Friday, January 18, 2019

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #246

- 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
I really enjoy Peter Swanson's suspense novels. His latest, Before She Knew Him, releases in March on on both sides of the pond. And it looks so good! The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. So, yes, woman on the cover on both. One with a face and one silhouette. Both looking at something. Basically the same colour tones used in each. I like the offset of the title on the US cover with she and him somewhat isolated.The US is the one with a tag line this time - "Catching a killer is dangerous - especially if he lives next door." There's a nice blurb from Alafair Burke on the UK cover. Both would have me taking a second look. Going with my first impression, I would pick the US cover this week. What about you? Any plans to read Before She Knew Him? 
Which cover do you prefer?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

She Lies in Wait - Gytha Lodge

She Lies in Wait is Gytha Lodge's latest novel. And it introduces us to new series featuring Detective Chief Inspector Jonah Sheens.

I was drawn to the premise of She Lies in Wait. (I also really like the cover!)

1983. A group of teenagers are partying in the woods. Drugs, drink and sex. When morning comes? One of them - Aurora - is missing. And she's not found...for thirty years.

DCI Sheens is assigned the case. He too grew up in the same small town and knows all the players. The six teens have stayed in touch with each other. The discovery of Aurora's body brings them home. Could one of them have information as to who the killer might be? Is it one of them? Has someone lied all these years?

Lodge gives the reader glimpses into the past in a series of flashbacks to that fateful night. It's quite sad, but is quite believable.

None of the remaining six are likeable. I couldn't connect with any of them, including DCI Sheens. He too has secrets. Leads with questionable pasts and methods make for interesting reading, but Sheens' deliberate withholding of information left a sour taste in my mouth. The characters I did quite like were the supporting cast at the police station.

I liked the idea of trying to suss out who amongst the group might be the killer. Lodge throws in some additional choices beside the group of six. Initially I was quite drawn into the interview, keeping mental track of who claimed what. But midway, I found my interest flagging. Lodge does explore the relationships between the six, but I found I couldn't pretend interest in characters I was quickly coming to despise. The ensuing interviews became repetitive. I put the book down for a few days, then came back and finished up. The whodunit ending up being who I thought, the why for additional deaths was too far fetched and I felt no sense of satisfaction with turning the final pages.

Lodge is a good writer, but this plot and lead character were just okay for me. Here's an excerpt of She Lies in Wait.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Over the Counter #463

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? I've eaten a lot of Jell-O salads in my day......

The Jell-O Girls: A Family History by Allie Rowbottom.

From Little, Brown and Company:

"A “gorgeous” (New York Times) memoir that braids the evolution of one of America’s most iconic branding campaigns with the stirring tales of the women who lived behind its facade – told by the inheritor of their stories.

In 1899, Allie Rowbottom’s great-great-great-uncle bought the patent to Jell-O from its inventor for $450. The sale would turn out to be one of the most profitable business deals in American history, and the generations that followed enjoyed immense privilege – but they were also haunted by suicides, cancer, alcoholism, and mysterious ailments.

More than 100 years after that deal was struck, Allie’s mother Mary was diagnosed with the same incurable cancer, a disease that had also claimed her own mother’s life. Determined to combat what she had come to consider the “Jell-O curse” and her looming mortality, Mary began obsessively researching her family’s past, determined to understand the origins of her illness and the impact on her life of Jell-O and the traditional American values the company championed. Before she died in 2015, Mary began to send Allie boxes of her research and notes, in the hope that her daughter might write what she could not. Jell-O Girls is the liberation of that story.

A gripping examination of the dark side of an iconic American product and a moving portrait of the women who lived in the shadow of its fractured fortune, Jell-O Girls is a family history, a feminist history, and a story of motherhood, love and loss. In crystalline prose Rowbottom considers the roots of trauma not only in her own family, but in the American psyche as well, ultimately weaving a story that is deeply personal, as well as deeply connected to the collective female experience."

(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, January 15, 2019

The Accidental Beauty Queen - Teri Wilson

I was looking to take a break from my usual murder and mayhem and listen to something light, fluffy and fun. Teri Wilson's newest novel, The Accidental Beauty Queen, was the perfect fit.

Charlotte loves her job - she's an elementary school librarian. Her identical twin Ginny has made beauty pageants her life's work so far. She's desperate to win the one elusive crown she's never been able to claim - Miss American Treasure. This is the last year for a chance before she ages out. When she suffers an allergic reaction to a face mask, she refuses to opt out. Instead......yup, you guessed it.....she asks her identical twin Charlotte to step in until she can participate. Which Charlotte reluctantly does.....

