Monday, June 26, 2017

The Cafe by the Sea - Jenny Colgan

I love Jenny Colgan's books - they're the perfect 'feel-good' read. Her latest North American release is The Cafe by the Sea.

What makes Colgan's books such a delight to read? Her characters first and foremost. There's always a fun female lead facing decisions, both professionally and personally. This time 'round it's Flora, born on the remote Scottish island of Mure. When her mother died, Flora fled to London to pursue her career. Three years on she hasn't returned, even for a visit. But when her boss (yes she does have a crush on him - this is another integral part of Colgan's books - the romantic will they, won't they component) sends her there for work, she is forced to confront her past - and look to her future. (Another few pieces of the feel-good read - conflict and heart-string tugging.)

Flora is a perfect lead - fun, quirky and very likable. The supporting cast also endears themselves to the reader - Flora's loud and noisy family, the townsfolk - and two other possible romantic entanglements......

The grief and loss Flora is experiencing over her mother's death is very well written. Anyone who has suffered such a loss will find themselves shedding a tear or two. But there's lots of joy as well - rediscovering that place we call 'home' and finding your own passion - the thing you were meant to do. The title gives you a pretty broad hint of what Flora's passion might be. Colgan's description of the joy of food and baking was, well, mouthwatering! The descriptions of Mure are vivid, bring the imaginary isle to life - and had me wanting to visit. And who doesn't love a good romantic tale - the meandering path to true love - all the while knowing that yes, there's a happy ending. But sad for the reader when the end is reached. More please!

The Cafe by the Sea is the perfect summer (okay, really anytime) read - engaging, touching, joyful, romantic, humourous and more. Loved it! Read an excerpt of The Cafe by the Sea.

You can connect with Jenny Colgan on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. (And I have to say that I look forward to reading the note from the author at the beginning of Colgan's books - her warmth and wit shine through and add a personal note to the novels.)

(Note that this is the same novel as the British titled The Summer Seaside Kitchen.)

Friday, June 23, 2017

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #164

- 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
Shari Lapena's first book, The Couple Next Door, was a
bestseller. Her second book, A Stranger in the House is due out in August of this year. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Blue background, white font and a window is used in both covers. But very different pictures. I'm not a fan of the US shot at all. Women on covers is getting very tired for me. And it's just kind of static. The blowing curtain and looking out from inside on the UK cover appeals to me more. And the tagline gives us a bit more. Any plans to read A Stranger in the House? Which cover do you prefer? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Child - Fiona Barton

Fiona Barton's second novel, The Child, releases on Tuesday, June 27/17. I figure if I give you a heads up today, you too can spend a day on the beach next weekend devouring it - I did!

Barton is a former journalist. Her first book, The Widow, (my 5 star review) took inspiration from real life, trials and newspaper stories, as does the lead character in The Child.

Kate, a reporter, sees this story " 'Baby's Body Found.' Two small sentences told how an infant's skeleton had been unearthed on a building site..." And she wonders "Who is the baby? How did it die? Who would bury a baby?"

What a great premise - I too want to know the answers. Kate is not the only person to see the news story. The Child is told from four alternating points of view - that of Kate and three other women. Each of those three has a reason to hope - or fear - their own ties to the little skeleton. I love multiple point of view books - the reader is privy to the information that each character is holding - or hiding. And we can only hold our breath as (in this case) Kate gets closer and closer to the truth. Now, that being said, I thought I had fit the pieces together about halfway through the book. But, as one character also says..."I don't know what to think anymore. Everything is wrong. I've got everything wrong." I was quite happy to not have guessed!

The Child is a character driven novel of suspense. Kate is a wonderful lead. I wonder if there are bits of Barton's own journalistic days woven into her character? The details of the investigation and newsroom ring very true. The other three women are just as well drawn - their connections to the child are quite poignant, shocking and in one case absolutely infuriating. I'm deliberately being obtuse - The Child is a story you need unfold and discover as the pieces are slowly put together. Although I will say this - motherhood is a prominent theme and thread that ties the four stories together. "Disturbing the surface had triggered an eruption of unexpected secrets."

The Child was an absolutely addicting pager turner for this reader! Definitely recommended. Read an excerpt of The Child.

