Saturday, June 15, 2019

The Summer Guests - Mary Alice Monroe

Looking for a summer beach read? Look no further than Mary Alice Monroe's new novel - The Summer Guests!

A hurricane is set to strike the Florida and North Carolina coasts. Grace Phillips lives inland and has offered a number of her diverse group of friends to take refuge at her inland farm. The one thing they have in common? Horses.

The weather mirrors the lives of the large character cast. As the hurricane threatens, the lives of the characters are facing stormy times. When the storm hits, lives change and as the storm eases up, new paths are set for almost everyone over the course of ten days. (And a lot happens!)

All types of relationships are explored - friendship, mother/daughter, romantic, working - and horses. I am completely in the dark about equine matters and I learned quite a bit from Monroe's descriptions and settings. Again, much of the equine situations mirror what's going on in the lives of the group.

It is a diverse group and readers will gravitate towards some players (I really liked Moira and her mother Grace - maybe we'll see them in a future book?). And dislike others. With so many characters, the narrative changed often and I felt like I didn't really get to 'know' them as much as I would have liked.

The Summer Guests takes inspiration from Munroe's own life and experiences through an evacuation, her knowledge of the horse community and of course, the Southern settings.

This was a first read of Mary Alice Monroe for me. The Summer Guests engaged me, the story was entertaining and it just seemed right for beach reading. See for  yourself - here's an excerpt of The Summer Guests.

"Mary Alice Monroe is the New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books, including the Beach House series: The Beach House, Beach House Memories, Swimming Lessons, Beach House for Rent, and Beach House Reunion. She is a 2018 Inductee into the South Carolina Academy of Authors’ Hall of Fame, and her books have received numerous awards, including the 2008 South Carolina Center for the Book Award for Writing, the 2014 South Carolina Award for Literary Excellence, the 2015 SW Florida Author of Distinction Award, the RT Lifetime Achievement Award, the International Book Award for Green Fiction, and the 2017 Southern Book Prize for Fiction. Her bestselling novel The Beach House is also a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. An active conservationist, she lives in the lowcountry of South Carolina." Visit her at her website and like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Friday, June 14, 2019

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #267

- 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
Oh, I'm looking forward to the next suspense novel from Shari Lapena! Someone We Know releases on both side of the pond at the end of July. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Dark tones on each cover. Androgynous person out at night in leafy suburb on the US cover.  And a neighbourhood shot on the UK cover as well, with a house instead of a person. And  a little earlier in the day. Yellow font on both, but flipped between title and author name. I find the blue author name on the US cover not as much of a standout. The UK cover does have a tagline that gives the reader a bit of a clue as the story awaiting. But...having read the premise of the book, I am going to go with the US cover this week. I like that dark street and the unknown person. But, either cover, it's going to be a good read. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read Someone We Know?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Your Life is Mine - Nathan Ripley

Nathan Ripley's debut novel Find You in the Dark was deliciously dark and creepy. (my review). His second novel, Your Life is Mine, is just as dark.

Blanche Potter ran from her past and never returned - until the murder of her mother Crissy. She finally returns to her home -  to the town where her father, Chuck Varner, went on a killing spree in a crowded mall. He saw himself as a leader - the head of a self created cult. Blanche grew up listening the doctrine her mother and father espoused. And it looks like Crissy continued the 'teachings' after Chuck's death, keeping Chuck's legacy alive.

Blanche's arrival is immediately met by a police officer who seems intent on not investigating Crissy's death. I was a little surprised that Blanche didn't push harder here. A journalist named Emil who knows who knows Blanche really is, is also there - intent on using Blanche's life to write an exposé.

Your Life is Mine is driven by Blanche, but Emil is also given a voice. He too has more than a few issues with his parent.

Blanche ran, but you can't escape that kind of upbringing. She is mentally scarred, scars she has kept hidden from her best friend Jaya. Ripley does a good job of imagining how a survivor of such an upbringing might turn out. How her outlook on life might be, what paths in life she might choose, what relationships might look like after such trauma. The relationship between Blanche and Jaya goes into much detail. Despite her past, I did find it hard to connect with Blanche. I found myself drawn more to Jaya.

Just as disturbing are the 'lessons' and 'wisdom' that Chuck preached. But they are topped by those willing to buy into his vision. This is unfortunately not far-fetched at all.

Ripley gives us some twists along the way to the final conclusion. There are some clues along the way, so they weren't completely unexpected. The build up to an inevitable, final confrontation keeps building and takes most of the book. I did find the resolution happened much quicker than I expected and the speed of those final chapters left me slightly underwhelmed with the conclusion.

Ripley's writing is very readable. I liked the first book better, but will absolutely read what he writes next. Here's an excerpt of Your Life is Mine.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Over the Counter #484

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Well....we all know about the five second rule right?

Did You Just Eat That?: Two Scientists Explore Double-Dipping, the Five-Second Rule, and Other Food Myths in the Lab by Paul Dawson and Brian Sheldon.

From WW Norton Books:

"Is the five-second rule legitimate?
Are electric hand dryers really bacteria blowers?
Am I spraying germs everywhere when I blow on my birthday cake?
How gross is backwash?

