Sunday, April 20, 2014

Giveaway Winners!

And the winner of a copy of Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates's is:

Mystica!

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And the winner of a copy of The Accident by Chris Pavone is:

Daniel M!

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And last but not least, the winner of a copy of The Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley is:

Kirsten!

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Thanks to all who entered. Check the sidebar for other ongoing giveaways!

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Dying Hours - Mark Billingham

The Dying Hours is the eleventh book in Mark Billingham's Detective Inspector Tom Thorne series  - one of my favourite crime series.

The Dying Hours picks up right where the last book (The Demands) left off. Thorne closed the case, but not by the book. Over the last twenty five years, Thorne has bucked authority, ignored orders and operated by his own set of rules. But, it has finally caught up to him - he's been knocked back down into uniform and off his beloved Murder Squad.

Called to an apparent suicide, Thorne's radar 'tickles the back of his neck'. Something is 'off' and he asks the higher ups if it could be investigated further. His suspicions are brushed off, as is Thorne. More than brushing off really. There are many in the department who have it in for Thorne - and this demotion gives them every opportunity to put him in his place.

"The lecture about making choices, the gleefully sarcastic comments about what had happened in that newsagents five months before. The line that had stung more than anything else - Stop playing detective."

But we know Thorne is right - Dying Hours opens with a chilling prologue from the killer. A person with a list of names and a goal. As the book progresses, there are further chapters from this person. As a reader we know what they've done. And we're just hoping someone takes Thorne seriously.

The Dying Hours was an excellent crime novel on so many levels. Billingham's plotting is always inventive, dark and devious, designed to keep the reader wondering - and up late at night. The procedural details of the investigation always fascinate me.

But it is Thorne himself that makes this series such a standout. I'm always a sucker for 'buck the system' characters and Thorne is a prime example. But in this latest, he has to stop and ask himself some hard questions. What about his relationships? With his girlfriend and her son, with colleagues, with friends, with superiors? What is he willing to sacrifice in his pursuit for answers and justice? Who can he trust?

The Dying Hours kept me captive for an entire day when I was off sick. A riveting read is probably some of the best medicine one can ask for. Read an excerpt of The Dying Hours. The last line of the book did nothing but whet my appetite for number twelve - The Bones Beneath - due out in North America in June of this year. You can find Mark Billingham on Facebook.

Who else reads Mark Billingham? “Billingham is one of the most consistently entertaining, insightful crime writers working today.” — Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl"

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Over the Counter #208

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Hmm, must have been before break, I was thinking about fruit this week.

First up was Put 'em Up! by Sherri Brooks Vinton.

From Storey Publishing:

"A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook, from Drying and Freezing to Canning and Pickling
With simple step-by-step instructions and 175 delicious recipes, Put ‘em Up will have even the most timid beginners filling their pantries and freezers in no time! You’ll find complete how-to information for every kind of preserving: refrigerating, freezing, air- and oven-drying, cold- and hot-pack canning, and pickling. Recipes range from the contemporary and daring — Wasabi Beans, Cherry and Black Pepper Preserves, Pickled Fennel, Figs in Honey Syrup, Sweet Pepper Marmalade, Berry Bourbon, Salsa Verde — to the very best versions of tried-and-true favorites, including applesauce and apple butter, dried tomatoes, marinara sauce, bread and butter pickles, classic strawberry jam, and much, much more."

Next up was Dehydrating Food: A Beginner's Guide by Jay and Shirley Bills. I actually had a dehydrator given to me and have yet to use it, so I did sign this one out!

From Skyhorse Publishing:

"With the easy-to-follow, step-by-step directions here, anyone can have fun, save money, and create delicious meals by dehydrating food. Learn the basic methods—sun drying, oven drying, net bag, and commercial food dehydrators—before moving on to drying herbs for tea, making your own tasty (and healthier) jerky, and so much more. Also included is a section on the nutritional benefits of drying food. With 164 recipes ranging from breads to desserts, soups to pies, and cereals to entrees, Dehydrating Food is a book for anyone who is interested in learning how to save money and create delicious meals by drying their own food."

(Over the Counter is a regular weekly feature at A Bookworm's World. I've sadly come to 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, April 16, 2014

The Long Shadow - Liza Marklund

The Long Shadow is the eighth North American release in Liza Marklund's Annika Bengtzon series.

The Long Shadow picks right up from the last book, Lifetime. Annika's personal life is in shambles - her husband has left her for another woman, he has custody of their children and her home has burned down. She's just learned that she'll now be reporting to a man who used to be her subordinate at the Swedish newspaper she works at.

She's sent to Spain to report on the death of a former Swedish national. It looks like they were originally just targets of the latest European crime wave - pumping gas into the victim's home until they pass out, then robbing them. (This is frighteningly true!) But something went wrong this time - he and his family have been killed. Or was it deliberate?

Annika is a tireless reporter. Or perhaps obsessive is a more apt description. She's headstrong, impulsive and plunges headlong into her stories, often to her own detriment. But, she trusts her own instincts and follows them regardless. It often pays off - she saved the life a young boy in the last book. And this time is no exception. Annika knows this current story is much deeper than her editor thinks. When he wants her to move on to other pieces, she lets him believe she has - then pursues her own leads.

Marklund's plots are quite detailed and intricate. I do enjoy her style as it really keeps the reader engaged and on their toes. Having followed the series, I was easily able to keep up with the players and past references. But new readers might find the number of characters, established relationships and connections a mite confusing. Much of this book's plot is tied to previous cases. An interesting twist is slowly revealed through flashbacks to someone's childhood.

Woven throughout is the secondary storyline of Annika's personal life. I think Marklund has handled and written this very well throughout the series. . Although I've heard some other readers remark that this secondary storyline muddies the waters of the main plot, I disagree. I quite like seeing the two sides of Annika's life - personal and professional. For me, it makes the character more realistic and believable when we see vulnerability in such strong personality.