"Fiona Barton trains and works with journalists all over the world. Previously, she was a senior writer at the Daily Mail, news editor at the Daily Telegraph, and chief reporter at the Mail on Sunday, where she won Reporter of the Year at the British Press Awards. Born in Cambridge, England, she currently lives in southwest France." You can connect with Fiona Barton on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Over the Counter #371

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

For the Love of Old: Living with Chipped, Frayed, Tarnished, Faded, Tattered, Worn and Weathered Things That Bring Comfort, Character and Joy to the Places We Call Home by Mary Randolph Carter.

From the publisher, Rizzoli:

"This stunning volume focuses on the qualities of the old things in our homes (the patina of an old table, pewter dulled by age, old floorboards that creak) and how to live with and incorporate them into our personal aesthetic. Divided into chapters by the qualities of old—peeling, dried, tarnished, faded, chipped, frayed, rusty, and mossy—this unique book not only pays tribute to furniture, textiles, china, silver and other accessories with these qualities but also shows us how best to preserve, adapt, and arrange them. Lavishly illustrated with beautiful photographs that highlight the warm colors and rich textures of wood and paint, cloth and leather, For the Love of Old also includes ideas and recipes for saving old items from the junk pile, preserving and caring for the old things you have, giving newer things a lived-in feel, and bringing an enduring personality to every home."

(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, June 20, 2017

Giveaway - Beach House for Rent - Mary Alice Monroe

Today is release day for Mary Alice Monroe's newest book - Beach House for Rent.  And I have a copy to give away to one lucky reader!

What's it about? From the publisher, Gallery Books:

"New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe returns to her beloved Isle of Palms to tell the poignant, charming story of two women, one summer, and one very special beach house.

When Cara Rutledge rents out her quaint beach house on Isle of Palms to Heather Wyatt for the entire summer, it’s a win-win by any standard: Cara’s generating income necessary to keep husband Brett’s ecotourism boat business afloat, and anxiety-prone Heather, an young artist who’s been given a commission to paint birds on postage stamps, has a quiet space in which to work and tend to her pet canaries uninterrupted.

It isn’t long, however, before both women’s idyllic summers are altered irrevocably: the alluring shorebirds—and the man who rescues them—begin to draw Heather out of the shell she’s cultivated toward a world of adventure, and maybe even love; at the same time, Cara’s life reels with sudden tragedy, and she wishes only to return to the beach house that had once been her port amidst life’s storms. When Heather refuses to budge from her newfound sanctuary, so begins the unlikeliest of rooming situations. While they start out as strangers, as everything around the women falls apart they learn that the only thing they can really rely on is each other.

And, like the migrating shorebirds that come to the island for the summer, these two women of different generations must rediscover their unique strengths so by summer’s end they, too, can take flight in ways they never imagined possible." Read an excerpt of Beach House for Rent.

"While Beach House for Rent was written as a stand-alone novel, it is the final installment of Monroe’s successful Beach House series, which began with The Beach House (2002), and is now being adapted to a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie by the Hallmark Channel, starring three-time Golden Globe nominee Andie MacDowell, who is also an executive producer."

"Mary Alice Monroe is the award-winning, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty novels (A Lowcountry Wedding, A Lowcountry Christmas, The Summer Girls, The Summer Wind, The Summer’s End, The Beach House, Beach House Memories), and was recently named a 2018 inductee into the South Carolina Academy of Writers Literary Hall of Fame. She is an active conservationist and lives in the lowcountry of South Carolina. "You can connect with Mary Alice Monroe on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

And if you'd like to read Beach House for Rent, I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader! Open to continental US only, no PO boxes please. Ends July 2/17. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Golden Prey - John Sandford

I've been a fan of John Sandford's Lucas Davenport series from the very first book. The latest is Golden Prey - the 27th entry!

Sandford has moved Davenport's professional (and personal) life along over the years. This latest entry has Davenport taking a deputy position with the US Marshals. This is a great development - Lucas can look at cases across the country. And even better - he can pick and choose the cases he wants to work - thanks to his political connections.

