Friday, January 20, 2017

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #141

- 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
It was the cover blurb by Clare Mackintosh that had 
me taking a second look at The Good Daughter by  Alexandra Burt. Suspense! The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Two very different looks this week. The US cover gives off that 'something hidden beneath the water' vibe. But I'm not a fan of the blue and white. The UK cover could be taken either way - innocent or ominous. The tagline on the top lets us know for sure. So which cover do you prefer? I'm going with the UK cover this week. Any plans to read The Good Daughter? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Everything You Want Me To Be - Mindy Mejia

Everything You Want Me To Be is Mindy Mejia's second novel.

Hattie Hoffman is in her last year of high school in a small town. She dreams of moving to New York and becoming the person she wants to be. Only Hattie knows who that is. You see, she changes herself to suit who she is with - family, friends, neighbours, boyfriend - and where she is - alone, school, home or on the stage. Hattie is the consummate actress. And it's going to get her killed......

"Fit the character to the play. You knew you were playing it right when your audience was happy." "I was a million different things depending on who I talked to or how I felt."

The reader is told of Hattie's death in the first chapters. From there the timeline flips from past to present, told in three voices - Hattie's, Del - the local Sheriff tasked with finding her killer, and Peter, her high school English teacher.

Hattie is a complicated character. I did like her drive and dreams. But on the other hand, how she tries to achieve them is at the expense of others and her manipulations left a sour taste in my mouth. But do we ever know who the real Hattie is? Peter - well, I have no words for him. He is shallow, weak and self deceptive. There are other characters that we only come to know through the interactions with the three main characters. Peter's wife Mary, without having a voice of her own, was the one character I was quite drawn to. Del, the Sheriff, is the other character who I sided with.

Mejia's plot explores many different relationships and themes. Innocence, guilt, lust, love, deception and more. And at the heart of it all - who killed Hattie? I liked the slow pacing of the investigation as Del puzzles out the whodunit without the benefit of the reader's inside knowledge. And the final reveal wasn't who I expected.

Everything You Want Me To Be was a different read, but quite good. I would pick up another book by Mejia. Read an excerpt of Everything You Want Me To Be. You can connect with Mindy Mejia on her website and follow her on Twitter.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Over the Counter #349

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner. This week it's all about light beacons...or light sabres....

First up is The World According to Star Wars by Cass R. Sunstein.

From Dey Street Books:

"There’s Santa Claus, Shakespeare, Mickey Mouse, the Bible, and then there’s Star Wars. Nothing quite compares to sitting down with a young child and hearing the sound of John Williams’s score as those beloved golden letters fill the screen. In this fun, erudite, and often moving book, Cass R. Sunstein explores the lessons of Star Wars as they relate to childhood, fathers, the Dark Side, rebellion, and redemption. As it turns out, Star Wars also has a lot to teach us about constitutional law, economics, and political uprisings.

In rich detail, Sunstein tells the story of the films’ wildly unanticipated success and explores why some things succeed while others fail. Ultimately, Sunstein argues, Star Wars is about freedom of choice and our never-ending ability to make the right decision when the chips are down. Written with buoyant prose and considerable heart, The World According to Star Wars shines a bright new light on the most beloved story of our time."

Next up is Brilliant Beacons: A History of the American Lighthouse by Eric Jay Dolin.

From Liveright Books:

"In a work rich in maritime lore and brimming with original historical detail, Eric Jay Dolin, the best-selling author of Leviathan, presents an epic history of American lighthouses, telling the story of America through the prism of its beloved coastal sentinels.

Set against the backdrop of an expanding nation, Brilliant Beacons traces the evolution of America's lighthouse system from its earliest days, highlighting the political, military, and technological battles fought to illuminate the nation's hardscrabble coastlines. Beginning with "Boston Light," America’s first lighthouse, Dolin shows how the story of America, from colony to regional backwater, to fledging nation, and eventually to global industrial power, can be illustrated through its lighthouses.

In the modern world of GPS and satellite-monitored shipping lanes, Brilliant Beacons forms a poignant elegy for the bygone days of the lighthouse, a symbol of American ingenuity that served as both a warning and a sign of hope for generations of mariners; and it also shows how these sentinels have endured, retaining their vibrancy to the present day. Containing over 150 photographs and illustrations, Brilliant Beacons vividly reframes America's history."

(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 17, 2017

Giveaway - The Rising - Heather Graham and Jon Land

"Stranger Things' Meets 'X-Files' and ‘Independence Day’ in romantic, genre-bending new SciFi thriller  -- The Rising -- by bestselling authors Heather Graham and Jon Land.

So...did that catch your attention? Yes? Well, then you'll want to enter this giveaway! The Rising releases today - and I have three copies to giveaway!

Here's a bit more about the novel from Tor Books:

"From acclaimed thriller-suspense novelists Heather Graham and Jon Land comes a story of action, mystery, and the endurance of young love in The Rising. Twenty-four hours. That's all it takes for the lives of two young people to be changed forever.

Alex Chin has the world on a plate. A football hero and homecoming king with plenty of scholarship offers, his future looks bright. His tutor, Samantha Dixon, is preparing to graduate high school at the top of her class. She plans to turn her NASA internship into a career.

