Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy - Rachel Joyce

I am often asked - who is your favourite author? Well, it's hard to narrow it down to just one. But, the books that stay with me long after the last page are the ones that move me, that make me laugh, make me cry and make me think. Stories about people. Rachel Joyce writes extraordinary stories. And yes, she is one of my favourite authors.

You may recognize her name - The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was a best seller and is a book I absolutely loved. (my review) For those of you who haven't read it (and you need to) it is the story of an ordinary man who receives a postcard from Queenie Hennessy, someone he hasn't heard from in twenty years. She is dying, but wants to say thank you for his friendship all those years ago. Harold gets it into his head that if he walks to see her (from one end of England to the other) she won't die.

I remember thinking at the end of Harold's story, that I wanted to know more about Queenie's life. And I've got my wish. Rachel Joyce's new book is The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy. We get to see the other side of the story as Queenie waits in the hospice for Harold to arrive. Unable to speak, and with the help of one of the nuns, she decides to write another letter to Harold - "....tell him the truth, the whole truth. Tell him how it really was."

Queenie's memories are full of joy and love, but also sadness and pain. I loved this ....."If only memory were a library with everything stored where it should be. If only you could walk to the desk and say to the assistant, I'd like to return the painful memories about David Fry or indeed his mother and take out some happier ones please."

The past and those memories are unfurled and revealed in Queenie's remembering. The pace of her telling varies and I found myself matching my reading to the story. Slowly, to stop and savour the joy and description of her beautiful sea garden and more quickly as the painful memories are unearthed.

The hospice is populated by a wonderfully eclectic group whose time is limited as well. Harold's journey and Queenie's waiting for Harold becomes part of their lives also. The nuns that work at the hospice are funny, kind and wise. Innocent Sister Lucy and Sister Mary Inconno were personal favourites. " You are here to live until you die. There is a significant difference."

Joyce says she ..."set out to write a book about dying that was full of life. It seems to me that you can't really write about one without the other - just as you can't really write about happiness if you don't confront sadness.

And she has. Rachel Joyce's writing make you feel - laugh, cry (oh yes have a tissue ready), empathize and sympathize, and might have you thinking about your own life, loves, hopes and dreams.

There are so many memorable passages in this book - Joyce is such a gifted writer. "Sometimes, Harold, the way forward takes you by surprise. You try to force something in the familiar direction and discover that what it needs is to move in a different dimension. The way forward is not forward, but off to one side, in a place you have not noticed before."

Just when I was resigned to the end of the book only being a few pages away, Joyce surprised me - with the most perfect, unexpected ending. If you loved Harold Fry's story (and I would recommend reading Harold's story first to fully appreciate this book), you'll love Queenie's too.  This is one of my favourite books of 2014. Read an excerpt of The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy. You can find Rachel Joyce on Facebook and on Twitter.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Giveaway - The Bodies We Wear - Jeyn Roberts

I've got a great giveaway for you today - Jeyn Robert's newest book - The Bodies We Wear.

From the publisher, Knopf Books:

"A  streetwise girl trains to take on a gang of drug dealers and avenge her best friend’s death in this thriller for fans of Scott Westerfeld and Robin Wasserman.

People say when you take Heam, your body momentarily dies and you catch a glimpse of heaven. Faye was only eleven when dealers forced Heam on her and her best friend, Christian. But Faye didn’t glimpse heaven—she saw hell. And Christian died.

Now Faye spends her days hiding her secret from the kids at school, and her nights training to take revenge on the men who destroyed her life and murdered her best friend. But life never goes the way we think it will. When a mysterious young man named Chael appears, Faye's plan suddenly gets a lot more complicated. Chael seems to know everything about her, including her past. But too many secrets start tearing her world apart: trouble at school, with the police, and with the people she thought might be her friends. Even Gazer, her guardian, fears she's become too obsessed with vengeance. Love and death. Will Faye overcome her desires, or will her quest for revenge consume her?" Read an excerpt of The Bodies We Wear.

"Jeyn Roberts is the author of Dark Inside and Rage Within. Her first story was published in a middle-grade anthology called Let Me Tell You when she was sixteen. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in writing and psychology and received her MA from the prestigious creative writing graduate course at Bath Spa University. Jeyn is a former singer, songwriter, actress, bicycle courier, and tree planter. Her favorite authors include Betty Smith, JK Rowling, Ernest Hemmingway, Douglas Coupland, and Jonathan Stroud, and her 5 favorite books of all time are A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Girlfriend in a Coma, Memoirs of a Geisha, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, and Harry Potter. Visit her at www.jeynroberts.com or follow her on twitter at @JeynRoberts. Jeyn lives in Canada"

I've got one copy of The Bodies We Wear to giveaway - simply leave a comment to be entered. Ends Nov 1/14. Open to US and Canada.

Monday, October 20, 2014

One Kick - Chelsea Cain

After turning the final page of the sixth Gretchen Lowell/Archie Sheridan thriller (Let Me Go), I wondered if there could be anything in the future for these characters. For me, this series seemed to have run its course.

Well, Chelsea Cain has unleashed a new character on readers. Her new book, One Kick is the first in a new series featuring Kick Lannigan. What a great character name eh?

Kick was kidnapped as a six year old and famously rescued when she was eleven. The years spent in captivity shaped her path - and her personality. She's tough as nails, but vulnerable, fearsome, yet fearful. And she has a goal - to prey on those that prey on children. A wealthy man named John Bishop, approaches Kick to help him find two local missing kids. There's a chance they could still be alive - and Bishop believes Kick has the key to finding them locked in her past. But who is Bishop really? And what is his agenda?