In Golden Prey, he decides to hunt down a felon named Garvin Poole. Poole has stolen from a drug cartel - and killed a child who just happened to be present. Davenport wants him for the murder and the cartel wants their money back. The cartel has sent an odd, but deadly, pair of killers after him. Who will find him first? The cops or the killers?

Ahh, there's nothing like settling in for the latest tale from a character you've come to love over the years. This locale and job change keeps the series fresh. The case is unusual and the 'bad guys' are very unique. The plotting is fast paced with lots of action. The dialogue is just as quick - and I love the acerbic, biting tone. And no 'Prey' book is complete without a reference to Virgil Flowers - it's always fun to come across it. Another excellent entry - I'll be watching for book twenty-eight.

I chose to listen to Golden Prey. The reader is Richard Ferrone, who has the most wonderful gravelly voice. It embodies the mental image I've created for Davenport. Ferrone has created voices for other characters that fit as well - the killers in this case are quite funny. Ferrone is an expressive reader and interprets Sandford's work well, capturing the sarcastic, biting humour of the dialogue. Listen to an excerpt of Golden Prey. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #163

- 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
Michael Connelly has a new book coming in July that's the first in a new series featuring Detective Renée Ballard. And yes, its on my TBR list. So, two very similar looks this week - a picture of a woman superimposed over a cityscape shot. The US shot puts her more in control, while the UK could be interpreted either way - running to or from danger. Blue and yellow on both covers. So.....I'm not really a fan of either cover this week. But, if forced to choose, I would go with the US cover. Any plans to read The Late Show? Which cover do you prefer? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Beach House Cookbook - Mary Kay Andrews - Review AND Giveaway

Oh, it wouldn't be summer without a new book from Mary Kay Andrews! This year she's put together a cookbook with all of her favourite recipes! The title? The Beach House Cookbook: Easy, Breezy Recipes with a Southern Accent. And I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

Andrews loves to cook and entertain at her beach house.  In the preface, Andrews says...."The whole point of this book? You can do it too. You don't have to have a beach house to have that same easygoing atmosphere. The recipes that follow are designed to let you be creative in the kitchen, yet still spend time relaxing with family and guests."

There are full menus (Drinks, appetizers, mains, sides and desserts) put together for many occasions - or just pick and choose the recipes that appeal to you.  None of Mary Kay's recipes call for 'obscure or hard to find ingredients.' Some also use pre-made ingredients such as pie shells, boxed pudding and ice cream sandwiches. (That last one was fun and easy - decadent but oh so good!) And if  you don't have an ingredient - improvise!

One of the recipes I've tried so far is Edna's Deviled Eggs - never would I have thought to add pickle juice! It added a real zip to the eggs - DH loved it. And I know he'll love Pig Candy - sweetened bacon! I enjoyed the Blueberry Muffins - and found they froze well. Savannah Spinach Squares look really good - a simple appetizer. Same goes for Frozen Key Lime Pie Pops!

There are wonderful stories behind every recipe. The ingredients are easy to see at a glance as they are printed in red. The instructions are clear and easy to follow.Interspersed amongst the recipes are beautiful full colour pictures - of the food, but also the ideas you can use to decorate your table.There are some of Mary Kay's thrifting treasures pictured as well. The Beach House Cookbook is perfect for laid-back, casual summer entertaining! You can connect with Mary Kay Andrews on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.


And if you'd like a copy of The Beach House Cookbook, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends Jun 30/17.




Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Over the Counter #370

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? A fun title for a self help book this week...

How to Be Miserable: 40 Strategies You Already Use by Randy J. Paterson.

From New Harbinger Publications:

"In How to Be Miserable, psychologist Randy Paterson outlines 40 specific behaviors and habits, which—if followed—are sure to lead to a lifetime of unhappiness. On the other hand, if you do the opposite, you may yet join the ranks of happy people everywhere!

There are stacks upon stacks of self-help books that will promise you love, happiness, and a fabulous life. But how can you pinpoint the exact behaviors that cause you to be miserable in the first place? Sometimes when we’re depressed, or just sad or unhappy, our instincts tell us to do the opposite of what we should—such as focusing on the negative, dwelling on what we can’t change, isolating ourselves from friends and loved ones, eating junk food, or overindulging in alcohol. Sound familiar?

