action when the leashes come off and the dogs are the star of the show.

If dogs could take selfies, it might look something like Tails from the Booth. For this adorable collection of photographs, Lynn Terry draws on more than twenty years of professional photography experience to capture the most endearing moments between canine companions: A couple of pitbulls grinning widely at the camera. Two saggy-faced bulldogs bumping jowls. A Pomeranian, an English bulldog, and a Boston terrier dog-piling (of course) on top of each other. These pictures show the countless ways dogs will ham it up in front of a camera, and that more dogs in a photo booth = even more fun!

With all the charm of Underwater Dogs and Shake, Tails from the Booth will make you laugh out loud at all the awkward and endearing ways dogs make friends with each other."

Next up is The Underdogs by Melissa Fay Greene.

From the publisher, Ecco Books:

"From two-time National Book Award nominee Melissa Fay Greene comes a profound and surprising account of dogs on the front lines of rescuing both children and adults from the trenches of grief, emotional, physical, and cognitive disability, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Underdogs tells the story of Karen Shirk, felled at age twenty-four by a neuromuscular disease and facing life as a ventilator-dependent, immobile patient, who was turned down by every service dog agency in the country because she was “too disabled.” Her nurse encouraged her to tone down the suicidal thoughts, find a puppy, and raise her own service dog. Karen did this, and Ben, a German shepherd, dragged her back into life. “How many people are stranded like I was,” she wondered, “who would lead productive lives if only they had a dog?”

A thousand state-of-the-art dogs later, Karen Shirk’s service dog academy, 4 Paws for Ability, is restoring broken children and their families to life. Long shunned by scientists as a man made, synthetic species, and oft- referred to as “Man’s Best Friend” almost patronizingly, dogs are finally paid respectful attention by a new generation of neuroscientists and animal behaviorists. Melissa Fay Greene weaves the latest scientific discoveries about our co-evolution with dogs with Karen’s story and a few exquisitely rendered stories of suffering children and their heartbroken families.

Written with characteristic insight, humanity, humor, and irrepressible joy, what could have been merely touching is a penetrating, compassionate exploration of larger questions: about our attachment to dogs, what constitutes a productive life, and what can be accomplished with unconditional love."

(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 my 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, August 23, 2016

The Hating Game - Sally Thorne

The Hating Game is Sally Thorne's debut novel.

Two very different publishing house merge, creating a new company with two CEO's - and two very different assistants to the CEOs, who now must share a workspace. They dislike (or should I say hate) each other intensely. But is that antagonism covering up Lucy and Josh's.......attraction?

Lucy was a great lead character - quirky, cute and determined. Josh, of course, is the strong, handsome, unreadable antithesis of her.

I thought the premise of The Hating Game was good - perfect fodder for a chick lit novel. And Thorne hits all the notes needed for this genre: the yes/no/maybe so, push and pull, crossed signals, missed signals, a quirky 'heroine', romantic basis, workplace foibles, all told in a humourous, lighthearted manner with the final resolution never being in doubt.

Summer is the perfect time for fun, frivolous, fluffy reads such as The Hating Game. I enjoyed the book 'til about 2/3 of the way through. Much has gone on before when Lucy has an epiphany. And then I started skimming to what I knew would be resolution in the last few chapters. The push and pull had become repetitive and a bit unbelievable for me.

"A miracle has occurred, and I don't know when, but I know it know. Joshua Templeman does not hate me. Not a bit. There's no way he could when he kisses me like this."

Well, given what has gone on for the first 205 pages, I'm not sure why this comes as a surprise. (Yes, sometimes it's hard to put my pragmatic nature on hold.)

Thorne states that she 'believes that romance readers are always searching for intensity in their next favorite book." This belief is probably why I thought that Thorne used more sexual references and scenes in The Hating Game than other light hearted chick lit books. And again, I enjoyed it in the beginning, but found them getting repetitive. And truth be told, I found Lucy's romantic sexual neediness somewhat, well, off-putting.

The Hating Game filled a day's reading on the beach, but wasn't a stand out for me. Read an excerpt of The Hating Game.

Cr: Katie Saarikko
"Sally Thorne lives in Canberra, Australia and spends her days writing funding submissions and drafting contracts (yawn!) so it’s not surprising that after hours she climbs into colorful fictional worlds of her own creation. Sally believes that romance readers are always searching for intensity in their next favorite book—and it isn’t always so easy to find. The Hating Game is her first novel." You can connect with Sally Thorne on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

I may be in the minority on this one. See what others on the TLC book tour thought - full schedule can be found here.

Friday, August 19, 2016

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #119

- 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
Thriller alert! I've got Helen Callaghan's novel Dear Amy on my TBR list. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. As much as I dislike real faces on covers, the photo on the US cover is quite arresting. You might be more likely to pick it up instead of the UK version. But the UK cover better illustrates the premise behind the book. We've got Please help me vs. Please find me for taglines. I'm torn this week (somewhat like the US cover) but in the end, I think I prefer the UK cover. Any plans to read Dear Amy? Which cover do you prefer? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.