Thursday, July 31, 2014

Over the Counter #223

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Big heavy books with lots of pictures this week!

First up was Hollywood Costume edited by Deborah Nadoolman Landis.

From the publisher, Harry Abrams:

"Featuring the most beloved costume designs from the past 100 years of Hollywood films, Hollywood Costume celebrates, for the very first time, the costume designer’s contribution to the telling of the cinematic story. Published in conjunction with an exhibition launched at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London that the New York Times called “extraordinary,” the book showcases the talents of renowned designers such as Adrian, Edith Head, and Sandy Powell, among many others, whose work spans the silent era to the Golden Age of Hollywood to the present day. Essays by a wide variety of leading scholars, archivists, and private collectors, as well as contributions by contemporary costume designers, actors, and directors, take a close look at the conventions of what is considered “costume” and the role of the designer in creating a film’s characters and helping to shape its narrative. With memorable wardrobe classics from The Tramp, Ben-Hur, Cleopatra, The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, Pirates of the Caribbean, Ocean’s Eleven, Sherlock Holmes, Avatar, and many more, Hollywood Costume is the ultimate volume for fashionistas and film lovers alike."

Next up was Terra Maxima: The Records of Humankind edited by Wolfgang Kunth.

From the publisher, Firefly Books:

"The greatest achievements of humankind in one stunning volume. From the most widely used languages and scripts, to the great religious communities, to the giant structures and the technological successes of the modern age -- this volume offers a fascinating overview of the records and achievements of civilization in their entirety and diversity. 
More than 3000 color photographs taken by top photographers around the world celebrate the cultural and technological touchstones of human history. Ranking lists provide at-a-glance overviews while descriptive captions give substantial information on a number of topics. Concise text tells of the economic developments and population growth in our megacities, the pioneering work done in science and technology, and the remarkable innovations in the construction of museums, theaters, libraries and sports venues, among many other human achievements.

The book is set out in ten chapters, each covering dozens of topics laid out in double-page spreads filled with brilliant photographs of structures and technology. Fascinating browsing, essential reference, and a tremendous documentation of contemporary achievement, Terra Maxima is a unique compilation of the ultimate."

(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, July 30, 2014

The Death Factory - Greg Iles

You may remember me raving about Greg Iles' new book Natchez Burning - the first in a planned trilogy. (my review)

I only discovered after reading the book that Iles had penned an 'in-between' Penn Cage novella called The Death Factory that is set just before the beginning of Natchez Burning.

Before returning to Natchez, Penn worked in a DA's office that became known as The Death Factory - that office sent more people to death row than any other. But when an evidence tech still working there becomes concerned that sloppy evidence handling has put an innocent man behind bars, it is Penn he turns to - not his current employer.

For those that haven't yet read Natchez Burning, this is a great 'opening' chapter for that book, setting the scene in so many ways. We learn of  Tom Cage's illness, and wonder what it is he wanted to tell Penn, see more of Penn's brother Jack and get the full story of  Penn's wife's illness and death. And for those new to this series (!!) it's a great introduction to this fantastic character and series. And, there's a great case to boot! Iles's stories are simply a joy to read or listen to. The Death Factory will only whet your appetite for the main course - Natchez Burning.

However, that being said, I listened to The Death Factory after reading Natchez Burning, and still hugely enjoyed it. More like dessert for me.

As I said, I did choose to listen. The reader is David LeDoux. He has a great voice with a lovely gravely undertone that just resonates. His southern accent is not overdone or affected, but is understated and just right.  Listen to an excerpt of The Death Factory.

You can keep up with Greg Iles on Facebook and on Twitter.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Goodnight June - Sarah Jio

Following on the heels of yesterday's post, today's entry is another book about books and bookstores. Sarah Jio's latest is Goodnight June. Close to the title of that classic children's book Goodnight Moon, right? Well, Jio actually imagines what the origins of Goodnight Moon  might have been in this cosy read.

Jio's books often tie the present and past together in a back and forth narrative. Goodnight June follows this formula as well. June is a high powered banker who is in overdrive every day. When her beloved Aunt Ruby dies, she leaves June Bluebird Books, the children's bookstore she started in 1940. June takes a few days off to settle the estate. But that timeframe stretches to a few weeks as she begins to discover things about her aunt's past that she didn't know. Specifically, that she was great friends with Margaret Wise Brown - the author of Goodnight Moon. The two women's lives are slowly revealed through a set of letters, as well as a mystery. The cute owner of the caf√© beside the store is also an incentive to stay.

Jio has again crafted an easily read, enjoyable novel. Her imagining of the connections between Wise and her aunt is imaginative. As with all of Jio's books, there is a light mystery, some heartbreak, some romance and an ending that will please readers. There are a few plot devices that are overly fortuitous, but I was reading for that happy ending, so I didn't let them bother me.  I find Jio's books to be good, light reading for the plane or the beach. If you've read other Jio books, then you will enjoy this latest.

Love found, love lost, and a love of books all figure into the plot of Goodnight June. Read an excerpt of Goodnight June. You can keep up with Sarah Jio on Facebook and on Twitter. Jio's next book, The Look of Love releases in November of this year.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry - Gabrielle Zevin

I absolutely adored Gabrielle Zevin's latest novel, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry! Although murder and mayhem is my favourite genre to read, I need to read a feel good story every so often. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is a five star feel good!

A.J. is the curmudgeonly owner of Island Books. The sign above the door also includes: "No man is an island: every book is a world."

