Thursday, August 31, 2017

Young Jane Young - Gabrielle Zevin

I adored Gabrielle Zevin's previous book, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry and was eager to read her just released novel, Young Jane Young.

We meet sixty four year old Rachel in the the opening chapters as she tries out online dating. I loved her sassy voice and dry sense of humour and found myself chuckling over her thoughts and comments. Her chapter then segues into the life of the next main character - her daughter Aviva. Aviva is working for a congressman - and crosses a line, having an affair with the married man.  Her life goes off the rails from the fallout of this decision, until she decides to start over with a new name - Jane. She relocates in another state - and daughter Ruby is born. Jane's chapter segues into Ruby's. And the inevitable fate that awaits all three. The last viewpoint is that of the congressman's wife Embeth.

What a rich and varied story this was! Young Jane Young was an unexpected, unpredictable and yet very satisfying read. This one event effects all four leads in so many ways and their various outlooks, reactions and responses are dependent on each individual's age, experience and life philosophy. I loved each voice and was hard pressed to have a favourite. But, if forced to pick, I would have to say that I enjoyed Ruby the most. Her letters to her penpal are the basis for a lot of what she is feeling and doing and a lot of it is heartbreaking. I loved the insertion of epistolary elements. Zevin employs this for Aviva/Jane as well. We are privy to her journal, written in a Choose Your Own Adventure style. Choices are given and we see how and why her life took the path it did.

"The rub of the Choose Your Own Adventure stories is that if you don't make a few bad choices, the story will be terribly boring. If you do everything right and you're always good, the story will be very short."

Mother, daughters, friends, the path taken and not taken. The echoes of a choice made, the denial and acceptance that we can't change what has been done - only move forward.

Zevin's writing is wry, witty and peppered with truths. See for yourself - read an excerpt of Young Jane Young.

You can connect with Gabrielle Zevin on her website, find her on Facebook and like her on Twitter.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Over the Counter# 381

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner?? The title of this one was a bit weddiculous....

Weddiculous: An Unfiltered Guide to Being a Bride Paperback by Jamie Lee. 

From HarperOne:

"n this irreverent wedding guide, MTV’s wedding planning guru and star of Girl Code, comedian and bride-to-be Jamie Lee, offers practical advice and hilarious insights on how to stay sane while planning your "big day."
Weddings. What was once a beautiful celebration of a couple coming together for a lifetime of happiness has become a bit ridiculous, complete with the whimsical monogrammed mason jars and unconventional photo shoots. The Epic task of creating that special event can be nightmarish—a dizzying maze of minutiae and seemingly endless choices that might tempt you to say yes to a quickie drive-through chapel in Vegas.

But weddings don’t have to be stressful. You don’t have to give in to the crazy—or give up completely. Famous funny gal Jamie Lee learned much more than she counted on pulling together her own wedding, and in Weddiculous she shares her first-hand experiences and hilarious hard-won insights with every girl who just said "yes."

Jamie gives you the real low-down, puts the madness into perspective, and walks you through the process step by step in a calm, realistic, and highly entertaining way. Weddiculous includes helpful checklists, timelines, and suggestions on everything from what questions to ask vendors to how to handle difficult bridesmaids to what’s worth the extra cost (and more importantly, what’s not). Throughout, Jamie provides guidance on when you should trust your gut and when you need to listen to others.

What Amy Sedaris has done for hospitality and crafting, Jamie Lee now does for weddings. Weddiculous will help remind you what’s really important about your wedding day: it’s just the first day in a long and happy marriage."

(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!)

Monday, August 28, 2017

How to Find Love in a Bookshop - Veronica Henry

I do love my mysteries, but every so often I crave a sweet, feel-good read with a happy ending. How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry was all of the above and the perfect read for a lazy Sunday.

Nightingale Books has been a fixture in the village of Peasedale for almost thirty years. "After all, a town without a bookshop was a town without a heart." Julius, the owner, is just as beloved by the residents. When he passes away, his daughter Emilia returns home to take over the shop she grew up in.

"Millions - there must be so many millions - of words. All those words, and the pleasure they had provided for people over the years: escape, entertainment, education...He had changed minds. He had changed lives. It was up to her to carry on his works so he would live on...."

