Friday, August 1, 2014

The Old Blue Line - J.A. Jance

J.A. Jance writes a number of series, but my favourite is Sheriff Joanna Brady.

The Old Blue Line has been marketed as 15.5 in the series, as it is a novella. (The newest novel, Remains of Innocence has just released.)

The Old Blue Line is actually Joanna's husband, Butch Dixon's story. Jance takes us back to the days before Butch met Joanna.

Butch lost everything to his ex-wife seven years ago. He's made a new life for himself and no runs the Roadhouse Bar and Grill. But when the ex-wife is found murdered, Butch is the prime suspect. Even in death, Faith is out to get him. But Butch has friends - namely The Old Blue Line gang - retired cops and lawyers that are determined to clear Butch's name.

Butch has always been a great supporting player in the Brady books, but we really don't know too much about his background. This little novella is told completely in Butch's voice. ( Joanna only makes an appearance in the last few pages.) The mystery in this case is short and sweet, as is the book, but it's still enjoyable. It was more about getting to know Butch better. Although, I'd like to see more of The Old Blue Line gang in future books.

I actually chose to listen to The Old Blue Line. The reader was James Eckhouse.  Eckhouse's voice is pleasant and easy to listen to, with clear diction. He's an expressive reader, using his voice to good effect. Eckhouse works as an actor and is good 'performer' in audio format as well. Listen to an excerpt of The Old Blue Line.

You can keep up with J.A. Jance on Facebook and on Twitter.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Over the Counter #223

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Big heavy books with lots of pictures this week!

First up was Hollywood Costume edited by Deborah Nadoolman Landis.

From the publisher, Harry Abrams:

"Featuring the most beloved costume designs from the past 100 years of Hollywood films, Hollywood Costume celebrates, for the very first time, the costume designer’s contribution to the telling of the cinematic story. Published in conjunction with an exhibition launched at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London that the New York Times called “extraordinary,” the book showcases the talents of renowned designers such as Adrian, Edith Head, and Sandy Powell, among many others, whose work spans the silent era to the Golden Age of Hollywood to the present day. Essays by a wide variety of leading scholars, archivists, and private collectors, as well as contributions by contemporary costume designers, actors, and directors, take a close look at the conventions of what is considered “costume” and the role of the designer in creating a film’s characters and helping to shape its narrative. With memorable wardrobe classics from The Tramp, Ben-Hur, Cleopatra, The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, Pirates of the Caribbean, Ocean’s Eleven, Sherlock Holmes, Avatar, and many more, Hollywood Costume is the ultimate volume for fashionistas and film lovers alike."

Next up was Terra Maxima: The Records of Humankind edited by Wolfgang Kunth.

From the publisher, Firefly Books:

"The greatest achievements of humankind in one stunning volume. From the most widely used languages and scripts, to the great religious communities, to the giant structures and the technological successes of the modern age -- this volume offers a fascinating overview of the records and achievements of civilization in their entirety and diversity. 
More than 3000 color photographs taken by top photographers around the world celebrate the cultural and technological touchstones of human history. Ranking lists provide at-a-glance overviews while descriptive captions give substantial information on a number of topics. Concise text tells of the economic developments and population growth in our megacities, the pioneering work done in science and technology, and the remarkable innovations in the construction of museums, theaters, libraries and sports venues, among many other human achievements.

The book is set out in ten chapters, each covering dozens of topics laid out in double-page spreads filled with brilliant photographs of structures and technology. Fascinating browsing, essential reference, and a tremendous documentation of contemporary achievement, Terra Maxima is a unique compilation of the ultimate."

(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!)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Death Factory - Greg Iles

You may remember me raving about Greg Iles' new book Natchez Burning - the first in a planned trilogy. (my review)

I only discovered after reading the book that Iles had penned an 'in-between' Penn Cage novella called The Death Factory that is set just before the beginning of Natchez Burning.

Before returning to Natchez, Penn worked in a DA's office that became known as The Death Factory - that office sent more people to death row than any other. But when an evidence tech still working there becomes concerned that sloppy evidence handling has put an innocent man behind bars, it is Penn he turns to - not his current employer.

For those that haven't yet read Natchez Burning, this is a great 'opening' chapter for that book, setting the scene in so many ways. We learn of  Tom Cage's illness, and wonder what it is he wanted to tell Penn, see more of Penn's brother Jack and get the full story of  Penn's wife's illness and death. And for those new to this series (!!) it's a great introduction to this fantastic character and series. And, there's a great case to boot! Iles's stories are simply a joy to read or listen to. The Death Factory will only whet your appetite for the main course - Natchez Burning.

