Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Mountain Story - Lori Lansens

Lori Lansens is one of my favourite authors. Each of her previous three books has been a very different story, but each of them celebrates the fortitude of the human spirit.

Her newest novel, The Mountain Story, continues that concept.

Four people - three of them know each other, the fourth was alone - are stranded on a mountain with no food, no water and no shelter for five days. Three make it down the mountain. And one of the survivors tells the tale....

"A person has to have lived a little to appreciate a survival story. That's what I've always said and I promised that when you were old enough, I'd tell you mine .... What happened up there changed my life, Danny. Hearing the story is going to change yours."

Wolf Truly is our narrator. He brings to life his fractured upbringing..."In those dangerous narrows grew children who knew too much too young, but sadly, always seemed to learn too little too late."

And the story of the mountain. I felt like I was sitting with Danny, reading the letter Wolf has written. Lansens has a way of drawing the reader in, making them feel like they are part of the story as well.

Lansens captures the physicality of Wolf's life and his time on the mountain in both good  and bad times. Her descriptions painted vivid pictures in my mind as I read. But, The Mountain Story is more than a story of survival. (Even though we know there are survivors, the question of who dies and the fight to make it through another day does not lessen the tension)

Where Lansens excels for me is in her characters -  their lives, their thoughts and their interactions. The Mountain Story is a coming of age story, an exploration of parent and child relationships, friendships, a questioning of a higher power, loss, love and redemption. And always - the strength of the human spirit. Life is a bumpy road. As Wolf says "There will be sway."

Absolutely, positively recommended. Read an excerpt of The Mountain. You can connect with Lori Lansens on Twitter and on Facebook.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Giveaway - The Windup Girl - Paolo Bacigalupi

Night Shade Books have just released a new expanded edition The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi - and I have a copy to giveaway!

From the publisher:

"Winner of the Hugo and Nebula awards for best novel, a new edition of the breakout science fiction debut featuring additional stories and an exclusive Q and A with the author.

Anderson Lake is AgriGen’s Calorie Man, sent to work undercover as a factory manager in Thailand while combing Bangkok’s street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct, hoping to reap the bounty of history’s lost calories.

Emiko is the Windup Girl, a strange and beautiful creature. Emiko is not human; she is an engineered being, grown and programmed to satisfy the decadent whims of a Kyoto businessman, but now abandoned to the streets of Bangkok. Regarded as soulless beings by some, devils by others, New People are slaves, soldiers, and toys of the rich in this chilling near future in which calorie companies rule the world, the oil age has passed, and the side effects of bioengineered plagues run rampant across the globe.

What happens when calories become currency? What happens when bioterrorism becomes a tool for corporate profits and forces mankind to the cusp of post-human evolution? Bacigalupi delivers one of the most highly acclaimed science fiction novels of the twenty-first century.

In this brand-new edition celebrating the book’s reception into the canon of modern science fiction, accompanying the text are two novelettes exploring the dystopian world of The Windup Girl, the Theodore Sturgeon Award–winning “The Calorie Man” and “Yellow Card Man,” and an exclusive Q&A with the author describing his writing process, the political climate into which his debut novel was published, and the future of science fiction." Read an excerpt of The Windup Girl.

Bacigalupi's new book The Water Knife releases May 26/15. Paolo's book tour starts Tuesday as well - full schedule below. You can also keep up with Paolo on Facebook and on Twitter.

5/26/15: Denver, CO Tattered Cover, reading, Q and A, and signing
5/27/15: Boulder, CO Boulder Bookstore, reading, Q and A, and signing
5/28-29/15: New York, NY, BEA and NYC media
5/30/15: Boston, MA Brookline Booksmith, reading, Q and A, and signing 6/2/15: Chicago, IL Anderson’s Bookshop, reading, Q and A, and signing 6/3/15: Salt Lake City, UT The King’s English, reading, Q and A, and signing 6/4/15: Phoenix, AR Changing Hands Bookstore, reading, Q and A, and signing
6/6-6/7/15: San Francisco, CA, Bay Area Literary Festival
6/6-6/7/15: San Francisco, CA, Borderlands, signing
6/8/15: San Diego, CA Mysterious Galaxy, reading, Q and A, and signing 6/9/15: Los Angeles, Vroman’s, reading, Q and A, and signing
6/10/15: Portland, OR Powell’s Bookstore, reading, Q and A, and signing
6/11/15: Seattle, WA University Book Store, reading, Q and A, and signing
6/18/15: Crested Butte, CO Rumors Coffee and Tea House, reading, Q and A, and signing