Well, starting off with a bookshop at the heart of a tale had me hooked without turning a page! And then I met the inhabitants of Peasedale and became totally immersed in Henry's imaginings. Her characters were so warm and real. They're people you would like to have in your circle of friends. Many of them are holding on to secrets, running from or wishing for love and happiness - and some of them don't even realize it....

Henry's emotional descriptions of her characters and their wants and wishes was very well done. The memories of Julius had me reaching for a tissue more than once. I could only hope that they all would find what they needed by the end of the book. There are lots of miscommunications, missed cues and missteps along the way. But, this being a chick lit type of book, we know we can expect some happy endings by the final pages....and the journey there was so very enjoyable.

There were so many great book quotes and references throughout the novel. Bibliophiles will appreciate them all. "There's a book for everyone, even if they don't think there is. A book that reaches in a grabs your soul."

I really enjoyed How to Find Love in a Bookshop - it was charming, sweet and a lovely read. Five stars for pure escapist enjoyment reading. I'll be checking out what else Henry has written. Read an excerpt of How to Find Love in a Bookshop.

Fans of Jenny Colgan would enjoy Veronica Henry. You can connect with Veronica on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Giveaway - Eastman Was Here - Alex Gilvarry

Alex Gilvarry's new novel, Eastman Was Here has been named 'one of the most anticipated novels of the summer' by Buzzfeed, Nylon, and Huffington Post. And I have a copy of Eastman Was Here to giveaway to two lucky readers!

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

"An ambitious new novel set in the literary world of 1970s New York, following a washed-up writer in an errant quest to pick up the pieces of his life.

The year is 1973, and Alan Eastman, a public intellectual, accidental cultural critic, washed-up war journalist, husband, and philanderer; finds himself alone on the floor of his study in an existential crisis. His wife has taken their kids and left him to live with her mother in New Jersey, and his best work feels as though it is years behind him. In the depths of despair, he receives an unexpected and unwelcome phone call from his old rival dating back to his days on the Harvard literary journal, offering him the chance to go to Vietnam to write the definitive account of the end of America’s longest war. Seeing his opportunity to regain his wife’s love and admiration while reclaiming his former literary glory, he sets out for Vietnam. But instead of the return to form as a pioneering war correspondent that he had hoped for, he finds himself in Saigon, grappling with the same problems he thought he’d left back in New York.

Following his widely acclaimed debut, From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant, Alex Gilvarry employs the same thoughtful, yet dark sense of humor in Eastman Was Here to capture one irredeemable man’s search for meaning in the face of advancing age, fading love, and a rapidly-changing world." Read an excerpt of Eastman Was Here.

“With his second book, Gilvarry establishes himself as a writer who defies expectation, convention and categorization. Eastman Was Here is a dark, riotously funny and audacious exploration of the sacred and the profane—and pretty much everything in between.” —Téa Obreht, New York Times bestselling author of The Tiger’s Wife."

"Alex Gilvarry is the author of From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant, winner of the Hornblower Award for a First Book, named Best New Voice 2012 by Bookspan.  He has received fellowships from the Harry Ransom Center and the Norman Mailer Center. He is a professor at Monmouth University where he teaches fiction." You can connect with Alex Gilvarry on his website and follow him on Twitter.  And if you'd like to read Eastman Was Here, enter to win one of two copies I have to give away. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends Sept. 9/17.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Back to School with DK Canada

It's hard to believe that summer has sped by and that back to school is right around the corner. DK Canada (always!) has some great books to help with any project or subject.

Little Guy and Gramma thought that the Children's Illustrated Dictionary(Canadian edition) looked like a book we would like to explore further. The pictures on the cover immediately caught his eye, but he didn't know what the knight was. Perfect - let's go find out.

There are many ways to 'read' this book. You could start at the beginning and go page by page. Or pick a letter to explore fully - it's easy to choose as the letters are on the cut edge and the current one is highlighted. But Little Guy has no interest in being methodical. Instead he just started in the middle and stopped whenever a picture caught his eye. At first it was the ones he recognized and we would talk about it, with Gramma taking a quick peek at the text accompanying the picture to see if there was any additional facts I could mention. Now, not every entry has a picture, but as an example, a page with eighteen entries had thirteen images. The images are a mixture of actual and drawn. I do think having all actual images would be more 'real'. The drawn images are accurate, but not as appealing to view.

