Friday, May 6, 2016

Wilde Lake - Laura Lippman

I've read all of Laura Lippman's books. I don't bother looking at the flyleaf at all anymore - I just know I'm going to enjoy whatever story she's crafted. Her Tess Monaghan series is a perennial favourite of mine, but the stand alones are just as good.

Her latest stand alone, Wilde Lake, has just released.

Lu Brant has just been elected as the first female State's Attorney of Howard County, Maryland, filling the chair that her father once held. She decides to make her presence known by taking on a recent murder case - a woman beaten to death in her home by a homeless man.

Lippman employs one of my favourite story telling techniques - past and present in alternating chapters. As Lu prepares for the impending court case, names and events from her own past begin to pop up. And so we relive Lu's life from age six until it collides with the present day - with a very loud crash.

Ahh, Lippman is such a storyteller. I was immediately caught up in the characters and the plot. Lu is a difficult character, bristly, stubborn and somewhat unpredictable. I felt sympathy for young Lu but funnily enough that sympathy did not extend to adult Lu, even though I knew the past shaped her present. I didn't really like adult Lu at all.

There is more than one mystery in Wilde Lake. That of the accused drifter of course, but also events in the past - seemingly all stemming from one night in her brother AJ's life. " Most of what I know about that night is from reading old court documents and press accounts over the past few months." But as we learn more about the Brant family from Lu's memories, it seems that one night is just one event never fully spoken of. There are others. From the outside looking in, the Brants have an idyllic life - from the inside looking out, the view is not quite the same.

The mysteries are joined by an exploration of family dynamics, tensions, deceptions, what we would do to protect our families and loved ones and the consequences of those choices. There ate many 'reveals' in the last few chapters. There was one late addition that I thought was a bit of a stretch, but on reflection, I could see the groundwork being laid in the chapters dealing with the past.

I enjoyed Wilde Lake - although it's less of a true mystery than some of my favourite Lippman books, it kept me engaged from first page to last. Read an excerpt of Wilde Lake.

Interesting side note - Lippman grew up in Columbia, Maryland (the setting for this book) and also attended Wilde Lake High School. (also featured)

Cr: Jan Cobb
"Since Laura Lippman’s debut, she has won multiple awards and critical acclaim for provocative, timely crime novels set in her beloved hometown of Baltimore. Now a perennial New York Times bestselling author, she lives in Baltimore and New Orleans with her family." You can connect with Laura Lippman on her website, find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. See what others on the TLC book tour thought - full schedule can be found here.

The Eleventh on Feeln.com

I admit it - I love to read murder mysteries, thrillers and suspense novels. And sometimes, movies in the same vein. But when I've had a rough day, or life has thrown me a curveball, I love to cuddle up under my favourite blanket and watch something that makes me feel, tugs at my heartstrings and has me counting my blessings. (Hallmark movies and shows are my faves.)

 I've just discovered Feeln. What is Feeln you ask? "Feeln is the leading streaming service that brings you heartfelt stories of love and togetherness - anytime, anywhere - including the exclusive library of Hallmark Hall of Fame features, Hollywood movies, TV series, and award-winning originals you won’t find anywhere else."

I just watched the first episodes of a new Feeln "original drama series that focuses on a young girl’s journey to getting to know her estranged grandmother in order to bring closure to the past and unite her family." With Mother's Day around the corner, this is a perfect time and an inspiration to reflect on familial relationships in our own lives. Family and forgiveness are the themes that stood out for me.

It was so comforting to reconnect with  some acting legends from past favourite shows of mine! The Eleventh stars Florence Henderson (The Brady Bunch, Dancing With The Stars), Ed Asner (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Roots, Up), and Cloris Leachman (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Malcolm In The Middle).

The Eleventh also fills my penchant for mysteries - what happened in the past to create such a family rift? Can it be repaired? The episodes are short and end with a nice little cliffhanger that will leave you wanting to know more. (I can't wait to find out about those pictures in the photo album...) I thoroughly enjoyed the premiere of The Eleventh - and I'm looking forward to watching more on Feeln!