A.J. has made himself into an island though. His wife has died and so has a part of A.J. He doesn't like people and he drinks too much. A valuable book that was to have funded his retirement has been stolen - and it wasn't insured. What does life have left to offer A.J.? What does A.J. have left to offer to the world? Not much it seems, until the day a unusual 'package' is left in the bookstore.....And so begins a new chapter of life for A.J. Fikry....

Now, I have no desire to spoil this book for potential readers, so suffice to say, there is romance, heartbreak, heartwarming, drama, humour and much, much more contained within the pages of A.J.'s life. I was completely caught up in Zevin's wonderful story and spent most of one Sunday on Alice Island.

Zevin has created such a wonderful cast of characters, each with a unique voice and their own story. A.J.'s wry comments and gruff attitude belie a gentle, caring soul. There is a wonderful cast of supporting characters as well. Best supporting goes to Police Chief Lambiese whose slow, easy manner hides an astute mind.  I would love to attend the Chief's Choice book club. (with a focus on crime writers)

The literary references, the bookseller and publisher rep comments and the descriptions of the bookstore will fill any booklover or bookseller with delight. I wanted to live in the little apartment above Island Books and hang out in the store below. Definitely a recommended read, guaranteed to warm the heart and soul. Read an excerpt of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry. 

I had a quick listen to the audiobook version as well. Scott Brick (one of my favourites) is the reader and I thought his interpretation was spot on. Listen to an excerpt of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry.

You can keep up with Gabrielle Zevin on Twitter and on Facebook.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Winner - Good Morning, Mr. Mandela

And the lucky winner of a copy of Good Morning, Mr. Mandela: A Memoir by Zelda la Grange, courtesy of Viking Books is:

KAS

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, July 26, 2014

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #14

- 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 was hunting down cover art for Tim Weaver's latest book - Never Coming Back - and came across the US/Canadian on the left and the UK cover on the right. I prefer the North American cover this time. I like the photo used on the US cover and would want to read the flyleaf. The UK cover does grab your eye with the red type. And the tagline on the cover lets you quickly have an idea of what the novel is about and that it's part of a series. UK for me this week. Either way, it's a good read! Which cover do you prefer? Have you read Never Coming Back?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular Saturday feature on A Bookworm's World

Friday, July 25, 2014

No Relation - Terry Fallis

When talking books, I've had more than one person tell me that I need to try Canadian author Terry Fallis. His earlier novel Best Laid Plans has been made into a television series by CBC and I was hearing that it was really good as well. So, I decided to pick up Fallis's newest book No Relation.

I should have listened sooner.....

I rarely laugh out loud when reading a book, but Fallis had me chuckling more than once.

Earnest Hemmingway is the protagonist of No Relation. I bet you immediately thought oh right, the author. Not quite....Although Earnest Hemmingway has been blessed with a famous name, it's a family name and the spelling is different. No, our Earnest is a middle aged man who in one day, has lost his wallet, his job and his girlfriend. And now his father is demanding he take his rightful place at the helm of the family underwear business. The name seems to be the least of his worries. But Earnest decides that with nothing but time on his hands and a good severance cheque in his wallet, it's time to make changes. With the help of some other 'famous' names he sets out on a journey to make the name his own.

I loved Earnest's voice from the first few pages. I appreciated his dry, droll humour  and his laid back view of life. Although the license bureau incident was not so laid back - but quite funny. Fallis brings physical comedy to the page very well. Ernest is the everyman that you can't help but root for. He's just eminently likable. Just as warmly written are the band of other famous name folks populating the book - Mahatma Gandhi, Diana Ross, Jackie Kennedy, Clark Kent and more. They're an eclectic, amiable bunch, also guaranteed to endear themselves to the reader.

And don't forget about the family factory. Fallis's second storyline and set of characters, including Hem's sister, father and the requisite 'bad guy' is just as entertaining.

No Relation was a wonderfully fun read - definitely humorous, but also with a touching side. And this reader will be picking up Fallis's backlist. Read an excerpt of No Relation.

You can follow Terry Fallis on Twitter and on Facebook.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Over the Counter #222

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? A pair for the crafty folks in the crowd this week....

First up is Happy Gloves: Charming Softy Friends Made From Colorful Gloves by Miyako Kanamori.

From the publisher, Penguin:

"Whimsical and endearing, here are nineteen more softy sewing projects in the adorable, quirky aesthetic of Sock and Glove. Because who doesn't have a few odd gloves lying around and who couldn't use another quietly cheerful small friend?

Includes complete instructions to make a chipmunk, frog, duck, flower, car, donkey, tiger, and more!"

Not just gloves, but socks as well.....Sock and Glove: Creating Charming Soft Friends from Cast-off Socks and Gloves by Easy to make…easy to love!

From the publisher, Penguin:

"Sock and Glove presents thirteen delightful softy projects that are quick to make-and certain to amuse and delight. Full of individuality and mischief, these stuffed creations are all pieced together from ordinary socks, gloves, and mittens. Step-by-step illustrations and instructions make it easy to craft and dress a whole menagerie, including monkeys, elephants, piglets, bunnies, and even an insouciant fish.

Endearing to adults and children alike, these whimsical creatures make perfect gifts and inspiring companions."

(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, July 23, 2014

Never Coming Back - Tim Weaver - Review AND Giveaway

Tim Weaver is a best selling author in the UK, but Never Coming Back is his first release in North America.

Never Coming Back is actually the fourth book in Weaver's David Raker series. Raker, a former journalist, is now a missing persons investigator - indeed, he is driven by the need to 'find the lost.'