If you'd like to read The Windup Girl, enter using the Rafflecopter form below.
 US only, ends June 6/15.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #55

- 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
Linda Fairstein's new book, Devil's Bridge, releases in August. And it's on my TBR list - I quite like the New York history she weaves into her crime novels. (This is the 17th in the Alex Cooper series) The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. I'm torn this week, but I'm going with the UK cover. The US is a realistic shot, bright and catches your eye. But I like the ominous look of the UK cover. Have you read this series before? Which cover do you prefer?
 You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular Saturday feature 
at A Bookworm's World

Friday, May 22, 2015

Disclaimer - Renée Knight

As a book blogger, I receive a lot of books in the mail. Some I've requested and some are unsolicited.  An unsolicited book is the jump off point for Renée Knight's debut novel, Disclaimer.

Catherine is the main character in Disclaimer. During a chaotic move, she sits down to relax and read a book she's come across, although she's not sure from where. She's a few chapters in when she realizes the the book is about her.....

"There was no going back. Catherine had unwittingly stumbled across herself tucked into the pages of the book."

And the standard disclaimer you find at the beginning of book...."Any resemblance to persons living or dead..." has a 'a neat red line through it.'

What a great premise! I was hooked in the first few pages. But if that wasn't enough, Knight tells her story from two different narratives - that of Catherine - and the person who sent the book - Stephen.

I couldn't stop reading - I wanted to know what is in the book, why he has sent it to Catherine, why this format, what has gone on before and so much more. What is the secret!

"...The act of keeping the secret a secret has almost become bigger than the secret itself."

Knight is a master of doling out clues and snippets that let the reader slowly build an idea or a picture of what might have happened. Her foreshadowing had me staying up just to read another chapter before turning off the light for the night.

Then I reached the point of the book within the book where the secret is revealed. But - I was only about half way through the novel. What I thought I knew wasn't the end at all - there are more questions - and I desperately wanted the answers. Answers are provided by the end - but they aren't quite what I had imagined. I loved that I couldn't predict where the book was going to go.

Stephen is a particularly despicable (and creepy) character. His thoughts and justifications are quite frightening. My feelings about Catherine changed with every new 'reveal' in Disclaimer. But by the end (and the ending was just right) I was firmly in her camp.

Those who enjoy psychological twisty thrillers will enjoy Knight's debut. I did! (Nice little cover blurb from Lee Child as well)

Read an excerpt of Disclaimer. Harper Collins has also crafted a reading guide.

"Renée Knight worked for the BBC directing arts documentaries and has had TV and film scripts commissioned by the BBC, Channel Four, and Capital Films. In April 2013, she graduated from the Faber Academy "Writing a Novel" course, whose alumni include S. J. Watson. She lives in London with her husband and two children." See what others on the TLC book tour thought - full schedule can be found here.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Over the Counter #264

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Well, this week it's things - or stuff - or objects...

First up is Never Stop to Think...Do I Have A Place For This by Mary Randolph Carter. Photographed by Carter Berg.  (Okay, this one came home with me....I'm a collector and junker at heart.)

From the publisher, Rizzoli:

"In an age of picture-perfect interior design, best-selling author Mary Randolph Carter celebrates her highly personal and creative approach to decor, illustrating how to live stylishly with the many items you want to treasure forever. Mary Randolph Carter's newest book indulges our desire to surround ourselves with belongings that impart beauty and meaning to our lives. Whether you are passionate about flea market thrifting, have a collection of pedigreed antiques, or simply find inspiration among the castoffs in your attic, this book is a tribute to making artful interiors with your acquisitions.

With her trademark style and love of heirlooms and beautiful old objects, Carter delves into the interiors of real-life tastemakers (antique dealers, fashion designers, artists, and boutique owners) to explore how our homes are the perfect canvas for our self-expression. In these pages, Carter curates a variety of unique interiors, from a couple who restores and displays antique textiles and china to an anglophile with an incredible library of vintage books to an artist who lives with the old photos and maps he uses in his work to an antique dealer known for having multiples of everything. Carter muses delightfully on the universal desire to acquire while imparting her philosophy and tips for living creatively and integrating our passions stylishly into our decor. Chock-full of ideas and inspiration, this book exalts in the beauty of bounty and is sure to delight Carter's legions of fans."

Next up is A History of New York in 101 Objects by Sam Roberts.