This tongue-in-cheek guide will help you identify the behaviors that make you unhappy and discover how you—and only you—are holding yourself back from a life of contentment. You’ll learn to spot the tried-and-true traps that increase feelings of dissatisfaction, foster a lack of motivation, and detract from our quality of life—as well as ways to avoid them.

So, get ready to live the life you want (or not?) This fun, irreverent guide will light the way."

(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, June 13, 2017

Giveaway - Last Girl Seen - Nina Laurin

Nina Laurin's debut novel, Girl Last Seen,  releases on June 20/17 - and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

What's it about? From Grand Central Publishing:

"Two missing girls. Thirteen years apart.
Olivia Shaw has been missing since last Tuesday. She was last seen outside the entrance of her elementary school in Hunts Point wearing a white spring jacket, blue jeans, and pink boots.

I force myself to look at the face in the photo, into her slightly smudged features, and I can't bring myself to move. Olivia Shaw could be my mirror image, rewound to thirteen years ago.

If you have any knowledge of Olivia Shaw's whereabouts or any relevant information, please contact...

I've spent a long time peering into the faces of girls on missing posters, wondering which one replaced me in that basement. But they were never quite the right age, the right look, the right circumstances. Until Olivia Shaw, missing for one week tomorrow.

Whoever stole me was never found. But since I was taken, there hasn't been another girl.

And now there is." Read an excerpt of Girl Last Seen.

Nina Laurin studied Creative Writing at Concordia University, in Montreal where she currently lives. She has published speculative short stories in various e-zines and anthologies over the years and her narrative nonfiction piece, "On Happiness" is soon to be published in the local literary journal Cosmonauts Avenue." You can connect with Nina on her website and follow her on Twitter.

And if Girl Last Seen sounds like a book you'd like to read, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below! Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends June 24/17.

Girl Last Seen - Nina Laurin

Girl Last Seen is Nina Laurin's debut novel.

Ella Santos was taken when she was ten years old. Three years later, she's found stumbling down a road in the rain. Escaped? Released?

Ten years later Ella is living under an assumed name (Laine) when she sees a missing poster for a ten year old named Olivia. She somehow believes that the same man who took her has taken this girl as well. So do the cops. They bring Laine in to see if she can remember anything more......

Laurin has taken a popular premise and put her own spin on it.

For me, however,  Girl Last Seen read like a YA novel, rather than an adult psychological thriller.  But some of the details, scenarios and language would not be suitable for a YA aged reader.

The focus of Girl Last Seen is not so much on the investigation as it is on the romantic/attraction/sexual interest between the investigative Detective and Laine. The police procedural details are almost non-existent and those that are there are far removed from reality.

Laurin paints a clear picture of a walking wounded protagonist - one severely abused. Which is why I can't figure out why Laurin would have her working in a 'gentleman's club'. She is a sympathetic character though - I liked her. Not so much the cop - his behaviour was just too far-flung to be believable and I just didn't buy his 'caring.'

Laurin drops several bombshells into her plot that do surprise the reader and propel her plot forward. I read right to the end, curious as to where Girl Last Seen would finish up. Although Girl Last Seen wasn't turn out to be quite what I expected when I read the description, it was a quick and easy read for the hammock. Read an excerpt of Girl Last Seen.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Magpie Murders - Anthony Horowitz

Anthony Horowitz's latest release - Magpie Murders - is well, simply brilliant! The writing is so very, very clever. Mystery fans - this is a must-read for you - especially if you love Agatha Christie style mysteries!

An unnamed narrator warns the reader about Magpie Murders in the first few pages..."As far as I'm concerned, you can't beat a good whodunnit: the twists and turns, the clues and red herring,s and then finally, the satisfaction of having everything explained to you in a way that makes you kick yourself because you hadn't seen it from the start. That was what I was expecting when I began. But Magpie Murders wasn't like that. It wasn't like that at all. I hope I don't need to spell it out any more. Unlike me, you have been warned."