While visiting family in Devon, Raker is approached by an old girlfriend. She's heard about Raker's talents and wants to hire him as her sister and family have gone missing. More than missing - it's like they've disappeared. Everything in the house was left, including dinner on the table and the family dog - and not a trace of them since. The police investigation seems to have hit a dead end. Raker is intrigued by the case and agrees to look into it.

I admit to feeling slightly lost in the first few chapters as there are two seeming protagonists. Colm Healy is a retired Met officer who is living with Raker. Reference is made to past cases and occurrences in the beginning. However as the book progressed, I quickly caught up with who was who and realized that Raker was the lead. (But I found Healy obnoxious and abrasive and I wasn't quite sure of his role in this book. It would be interesting to read the past three books to see what has gone on before)

I too was hooked by the missing family. Where could they have gone? Taken or gone by their own decision?

Weaver tantalizingly includes italicized chapters from the past, starting eighteen months ago and moving forward until past and present meet. The first entry had me wondering how in the world this would tie in with the family's disappearance. The who is revealed, but the why is the largest part of the plot and definitely kept me guessing.

Weaver's plot is big and far reaching - the novel has two settings - England and Las Vegas. Weaver does a great job with bringing his settings to life.  (I was fascinated with the abandoned village in England) Weaver's tale is dark and gritty, with a violent antagonist who is particularly chilling I thought a few of the plot twists were a bit far-fetched, but this didn't detract from my rapid page turning. The ending was great, with a last turn that I did not see coming. I appreciate being surprised in the final pages of a book.

I like Raker as a character, as well as the missing persons idea. I wouldn't hesitate to pick up another book by this author. The fifth in the series, Fall From Grace, releases in the UK mid August. Read an excerpt of Never Coming Back.

"Tim Weaver was born in 1977. At eighteen, he left school and started working in magazine journalism, and has since gone on to develop a successful career writing about films, TV, sports, games and technology. He is married with a young daughter, and lives near Bath, England. Visit him at www.timweaverbooks.com." You can keep up with Tim Weaver on Facebook and on Twitter.

And thanks to the generosity of Penguin Books, I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!Simply leave a comment to be entered. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends August 9/14.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Giveaway - Sisters of Treason - Elizabeth Fremantle

Calling all historical fiction fans! I've got a great giveaway for you today. Elizabeth Fremantle's newest book - Sisters of Treason.

From the publisher, Simon and Schuster:

"From the author of Queen’s Gambit, which People magazine called, “A must-read for Philippa Gregory fans,” a gripping historical novel about two sisters who tread as dangerously close to the crown as their tragic sister, Lady Jane Grey, executed after just nine days on the throne.

Early in Mary Tudor’s turbulent reign, Lady Catherine and Lady Mary Grey are reeling after the brutal execution of their elder seventeen-year-old sister, Lady Jane Grey, and the succession is by no means stable. In Sisters of Treason, Elizabeth Fremantle brings these young women to life in a spellbinding Tudor tale of love and politics.

Neither sister is well suited to a dangerous life at court. Flirtatious Lady Catherine, thought to be the true heir, cannot control her compulsion to love and be loved. Her sister, clever Lady Mary, has a crooked spine and a tiny stature in an age when physical perfection equates to goodness—and both girls have inherited the Tudor blood that is more curse than blessing. For either girl to marry without royal permission would be a potentially fatal political act. It is the royal portrait painter, Levina Teerlinc, who helps the girls survive these troubled times. She becomes their mentor and confidante, but when the Queen’s sister, the hot-headed Elizabeth, inherits the crown, life at court becomes increasingly treacherous for the surviving Grey sisters. Ultimately each young woman must decide how far she will go to defy her Queen, risk her life, and find the safety and love she longs for.

From “a brilliant new player in the court of royal fiction,” (People) Sisters of Treason brings to vivid life the perilous and romantic lives of two little known young women who played a major role in the complex politics of their day."

"Elizabeth Fremantle is the author of Queen's Gambit and has contributed to Vogue, Elle, Vanity Fair and The Sunday Times among other publications. She lives in London, England." Read an excerpt of Sisters of Treason.

Sound like a book you'd like to own? I have one copy to giveaway. Open to continental US only, no PO boxes please. Simply leave a comment to be entered. Ends August 9/14.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Peter Pan Must Die - John Verdon

John Verdon has just released Peter Pan Must Die, the fourth book in his Dave Gurney series. I've been a fan from Verdon's first release, Think of a Number.

Dave Gurney is a retired NYPD homicide detective, who had one of the highest clear rates in the department. Now, he and his wife Madeleine have moved to the country. Madeleine has embraced the change, but Dave can't seem to let his past life go.  He's been approached over the past few years to help solve the unsolvable. He can't seem to say no, despite the danger that pursuing answers brings to his doorstep.

Jack Hardwick (another recurring character) has left law enforcement to hang out his shingle as a private detective. His fledgling case is that of a woman already convicted of murdering her husband. He's been hired to re investigate the case - and he wants Dave's help. Dave agrees to have a look, but doesn't commit until...

"It was little more that the clicking together of the first two pieces of a five-hundred-piece puzzle, but it felt good. A click was a click. And the first click had a special power."