When a football accident lands Alex in the hospital, his world is turned upside down. His doctor is murdered. Then, his parents. Death seems to follow him wherever he goes, and now it's after him.

Alex flees. He tells Samantha not to follow, but she became involved the moment she walked through his door and found Mr. and Mrs. Chin as they lay dying in their home. She cannot abandon the young man she loves. The two race desperately to stay ahead of Alex's attackers long enough to figure out why they are hunting him in the first place. The answer lies with a secret buried deep in his past, a secret his parents died to protect. Alex always knew he was adopted, but he never knew the real reason his birth parents abandoned him. He never knew where he truly came from. Until now." Read an excerpt of The Rising. Or check out the book trailer below.

"Heather Graham is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. Her first book was with Dell, and since then, she has written over one hundred novels and novellas including category, suspense, historical romance, vampire fiction, time travel, occult and Christmas family fare. She has been honored with awards from Waldenbooks, B. Dalton, Georgia Romance Writers, Affaire de Coeur, RT Book Reviews, and more. Visit her online at theoriginalheathergraham.com."

"Jon Land is the USA Today bestselling author of thirty-eight novels, including the bestselling series featuring female Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong. He is also the co-author of the nonfiction bestseller Betrayal. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island and can be found on the web at jonlandbooks.com."


Sound good? Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter to win one of three copies up for giveaway. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends January 31/17.

Giveaway - K Street - M.A. Lawson

Oh, take note mystery lovers - I have a great giveaway for you today! The third installment in M.A. Lawson's kick*** Kay Hamilton series is K Street - and it releases today.

From Blue Rider Press:

"The latest installment in M.A. Lawson’s thrilling Kay Hamilton series, K Street finds the ex-DEA agent working solo to uncover the motivations behind a gruesome shooting at a covert intelligence agency in Washington, D.C.

It’s been almost a year since Kay Hamilton was fired from the DEA for going rogue. Since then, she’s been employed by the Callahan Group, a covert intelligence agency based in Washington, D.C. Her job description is as dubious as the people she works for, and the undercover mission that nearly killed her in Viking Bay has Hamilton questioning the legitimacy of her employers.

When Hamilton arrives at the Callahan Group’s K Street office to tender her resignation, she unwittingly interrupts a deadly heist during which the robbers have stolen the company safe and left her boss gravely injured. She knows that Thomas Callahan doesn’t keep much cash in the safe—the men must have been after something other than money. But before Callahan slips into a coma, he whispers a name that will lead Kay to an organization even more secretive than the Callahan Group: the NSA.

Gripping, cinematic, and endlessly entertaining, K Street is the third installment of M.A. Lawson’s Kay Hamilton series, which follows our tough, gun-toting, and fearless heroine as she sets out to find answers and exact revenge."

Uh, huh - sounds like a great read doesn't it! Enter for the chance at a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends Jan. 28/17.

"M.A. Lawson is the pen name for award-winning novelist Mike Lawson, a former senior civilian executive for the U.S. Navy, and creator of the nine novels in the Joe DeMarco series, including House Odds, House Divided, and The Second Perimeter, as well as the Kay Hamilton novels Rosarito Beach, Viking Bay, and K Street." You can follow M.A. Lawson on Twitter and like him on Facebook.


Monday, January 16, 2017

The Fireman - Joe Hill

I am a huge fan of post apocalyptic novels. What would the world be like if it all went to crap one day? It all does in Joe Hill's novel, The Fireman, newly released in paperback. And I'm kicking myself for not reading this book in hardcover. Twenty pages in and I knew it was going to be an amazing read.

A contagion referred to as Dragonscale is infecting people and causing them to, well, go up in smoke. Yes, it burns people alive. Most people that is. But there's a group who have figured how to survive and yes, even control the affliction. See it as a blessing even. They're in hiding from those who are healthy and determined to kill them off.

Okay, that was a quick in a nutshell outline, but it doesn't even begin to touch the breadth, width, depth, scope and inventiveness of Joe Hill's plotting. Epic saga is a good descriptor. The reader's heart is firmly in the camp with the infected. Hill's cast of characters is just as deep and detailed as his plot. The Fireman is at the heart of it - a man who has figured out how to use the fire, to control it. Nurse Willowes is the other main character, a woman who gets calmer and cooler when the situation heats up - all the while singing Mary Poppins songs. They're our main two, but Hill has populated the book with a rich, wide, varied cast of characters - all detailed and each with their own part to play in the book. Good and bad. I love ensemble novels and The Fireman has a wealth of memorable players.

So, I'm speeding through The Fireman - literally I can't put it down - and I hit page 500. And realize I am racing towards the end. And I don't want to finish the book. But I was helpless to stop reading. Hill is one heck of a storyteller. There was no 'down' time. The plot changes and evolves and keeps running faster and faster towards the inevitable outcome. Duplicity, danger and action are woven tightly together with love, friendship, loss - and survival. The final pages did not provide quite the ending I had hoped for, but it was the right one. Everything - plot, dialogue, descriptions and more flows so easily and effortlessly - Hill really has a way with words.