The words chosen are of course not what you would find in an adult discretionary, but they are words that would be appropriate for learning and confirming for a variety of ages. The recommended age says 5-9. I do think that some nine year olds may find this a bit juvenile. The explanations are short and sweet, but do convey the meanings well. Little Guy will be able to grow with this book. Right now, some of the words are above and beyond his vocabulary, but the sheer volume of pictures and things he does recognize and can name greatly appeals to him.

As always, the book is printed on good quality paper, with full colour images and easy to read type, well spaced and inviting to look at. Appendices included are abbreviations, spelling guide, word building, facts and figures and countries of the world - these are most definitely for older readers.

This was a good introduction to a reference book. And it's one that keeps him interested while Mom is making supper.

Friday, August 25, 2017

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #173

- 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
Sue Grafton's latest Kinsey Millhone book, Y is for Yesterday has just released. One more to go and I guess the series will end? The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Well, let's see. I just find the UK cover to be overdone - dark road, woman on the run from a car in the night. Scraggly trees (I had to try and see if I could use scraggly two weeks in a row) Both covers do use a yellow 'Y'. But I much prefer the font of the US 'Y'. And I like the cleaner look of the US version. It matches the rest of the series. Interesting that the US actually spells out the whole title, while the UK doesn't. So, US for me this week.Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read Y is for Yesterday? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Film on Friday #53 - All Saints

The best stories in life are the true ones. All Saints is one of those stories. The movie releases today from Affirm Films and Sony Pictures.

"All Saints is based on the inspiring true story of salesman-turned-pastor Michael Spurlock (John Corbett), the tiny church he was ordered to shut down, and a group of refugees from Southeast Asia. Together, they risked everything to plant seeds for a future that might just save them all."

John Corbett has long been a favourite actor of mine and the choice to cast him as Mike Spurlock was perfect casting. He captures the newness of this pastor and his determination to do the best he can for his flock, despite the directions to shut down the church. Sometimes his eagerness lands him in trouble. But his enthusiasm for the newest members of his congregation - refugees from Burma - knows no bounds. And that's what makes this such a great movie - that these events are true - and the outcome is lasting.

Spurlock is sure he can control things and that the outcome he foresees will come to fruition. But we all know that saying - Man plans and God laughs. Things do not go according to the plan Mike has envisioned - and yet he is so sure that this is what God wants. Without spoiling anything, these events only serve to show that we cannot know what God has planned for us. And that sometimes failure is success.

The supporting cast is wonderful, from the grumpy church ladies, resident curmudgeon Forrest (Barry Corbin) and especially the Karen people. Nelson Lee does a wonderful job as Ye Win, the 'leader' of the refugees. I hope that viewers can appreciated the difficulty and challenges of being new to a country and culture. Faith is the unifying tie for this church's members.

All Saints was shot on location at the actual All Saints Church. I appreciated seeing the actual church and surrounding grounds.

All Saints is a wonderful, joyful, inspiring, affirming film, one suitable for the whole family. See the trailer below. Affirm Films has a wonderful discussion guide for All Saints.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Quiet Child - John Burley

John Burley has just released his third novel, The Quiet Child.

1954 - Cottonwood, California. Many residents of this small town are ill, including the McCrays. Although there are environmental reasons that might explain the sicknesses, fingers are instead pointed at six year old Danny McCray, who doesn't speak. But how could a child bring so much illness to the town and his own family? When Danny and his older brother Sean are kidnapped, the townsfolk whisper that it's maybe for the best. But Sheriff Jim Kent and the boys' father Michael are determined to bring them home.

Now, with that description, you may think the book is a mystery - and yes, it is. Who has taken the boys and why? The Quiet Child has echoes of Burley's first book, The Absence of Mercy - fathers and sons, a suspicious small town, what a parent would do for a child and at what cost?

Burley's writing is beautifully descriptive and atmospheric - many passages are worth reading again to savour. I've found that its impossible to determine where Burley is going to take his stories - and this was proven again in The Quiet Child. There are almost 'otherwordly' tones to the book. I was surprised by the turn the story took in the last few chapters - it was completely unexpected.

I was interested to read in the author's notes at the end of the book that Cottonwood is a real town - one Burley visited while writing the book. I wonder what the residents think of this book?Read an excerpt of The Quiet Child.