Sometimes a crime series has characters or plot as its strength. In Verdon's case, its both. Dave Gurney is a wonderful character. His puzzle solving skills, his reasoning and his careful, analytical mind make solving case along side of him great reading. It is intriguing to follow along with his thought processes as he links together seemingly disparate incidents and clues. But this character is not one dimensional. Instead Verdon also explores Gurney's psyche and the reasons he constantly puts himself in danger. This drive for answers also exposes his loved ones to danger, especially Madeleine. I've come to appreciate Dave as a person more over the course of the last three books. But, I have to say that I really, really enjoy Madeleine. Her view of life, her intelligence, her joy in everything she she sees and does makes her my favourite. The relationship between her and Dave has been explored further with every entry in this series and is as much of interest to this reader as the cases. As Dave says:

" Our minds work differently. I get into something and just sort of stay in it. Madeleine has a way of changing her focus, of paying total attention to whatever's in front of her - adapting to the moment. She's always present, if you know what I mean."

Verdon does a spectacular job with his plotting. Where you think the story will go is turned around several times over the course of the book. A few plot devices seemed a bit far fetched, but didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book.

I quite enjoy this series and will be watching for number five. You could read any of the books as a stand alone, but I bet you'll be hunting down the other three!

Read an excerpt of Peter Pan Must Die. You can find John Verdon on Facebook.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Winner - The Ways of the Dead - Neely Tucker

And the lucky winner of a copy of The Ways of the Dead by Neely Tucker, courtesy of Viking Books is:

Techeditor

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. Thanks to all who entered. Check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Winner - The Kraken Project - Douglas Preston

And the lucky winner of a copy of The Kraken Project by Douglas Preston, courtesy of Forge Books is:

Curlypow!

Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing address. Please respond within 48 hours. After that time a new winner will chosen. Thanks to all who entered - keep your eye on the sidebar for other great giveaways.

Winner - The Family Romanov

And the lucky winner of copy of The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming, courtesy of Random House is:

Freda M!

Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing address. Please respond in 48 hours. After that time, a new winner will be chosen. Thanks to all who entered - keep your eye on the sidebar for other great giveaways.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #13

- You Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover - Which is very true.
But you can like one cover version better than another...
 
US/Canada version
UK version

I was hunting down cover art for Jennifer Weiner's latest book - All Fall Down - and came across the US/Canadian on the left and the UK cover on the right. I prefer the North American cover this time. The UK cover does spell out exactly what the book is about, but I like the roller coaster imagery.Either way, it's a really good read! Which cover do you prefer? Have you read All Fall Down?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular Saturday feature on A Bookworm's World

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Over the Counter #221

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? It's retro this week...

First up is Betty Cornell's Teen-Age Popularity Guide:  Here you are - everything I learned as a teenage model about good looks, grooming and personality...all my secrets of poise and glamour in one big book to help YOU become the most popular girl in your set! by Betty Cornell.

From the publisher, Dutton Books:

"Available again for a whole new generation of readers, the original 1950s popularity guide that was the inspiration for teen author Maya Van Wagenen’s memoir Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek!

Filled with fun tips and vintage wisdom, Betty Cornell’s Teen-Age Popularity Guide offers advice and guidance for teens who want to be poised, self-confident, and “shiny bright.” Betty covers topics ranging from “Figure Problems,” “Good Grooming,” and “What to Wear Where” to hints on dating, hosting a great party, and becoming “the most popular girl in your set!”

Next up was Fabulous Frocks by Sarah Gristwood and Jane Eastoe.

From the publisher, Pavillion Books:

"No item of clothing has endured for longer than the dress. Yet the last century alone has seen the most radical changes of style – hemlines swinging from ankle to thigh; outlines alternating between the body-hugging and the bell – and our fascination with the ‘frock’ has not gone away. From Gres’ draping to Dior’s New Look, from Mary Quant’s mini to Hussein Chalayan’s mechanical marvels, this book looks at the dress in twentieth century fashion. Thematic chapters – Changes, Feminine, Sex, Must-haves, Fantasy, Classical and Art – set out the inspirations and implications for each new change alongside the stunning photography. It is more than eighty years since Coco Chanel invented the little black dress, but every woman still has one in her wardrobe today. It’s decades since women discovered trousers and separates, but every woman dreams of wearing a glorious, glamorous gown at least once, whether it’s on a Hollywood red carpet, or just on her wedding day. Fabulous Frocks is a book to fire a fashionista’s imagination."

(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, July 16, 2014

All Fall Down - Jennifer Weiner

I've been a fan of Jennifer Weiner from her first novel, Good in Bed. Her latest book, All Fall Down, has just released.

You know that analogy about the duck gliding serenely across the surface of the water - but what you can't see is how fast its feet are moving under the water? Well that is Allison Weiss's life.

On the surface she has it all - a beautiful home, a handsome husband, an adorable daughter and a very successful career as a blogger.

But lately her husband Dave has become distant, her daughter Ellie has behaviour issues, their house still looks like they just moved in, there are financial worries, her father has onset dementia, her mother isn't coping and the pressure to produce for the blog is all adding to the stress and pressure in Allison's life. The answer? A pill, or two, or three....

"Not one thing, but dozens of them, piling up against one another until the pills became less a luxury than a necessity for getting myself through the day and falling asleep at night."

While waiting to see the pediatrician, she idly fills out a magazine questionnaire and realizes...But she's not an addict, right? She can control it. And cut back if she wants to. Right?

As Weiner's tale unravels, so does Allie's life. The reader can empathize with her busy life and her stressors and can almost....but not quite, buy her rationalizations. And we can only watch as Allie's life mirrors that roller coaster on the cover and plunges downward.