Well, who could resist such a warning? Not I! I settled in with delicious anticipation - and was rewarded. You see, Horowitz has written a novel within a novel. Our narrator starts reading a period murder mystery set in the 1950's in Britain. "...the golden age of British whodunnits with a country house setting, a complicated murder, a cast of suitably eccentric characters and a detective who arrived as an outsider." That outsider is Private Investigator Atticus Pünd. (Who will call Hercule Poirot to mind) This book kept me enthralled for over two hundred pages - then we go back to our narrator on page four. (who turns out to be the author's editor) And discover that there is a mystery to be solved in the present day. But we're left on tenterhooks, awaiting the reveal of the final whodunnit of the 1950's book.

Confused? Don't be - the novel reads seamlessly and is so very, very addictive. I've tried to say much without giving too much away. Suffice it to say, that Magpie Murders is highly recommended - easily one of my favourite reads this year. Read an excerpt of Magpie Murders.

I received this book from HarperCollins Canada in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Maker Lab with DK Canada

Makerspaces. Have you heard the term before? I'm going to give you the library definition, as that's where my interests lie.

"A library makerspace is an area and/or service that offers library patrons an opportunity to create intellectual and physical materials using resources such as computers, 3-D printers, audio and video capture and editing tools, and traditional arts and crafts supplies. In the field of library science, makerspaces are classified as a type of library service offered by librarians to patrons."

Maker Lab - 28 Super Cool Projects: Build * Invent * Create * Discover by Jack Challoner looked like a great place to find some new ideas!

Maker Lab is divided into four sections: Food For Thought, Around the Home, Water World and The Great Outdoors.

Experiment! I remember making a version of Slime with my son when he was younger. Ingredients needed - everything you already have at home. Invisible ink - ah, yes - my son wanted to be a spy when he was younger. Do you know the science behind Baked Alaska? This one would be great to try - and eat. There's some more food based ideas as well. But my fave is using a lemon as a battery. This is one we've actually tried in the library. Making a kaleidoscope from a few beads, some paper, plastic wrap and a cardboard tube - easy and fascinating. How about a balloon rocket car from used water bottles? Summer is the perfect time to try the water ideas - a waterwheel or soap powered boat. Make your own bath fizzies! But I have to say my personal favourite was Sun Prints. I'm going to make a few myself for some wall artwork at home.

What I liked - full colour shot of each idea - one that will appeal to young maker. Clear concise instructions accompanied by pictures. The time needed to complete and the difficulty level are noted for each. Most of the ideas can be executed using items you already have. And the few you would have to purchase are very inexpensive. And this I really like - the science of how and why it works. Creating and discovering can be a group activity or one you do at home with your children. And the bonus is that they'll start coming up with their own ideas and experiments. There's also a glossary at the with definitions for many of the terms used in the book. Learning can be fun! See for yourself - here's an excerpt of Maker Lab.

Discover all the great STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) titles that DK carries! And remember, creativity isn't just for kids.


Friday, June 9, 2017

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover # 162

- 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
Haylen Beck is the pseudonym for an award winning crime author. I'm really looking forward to this forthcoming suspense novel. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Okay, so deserted roads on both covers. It's hard to see the terrain on the US cover, but the road is on the woods on the UK cover. One road is paved and the other isn't. Headlights on both covers - one coming and one going.  differing views makes you wonder if the danger is coming towards the character or if the character is running from the danger. I'm going to go with the US cover this week - I like the darker look and the winding road shot a bit better. The off kilter lettering also appeals to me more. Any plans to read Here and Gone? Which cover do you prefer? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Last Hack - Christopher Brookmyre

The Last Hack is the 8th book in Christopher Brookmyre's Jack Parlabane series. This was the first time I've read a book by this author.

Nineteen year old Sam Morpeth's mother is in jail, leaving her as the sole caregiver for her challenged sister. With that, her university plans are out the window. To look at her, you'd never know that Sam is a hacker - a really good hacker. After all - "There are no women on the Internet." But, after her group causes chaos by hacking into a prominent institution, it turns out that someone has discovered who 'Buzzkill' really is. That someone has decided to blackmail Sam - 'do as I say or I'll reveal who you are - and then where would your sister be.' What does the blackmailer want? The impossible - to steal a prototype from a seemingly impenetrable company.