I really liked Charlotte as a lead character. (And not just because she loves books and all things Harry Potter!) She's warm, funny and personable. I enjoyed her inner dialogue as she attempts to navigate the world of pageants - and more. The relationship with her sister, her family - and that judge on the panel. (And I laughed when I read the name of that judge - Grey Beckham - conjure up any mental images?) But most importantly - Charlotte herself.

The Accidental Beauty Queen was fun for me. I always enjoy the yes/no/maybe so of a rom-com read. I enjoyed Wilson's spin on this and the unique setting. Not being familiar with pageants, I was surprised that the upper age limit for participation does indeed include those in their late twenties.

Joy Osmanski (a perennial favourite of mine) was the reader. It's hard to explain, but her voice is fun and lively. Her reading is very expressive and she absolutely captures the tone of the book. Her voice matched the mental image I had created for Charlotte. It's clear, easy to understand, well enunciated and pleasant to listen to. Hear for yourself - listen to an excerpt of The Accidental Beauty Queen.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Giveaway - Everything Here is Beautiful - Mira T. Lee

The new paperback edition of Mira T. Lee's highly praised debut novel - Everything Here is Beautiful - releases January 15/19 - and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

What's it about? From Penguin Books:

"A dazzling novel of two sisters and their emotional journey through love, loyalty, and heartbreak.

Two Chinese-American sisters - Miranda, the older, responsible one, always her younger sister’s protector; Lucia, the headstrong, unpredictable one, whose impulses are huge and, often, life changing. When Lucia starts hearing voices, it is Miranda who must find a way to reach her sister. Lucia impetuously plows ahead, but the bitter constant is that she is, in fact, mentally ill. Lucia lives life on a grand scale, until, inevitably, she crashes to earth.

Miranda leaves her own self-contained life in Switzerland to rescue her sister again - but only Lucia can decide whether she wants to be saved. The bonds of sisterly devotion stretch across oceans - but what does it take to break them?

Everything Here Is Beautiful is, at its heart, an immigrant story, and a young woman’s quest to find fulfillment and a life unconstrained by her illness. But it’s also an unforgettable, gut-wrenching story of the sacrifices we make to truly love someone - and when loyalty to one’s self must prevail over all." Read an excerpt of Everything Here is Beautiful. Book clubs - there's also a reading guide.

"Mira T. Lee’s work has been published in numerous quarterlies and reviews, including The Missouri Review, The Southern Review, Harvard Review, and Triquarterly. She was awarded an Artist’s Fellowship by the Massachusetts Cultural Council in 2012, and has twice received special mention for the Pushcart Prize. She is a graduate of Stanford University, and currently lives with her husband and two children in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This is her debut novel." You can connect with Mira T. Lee on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

And if you'd like to read Everything Here is Beautiful, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only, ends January 26/19.

Friday, January 11, 2019

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #245

- 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
Anthony Horowitz is such a talented, clever writer. I really
enjoyed the first book (The Word is Murder) that featured Detective Daniel Hawthorne. Horowitz has written himself in as a character in the books. The second book is The Sentence is Death. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Both covers follow the look of the first book's cover. Red is prominent in both, as befits a murder mystery. But, I find myself more drawn to the simplicity of the US cover. It is less busy, but more effective. I like that drip from the paintbrush. So, an easy choice for me this week - US. Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read The Sentence is Death?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Mansion - Ezekiel Boone

Ezekiel Boone gave me the heebie jeebies with his Hatching trilogy. (Spiders, giant spiders....) He returns with a new creepy thiller called The Mansion. And it's really quite timely....

Shawn and Billy were programming partners as young men. They created Eagle Logic - a brilliant system. But Shawn walked away with all the money when Billy walked away with Emily - Shawn's girlfriend. Billy hasn't fared so well - he's a recovering alcoholic, he's in debt and he and Emily are arguing. When Shawn offers up the chance to resurrect one of their failed projects - and pay Billy handsomely - he takes the job. They'll work out of Shawn's isolated mansion. And the project? It's named Nellie. And Nellie is "a next-generation computer program that can control a house’s every function."

And I'm not giving away much when I say you can see the possibilities can't you? And the realities from current news stories of technology gone wrong.....

The main plot didn't really surprise me. Boone takes a bit of a long path to the actual scary stuff. The tale is fleshed out with lots of detail and back story. A bit too much in my opinion. I wanted to get to the good stuff with Nellie. I think if I had read a physical copy, I might have been skim reading some of those passages.

But....I chose to listen to The Mansion and I quite enjoyed the audio version. In great part to the narrator. George Newbern is a perennial favorite reader of mine. He has the most expressive voice and brings an author's work to life with his inflections, timber and tone. His voice is clear, easy to understand and pleasant to listen to. He changes things up for each character and it is easy to know who is speaking. Another five star performance for Newbern. Listen to an excerpt of The Mansion.