When it comes to food safety and germs, there are as many common questions as there are misconceptions. And yet there has never been a book that clearly examines the science behind these important issues—until now. In Did You Just Eat That? food scientists Paul Dawson and Brian Sheldon take readers into the lab to show, for example, how they determine the amount of bacteria that gets transferred by sharing utensils or how many microbes live on restaurant menus. The authors list their materials and methods (in case you want to replicate the experiments), guide us through their results, and offer in-depth explanations of good hygiene and microbiology. Written with candid humor and richly illustrated, this fascinating book will reveal surprising answers to the most frequently debated—and also the weirdest—questions about food and germs, sure to satisfy anyone who has ever wondered: should I really eat that?"

(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, June 11, 2019

The Rosie Result - Graeme Simsion

I adored Graeme Simsion's novel The Rosie Project, the first book that introduced us to Don Tillman. (my review)

The Rosie Result is the third book chronicling Don's life. And life has moved on. He and Rosie have moved back to Australia - along with their eleven year old son Hudson. And you know that old saying - like father, like son? Well, Don and Hudson fit that description. But....is Hudson really autistic? Rosie and Don debate over having a formal diagnosis done. In the meantime, Don's latest project is to help Hudson fit into his new school and environment.

I truly like Don and his take on life. This latest book only cements that opinion. Hudson is just well drawn. I enjoyed seeing life from Hudson's viewpoint as he attempts to circumnavigate friendship, bullying, sports, academics, social norms and all the other things that go with with making your way through life. I did find the behaviour of the school towards Hudson to be upsetting. But I applaud Don and Rosie's advocating on his behalf.

Don and Rosie are also having difficulties - especially with work. Don of course comes up with a brilliant idea - opening a bar to take advantage of their cocktail making talents. His problem solving skills are always ingenious and for the most part effective. Although there are a few that don't go quite as planned - the video clips of animals mating for sex-ed purposes is one example.

Supporting cast members from previous books also end up in Australia. Dave is a perennial favourite of mine. I must admit, I didn't really like Rosie in the second book. I'm happy to say that she has redeemed herself in this latest and is much kinder.

The Rosie Result is by turns humorous, eye-opening and heart warming.  Those who have have enjoyed the previous two books will enjoy catching up with Rosie and Don and meeting Hudson. I did. I wonder if there will be another book in the future for Don as Hudson grows up. Read an excerpt of The Rosie Result.

I think the book could have been shortened up a bit. It comes in at 386 pages and I did find that some situations were re-hashed and began to feel repetitive.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Giveaway - Fake Like Me - Barbara Bourland

Barbara Bourland's new novel, Fake Like Me, releases on June 18/19. And I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

What's it about? From Grand Central Publishing:

"At once a twisted psychological portrait of a woman crumbling under unimaginable pressure and a razor-sharp satire of the contemporary art scene, Fake Like Me is a dark, glamorous, and addictive story of good intentions gone awry, from the critically acclaimed author of I'll Eat When I'm Dead.

Carey Logan was the art world's genius wild child. FAKE
I was a no-name painter clawing my way up behind her. LIKE
When Carey died, she left a space that couldn't be filled. Except, maybe, by ME.

After a fire rips through her loft, destroying the seven billboard-size paintings meant for her first major exhibition, a young painter is left with an impossible task: recreate the lost artworks in just three months without getting caught - or ruin her fledgling career. Homeless and desperate, she begs her way into Pine City, an exclusive retreat in upstate New York notorious for three things: outrageous revelries, glamorous artists, and the sparkling black lake where brilliant prodigy Carey Logan drowned herself.

Taking up residence in Carey's former studio, the painter works with obsessive, delirious focus. But when she begins to uncover strange secrets at Pine City and falls hard for Carey's mysterious boyfriend, a single thought shadows her every move: What really happened to Carey Logan?" Read an excerpt of Fake Like Me.

"Barbara Bourland is the author of the critically acclaimed I’ll Eat When I’m Dead, a Refinery29 Best Book of 2017 and an Irish Independent Book of the Year. People called I’ll Eat When I’m Dead “delectable.” Wednesday Martin, bestselling author of Primates of Park Avenue and Untrue, deemed it “a deft, smart, and hilarious debut.” Kirkus noted that “death by beauty was never so much fun,” and the book was featured in Fortune, Us Weekly, and The New York Post, among others. I’ll Eat When I’m Dead is now available in paperback, and is forthcoming in Hebrew from Matar Press in Israel." You can connect with Barbara on her website, follow her on Twitter as well as on Instagram.

And if you'd like to read Fake Like Me, enter for a chance to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, ends June 25/19. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, June 7, 2019

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #266

- 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
Michael Connelly has a new entry in his Ballard and Bosch
series coming in October 2019 on both sides of the pond. The Night Fire. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. So we have the spark for a fire on the US cover, while the UK cover has a full fledged fire. At first I thought the fire was a downed plane, but on closer view, it does seems to be wood. I like the orange sky and the cityscape in the background. But I also like the detailed match image on the US cover. The author's name takes precedence over the title on both books and the Ballard and Bosch tag appears on both covers. I'm torn this week - one cover is effective in it's simplicity, while the other gives the reader more food for thought. But if forced to pick - I would go with the US cover. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read The Night Fire?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.