Sam knows she can't pull it off on her own - so she reveals her real life persona to Parlabane who has used her hacker skills in his investigative journalism. She 'convinces' Jack that he needs to work with her......or....

Sam was a great lead character - I liked the duality of her persona - online and offline. Brookmyre has taken the time to flesh this character out and make her believable. As mentioned, this is my first introduction to Jack Parlabane. He's sketchy, driven, resourceful, talented and although he's not necessarily likeable, I really liked him as a lead.

"The phrase 'veteran reporter' has already been used, which he is not delighted about, but he is sufficiently familiar with the terms 'disgraced reporter' and 'former reporter' to make his peace with it."

The interactions between the two worked well and the underlying secondary plotline brought a personal note to the novel.

I'm not much of a 'techie', so some of what they were up to went over my head. (Although I did pick up some security tips along the way!) Brookmyre never bogs down the plot or pace with too much technical detail. That plot is fairly involved and fast moving. We are presented with many choices along the way as to who is the blackmailer and my guess changed many times. What is scary is that Brookmyre's imaginings are probably not that far removed from reality.

I have a weakness for 'heist' movies and The Last Hack is at it's heart, a quintessential heist novel. And a darn good one. I can see this one as a movie as well. Read an excerpt of The Last Hack.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Giveaway - Small Hours - Jennifer Kitses

Jennifer Kitses' debut novel, Small Hours, releases on June 13/17 - and I have two copies to give away to two lucky readers!

What's it about? From Grand Central Publishing:

"In a story that unfolds over the course of a single day, a husband and wife try to outrun the secrets that threaten their marriage, sending their lives spiraling out of control.

On the edge of the economic downturn, Helen and Tom fled New York for what they’d hoped would be a fresh start: a small home in a former mill town, where they could raise their twin daughters away from the pressures of the city. But two years later, their fragile equilibrium has hit a breaking point. One September morning, Helen begins to lose control. Exhausted from juggling ambitions, frustrations, and unrealistic expectations, she snaps — and finds herself drawn into a violent conflict with two local teenagers. Unaware of her danger, in a Manhattan office seventy miles away, Tom is facing a crisis of his own at his high-pressure newsroom job — and struggling to hide a second, secret life.

The hours tick by ruthlessly as Helen and Tom fight to bury the mistakes and lies that are rising ever faster to the surface. Searing and suspenseful, Small Hours is both a powerful story about how one misstep can derail a life and a moving portrait of a couple’s search for a new path forward." Read an excerpt of Small Hours.

"Jennifer Kitses is a graduate of the creative writing program at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. She also attended Columbia Journalism School, and has worked as a reporter for Bloomberg News and as an editor for several universities. Her writing has appeared in The New York Observer and in Akashic Books’ online series, Mondays Are Murder. She lives with her family in New York." You can connect with Jennifer Kitses on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

And if you'd like to read Small Hours, I have two copies to give away to two lucky readers. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends June 17/17.

Over the Counter # 369

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Can-do this week - in more than one way....

First up is The Gutsy Girl: Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure Hardcover – Mar 1 2016
by Caroline Paul, illustrated by Wendy MacNaughton.

From the publisher, Bloomsbury:

"Why should girls miss out on the joy of adventure? They can jump off rocks, swing on ropes, and climb trees just as well as boys can. But girls often allow fear to stand in their way.

In the New York Times bestselling The Gutsy Girl, author Caroline Paul emboldens girls to seek out a life of exhilaration. Once a young scaredy-cat herself, Caroline decided that fear got in the way of the life she wanted--of excitement, confidence, self-reliance, friendship, and fun. She has since flown planes, rafted big rivers, climbed tall mountains, and fought fires as one of the first female firefighters in San Francisco. In The Gutsy Girl, she shares her greatest escapades as well as those of other girls and women from throughout history, and offers engaging activities such as confidence-building stances, compass-making, positive self-talk, and using crickets to estimate outside temperatures. Each section includes a place for girls to "journal" their adventures, thus encouraging a new generation to develop a zest for challenges and a healthy relationship to risk. The Gutsy Girl is Lean In for young girls, a book about the glorious things that happen when you unshackle from fear and open up to exhilaration. It is fully illustrated and enlivened throughout by bestselling illustrator Wendy MacNaughton's whimsical pen-and-ink drawings.