However, that being said, I listened to The Death Factory after reading Natchez Burning, and still hugely enjoyed it. More like dessert for me.

As I said, I did choose to listen. The reader is David LeDoux. He has a great voice with a lovely gravely undertone that just resonates. His southern accent is not overdone or affected, but is understated and just right.  Listen to an excerpt of The Death Factory.

You can keep up with Greg Iles on Facebook and on Twitter.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Goodnight June - Sarah Jio

Following on the heels of yesterday's post, today's entry is another book about books and bookstores. Sarah Jio's latest is Goodnight June. Close to the title of that classic children's book Goodnight Moon, right? Well, Jio actually imagines what the origins of Goodnight Moon  might have been in this cosy read.

Jio's books often tie the present and past together in a back and forth narrative. Goodnight June follows this formula as well. June is a high powered banker who is in overdrive every day. When her beloved Aunt Ruby dies, she leaves June Bluebird Books, the children's bookstore she started in 1940. June takes a few days off to settle the estate. But that timeframe stretches to a few weeks as she begins to discover things about her aunt's past that she didn't know. Specifically, that she was great friends with Margaret Wise Brown - the author of Goodnight Moon. The two women's lives are slowly revealed through a set of letters, as well as a mystery. The cute owner of the cafĂ© beside the store is also an incentive to stay.

Jio has again crafted an easily read, enjoyable novel. Her imagining of the connections between Wise and her aunt is imaginative. As with all of Jio's books, there is a light mystery, some heartbreak, some romance and an ending that will please readers. There are a few plot devices that are overly fortuitous, but I was reading for that happy ending, so I didn't let them bother me.  I find Jio's books to be good, light reading for the plane or the beach. If you've read other Jio books, then you will enjoy this latest.

Love found, love lost, and a love of books all figure into the plot of Goodnight June. Read an excerpt of Goodnight June. You can keep up with Sarah Jio on Facebook and on Twitter. Jio's next book, The Look of Love releases in November of this year.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry - Gabrielle Zevin

I absolutely adored Gabrielle Zevin's latest novel, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry! Although murder and mayhem is my favourite genre to read, I need to read a feel good story every so often. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is a five star feel good!

A.J. is the curmudgeonly owner of Island Books. The sign above the door also includes: "No man is an island: every book is a world."

A.J. has made himself into an island though. His wife has died and so has a part of A.J. He doesn't like people and he drinks too much. A valuable book that was to have funded his retirement has been stolen - and it wasn't insured. What does life have left to offer A.J.? What does A.J. have left to offer to the world? Not much it seems, until the day a unusual 'package' is left in the bookstore.....And so begins a new chapter of life for A.J. Fikry....

Now, I have no desire to spoil this book for potential readers, so suffice to say, there is romance, heartbreak, heartwarming, drama, humour and much, much more contained within the pages of A.J.'s life. I was completely caught up in Zevin's wonderful story and spent most of one Sunday on Alice Island.

Zevin has created such a wonderful cast of characters, each with a unique voice and their own story. A.J.'s wry comments and gruff attitude belie a gentle, caring soul. There is a wonderful cast of supporting characters as well. Best supporting goes to Police Chief Lambiese whose slow, easy manner hides an astute mind.  I would love to attend the Chief's Choice book club. (with a focus on crime writers)

The literary references, the bookseller and publisher rep comments and the descriptions of the bookstore will fill any booklover or bookseller with delight. I wanted to live in the little apartment above Island Books and hang out in the store below. Definitely a recommended read, guaranteed to warm the heart and soul. Read an excerpt of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry. 

I had a quick listen to the audiobook version as well. Scott Brick (one of my favourites) is the reader and I thought his interpretation was spot on. Listen to an excerpt of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry.

You can keep up with Gabrielle Zevin on Twitter and on Facebook.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Winner - Good Morning, Mr. Mandela

And the lucky winner of a copy of Good Morning, Mr. Mandela: A Memoir by Zelda la Grange, courtesy of Viking Books is:

KAS

Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing address. Please respond within 48 hours. After that time, a new winner will be chosen. Keep your eye on the sidebar for other great giveaways.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #14

- You Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover - Which is very true.
But you can like one cover version better than another...

US/Canadian cover
UK cover
I was hunting down cover art for Tim Weaver's latest book - Never Coming Back - and came across the US/Canadian on the left and the UK cover on the right. I prefer the North American cover this time. I like the photo used on the US cover and would want to read the flyleaf. The UK cover does grab your eye with the red type. And the tagline on the cover lets you quickly have an idea of what the novel is about and that it's part of a series. UK for me this week. Either way, it's a good read! Which cover do you prefer? Have you read Never Coming Back?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular Saturday feature on A Bookworm's World