Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Pocket Wife - Susan Crawford

Here's another great read for those who love psychological fiction - The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford.

Dana's neighbour Celia has been found murdered - and Dana was apparently the last person to see her. Apparently - because Dana can't remember much of their visit. Sure, they were drinking, but....

But, Dana is also bi-polar and off her meds. And she's scared - because what if she's the one who killed Celia? But her husband is acting oddly as well. And so is Celia's husband. What about the nosy neighbour?

Oh yes, we have got ourselves a wonderfully unreliable narrator! Which of Dana's memories are the truth? What is imagined? Who is the actual murderer? Crawford captures Dana's fractured thinking extremely well. I love this type of narrator - there is no way to predict which way the story is going to go. I enjoy watching for subtle clues in behavior or dialogue that would perhaps point the way to the truth.

Celia's death is at the heart of the novel, but Crawford also explores a marriage in trouble, mental illness and familial relationships in The Pocket Wife - all to great effect. Detective Jack Moss is investigating Celia's death, but he has a rich personal storyline of his own and his own narrative, rife with doubts as well.

But I have no doubt you're going to enjoy The Pocket Wife. Definitely recommended. Read an excerpt of The Pocket Wife. You can connect with Susan Crawford on Twitter  and find her on Facebook. I'll be watching for the next book from this author!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Crazy Love You - Lisa Unger

Crazy Love You is the latest book from Lisa Unger.

I've read and enjoyed many other books by Unger, so I just picked this one up with no idea what it was about. Crazy Love You is a bit of a departure from Unger's previous works.

I was intrigued by the premise...

Ian was the kid picked on in his small town - fat boy was a favorite slur thrown at him.  His only friend was another outsider - the troubled Priss.

Ian and Priss grew up and made their way to New York City. Ian has found success as a graphic novelist. His Fatboy and Priss series is a phenomenal success. But when Ian meets Meghan, Priss feels pushed aside - and angry. After all she's stood by Ian from the beginning, hasn't she?

As Ian continues to draw and write his series, time lines become blurred. Are events drawn in the panels happening in real life? Is he imagining things - or truly making them happen? Or is it Priss manipulating his life?

Unger keeps the reader off kilter - we're never really sure what's real and what's imagined. Is Ian crazy? Priss is elusive - we're never really sure about her and what her intentions are.

Unger's writing flows easily and I became completely engrossed in following Ian down the rabbit hole. (He was still a difficult character to like though) But, where the book fell down for me was the ending. It was just a bit  too 'been there, done that' for me. And it seemed to go on for too long with much of Ian's feelings and experiences recapped over and over again.

I think Unger is a great writer and will be absolutely picking up her next book. For me though, Crazy Love You just wasn't a stand out.

Read an excerpt of Crazy Love You. You can connect with Lisa Unger on Twitter.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Kind Worth Killing - Peter Swanson

I adore psychological suspense novels - they're probably my favourite genre. So, if you too enjoy them, Peter Swanson's new novel, The Kind Worth Killing, is one you'll want to pick up!

Ted Severenson is on a flight home to Boston when he strikes up a conversation with his pretty seatmate Lily. He's had a few drinks in the lounge before boarding and the conversation takes an odd turn along the way.....it becomes a little more personal...and a lot more dangerous. Ted's wife Miranda is cheating on him...

"What are you going to do about it?"
"What I'd really like to do is kill her."
"I think you should, she said."

What a deliciously devious premise! (somewhat reminiscent of Strangers on a Train.)

Swanson employs multiple narrators in The Kind Worth Killing - Ted, Lily and Miranda. Readers are privy to pieces of the plot that not every character has - and this ratchets up the reading tension. Highly effective - and tiring. I had a hard time putting this one down - I wanted to get back to each character's viewpoint, so I read far longer into the night than I should have!

The characters are unlikable, everyone has their own agenda and nothing is as it seems. I love not being able to predict the path a novel is going to take. Swanson does a fantastic job of keeping the reader off kilter with numerous twists and turns. And the ending - the ending is a brilliant last page gotcha.

Absolutely recommended! Read an excerpt of The Kind Worth Killing. You can connect with Peter Swanson on Twitter. The Kind Worth Killing would make a great movie as well - à la Gone Girl.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #49

- You can't judge a book by its cover - which is very true. 
But you can like one cover version better than another...