The New York Times bestselling "book of the year for daredevils, doers, and dreamers of all ages."--Cheryl Strayed"

Next up is You Can Knit That : Foolproof Instructions for Fabulous Sweaters by Amy Herzog, photography by Karen Pearson.

From Harry Abrams Books:

"When knitting superstar Amy Herzog gets complimented on her hand-knit sweaters, the compliments are often followed by “but I could never knit that.” Now, you can! You Can Knit That is a clear, simple reference book and pattern collection that gives knitters the sweater-making confidence they need. Whether you’re knitting a sweater for the first time or seeking to expand your skills to knit sweaters in styles you’ve never tried before, this essential guide starts with basic sweater know-how and moves into instructions for knitting six must-have sweater styles—vests, all-in-one construction, drop shoulders, raglans, yokes, and set-in sleeves. Each chapter offers a less-intimidating “mini” sweater sized for a child and a selection of adult women’s patterns in 12 sizes—24 sweater patterns in all, each building on the next, to ensure success with even the most complicated sweaters."

(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, June 6, 2017

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore - Matthew Sullivan

Debut novels are such fun to read - there's no preconceived notion of what the author's work is like and the contents are a surprise just waiting to be discovered. That's how I felt about Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore - Matthew Sullivan's debut novel. I loved it - and it's one you're going to want to get your hands on.

Lydia Smith lives a quiet life, working as a bookseller at The Bright Ideas Bookstore. She is quite happy with her quiet life. As a child she was the lone survivor of a horrendous event - and she keeps those memories locked away. But tragedy comes to the bookstore when a young man hangs himself. Joey was one of Lydia's favourite BookFrogs - one of the 'lost men' of the neighbourhood who make the bookstore their 'home'. (I'll leave it to you to discover the why of this name - it's the perfect book reference.) But how and why would Joey have a picture of ten year old Lydia in his pocket when he died? Lydia is also the beneficiary of Joey's eclectic book collection. Joey seems to have left a message in the pages of those books. Lydia needs to decipher what it is and what the connection to her could be.......

Sullivan has worked in bookstores, as have I. I identified so much with the settings he had created, the behind the scenes areas, the love of books and the eclectic staff. The book titles referenced are great fun - both real and imagined. Anyone who loves books would want to work or visit Bright Ideas. The supporting cast of quirky characters is just as wonderfully drawn - BookFrogs included. But it is Lydia who will capture your heart.

"Lydia's skills as a bookseller came mainly, she believed, from her ability to listen. A raging case of bibliophilia certainly helped, as did limited financial needs, but it was her capacity to be politely trapped by others that really sealed her professional fate."

Oh my goodness, Sullivan is a clever, clever writer. The plot went places I couldn't imagine - but when I got there, I couldn't imagine it unfolding any other way. "The act was impulsive and had only taken seconds, yet it had rippled through the decades like a shockwave." Curious now, aren't you?

Yes, it's a mystery, But romance, family, life and more populate the pages of Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore. Absolutely recommended - this is hands down one of my favourite reads for 2017.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Here and Gone - Haylen Beck

Are you looking for a summer thriller read for your beach bag? Here and Gone by Haylen Beck is one I couldn't put down!

Audra Kinney has finally found the courage to leave her abusive husband. She and her two kids - Sean and Louise - are driving to California to stay with a friend of Audra's. She's sticking to back roads - her vehicle isn't in great shape and she's sure her husband will have alerted the authorities. When a sheriff pulls her over in Arizona, she figures that's exactly what has happened. Arrested and taken to the local jail, she asks where her children are. And here's the showstopper .....the cops say there were no children with her when they arrested her. Uh-huh. Great premise eh?!

Here and Gone reads like a thriller action movie. (And apparently film rights have been optioned) Beck's crooked sheriff is a piece of work - he's so very easy to hate. His attitude, his posturing and his scheming will make your skin crawl. His sidekick is no better.  Audra is a great, likeable protagonist - the reader is firmly in her camp, urging her on.