Find The Eleventh on Twitter @Feeln  - #TheEleventh.  Family friendly and definitely feel good. Check out the trailer for The Eleventh below. And if you like what you see - watch full episodes of ‘The Eleventh’ on Feeln - and many other shows as well.

 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #104

- 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 am looking forward to Mark Billingham's newest release - Die of Shame! He's a brilliant crime/mystery author I highly recommend. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. A circle of chairs is used on both covers (and is an integral part of the plot) But the US has empty chairs and the point of view is above while the UK has the chairs filled with a blurry look and a side view.  For me this week, it's the US cover. What about you? Any plans to read Die of Shame? Which cover do you prefer? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Over the Counter # 213

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? This week it's The Legend of Zippy Chippy: Life Lessons from Horse Racing's Most Lovable Loser by William Thomas.

From the publisher, McClelland and Stewart:

"From acclaimed humorist William Thomas comes the funny yet poignant story of a thoroughbred racehorse that lost 100 races in a row -- but, in everyone's eyes, became the ultimate winner.

On April 20, 1991, at Capritaur Farms in Upstate New York, Zippy Chippy strolled into the world. He was born from American horse racing royalty -- Compliance (his father was Kentucky Derby-winner Northern Dancer; his great-grandfather Native Dancer, the Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner) and Listen Lady (great-granddaughter of Native Dancer). Even before his birth, the hopes (not to mention the bill for his planned production) for Zippy Chippy were high. His pedigree was horse racing gold: Northern Dancer, Man o' War, Count Fleet, Bold Ruler, War Admiral, and Buckpasser were all ancestors. His success and glory seemed inevitable.

But moments after his birth, Zippy Chippy struggled to his feet, took two steps forward . . . and stopped dead in his tracks. He looked around, took in his surroundings, maybe indulged in a little daydream, then promptly lay down for a nap in the straw. And thus began Zippy Chippy's storied racing career.

Vince Lombardi, one of the greatest NFL coaches of all time, famously said, "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing." These words have become the battle cry of athletes, coaches, and teams everywhere, but over the years, sports have taken on a literal interpretation of Lombardi's mantra. Match-fixing, doping, sabotage, cocky and mean sportsmanship, all in the name of winning, have infiltrated and scandalized games, teams, reputations, and newspaper headlines. Yet, since his first moments in the world, Zippy Chippy ignored Lombardi and turned his nose at the concept of winning-at-all-costs. In fact, he decided to not win at all, losing, over the course of his career, 100 consecutive races, at some of the greatest tracks in the country: Belmont Park, Aqueduct, Finger Lakes, and Suffolk Downs among them. And he did so with his owner, Felix Monserrate, by his side -- a man who refused to sell Zippy, or even retire him, simply because he couldn't come in first. Soon, Zippy's cheering squad grew to include people who, enchanted by his story, would travel from all over North America to watch him lose but then happily gallop back to his stable. To them, Zippy Chippy was just like them; someone who wasn't an athlete with a million-dollar contract, or someone with movie star looks -- he was a creature who struggled, who lost, and who failed even the lowest of expectations. But, somehow, he found a way to enjoy himself and eagerly return for the next race.

Told with laugh-out-loud wit and a lot of heart, The Legend of Zippy Chippy is the story of the losing-est racehorse in North American history -- a perpetual loser who would become the winning thoroughbred in professional horse racing to steal peoples' hearts."

(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, May 3, 2016

The Revenant on Blu-ray and Digital HD

It seems to me lately that the best movies I've watched have been based on really great books. Such is the case with Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu's award winning film The Revenant. (Based on Michael Punke's book) I always try to read the book first and then watch the movie. The book was fantastic and I hoped the movie would be as well.

The Revenant on Blu-ray and Digital HD is newly released from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

And my hopes that the movie would be good were met and far exceeded. Leonardo DiCaprio won an Academy and Oscar Award for Best Actor. The film won numerous other prizes.

DiCaprio portrays Hugh Glass, a frontiersman/tracker in 1823 America with a fur company, who is severely mauled by a bear. With both winter and hostile natives on their heels, the company commander assigns two men, Fitzpatrick and Bridger to stay with Glass until he dies, bury him and then catch up with the rest of the company. Also with Glass is his son Hawk, who is sure his father can survive. Seemingly close to death, everyone figures it won't be long 'til the end.