Allison is not always a likable character - and that's to be expected given her situation. But I did like her voice. The supporting cast was a mixed bag. I thought Allie's mother's story was just as heartbreaking and telling. I was disappointed in Dave - he had suspicions of what was going on with Allie, but chose to not 'push' the issue, until things were far beyond the point of no return. I quite enjoyed Ellie's CAPITAL pronouncements.

What's frightening is that this book is not so far removed from the truth. Addiction doesn't always take place in a back alley in a bad part of town. I thought the ending was perfect - because life rarely is.

While Weiner's earlier books had more of a 'chick lit' feel to them, her later works tackle more serious subjects - contemporary women, their issues, emotions, thoughts and modern day life. She does it with warmth, humour, compassion and a sense of reality.

Read an excerpt of All Fall Down. You can keep up with Jennifer Weiner on Facebook and on Twitter.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Awesome Giveaway! Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella Prize Pack!

Mother and daughter writing team Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella have just released their latest collection of essays - Have a Nice Guilt Trip.

"Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella are back with another collection of warm and witty stories that will strike a chord with every woman. This four book series is among the best reviewed humor books published today and has been compared to the late greats, Erma Bombeck and Nora Ephron. Booklist raved of the third book in the series, Meet Me At Emotional Baggage Claim,  “readers can count on an ab-toning laugh session, a silly giggle, a sympathetic sigh, and a lump in the throat as life’s moments are rehashed through the keen eyes and wits of this lovable mother-daughter duo.”


This fourth volume, Have a Nice Guilt Trip, maintains the same sterling standard of humor and poignancy as Lisa and Francesca continue on the road of life acquiring men and puppies. Ok, to be honest, Lisa is acquiring the puppies, while Francesca is lucky enough to have dates with actual men. They leave it to the listeners to decide which is more desirable and/or or easier to train." Read an excerpt of Have a Nice Guilt Trip.

And to celebrate, they're giving away not just one copy of their new book....but their four previous books as well!

You read that right - one lucky reader will win all five books! Simply leave a comment with your dream trip destination to be entered. Open to continental US only, no PO boxes please. A winner will be randomly chosen on August 9th.

But wait - there's more! You can also enter to win an awesome "Guilt Trip Giveaway" prize pack worth more than $1,000! Every Wednesday from July 14th through August 29th, Lisa and Francesca are giving away everything you need for your own personal Guilt Trip. That's 7 prizes over 7 weeks! Visit this page on Lisa's website for full details and the entry form.

You can keep up with Lisa Scottoline on Facebook and on Twitter. And Francesca Serritella on Facebook and on Twitter.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Save the Date - Mary Kay Andrews - Review AND Giveaway!

My summer reading list would not be complete without the latest book from Mary Kay Andrews.

Save the Date is another wonderfully warm, funny, romantic read that's a must for your beach bag.

Andrews populates her books with lovable, quirky characters that you wish you could actually count among your friends.

In Save the Date, we meet Cara Kryzik, a florist trying to make a go of her fledgling business in Savannah. She lands one big society wedding that could make or break her reputation - and her bank account. Can she pull it off? Or will fate conspire against her? Her landlord wants to sell her building, her loan is being called in and her trusted assistant is acting funny. Then a well known 'society' florist opens a shop in Savannah, determined to put Cara out of business..... And what about that builder that 'kidnapped' her dog? And why is he at every wedding she's working?

I was captured from first page to last. All the elements are there - a main character you can't help but cheer for, a hunky guy, that will they, they won't they romantic storyline, an eclectic supporting cast and an antagonist you can't help but dislike! All of it is wrapped up in distinctly enjoyable dialogue and situations, making Save the Date a sweet, easy, breezy read.

I really enjoyed some of the wedding ideas and descriptions and learned quite a bit about flowers as well. Andrews's books are set in the South, where she herself makes her home. Her descriptions of time and place make me want to visit the settings.(Or in the case of Tybee Island - move there)

My usual fare is mysteries and thrillers, but I enjoy a good 'chick lit' book. Andrews always fills the bill - and for this reader, Save the Date was a really good read.

Get a taste - read an excerpt of Save the Date. I've also listened to Mary Kay Andrews titles. Save the Date is available on audio as well. The reader is Kathleen McInerney, and she's great. Hear for yourself -  https://soundcloud.com/macaudio-2/save-the-date-audiobook-excerpt

You can keep with Mary Kay Andrews on Facebook and on Twitter.

Thanks to the generosity of St. Martin's Press, I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader. Open to continental US only, no PO boxes please. Simply leave a comment to be entered. Ends August 2/14.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Winners - Margarita Wednesdays - Deborah Rodriguez

And the two randomly chosen lucky winners of copies of Margarita Wednesdays by Deborah Rodriguez, courtesy of Simon and Schuster are:

1. Lolli
2. Maureen

Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing addresses. Please respond within 48 hours. After that time, a new winner will be chosen. Keep your eye on the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Winner - Deborah Coates Trilogy

And the lucky winner of a prize pack including all three of Deborah Coates's Hallie Michaels books, including Strange Country, Wide Open and Deep Down, courtesy of Tor Forge is:

Kimberly

Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing address. Please respond within 72 hours. After that time, a new winner will be chosen. Thanks to all who entered. Keep your eye on the sidebar for ongoing giveaways!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #12

- You Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover - Which is very true.
But you can like one cover version better than another...
 