US/Canadian cover
UK cover
I love Elly Griffith's Ruth Galloway mystery series. The sixth entry is due out in May - and is on my radar. The Canadian/US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. The US version does give a clue as to the plot, but I'm going to go with the UK cover this week. It's bolder in colour and tone and just appealed to me more that the other. Have you read any of this series?
Which cover do you prefer?
 You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular Saturday feature
on A Bookworm's World.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Q and A and Giveaway with Tina Seskis!

Tina Seskis's debut novel One Step Too Far was released in January of this year in North America (Did you see my review) Tina was kind enough to stop by today to answer a few questions about her book, her writing - and herself!

 Hi Tina!  One Step Too Far is the story of a young woman who walks out on her life, which leads some readers to be critical of her choices. What do you think of your heroine, Emily?

Well, I've always known her secret, so I guess I understood her actions, even some of the more extreme ones. It means that I've always had a degree of empathy with her, and I just really willed her on in the story to get some kind of resolution. I did find that she became almost like a real person to me, and I liked her, despite her flaws (hey, who's perfect?) although I know some readers found her to be quite self-indulgent. All I would say is take a walk in her shoes before you judge...

In One Step Too Far you bring London to life in a very gritty way at times. How well do you think the book helps London tourism?

Ha, well, I think if you want to go to Finsbury Park or the Nag's Head you won't find them in any tourist books, so I've given you a flavour. I think I may have brought to life the real London, of beautiful parks and squares cheek by jowl with less aesthetic places, of smoky dives and fancy hotels. I hope I've shown that London is also a very green city (in the original sense of the word), and the magnificent Hampstead Heath in particular is one of my favourite places anywhere. So come visit!!

Like many writers, you struggled at first to get One Step Too Far published. What made you so determined to carry on?

First, that I had had enough feedback, from my family (which every writer knows doesn't count!), friends, acquaintances, literary agents, and most importantly readers to know that there was something about the book: people found that they couldn't put it down, plus it seemed to elicit some very extreme responses (love and hate spring to mind, fortunately with love in the vast majority) that made me think it was the type of book that people wanted to talk about and share. And secondly, I had run out of money and it was either get published or get another job in freelance marketing, which I didn't want to do.

What is your favourite place to write? Do you have a specific daily routine?

I write on an iPad with a wireless keyboard, so I tend to write anywhere. I follow the sun around the house (kitchen table, living room sofa, bedroom sofa, a deckchair in the summer etc), I rarely go to cafes or libraries, but nearly always edit if I'm on public transport. I get some very odd looks sometimes. And my routine is non-existent unless I'm in the writing bit, where I do 2,000 words a day, even if it's finished in the dead of night.

What's next for you?

Well, my next book (When We Were Friends) is about to come out in the UK, I am editing my third novel, writing short stories, doing quite a bit of PR activity, looking after my dog with a broken paw, and I am going to Australia to see family at Easter. So I'm pretty busy...

Thanks so much for stopping by Tina! You can connect with Tina on Twitter as well as on Facebook.

If you haven't had a chance to read One Step Too Far - well, here's your chance! I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader, courtesy of Harper Collins. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends April 18/15.  Get a sneak peek - here's an excerpt of One Step Too Far.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Over the Counter #257

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Well,Spring cleaning has been in the back of my mind lately....

First up is Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight: The 6-Week Total-Life Slim Down by Peter Walsh.

From the publisher, Rodale Books:

"A houseful of clutter may not be the only reason people pack on extra pounds, but research proves that it plays a big role. A recent study showed that people with supercluttered homes were 77 percent more likely to be overweight or obese! Why? Author Peter Walsh thinks it’s because people can’t make their best choices—their healthiest choices—in a cluttered, messy, disorganized home.

In Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight, organizing guru Walsh comes to the rescue with a simple 6-week plan to help readers: Clear their homes of excess “stuff” as they discover their vision for their personal space Clear their bodies of excess pounds as they follow a healthy, supersimple eating and exercise plan Clear their minds and spirits of the excess weight of too many possessions.

All the pieces are connected—and Walsh weaves them together for a 6-week program that leads readers step-by-step through decluttering their homes, their bodies, and their lives. Rodale took the program for a testdrive with two dozen volunteers who followed his plan. All reported great results—from significant weight loss to calmer minds and more organized, happier, and more efficient lives. With a room-by room organizing guide, plus supersimple recipes and an easy exercise plan, Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight is the only book to help readers clear the clutter while they zap the pounds all at the same time."

Next up is Buried in Treasures: Help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving, and Hoarding by David Tolin, Randy O. Frost, and Gail Steketee.