One of my all time fave reads is Stephen King's The Stand. The Fireman has that same epic quest, journey of the embattled underdogs, post apocalyptic survival, battle of good and evil tone mixed with a little Lord of the Flies, The Walking Dead and a dash of Fahrenheit 451. Yup, one helluva hot read.

It took Joe Hill four years to write the 750 pages of The Fireman - and it took me four days to devour it. Read an excerpt of The Fireman.  Fans of The Stand and Justin Cronin's Passage series need to add The Fireman to the 'keeper' shelf of their home libraries. Now, this was my first Joe Hill book, but it sure isn't going to be my last. I'm off to look up his backlist.
Cr: Shane Leonard

Joe Hill is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Horns,
Heart-Shaped Box, and NOS4A2. He is also the Eisner Award-winning writer of a six-volume comic book series, Locke and Key. He lives in New Hampshire. Find out more about Joe at his website and follow him on Twitter and on Instagram and like him on Facebook.

See what others on the TLC book tour thought - full schedule can be found here.

I received this book for review from HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours.

Friday, January 13, 2017

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #140

- 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 picked up the first in Kelley Armstrong's new Casey Duncan series and was hooked. She's a detective in a remote Northern town that is completely off the grid - and populated by people wanting to hide. A Darkness Absolute is the second book, releasing in Feb/17 on both sides of the pond. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. So we've got cold weather on both covers. Interestingly the author's name has the bold bright font on the US cover, while it's the book title highlighted on the UK cover. An easy choice for me this week - UK cover. It conveys a better sense of danger with the running girl, the dark and the blowing snow. The US cover has a scary tree, but the character seems rather sedate. What about you? Which cover do you prefer?
Any plans to read A Darkness Absolute?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Power Up 2017 with DK Canada!

Well, we're a few weeks into 2017 already. Did you make some New Year's Resolutions? I prefer to think of it as changes I would like to implement over the coming year. My changes involve both mind and body. To that end, DK Canada has some great books to help you make some positive changes this year!

Mindfulness is a subject that I've heard much about and have been meaning to investigate and I've decided that now is the time. Happiness the Mindful Way: A Practical Guide seemed like a good book to start with. Plus, I always love how DK lays out their books - text boxes, colour photos, infographics, white space and clear concise information.

I leafed through the book at first - there is so much info packed into 217 pages. What I got from those first few random readings was a sense that yes, I would find valuable insights within. So, with that in mind, I went back and started with page one.

What is mindfulness you ask? The definition from Happiness the Mindful Way:

'It is a practice of purposefully paying attention in the present moment and bringing a non judgemental, compassionate awareness to the nature of things. It is a way of being, a way of relating to our inner and outer experiences, and a coming to our senses, literally and figuratively. At the same time, it is nothing at all, nothing but a rediscovery or a remembering of our natural inborn capacity to be fully awake in our lives, in contact with things in a direct way without the filters of concepts, past experiences, or likes and dislikes."

Okaaaay....how to begin.... The first chapter was eye opening - I found I could only read an entry or two at a time - I needed to take the time to think about and absorb the information. As I finished that first chapter, I realized that this was something I really wanted to learn and put into practice. It's not going to happen overnight, so I can't expound on the entire book at this time. But I will say that so far it has been excellent. The first chapter was Discovering Mindfulness. Further chapters are Toward a Mindful You, Mindfulness Meditation, Mindfulness Life Skills and Mindfulness When You Need It. An index at the end lets you quickly find certain subjects - anxiety, pain, etc.

Happiness The Mindful Way is a great introduction and beginner's guide. And a book I'll be referring to often.  See for yourself - here's an excerpt.

Foam Rolling by Sam Woodworth addresses the physical changes I mentioned.  My daughter has one of these rollers and swears by it. That and the subtitles on the book - Relieve Pain, Prevent Injury and Improve Mobility had me wanting to know more.

Why a foam roller? "Using a foam roller increases flexibility, promotes healing after injury, improves the alignment of your spine, and heightens your body awareness."

Foam Rolling includes 60 step by step exercises and 26 programs. Chapters include Foam Rolling Basics, Core Exercises, Lower Body Exercises, Upper Body Exercises, Pain Relief Programs, Lifestyle Programs and Sports Programs.

Effective illustrations are a key for this type of book. DK Canada always hits the mark. The guide is full of full colour pictures using real people. The layout is great - clear instructions, info boxes letting you know what muscles are being targeted, how to breath and some cautions on avoiding injury. Modified versions of each exercise are also depicted.

I always end up flipping through a book before settling in to read. As I did flip through I actually saw exercises prescribed by my physical therapist. Okay, so I'm on the right track. I was interested in the pain relief programs - specifically those for the upper back - my job (and hobbies) are most definitely straining this area. That and the 'too much standing' module. Things I could do at home to help myself. Note that the book does call for some equipment other than the roller for some exercises - notably a massage stick and/or a sports ball.

So, I am going slow, easing myself into the entire program. There is going to pain associated with releasing the fascia. The key is to not overdo it. One step at a time, one exercise at a time.

A good introductory book for those interested in foam rolling. Have a look inside Foam Rolling.