"John Burley is the award-winning author of The Absence of Mercy, which won the National Black Ribbon Award recognizing a new voice in suspense writing. He attended medical school in Chicago and completed his emergency medicine residency at University of Maryland Medical Center and R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. He continues to serve as an emergency medicine physician in Northern California, where he lives with his wife, daughter, and Great Dane." You can connect withJohn Burley on his website,like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.  See what others on the TLC book tour thought. Full schedule can be found here.

I received this book for review from HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Over the Counter #380

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner. The portability of this idea.....

My Tiny Veg Plot:  Grow Your Own in Surprisingly Small Places Hardcover by Lia Leendertz.

From Pavilion Books:

"Food can be grown just about anywhere, and lack of space should not put you off growing and enjoying the taste of your own fresh vegetables. Not everyone has access to outside space or what we traditionally think of as a garden, but we all have window ledges, doorways, often stairways, sometimes even a balcony or roof space. This book offers solutions and inspirations for these tricky spots that we frequently overlook or neglect, and highlights some unusual growing spaces such as a minuscule balcony in Bristol, an innovative installation of hexagonal polytunnels full of salad leaves in Amiens, France, and an ingenious self-sufficient growing system that provides a wealth of vegetables in an old swimming pool in Phoenix, Arizona.

Filled with practical advice, inspiration and planting and design ideas, My Tiny Veg Plot tells you how to prepare your beds whatever the size and situation; there is advice on filling containers, creating ingenious planters, using planting mediums, soil and water and which fruit and vegetables will thrive in which spot.

My Tiny Veg Plot contains straightforward information on what to grow and how to grow it, from seed to ready to eat."

(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, August 22, 2017

The Good Daughter - Karin Slaughter

Karin Slaughter is simply one of the best mystery/thriller writers out there. I am always eagerly awaiting her next book. Her latest, The Good Daughter was an absolutely fantastic read!

1989. The Good Daughter opens with a grab you by the throat, can't look away, opening chapter. A mother and her two daughters (Sam and Charlie), home when they were expected to be out. Two masked gunman, looking for their father Rusty - a lawyer who defends almost anyone. The consequences of that day - horrific. Seriously, take a deep breath before you start.....

And then Slaughter slams the reader again, jumping forward twenty eight years to that same town and to what has happened in that time span. One of the daughters survives and is working as a lawyer like her father. When a school shooting occurs, it is exactly the kind of case Rusty takes. Daughter Charlie was there when it happened.

Oh, there is so much going on in this book! The relationships between the girls, the girls and their parents, spouses, friends, enemies and selves are intricately complicated and so well written. And just as intricate is the shooting case - something doesn't add up. The crime and investigation is brilliant, with no way to guess where things were going to end.

But best of all are the twists the Slaughter throws into her narrative. Without spoiling anything, suffice it to say that just when I felt I had a handle on what happened in the past, Slaughter pulled the rug out from under me. It's impossible not to become immersed in this story. Emotional, addictive and simply excellent - read an excerpt of The Good Daughter. (Gentle readers take note that Slaughter doesn't shy away from violence in her books.)

Monday, August 21, 2017

Giveaway - Seeing Red - Sandra Brown

Sandra Brown's latest novel, Seeing Red, has just released - and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

Seeing Red is a stand-alone thriller. Here's more from Grand Central Publishing:

"#1 New York Times bestselling author Sandra Brown delivers nonstop suspense and supercharged sexual tension in a thriller about tainted heroism and vengeance without mercy.

Kerra Bailey is a TV journalist hot on the trail of a story guaranteed to skyrocket her career to new heights. Twenty-five years ago, Major Franklin Trapper became a national icon when he was photographed leading a handful of survivors to safety after the bombing of a Dallas hotel. For years, he gave frequent speeches and interviews but then suddenly dropped out of the public eye, shunning all media. Now Kerra is willing to use any means necessary to get an exclusive with the Major--even if she has to secure an introduction from his estranged son, former ATF agent John Trapper.

Still seething over his break with both the ATF and his father, Trapper wants no association with the bombing or the Major. Yet Kerra's hints that there's more to the story rouse Trapper's interest despite himself. And when the interview goes catastrophically awry--with unknown assailants targeting not only the Major, but also Kerra--Trapper realizes he needs her under wraps if he's going to track down the gunmen . . . and finally discover who was responsible for the Dallas bombing.