The setting was brought to life with detailed descriptions of ex-pats and luxury. And corruption and crime.

This is an excellent series with a character I quite like, even though she's not always likable. Definitely recommended. I'll be watching for the next in the series. Read an except of The Long Shadow. And on a side note, I was thrilled to discover that the Annika books have been made into films. And my library carries them! You can find Liza Marklund on Facebook .

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Giveaway - The Other Story - Tatiana de Rosnay

http://us.macmillan.com/author/tatianaderosnay Tatiana de Rosany's book, Sarah's Key, occupied the New York Times bestseller list for over two years Her newest book, The Other Story, releases today, and thanks to the great folks at St. Martin's Press, I have two copies to giveaway to two lucky readers!

What's it about? From the publisher:

"Vacationing at a luxurious Tuscan island resort, Nicolas Duhamel is hopeful that the ghosts of his past have finally been put to rest… Now a bestselling author, when he was twenty-four years old, he stumbled upon a troubling secret about his family – a secret that was carefully concealed. In shock, Nicholas embarked on a journey to uncover the truth that took him from the Basque coast to St. Petersburg – but the answers wouldn’t come easily.

In the process of digging into his past, something else happened. Nicolas began writing a novel that was met with phenomenal success, skyrocketing him to literary fame whether he was ready for it or not – and convincing him that he had put his family’s history firmly behind him. But now, years later, Nicolas must reexamine everything he thought he knew, as he learns that, however deeply buried, the secrets of the past always find a way out."

Page-turning, layered and beautifully written, Tatiana de Rosnay's THE OTHER STORY is a reflection on identity, the process of being a writer and the repercussions of generations-old decisions as they echo into the present and shape the future." Read the first two chapters of The Other Story.

You can find Tatiana de Rosnay on Facebook, on Twitter and on Instagram.

Sound like a book you'd like to read? Simply leave a comment to be entered. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends May 3/14.                   

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules - Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg

As I've mentioned before, I have a fondness for heist tales, be it book or movie. Well, Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg has come out with a fun caper story, with a twist - The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules.

Seventy nine old Martha and her four friends reside at the Diamond Retirement Home in Sweden. The administrators  running the home have slowly but surely eroded the seniors' enjoyment of life, through tasteless meals, strict rules, rising costs and worse. They're bored. Surely even prisoners are treated better than they are!

Hang on....what if? You can see it coming, can't you.....

Martha and her newly formed League of Pensioners gang come up with a plan. They'll commit robberies and have themselves sent to prison. Surely they'll be treated better there! And a little bit of extra cash wouldn't go amiss either.

And half the fun is in the planning. Who is going to suspect five old folks with walkers? Well, it turns out they have a knack for crime, although their plans don't always execute quite the way they intended..

What I really enjoyed were the seniors themselves, their thoughts, interactions and desire to live an interesting, full, rich life despite their advancing age. I think older people are discounted far too often. Ingleman-Sundberg's take on her seniors' lives has a large dose of truth woven throughout. Her imaginings of what they might do to change their circumstances were really quite entertaining. For me, not quite the laugh out loud funny mentioned on the cover blurbs, but definitely charming. You'll be cheering for the 'gang'.

Being a crime fiction fanatic, I had to stop myself from picking apart plot points that were a bit far-fetched in places and just go with the story. Although, I can see this being made into a movie - and it would be fun to cast. There seem to be a lot of 'feisty old folks' films being produced lately.

The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules is a bestseller in Sweden (1.2 million copies sold!). I found the translation to English a bit wooden in spots and some references may have been 'lost in translation. If you enjoyed The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Window and Disappeared, you might enjoy this book. Read an excerpt of The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Earthly Pleasures with DK Canada

 
Well, we finally had a few days warm enough to start melting all the snow. There's still a few piles left in my yard, but I was out peeking at my flowerbeds today....and there's life under there!
 
To celebrate Earth Day (April 22nd),  DK Canada has a great selection of titles in their
Earthly Pleasures Boutique at 30% off until April 23/14.
 
"Celebrate the wonderful planet that we call home. "Make the world a better and more sustainable place for every living creature with organic primers or exercise your love of the outdoors with our gardening books filled with terrific tips and ideas for those with a green thumb. There's also a selection of children's books that showcase the natural world and ways to make a difference."
 
I've always been a vegetable gardener with a few flowerbeds. I'm looking to change that and expand the flowers. But no matter what you're looking to plant, I have the book for you - the Canadian Encyclopedia of Gardening - revised and updated March 2013. Editors: Christopher Brickell and Trevor Cole.

This book is amazing!! Literally anything and everything you wanted to know about gardening in Canada is covered. There are 760 pages chock full on any and all information you could ever want or need on gardening
The first part covers creating your garden. Do you need help designing? What will grow in your zone? (There's a hardiness zone map on the flyleaf)Choose your plants - and refer to the detailed description for almost every growing thing you can imagine -from fruits, vegetables, herbs, all types of outdoor plants, shrubs, trees, lawns, houseplants, water gardening and more.

And once you've got it all in the ground, you can refer to Part Two - Maintaining the Garden. Everything from tools and equipment, climate, soil, building plans and more. I found the visual guide to plant problems really good. Not sure what you're looking for? There's a wonderfully detailed index at the back.

DK produces the best reference books. They're always well laid out, easy to read and populated with wonderful photographs detailing the information. ( In this case there are over 4000 colour photos!)

The Canadian Encyclopedia of Gardening is the last reference book I think I'll ever need for gardening. And until I get out there and get my hands dirty, I'm having lots of fun daydreaming and planting on paper! That chapter on water features is getting another look.....