Trade softcover
Hardcover
A bit of a different twist on cover art this week. While hunting down the cover art for The Tilted World by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly, I stopped to compare the hardcover vs. the paperback cover. I absolutely loved the book - I just read it this week. I honestly can't decide which cover I prefer. The trade editon captures the lead character for me, but the hardcover absolutely captures the setting, also a main component of the book. It's a book that is a permanent addition to my library. Which cover do you prefer? Have you read The Tilted World?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular Saturday feature on A Bookworm's World

Friday, July 11, 2014

California - Edan Lepucki

California is Edan Lepucki's debut novel.

I am infatuated with dystopian and apocalyptic novels. The description of California immediately caught my eye...

"The world Cal and Frida have always known is gone, and they've left the crumbling city of Los Angeles far behind them. They now live a shack in the wilderness, working side by side to make their days tolerable in the face of hardship.....But the tentative existence they've built for themselves is turned upside down when Frida finds out she's pregnant."

There hasn't been a great nuclear war or one significant event that has heralded the end of the world that Cal and Frida knew. Instead it has been a series of natural disasters and reluctant but necessary acceptance of the way things are now. Society has eroded into the haves and the have nots. While Cal and Frida make their home in a shack, those that can afford to, live in safe, gated communities with food, health care and more. I immediately thought that this scenario is not that far off - having just read a newspaper story of water being turned off - the city of Detroit sprang to mind.

I wanted to know to know more about the erosion of society, but this isn't the focus of the book. Instead it is what comes after. I also wanted to know what lay beyond the woods that Cal and Frida have settled in. Are the rumours of other outsider settlements true?

I'm always fascinated by an author's world building in such novels. Lepucki does a good job imagining what might be. I think because it is so 'near future' and absolutely believable that the world of California is all the more chilling.

There are a great number of varied characters populating California. Of the two lead characters I was drawn to and empathized with Cal. I have to say that I didn't like Frida at all as I found her spoiled and selfish. But several of the players from 'beyond' the woods really captured my interest.

Much, if not most of the book, is focused on the characters and their interactions - between couples, family, friends and strangers. A society rebuilding does not necessarily learn from it's past mistakes. Much of what happens can be sadly predicted.  Lepucki infuses this rebuilding with a plot that was slowly (and a bit maddeningly) revealed. The buildup to the end in the last quarter of the book is tension and action filled and had me reading just another chapter before bed. But the actual ending left me feeling somewhat unfulfilled. I found it anti-climatic after the journey to get there. It's a bit nebulous, leaving the reader to their own inferences as to what happens going forward.

Still, California was a strong debut and I would be interested in reading Lepucki's next novel. Read an excerpt of California. You can find Edan Lepucki on Twitter. And here's the story behind the "Colbert Approved".

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Over the Counter #220

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner?

Well how could it not catch my eye!? I too work at a public library! And I absolutely had to read this one cover to cover.

 I've often said to my co-workers after an 'interesting' interaction that we really should be writing this stuff down. Or when you're asked 'how was your day at work?" you're never without an answer that isn't run of the mill.....

Well, Gina Sheridan also works at a public library - and she did write them down. The result? I Work at a Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories From the Stacks.

Sheridan has used the Dewey Decimal system to catalogue her stories into chapters. Entries include overhear conversations, questions at the desk, behaviour that isn't perhaps meant for public view, memorable patrons and more.

I found myself nodding at almost every entry, having encountered or experienced much of what Sheridan describes in my public library service (and some from my time in a bookstore as well) You really can't make these stories up. Friends and family's replies to a repeated anecdote is usually  'no way!' 

I enjoyed this book as I have an 'insider's' view. But it may be eye opening for the public to peruse!

Kudos to Sheridan for collecting and immortalizing her stories. My only complaint? The book is quite short - only 160 page and I finished it in about and hour and a half. I would have liked more!Maybe I will start writing down my own stories for volume two.....

You can find more at Sheridan's web page - iworkatapubliclibrary.com. Also on Twitter and on Facebook.

(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, July 9, 2014

The Tilted World - Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly

Oh, where to start.....I absolutely loved The Tilted World by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly! I literally started the book on a Sunday morning and feverishly read until I turned the last page the same night.

Franklin and Fennelly have set their book in 1927 Mississippi - at the time of one of the greatest natural disasters ever to occur in the US. The flood flattened 'almost a million homes, drowning twenty-seven thousand square miles and the water remained for four months. Over 330,000 people were rescued from trees, roofs, and levees."

Dixie Clay Holliver lives along the Mississippi at a bend in the river called Hobnob. Dixie's life isn't quite what she imagined it would be when she married Jesse. Turns out that Jesse is a moonshiner. The loss of her infant son has only added to her grief at the direction her life has taken.  But, Dixie does the cooking now - she's better at it than Jesse.

Teddy Ingersoll is a revenuer. In this time of prohibition, Teddy and his partner Ham are always on the move. On their way to Hobnob to investigate the disappearance of two other agents, they come across the lone survivor of a shoot out - an infant boy. Inexplicably, Ingersoll is determined to find a home for the child. When they arrive in Hobnob, Dixie Clay is mentioned as woman who might take in an orphan.

And with that, Dixie and Ingersoll's lives and fates are crossed.

The Tilted World is such a strong novel is every sense of the world. The characters are brilliant. I was so captured by Dixie Clay - her strength, fortitude and abilities belie the hurt beneath her tough exterior. Ingersoll is much the same, with that same strength and fortitude, but no real purpose or direction in his heart.

The setting is just as much of a character in the book as Dixie and Ingersoll. Franklin and Fennelly have done a phenomenal job in bringing time and place to the page. The detailed descriptions of the town, the woods and most of all, the water created vivid mental images for this reader.