Fitzpatrick, played by Tom Hardy, decides that he doesn't want to wait around for Glass to die and instead chooses to leave him on his own. Hardy brilliantly interprets the despicable character of Fitzpatrick. I don't know how many times I yelled at the screen.

But it is Leo who steals the show. He has very little dialogue, but his physical acting and his facial expressions (especially his eyes) transmit so much more than words could have. His courage, grit, perseverance and determination to hunt down Fitzpatrick becomes the viewer's goal as well.

Not far behind Leo is the cinematography - the backdrops are simply spectacular - the choice of actual settings instead of green screens brings the wildness and wilderness of the time and place to life. Costuming and physical props are just as believable. The bear attack is also really believable. (and a bit hard to watch)

Iñárritu has changed some of the events from the book - most notably, Glass's reason for revenge. But it works. This reason is more personal and will have the audience even more invested in Glass's drive for revenge. With every tortured step and obstacle thrown in his way, I was urging him forward, just as determined that he have his retribution. Iñárritu has also changed the ending from the book. It wasn't what I expected and I watched it two or three times. In the end, it seemed right and fit with the 'extra' character(s) that he had brought to his version of the story.

Brutal and brilliant, The Revenant is a welcome addition to my film library. Check out the trailer below. Gentle readers/watchers please be warned there are some graphic scenes. @RevenantMovie

   

The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge by Michael Punke

Michael Punke's 2002 novel, The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge, isn't one that I would have noticed or picked up were it not for the 2015 award winning film of the same name.

And that would have been a shame, as it's a he** of a good read. What surprised me even more is that it's based on factual historical events and persons. (At the end of the book, I went online to suss out the real story - absolutely fascinating reading)

1823 America. Hugh Glass is one of the best trackers and frontiersmen around, working for The Rocky Mountain Fur Company. When he is severely mauled by a bear, his compatriots carry him as far as they can in the winter mountains. Company Commander Captain Henry pays two men - Fitzgerald and Bridger - to stay with Glass until he dies, then bury him properly. But Fitzgerald has different ideas..... he decides that staying with Glass isn't worth his while. He forces young Bridger to leave Glass to die on his own and the two take off. But not before they steal Glass's gun and knife, leaving him alone and exposed to the elements.

And here's where the revenge part comes into play......Glass is as tough as nails and bent on revenge. And he wants his gun back. What follows is a nail biting fight for his life as Glass begins crawling towards the fort two hundred miles away where Fitzgerald and Bridger are to meet up with the rest of the company.

Punke has brought in many factual events and people - the conflicts between the native tribes and the white men who have come to trap and settle their land. The wilderness and the men living in it are brilliantly described, but it is Hugh Glass who captures the reader. The injustice done to him and his single minded desire to seek revenge on Fitzgerald will have the reader on the edge of their seat, urging him to take one more breath, one more step forward until.....

As I said not my usual fare, but I absolutely loved it. Punke is an absolutely wonderful writer.  Read an excerpt of The Revenant. And now that I've read it, I'm off to watch the movie....stay tuned for my review.

Giveaway - The Cook Up - D. Watkins

I've got a great giveaway today for those of you that love memoirs. The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir by D. Watkins has just released and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader.

From Grand Central Publishing:

"Reminiscent of the classic Random Family and The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, but told by the man who lived it, The Cook Up. is a riveting look inside the Baltimore drug trade portrayed in The Wire and an incredible story of redemption.

The smartest kid on his block in East Baltimore, D. was certain he would escape the life of drugs, decadence, and violence that had surrounded him since birth. But when his brother Devin is shot-only days after D. receives notice that he's been accepted into Georgetown University-the plans for his life are exploded, and he takes up the mantel of his brother's crack empire. D. succeeds in cultivating the family business, but when he meets a woman unlike any he's known before, his priorities are once more put into question. Equally terrifying and hilarious, inspiring and heartbreaking, D.'s story offers a rare glimpse into the mentality of a person who has escaped many hells." Read an excerpt of The Cook Up.