Audra has been pushed around for years by her husband, but after finally finding the courage to leave her husband, there's no way she's going to accept what's happening to her. For you see, no one believes her - including the FBI. They believe the sheriff. Except for one man - who has also lost his child in the same circumstances......

Here and Gone isn't a character driven book - rather it's the plot that propels this story forward - and it's going mighty fast. There was more than one turn in the story where I just had to put the book down as the tension, intensity and action never lets up. (Here and Gone is not for the faint at heart!) We're alongside Audra as she tries to escape this nightmare and find her kids. There are other points of view as well, from the sheriff, his cohort and the kids. Again, this just ratchets things up another notch.

There were a few plot points that were tied up by the end, but I would have liked more details. But, Here and Gone is getting five stars from me, because I simply couldn't put it down.

Haylen Beck is a pseudonym for a well known crime author, whose books I have enjoyed in the past.

Friday, June 2, 2017

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #161

- 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
Karen Dionne's forthcoming book, the Marsh King's Daughter, has been getting some press - cover blurbs from Lee Child and Clare Mackintosh caught my eye. So, it's been added to my teetering TBR pile! The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. The same idea is presented on both covers  - an isolated cabin hidden away in a marshy area. Colour tones are along the same lines, but the US is brighter. I like the tagline on the UK cover as it gives you an idea about the story inside. But I think I am going to go with the UK cover this time. I like the cabin better than the US (which looks abandoned.) And I also like the trees rather than the openness of the US cover. But, I guess a lot of it depends on your definition of 'marsh', doesn't' it? So, any plans to read The Marsh King's Daughter? Which cover do you prefer?  You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Burial Hour - Jeffery Deaver

The Burial Hour is the 13th entry in Jeffery Deaver's Lincoln Rhyme series.

For those who haven't read this series - Rhyme is a quadriplegic with limited hand control. Formerly an NYPD detective, he now works for them as a consultant. His fiance Amelia Sachs, also a NYPD detective, is his eyes on the ground, attending the crime scenes and gathering evidence.

Settling in with the latest Deaver is like catching up with old friends. The romance between the two leads is moving (slowly) towards marriage. The 'business' part of their relationship is successful - their combined skill sets are renowned in police circles. The supporting cast includes Rhyme's care worker Thom. I did miss NYPD investigators Sellito and Pulaski who only have brief cameos this time 'round. I feel like I've come to know all the players quite well over the last twelve novels. So, settling in with this latest is like catching up with old friends.

In The Burial Hour, seemingly unrelated victims are being snatched in broad daylight. The miniature noose left at each crime scene ties the cases together. But it is what the perp is doing with his victims that is horrendous. He is obsessed with sounds and music and is filming the death throes of his victims, using their tortured sounds as part of a musical accompaniment. The killer is given a voice through his own chapters and the reader is privy to his reasoning before the cops are.

At the heart of this series is Rhyme's uncanny ability to find clues in the most minute of trace evidence. And it is this skill that puts the cops on the trail of the killer they now call The Composer. That trail takes Rhyme and Sachs overseas to Italy. Deaver has done this in previous books - moving the crime and investigation to different countries. I'm not sure I'm sold on it. It does provide an opportunity to introduce new characters and new settings. At the same time it provides the opportunity for the investigation to be more difficult as laws and practices are differen from the US. While I found the settings and law in Italy interesting, I quickly grew tired of the two Italian leads - a forestry officer and a prosecutor. I felt they were overdrawn - one is quite bright, but a novice, the other is secretive and bullying. The number of times this was demonstrated grew tiresome.

There is always a secondary plot to Deaver's books. This time it's an American accused of rape in Italy. Can Sachs and Ryhme help expose the truth? This plotline was quite different with the whodunit and why quite removed from my initial assumptions. It also showcases a current political viewpoint. The resolution of that case opens up a new possibility for future books - one that looks quite promising.

It is the forensic detail that I enjoy the most about this series. The minutiae that provides the clues. The sharp analytical mind (and personality) of Lincoln Rhyme. I mentioned that reading this series was like sitting down with old friends. And it is - but this latest book kinda reminds me of friends who are telling the same stories each time, albeit with a few twists. Enjoyable but not mesmerizing. Read an excerpt of The Burial Hour.