Friday, July 29, 2016

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #116

- 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
Karin Slaughter's newest book, The Kept Woman, is the 8th in the Will Trent series. And it's definitely on my TBR list. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Hmm, the UK cover conveys more murder and mayhem with the burned ID, bloodstains and scratched cement (?) floor. I'm not sure what that plastic roll is? Drugs? The US cover is clearer and subtler. I like the knot tying together the rings. The grey colour extends to both versions. Font change on the title from all caps on the US to all small on the UK.  If I didn't know the author and her writing style, the UK cover would convey it better. But I do know her style, so I am going with the US cover this week. Any plans to read The Kept Woman? Which cover do you prefer? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The House Between Tides - Sarah Maine

The House Between Tides is Sarah Maine's debut novel, releasing in Canada on August 2/16.

I always stop to look at a cover before turning the first page and this one definitely caught my eye. A mysterious old house surrounded by water? I'm in.

Hetty Deveraux is living in London when she is contacted by a solicitor informing her that she has inherited Muirlan House in the Scottish Hebrides - a house that is only accessible twice a day from the mainland when the tides are out.

Hetty is shocked, but sees the inheritance as a chance to escape London and her boyfriend. Perhaps the estate can be fixed up and turned into a hotel? But when she arrives, the damage is greater than she could have imagined. Uninhabited since 1945, the house has fallen into abject disrepair. When a set of bones is located under some floorboards, any idea of repairing the building is quickly halted. Who could the bones belong to? What happened? When? Why?

Absolutely delicious! Spanning one hundred years, The House Between Tides is told in a then and now format, alternating chapters from Beatrice's voice in 1910 and Hetty's in 2010.

Beatrice is the young wife of noted painter and wildlife enthusiast Theo Blake, who owns the island and manages the crofters. Life on Muirlan is not quite the idyllic experience Beatrice had imagined. There are secrets and simmering tensions between family members as well as the island community - and between Beatrice and her new husband.  And neither is it quite what Hetty had envisioned either. Those secrets and tensions seem to have survived the years, affecting the present. Issues brought to light in 1910 are still relevant in 2010.

Ahh, what more could you want?  A rambling mansion, desolate setting, secrets, a body, suspicious and unhappy locals, love stories (yes, plural, there are two of them - one in each time frame) and a lovely, atmospheric journey to the ending where the narratives finally meet. A decidedly Gothic feel.

I enjoyed both Beatrice and Hetty as lead characters. But, I was drawn more to Beatrice, for although she was constrained by the societal expectations of the time, she stayed true to herself and had spunk. Hetty is constrained more by her own self, her insecurities and her inability to speak up for herself.

I enjoy dual narrative novels. The reader is privy to both timelines, able to fit together the pieces and see where they might fit together. However, I do find myself staying up late with the back and forth - I always need just 'one more chapter' before shutting off the lights.

Maine paints a beautiful setting in The House Between Tides - the sea, the sun, the sand, the sky and the wildlife are all wonderfully and vividly described - making it very easy to imagine the island.

I quit enjoyed The House Between Tides and look forward to Maine's next book. Fans of Kate Morton and Eve Chase would enjoy The House Between Tides. Read an excerpt.

You can find Sarah Maine on her website, follow her on Twitter @SarahMaineBooks and like her on Facebook.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Over the Counter #325

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? This week it's Christmas in July.....

First up is Cake Pops Holidays by Bakerella.

From the publisher, Chronicle Books:

"Bakerella is the force behind the worldwide sensation that is cake pops and now she's back for the holidays. Here, she celebrates the holiday season with more than twenty winter-themed cake pop creations including adorable Christmas trees, sweet Santas, tiny gingerbread houses, snowflakes and many more. These cute and clever designs include step-by-step instructions and plenty of Bakerella’s expert guidance, giving you the skills to make and decorate them like a professional. Follow Bakerella’s tips for displaying, gifting, boxing and shipping your precious pops and spread lots of smiles this holiday season.

Next up is Gingerbread: Timeless Recipes for Cakes, Cookies, Desserts, Ice Cream, and Candy by Jennifer Lindner McGlinn, hotographs by Beatrice Peltre.

Also from Chronicle Books:

"Who says gingerbread is just for the holidays? This unique cookbook shows how gingerbread can be enjoyed for breakfast or dessert year-round. Reflecting the wisdom and creativity of a professional pastry chef and dedicated home cook, Gingerbread collects 60 traditional and modern recipes. Start with simple, yummy treats like Gingerbread Rum Cake and Sticky Toffee Gingerbread, then graduate to building your own gingerbread house for the holidays. Any way you slice it, these gingery goodies are sure to be a hit on any day of the year!"

(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, July 26, 2016

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper - Phaedra Patrick

I love thrillers, suspense and mystery novels. But the books that really stay with me are those that tug at the heartstrings. Books such as The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rush Home Road, A Man Called Ove and Britt-Marie Was Here, to name a few.

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick is going to join that list. (And a lot of others - translation rights for this debut novel have been sold to twenty countries already!)

After forty years of marriage, Arthur Pepper's beloved wife Miriam passes away. Arthur keeps the same routines and touches nothing in the house for a year. But after a year, he decides he needs to finally go through her things. And that's when he discovers a golden bracelet with eight charms tucked away (well let's say hidden) in one of her shoes. A bracelet that Arthur has never seen in their forty years together........