"D. Watkins is a columnist for Salon. His work has been published in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Aeon, AlterNet, The Guardian and other magazines. He holds a Masters in Education from Johns Hopkins University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Baltimore. He is a college professor at Goucher University and has also been the recipient of numerous awards including a BMe fellowship, Baltimore Magazine's "Best Writer," award for 2015, and The Baltimore Business Journal's 40 under 40 list. He has lectured at countless, universities, events and programs around the country. Watkins has been featured on Meet the Press and has been a reoccurring guest on CNN, NPR's Monday Morning, Tell Me More, Huff Post Live and The Marc Steiner Show who described Watkins as being "A brilliant phenomenon that needs to be heard." Watkins is from and lives in east Baltimore." You can connect with D.Watkins on his website and follow him on Twitter.

And if this sounds like a book you'd like to read, I have one copy to giveaway. Open to US and Canada, no po boxes please. Ends May 14. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Mission Hill - Pamela Wechsler

Mission Hill is Pamela Wechsler's debut novel.

This first novel in a planned series introduces us to Abby Endicott, Chief of the Boston DA's Homicide Unit.

Abby is a bit of rebel - she's tough, wealthy, but prefers to work for a living, she butts heads with the higher ups, feels rules are made to broken and her personal life is, well, let's say - unsettled and complicated. I think she's an interesting protagonist - I like that I couldn't predict her actions, reactions or the path she would take. She's not warm and fuzzy and I didn't agree with or like all of her choices, but she's intriguing. I'll be curious to see where Wechsler takes her in future books.

When she's called out to Boston's latest homicide, Abby's personal and work lives collide. Wechsler has crafted a good plot, incorporating murder, lies, corruption, gangs, courtroom drama running parallel with a personal plotline.

Wechsler is herself a lawyer and worked as a criminal prosecutor for fifteen years. That insider knowledge gives credence to her plot and characters. Her descriptions of time and place are excellent as well, drawn again from personal knowledge. Wechsler has also worked as a legal consultant and writer for television dramas. I did find that the action in the final chapters read more like a script with short staccato sentences. I just didn't find myself caught up and drawn into the drama of the closing scenes, though I thought I should be.

That being said, I think Mission Hill is a good first book. The groundwork has been laid in regards to players and settings. Wechsler is currently at work on the second Abby Endicott novel - I look forward to her next case. Read an excerpt of Mission Hill.

You can connect with Pamela Wechsler on her website, find her on Twitter as well as on Facebook.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Giveaway - InVision - Sherrilyn Kenyon

Woohoo! I'm the latest stop on the blog tour and scavenger hunt for InVisionSherrilyn Kenyon's 'hotly anticipated' seventh volume in her YA series, The Chronicles of Nick - and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

Make sure you also enter the sweepstakes for a SIGNED backlist set of 
THE CHRONICLES OF NICK! 

From the publisher, Griffin Teen:

"Think you have a lot of pressure on your shoulders? Nick Gautier was born to bring about the end of the world . . . it's not easy being the heir of a demon overlord. But Nick is determined to thwart his destiny and get into a good college. To be more than his genetics and prophecy foretell. No one is ever going to tell this stubborn Cajun who and what he really is. Or how to live his life.

Not even the Fates of the Universe. But now that he and his team of ancient gods and demons have claimed the Eye of Ananke and he sees the missteps of the future, he has to battle the demons within that are far deadlier and more treacherous than any he's battled before. All the while his arch nemesis is back and determined to reclaim his place as the harbinger for Armageddon. Even if it means killing Nick and barbecuing everyone he loves to do so."

Watch the book trailer here. The Chronicles of Nick is soon to be a movie as well! You can connect with Sherrilyn Kenyon on her website, find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Enter to win a copy of InVision using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends May 14/16.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, April 29, 2016

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #103

- 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
Laura Lippman is an author I read regularly - I'm looking forward to picking up her latest, a stand alone titled Wilde Lake. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Easy choice for me this week - I'm going with the US cover. I am drawn to the eerie setting and the isolated house. The letters on the UK make me think of college and a letter jacket. It wouldn't entice me to pick it up at all. So, any plans to read Wilde Lake? Which cover do you prefer this week?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.