Dual narratives are used in The Tilted World to good effect, allowing the reader to be privy to the thoughts of both protagonists.

The Tilted World exemplifies storytelling at it's finest. I was completely caught up in Franklin and Fennelly's tale. I knew what I wanted to happen, I was afraid of what might happen and I couldn't read fast enough to see what did happen. The Tilted World is absolutely recommended. Read an excerpt of The Tilted World.

Tom Franklin is the award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, which was nominated for nine awards and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the prestigious Crime Writers’ Association’s Gold Dagger Award. His previous works include Poachers, whose title story won the Edgar Award, as well as Hell at the Breech and Smonk. The winner of a 2001 Guggenheim Fellowship, he teaches in the University of Mississippi’s MFA program.

Beth Ann Fennelly has won grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and United States Artists, as well as a Fulbright grant to travel to Brazil. Her honors include the Kenyon Review Prize and three inclusions in The Best American Poetry. She has published three volumes of poetry as well as a work of nonfiction,Great with Child. She directs the University of Mississippi’s MFA program, where she was named the 2011 Outstanding Teacher of the Year. Beth Ann and Tom live in Oxford, Mississippi, with their three children.

See what others on the TLC book tour thought. Full schedule can be found here.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Giveaway - The Family Romanov - Candace Fleming

I've got a great giveaway today for those who love history! Candace Fleming's new book The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion and the Fall of Imperial Russia, releases today.  And thanks to the generosity of  Random House, I have a copy to giveaway.

From the publisher, Schwartz and Wade:

"From the acclaimed author of Amelia Lost and The Lincolns comes more nonfiction at its very best—and a perfect resource for meeting Common Core standards.

Here is the riveting story of the Russian Revolution as it unfolded. When Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II, inherited the throne in 1894, he was unprepared to do so. With their four daughters (including Anastasia) and only son, a hemophiliac, Nicholas and his reclusive wife, Alexandra, buried their heads in the sand, living a life of opulence as World War I raged outside their door and political unrest grew.

Deftly maneuvering between the lives of the Romanovs and the plight of Russia’s peasants—and their eventual uprising—Fleming offers up a fascinating portrait, complete with inserts featuring period photographs and compelling primary-source material that brings it all to life. History doesn’t get more interesting than the story of the Romanovs."

"Candace Fleming awarded herself the Newbery Medal in fifth grade after scraping the gold sticker off the class copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond and pasting it onto her first novel—a ten-page, ten-chapter mystery called Who Done It? She’s been collecting awards (her own, not Elizabeth George Speare’s) ever since.
     
Today, Candace is the versatile and acclaimed author of more than twenty books for children, including the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award-winning biography, The Lincolns; the bestselling picture book, Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!; and the beloved Boxes for Katje.

Sound like a book you'd like to own? Simply leave a comment (and a contact method) for a chance to win a copy of The Family Romanov. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends July 19/14.

Giveaway - Good Morning, Mr. Mandela - Zelda la Grange

I have a wonderful non-fiction giveaway for you today - Good Morning, Mr. Mandela: A Memoir by Zelda la Grange. You can also find la Grange on Facebook and on Twitter.

From the publisher, Viking Books:

"A white Afrikaner, Zelda la Grange grew up in segregated South Africa, supporting the regime and the rules of apartheid. Her conservative family referred to the imprisoned Nelson Mandela as “a terrorist.” Yet just a few years after his release and the end of apartheid, she would be traveling the world by Mr. Mandela’s side, having grown to respect and cherish the man she would come to call “Khulu,” or “grandfather.”

Good Morning, Mr. Mandela tells the extraordinary story of how a young woman’s life, beliefs, prejudices—everything she once believed—were utterly transformed by the man she had been taught was the enemy. It is the incredible journey of an awkward, terrified young secretary in her twenties who rose from a job in a government typing pool to become one of the president’s most loyal and devoted associates. During his presidency she was one of his three private secretaries, and then became an aide-de-camp and spokesperson and managed his office in his retirement. Working and traveling by his side for almost two decades, La Grange found herself negotiating with celebrities and world leaders, all in the cause of supporting and caring for Mr. Mandela in his many roles.

Here La Grange pays tribute to Nelson Mandela as she knew him—a teacher who gave her the most valuable lessons of her life. The Mr. Mandela we meet in these pages is a man who refused to be defined by his past, who forgave and respected all, but who was also frank, teasing, and direct. As he renewed his country, he also freed La Grange from a closed world of fear and mistrust, giving her life true meaning. “I was fearful of so much twenty years ago—of life, of black people, of this black man and the future of South Africa—and I now was no longer persuaded or influenced by mainstream fears. He not only liberated the black man but the white man, too.”

This is a book about love and second chances that honors the lasting and inspiring gifts of one of the great men of our time. It offers a rare intimate portrait of Nelson Mandela and his remarkable life as well as moving proof of the power we all have to change."

If this sounds like a book you'd like to read, simply leave a comment to be entered. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Closes July 26/14.
 

Monday, July 7, 2014

All Day and A Night - Alafair Burke

I tell you, Alafair Burke just gets better and better with every book. (And she was pretty darn good to start with!)

Her latest release is All Day and A Night, the fifth book in her Detective Ellie Hatcher series.