Cain writes great kick *** characters. Lannigan is definitely one of those, but with a wounded side that makes us fear for her as she wades into danger. One Kick introduces us to Lannigan, lets us get to know her and sets the tone and the background for the next in the series. One Kick has a resolution, but the last few pages are a kicker (sorry, couldn't resist) that will leave readers with the same questions Lannigan has. I 'll be watching for the next book.

Cain's books are not for the faint of heart. There are disturbing themes, descriptions and language. Those looking for a dark thriller will absolutely find it in One Kick. Read an excerpt of One Kick. You can find Chelsea Cain on Facebook and on Twitter.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Winner - Nora Bonesteel's Christmas Past

And the randomly chosen winner of a copy of Nora Bonesteel's Christmas Past by Sharyn McCrumb, courtesy of Abingdon Press is:

Suburbanprep

Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing address. Please respond within 48 hours - after that time a new winner will be chosen. Keep your eye on the sidebar for other great giveaways!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #26

- 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
This week's entry is for another book I'm looking forward to reading. Stephen King's new book, Revival, releases on Nov 11/14.  The US/Canadian cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. This week, I'm going to go with the UK cover. Interesting that there's lightning on both covers, but it's that scary rundown tent that draws me to the book. Which cover do you prefer? Do you plan to read Revival?

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular Saturday feature on A Bookworm's World. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

You - Caroline Kepnes

You is the deliciously creepy new novel from Caroline Kepnes.

When Guinevere Beck walks into a New York bookstore, she immediately catches the eye of the clerk, Joe. A light flirtatious conversation ensues, but for Joe it is much more than that. Beck is the one he's been looking for. They're meant to be together. But Joe wants to make sure everything is right first - so he begins gathering information.... he discovers where Beck lives, begins watching her home, stalking her online profiles and hacks into the cell phone she 'lost' at the bookstore.

You is told entirely from Joe's point of view in an unending, seriously disturbed stream of consciousness narrative. The matter of fact attitude in dealing with roadblocks (Beck has a boyfriend already) to his ultimate goal (Beck) is truly chilling. But just as frightening is his ability to explain and rationalize almost anything. Beck isn't quite the golden girl Joe envisions. But no matter, they will be a beautiful couple. He just has to win her over - bit by bit.

None of the main characters in You are likable. And yet, when I thought about Joe and Beck, it is actually Joe that elicits a modicum of sympathy. I know! Beck is the 'stalkee' and the one in seeming danger, but I really didn't like her at all. Kepnes's character development was excellent.

Kepnes has penned her own version of the 'stalker' novel. It's different - and it's darn good. Kepnes has written for Entertainment Weekly and television. She knows how to grab the reader and hold them. I was hooked from first page to last. And I started getting a little paranoid after the first few chapters.....Read an excerpt of You. And I loved the ending. This one has film written all over it.

You can keep up with Caroline Kepnes on Facebook and on Twitter.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Over the Counter #234

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Goin' to the dogs this week....

First up is Off the Leash by Matthew Gilbert.

From the publisher, St. Martin's Press:

"OFF THE LEASH is a group portrait of dog people, specifically the strange, wonderful, neurotic, and eccentric dog people who gather at Amory Park, overlooking Boston near Fenway Park. And it’s about author Matthew Gilbert’s transformation, after much fear and loathing of dogs and social groups, into one of those dog people with fur on their jackets, squeaky toys in their hands, and biscuits in their pockets.
   
Gilbert, longtime TV critic at The Boston Globe, describes his reluctant trip into the dog park subculture, as the first-time owner of a stubbornly social Yellow Lab puppy named Toby. Like many Americans, he was happily accustomed to the safe distance of TV viewing and cell-phone web surfing, tethered to the digital leash. But the headstrong, play-obsessed Toby pulls him to Amory, and Amory becomes an exhilarating dose of presence for him. The joyous chaos of wrestling dogs and the park’s cast of offbeat dog owners – the “pack of freaks” – gradually draw him into the here and now. At the dog park, the dog owners go off the leash, too.

Dog-park life can be tense. When dogs fight, their owners – such as the reckless Charlotte – bare their teeth at each other, too. Amid the rollicking dog play, feelings tend to surface faster, unedited. But Gilbert shows how Amory is an idyllic microcosm, too, the home of enduring friendships and, as the droll but vulnerable Hayley knows, romantic crushes. Meeting daily, a gathering of dog owners can be like group therapy, or The Office, or a standup concert.

As a TV critic, Matthew Gilbert is well-known by his readership for his humorous and wry writing style. A charming narrative that will appeal to anyone who has ever enjoyed watching a puppy scamper through a park, OFF THE LEASH is a paean to dog lovers and their pets everywhere, perfect for fans of Marley & Me and Merle's Door."

Next up is The Dog Lived (And So Will I) by Teresa J. Rhyne.

From the publisher, Sourcebooks:

"The tale of a dog who wouldn't let go and the woman who followed his lead. Teresa Rhyne vowed to get things right this time around: new boyfriend, new house, new dog, maybe even new job. But shortly after she adopted Seamus, a totally incorrigible beagle, vets told Teresa that he had a malignant tumor and less than a year to live. The diagnosis devastated her, but she decided to fight it, learning everything she could about the best treatment for Seamus. Teresa couldn't possibly have known then that she was preparing herself for life's next hurdle — a cancer diagnosis of her own.

 She forged ahead with survival, battling a deadly disease, fighting for doctors she needed, and baring her heart for a seemingly star–crossed relationship. The Dog Lived (and so Will I) is an uplifting and heartwarming story about how dogs steal our hearts, show us how to live, and teach us how to love."

(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!)