Kerra is wary of a man so charming one moment and dangerous the next, and she knows Trapper is withholding evidence from his ATF investigation into the bombing. But having no one else to trust and enemies lurking closer than they know, Kerra and Trapper join forces to expose a sinuous network of lies and conspiracy--and uncover who would want a national hero dead." Read an excerpt of Seeing Red.

"Sandra Brown is the author of sixty-eight New York Times bestsellers. There are over eighty million copies of her books in print worldwide, and her work has been translated into thirty-four languages. She lives in Texas." For more information you can visit Sandra Brown on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

And if you'd like to read Seeing Read, enter for a chance to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends Sept. 3/17,

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Black Mad Wheel - Josh Malerman

Josh Malerman's first book, Bird Box, was one of the best audio books I've ever listened to. I was eager to see what his newest book, Black Mad Wheel, would bring.

In Bird Box, it was sight, seeing and not seeing, that was at the heart of the terror. This time around, Malerman brings hearing and sound as the focal point of the plot.

1957. A group of musicians, all part of the band The Danes, as well as being former soldiers, are drafted by the US government to hunt down the source of a sound. A sound that by all descriptions will drive a person mad. They agree (the money they're offered seals the deal) and head to Africa. Former expeditions have defined an area that is believed to be at the heart of the sound. Those expedition members are dead.....

The narrative goes from past to present so there is another point of view - that of a nurse called Ellen. She is responsible for only one patient in the government facility she works in - that of a sound survivor - Phillip Tonka of The Danes. While most of the book surrounds Phillip, I found the character I liked the most was Ellen.

I liked the idea of a sound as a weapon or evil. And Malerman's enigmatic depiction of the sound is definitely scary. But for this listener Black Mad Wheel just never met my expectations. Which admittedly were very high as I adored Bird Box. I thought the enlisting of musicians, albeit ex soldiers, a bit of a stretch.  For me,  the 'horror' elements of this latest were just too... hmm...too something that I just can't define. Maybe amorphous is the word I'm looking for - the evil was just too vague for me. Malerman's latest work has been referred to as metaphysical by other reviewers.

Black Mad Wheel's scenes and characters do benefit from Malerman's musical and band life. He is the lead singer of the band The High Strung.

I chose to listen to Black Mad Wheel. The narrator was Robertson Dean. He has a rich, full voice with a nice low, mellow undertone. It's pleasant to listen to and the low tone and measured delivery fits the story well. He uses different tones and tenors to represent different characters. Listen to an excerpt. Or if you prefer, read an excerpt.

I'll still pick up Malerman's next book and I wonder if speaking will be at the crux of the book. We've had see no.....hear no.....

Friday, August 18, 2017

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #172

- 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
It was the subtitle on Elisabeth Carpenter's forthcoming book that caught my eye. 99 Red Balloons: A chillingly clever psychological thriller with a stomach-flipping twist. It is on my TBR stack, so we'll see if it lives up to that  description. So, the US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Two very similar looks this week. The title fonts are the same, but with a slight change in the tone of the red. Same tag line - switching candy for sweets. A different playground apparatus in each. Of course a red balloon in each. Scraggly (I love that descriptor) tree branches. Big difference - an actual girl in the US shot and a child's shoe only in the UK shot. But despite all those similarities, I think I prefer the UK cover this week. It seems more ominous - I think it's the background shading. Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read 99 Red Balloons? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Sleeping in the Ground - Peter Robinson

Peter Robinson's Inspector Banks series is one of my hands down favourites. Sleeping in the Ground is the 24th entry.

I have such a delicious sense of anticipation when I open the cover of the latest Banks. I had no idea what the plot was about, but knew I would be in for another great read. I wanted to catch up with characters I've come to know and appreciate. What has gone on in their lives? Robinson keeps them moving forward in real time with each new entry.

Sleeping in the Ground opens with a wedding - and a funeral. A unknown gunman opens fire on a countryside wedding, killing and wounding many. Banks is away attending the memorial service of his first love from forty years ago, when he is called to the scene. He's become quite introspective with her passing, looking at his own life and decisions. But, it seems to be manifesting itself in anger and short tempered outbursts - quite unlike the usually composed Banks.