A psychotherapist is murdered in her office. The murder includes unusual elements that echo astring of murders committed almost twenty years - details never revealed to the public. Anthony Amaro was convicted for the murder of those five women and sentenced to life without parole aka all day and a night. Could he be innocent, as he has proclaimed from day one? An ambitious lawyer named Nancy Grace and Carrie, a woman with ties to one of the victims, think he might be. The District Attorney also thinks his case deserves another look. Hatcher and her partner Rogan are assigned to take a 'fresh look.' Is that fresh look going to be hampered by the fact that Ellie is in a relationship with the DA?

I really enjoy Ellie as a character. She's tough, outspoken and driven. I enjoy following the evolution of a character and Burke lets Ellie make some personal decisions in this latest novel. Rogan is a favourite as well - although we are aware of his personal life, it's not to the same degree as the lead role. I would like to see and know more about him.

The antagonists in this book are strongly drawn. Nancy Grace is very easy to dislike, as is Amara. Carrie keeps us guessing as she provides a back and forth perspective on Amara's guilt or innocence.

Burke has created a great set of recurring characters, but the real strength in All Day and A Night was the plotting.  The police work is logical and straight forward, allowing the reader to piece together the clues along with Rogan and Hatcher. I had my suspicions about three quarters of the way through, but Burke threw in enough twists and turns to keep things really interesting. Burke's law background gives her legal and criminal situations added dimension and the ring of truth.

All Day and A Night was another excellent read from Burke - and is definitely recommended. Read an excerpt of All Day and A Night.

Readers new to Alafair Burke would be able to easily read and enjoy this latest novel without having read previous books in the series - although I encourage you to pick up Burke's back list.

"Alafair Burke is the bestselling author of nine previous novels, including the stand-alones Long Gone and If You Were Here, as well as the Ellie Hatcher series: Dead Connection, Angel's Tip, 212, and Never Tell. A former prosecutor, she now teaches criminal law and lives in Manhattan." You can find Alafair Burke on Facebook and on Twitter.

See what others on the TLC book tour thought. Full schedule can be found here.



Sunday, July 6, 2014

Winners - Now I See You

And the two lucky winners of a copy of Now I See You by Nicole C. Kear, courtesy of St. Martin's Press are:

1. Anita Y.
2. Charlotte

Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing addrssess. Please respond within 48 hours. After that time, a new winner will be chosen. Thanks to all who entered. Keep your eye on the sidebar for other great giveaways!

Spiced-Up Reads with Simon and Schuster Canada

Things are heating up at Spiced-Up Reads!
 Simon and Shuster Canada has started a new page on Facebook.
And to kick things off, they're giving away a book a day for the month of July!
 
 #31spicedupreads

Spiced-Up Reads will feature news, giveaways and more relating to
their new adult, erotica, romance and indie books. I love the chili pepper rating system - mild to hot, hot, hot!

Discover your next great read with Spiced-Up Reads,
home to the most recognizable writers in the New Adult, Romance and Erotica genres.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

You Can't Judge A Book By It's Cover #11

- You Can't Judge a Book By It's Cover - Which is very true.
But you can like one cover version better than another...
 
US/Canadian cover
UK/Australian cover
I was hunting down cover art for Neely Tucker's debut novel - The Ways of the Deads - and came across the US/Canadian cover on the left and the UK/Aussie cover on the right. I prefer the North American cover this time. For me, it captured more of the girtty inner city feel of the book. The UK /Aussie version also connotes grimness with the gray. But I have to admit, I didn't realize it was a bird on the wire at first glance. My first thought was tightrope walker! Either way, it's a really good read! Which cover do you prefer? Have you read The Ways of the Dead?
You Can't Judge A Book By It's Cover is a regular Saturday feature on A Bookworm's World

Friday, July 4, 2014

Film on Friday #17 - 2 Autumns, 3 Winters

2 Autumns, 3 Winters is from French director Sébastien Betbeder.

Thirty something Arman literally bumps into Amelie while out jogging. He contrives to run into her again and eventually does. Arman's best friend Benjamin suffers a stroke and while recuperating, makes a connection with his physical therapist.

Those are the players. And the rest of the film is a series of vignettes and ruminations from the characters on life, love, moments and memories.

Some of the film is shot so it appears as though a hand held camera was used. I dislike this style - I find the movement jarring and hard to watch.  The addition of labelled chapters also added to the 'homemade' feel.

In much of the film, the actors are speaking directly to the viewer. (And sometimes when they are in a scene with another actor) Although you would think this would provide an intimate relationship between actor and viewer, for me it didn't. Initially I was interested in the four, learning of their lives and wondering what would happen over the course of the film. But as the film progressed,  I found myself becoming tired and frankly somewhat bored with the almost repetitiveness of their ruminations.

From the director: "I wanted the narrative to be dense, to alternate between serious, critical moments in the lives of these young people, and more incidental moments that have no real impact. I wanted to talk about death and shopping at the grocery store, about love and reality TV."

Initially I connected with the main character Arman (Vincent Macaigne). His attempts to meet Amelie (Maud Wyler) were engaging. And I liked him at the end of the film. But in between, he seemed to almost overact. And I know this is petty, but I found myself tuning out and instead his hair became my focus, instead of his lines. He's always flipping it back, it's dirty and greasy and growing it long and doing a comb over does not hide the large bald spot at the back.

There are many film references that will be noted by avid film buffs. Through my own lacking, I was unable to appreciate many of these homages.

2 Autumns, 3 Winters was just too 'arty' for this viewer. However, the bonus short film, Business Trip, that Film Movement always includes, was just excellent.


France/ 2013/French with English subtitles, 93 min.