From the publisher, Simon and Schuster:

"The vibrant story of America’s great metropolis, told through 101 distinctive objects that span the history of New York, all reproduced in luscious, full color.

A wooden water barrel and an elevator brake. A Checker taxicab and a conductor’s baton. An oyster and a mastodon tusk. Inspired by A History of the World in 100 Objects, The New York Times’ Sam Roberts chose fifty objects that embody the narrative of New York for a feature article in the paper. Many more suggestions came from readers, and so Roberts has expanded the list to 101.

Unique, sometimes whimsical, always important, A History of New York in 101 Objects is a beautiful chronicle of the remarkable history of the Big Apple that will enrich your mind and rekindle memories."

(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, May 20, 2015

Giveaway - Head Case - Cole Cohen

I'm always intrigue by memoirs - that personal glimpse into someone else's life. I've got an absolutely fascinating one to giveaway today - Head Case by Cole Cohen has just released.

From the publisher, Henry Holt:

"A spirited, wry, and utterly original memoir about one woman's struggle to make her way and set up a life after doctors discover a hole the size of a lemon in her brain. 

The summer before she was set to head out-of-state to pursue her MFA, twenty-six-year-old Cole Cohen submitted herself to a battery of tests. For as long as she could remember, she'd struggled with a series of learning disabilities that made it nearly impossible to judge time and space--standing at a cross walk, she couldn't tell you if an oncoming car would arrive in ten seconds or thirty; if you asked her to let you know when ten minutes had passed, she might notify you in a minute or an hour. These symptoms had always kept her from getting a driver's license, which she wanted to have for grad school. Instead of leaving the doctor's office with permission to drive, she left with a shocking diagnosis--doctors had found a large hole in her brain responsible for her life-long struggles. Because there aren't established tools to rely on in the wake of this unprecedented and mysterious diagnosis, Cole and her doctors and family create them, and discover firsthand how best to navigate the unique world that Cole lives in. Told without an ounce of self-pity and plenty of charm and wit, Head Case is ultimately a story of triumph, as we watch this passionate, loveable, and unsinkable young woman chart a path for herself." Read an excerpt of Head Case.
Photo credit:
Lesley Abugov Cohen

"Cole Cohen graduated from the California Institute of the Arts MFA program in Writing and Critical Studies in 2009. She was a finalist for the Bakeless Prize and the Association of Writers & Writing Programs prize in Nonfiction and she has been a Yaddo Fellow. She currently lives in Santa Barbara, California where she works as the Events and Program Coordinator for UC Santa Barbara's Interdisciplinary Humanities Center." You can connect with Cole Cohen on Twitter as well as on Facebook.

Sounds fascinating doesn't it? If you'd like to own a copy of Head Case, enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only, no PO boxes. Ends June 6/15.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Inside the O'Briens - Lisa Genova

Lisa Genova simply can't write a bad book. Her latest, Inside the O'Briens is another absolutely fantastic read.

Genova is a neuroscientist. Each of her novels has brain function or brain injury as a starting point. (Still Alice has just been made into a movie)

Forty-four year old Joe O'Brien has been a cop in Charleston, Massachusetts for twenty four years. He, his wife Rosie and his four adult children all live in the brownstone that Joe grew up in. When he starts having temper outbursts, a few muscle spasms and momentary mental lapses, he writes if off to age and fatigue. But....they get worse. Rosie and the kids are noticing more and it's happening at work - a dangerous situation. When Rosie finally gets Joe to a doctor, they are stunned to hear Joe's diagnosis - Huntington's Disease - a neurological condition that is fatal. And it's genetic - his children have a 50/50 chance of also having the disease.

Wow. Genova takes us inside this tight knit family through Joe and his daughter Katie's eyes. The uncertainty, the anger, the denial, the aftermath, the hope, the dreams and above all the love of this family for each other. I know these are characters in a book, but I honesty felt like Genova was actually writing about a real family. The interactions, the dialogue and the situations had me feeling like I was sitting at the table with them, having Sunday dinner.

I had previously heard of Huntington's Disease, but learned so very much about it from Inside the O'Briens, from both a medical, societal and personal perspective. Yes, the book has the disease as a basis, but it is the family of O'Briens that stayed with me after I turned the last page. Poignant, heartwarming, heartbreaking and oh so very, very good. Read an excerpt of Inside the O'Briens.

You can connect with Lisa Genova on Twitter as well as on Facebook.