From the publisher, Oxford Press:

"While most people find it relatively easy to manage their possessions, some find it extremely difficult. If you have a problem resisting the urge to acquire and you find your home cluttered and filled to capacity with items many people would find useless and unnecessary, you may suffer from a condition known as hoarding disorder.

Hoarding is a behavioral problem consisting of clutter, difficulty discarding items, and excessive buying or acquiring. Hoarding is often associated with significant reduction in quality of life, and in extreme cases, it can pose serious health risks. If you or a loved one has hoarding disorder, this book can help.

Discover the reasons for your problems with acquiring, saving, and hoarding, and learn new ways of thinking about your possessions so you can decide what you really need and what you can do without. Learn to identify the "bad guys" that cause and maintain your hoarding behavior and meet the "good guys" who can help motivate you and put you on the path to change. Useful self-assessments will help you determine the severity of your problem. Training exercises, case examples, organizing tips, and motivation boosters help change the way you think and behave toward your possessions. This book provides easy-to-understand strategies and techniques that anyone can use."

(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, March 25, 2015

Food and Drink with DK Canada!

So, here's the thing. I can cook. And sometimes I really enjoy it. And other times? Well, now and then, there are other things I'd rather be doing. But you have to eat right? And I still want to eat well - I'm not a fast food fan.

So, The No Time to Cook! Book: 100 Modern Simple Recipes in 20 Minutes or Less by Elena Rosemond-Hoerr definitely caught my eye. It's one of the suggested books in DK Canada's Food and Drink Boutique.20 minutes or less?! Oh yeah!

I loved the title of the first chapter - The Quick Kitchen - which had a great list of grocery items to have on hand in the pantry for those quick meals. I was happily surprised to find that I did have most of them already. Speedy you say? Quick ways to chop/slice and other tips included too.

The actual recipes are broken down into Breakfast, Lunch, Dinners, Food with Friends and Short and Sweet (Desserts). Breakfast isn't usually a problem for me but the wheel of smoothies looks like a fun way to vary a morning shake. And I am going to try the overnight oats in a jar and making my own granola.

I am getting tired of the same old, same old for lunch. Rosemond-Hoerr has some new ideas for stuffing pita pockets and another jar idea I've been meaning to try - Salads in a jar.(And a wheel of salad dressing to make your own as well)

But it is dinner where I just think -oh, what am I going to make tonight? Rosemond-Hoerr has come up with some fresh ideas for those quick standbys - pastas, stir fries and one pot meals. There are some more great 'speedy' charts here as well - salsa and stir fry.

The Food for Friends chapter has such great finger food ideas that I think I will actually use for our dinner a few nights. Bruschetta bar anyone? How about pot sticker dumplings? Yum!

The desserts look just as appealing, but many rely on butter, cream and chocolate. Those looking to count calories will have to do the figuring themselves - nutritional information is not included. 

There are colour photographs of the finished dish for each recipe. The instructions for each recipe are easily read and numbered for simplicity. The ingredients list is drawn out for each as well.

Curious? Here's an excerpt of The No Time to Cook! Book - a simple easy cookbook that I will be using for those rushed days. 

The Other Joseph - Skip Horack

Every so often I need to take a step back from my usual genres and pick up something completely different. Skip Horack's new book, The Other Joseph, offered up a great opportunity to do just that.

Roy Joseph has lost most of his life - his beloved older brother Tommy died in the Gulf War, his parents are both dead and he lives within the narrow confines of a life constricted by a felony conviction. He's chosen to live in a remote area with only a dog for company and he works an isolated job on the oil rigs. Roy has exiled himself from life.

When a young woman contacts him and say that his brother Tommy was her father, he sees a chance - a chance to reconnect with life again, to redeem himself, to perhaps be happy.

Roy's journey physically takes him from Louisiana to San Francisco. He visits locales from their childhood and calls on those who knew his brother along the way. Broken and wounded characters litter the road between Louisiana and San Francisco.

Horack's prose are rich and powerful. They are stark and spare, underlining Roy's solitude. I was overwhelmed by Roy's life - his broken, isolated existence. It was just so very, very sad. I wasn't able to read the book straight through - I simply had to read in small doses. I wanted so badly for the the trip to be Roy's redemption. And of course you're asking - was it? It's hard to say - the ending is not what I wanted at all - Horack did surprise me. I'll have to go with an ambiguous yes and no answer.

The Other Joseph was a moving, eloquent read - one that will leave echoes with you after the last page is turned.  Read an excerpt of The Other Joseph.

You can connect with Skip Horack on Twitter as well as on his website.