Arthur discovers what he thinks to be a phone number on the elephant charm, calls it - and begins a journey to discover his wife's life before they met. A life that he had no idea about.

Arthur is such a warm wonderful protagonist! The reader can't help but empathize as Arthur struggles to understand why his wife hid so much from him and cheer him on as his journey progresses. For with each charm and each new revelation, Arthur also moves forward, not just physically (his journey takes him to India, London and Paris), but mentally and emotionally as well. And although Arthur may not realize it, his calm, measured, friendly manner is also making a difference in the lives of those he meets along the way.

I felt just as strongly about Arthur's neighbour Bernadette (and her son Nathan) - she has been trying to help Arthur over the last year with meals and company. At first I thought 'busybody' but my opinion changed. Her ever cheerful, upbeat mood is genuine despite her own problems.

Patrick explores love, loss, grief, friendship and more with healthy doses of charm, wit, humour and reality in The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper. I absolutely loved this book! And Arthur.

The title is quite clever - the charms themselves, Arthur himself and the story itself. Read an excerpt of The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper.

You can connect with Phaedra Patrick on Twitter, on her website, and find her on Facebook.

Monday, July 25, 2016

After Anna - Alex Lake

After Anna by Alex Lake was a Sunday Times bestseller in Britain last year. I picked it up based on the publisher's description: "A bone-chilling psychological thriller that will suit fans of Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn, Daughter, by Jane Shemilt, and The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins."

Julia is running late to pick up her five year old daughter Anna from school - and her phone is dead. She hopes the school will understand - again. But when she finally arrives......Anna is not there. She's vanished without a trace.

The first half of the book details the search for Anna and the guilt and blame Julia is subjected to - by herself, the public, her husband Brian and his mother Edna. The actual police investigation is a bit thin - the focus seems to be on the three main characters and their dysfunctional relationships. Despite what has happened, I found it hard to like Julia and empathize with her. She's mercurial, all over the map with what she wants from life, from her marriage and belatedly - from motherhood. There's no question about Brian and his mother however. Edna is quite opinionated and Brian is happy to agree with her. Negative social media coverage provides a realistic look at how the media influences opinions and public judgement.

Cut into the narrative are the kidnapper's thoughts...."It was easier than you had expected. The girl came without complaint. You spotted her as she left the school, alone, looking around, clearly bereft of a parent to pick her up. Who would do that? Who would be so negligent as to leave a five-year-old in so vulnerable a position? It was appalling, it really was. But it was good for you."

This is not a spoiler - it figures prominently into the publisher's description. In part two Anna is returned unharmed. Where was she? Why was she taken? And why is the kidnapper still interested in this family? I think this plot turn would have been better if the reader could have discovered it themselves, rather than having it already laid out. It certainly detracted from the search for Anna in part one as we know she is going to be found.

There is a paucity of suspects and I found the whodunit fairly easy to suss out, despite the large red herring in the room. After Anna didn't quite live up to the comparison to Gone Girl, but I found the book entertaining for a lazy day's reading. Read an excerpt of After Anna. You can connect with Alex Lake (a pseudonym) on Twitter @Alexlakeauthor.

Friday, July 22, 2016

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #115

- 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've not read Michael Koryta before, but his new book, Rise the Dark is on my TBR list. Two very different looks this week. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right.  I like the colours of the US cover, but I'm really over the 'girl looking back over her shoulder' shot. (although is is a part of the plot)I would have picked it up to read the flyleaf without the girl on the cover. It seems a bit more sensationalistic than the UK cover. But, I'm going to go with the UK cover this week. I like the stark, black and white look, the empty road and the figure in black. Have you read Michael Koryta before? Which cover do you prefer? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Dark Matter - Blake Crouch

Praise from some of my favourite authors (Lee Child, Harlan Coben and Justin Cronin) had me eager to dive into Blake Crouch's new novel, Dark Matter.

And if that wasn't enough, this description from the publisher, sealed the deal.

" “Are you happy with your life?” Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”"

I love this type of storyline - an everyday person thrown into an extraordinary situation - with no idea who, what, where and why. I can't wait to dig in find the answers alongside the main character. Crouch's writing easily draws the reader in - and then keeps them captivated until the last page is turned.

The publisher has suspense/thriller and science fiction as genres for Dark Matter. But, if you're thinking, oh I don't like sci-fi, think again. It doesn't define the book completely. Yes, there are some mind bending theories to wrap your head around, but there's action, suspense, twists and yes - a love story. I know eh? Heck of a mix. But Crouch makes it really, really work.

I want to be somewhat vague in describing the plot - I'll just say this - multiverse vs. universe. Uh, huh, the possibilities are endless.....and had me wondering what if?

I raced through Dark Matter, totally caught up in Jason Dessen's world and desperate race to find answers and resolution. Five stars for this one!  Read an excerpt of Dark Matter.

Crouch has also penned the Wayward Pines books, made into a Fox television series, that I really enjoyed as well. (Can't wait for season two.) Dark Matter would also make a great series or feature film. You can connect with Blake Crouch his website, and follow him on Twitter.