The killer is identified early on in the book and I wondered where the book could go from there, as there were still many pages remaining. Banks has some niggling doubts though and continues to investigate even as the case is declared solved. Robinson's plot was inventive and completely unpredictable. I truly enjoy being surprised by a mystery as I read so many.

Robinson excels at both plotting and characterizations. As I mentioned earlier, I read this series as much for the mystery as for those who populate the pages. Familiar supporting players are back, including one from Banks' past. The settings and descriptions have me yearning to sit in a pub with a packet of crisps, catching up on the latest.

As always, I enjoy Bank's music selections. I've often put the book down to look up and listen to a song that is playing in the book, curious as to how and why it fits that particular scene or moment. Banks is also into poetry now and those references are also well suited.

Robinson's prose are effortless and so very engaging. Sleeping in the Ground is a stellar entry in this series - and I will be eagerly awaiting number twenty five. Read an excerpt of Sleeping in the Ground.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Over the Counter #379

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Showing my age here.....excuse me while I flip over my record.....

The Rolling Stones All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Track by Philippe Margotin and Jean-Michel Guesdon.

From the publisher, Black Dog and Leventhal:

"A comprehensive visual history of the "World's Greatest Rock & Roll Band" as told through the recording of their monumental catalog, including 29 studio and 24 compilation albums, and more than a hundred singles.

Since 1963, The Rolling Stones have been recording and touring, selling more than 200 million records worldwide. While much is known about this iconic group, few books provide a comprehensive history of their time in the studio. In The Rolling Stones All the Songs, authors Margotin and Guesdon describe the origin of their 340 released songs, details from the recording studio, what instruments were used, and behind-the-scenes stories of the great artists who contributed to their tracks.

Organized chronologically by album, this massive, 704-page hardcover begins with their 1963 eponymous debut album recorded over five days at the Regent Studio in London; through their collaboration with legendary producer Jimmy Miller in the ground-breaking albums from 1968 to 1973; to their later work with Don Was, who has produced every album since Voodoo Lounge. Packed with more than 500 photos, All the Songs is also filled with stories fans treasure, such as how the mobile studio they pioneered was featured in Deep Purple's classic song "Smoke on the Water" or how Keith Richards used a cassette recording of an acoustic guitar to get the unique riff on "Street Fighting Man."

(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, August 15, 2017

A Stranger in the House - Shari Lapena

Shari Lapena's suspense novel, The Couple Next Door, was a multi list bestseller. I loved it and couldn't wait to see what her next book would bring. Well, that book, A Stranger in the House, releases tomorrow and it was another late night page turner for me.

Karen and Tom, husband and wife. "But she's gone out with her car, and forgotten to lock the door. That's very odd for his wife, who's a stickler about locking the doors." "Something is wrong. He should call the police. He hesitates. Perhaps the police will thing they've had an argument....theirs is an almost perfect marriage."

The neighbour, Brigid. "Just as she does every morning. Brigid sits in her favorite chair by the large picture window in her living room." "She thinks a lot about Tom and Karen, about where they are and what they're doing, about their life together. It's like she's caught up in a particularly good television show and can't wait to see what happens next."

What a great premise eh? I was immediately hooked! So, something does happen (nope, not gonna spoil it for you!) But Lapena keeps the reader on their toes. We're given information about a crime, but not the full picture. Those three main characters are most definitely not likeable, instead they are self serving, secretive, shallow and manipulative. We have a fairly good idea of what has happened as each of the three is given a voice and point of view. With each new entry a little more of the big picture is revealed. The title is quite appropriate as no one is quite who they say they are.

Detective Rasbach, the detective from The Couple Next Door is also the investigator in this case. The emphasis is more on him as a character, than police procedural details.

The style of writing in A Stranger in the House is pared down to essentials and has a staccato feel to it. I thought it suited this plot, as well as the characters, echoing their thoughts, actions and lies. I did find some of the plot points to be a bit of a stretch, but still quite enjoyed the book. I liked the last twisty paragraph - a great ending.

If you enjoy psychological suspense, this one's for you.  Read an excerpt of A Stranger in the House.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Bookshop at Water's End - Patti Callahan Henry - Review AND Giveaway

Books and the beach. Two of my favourite things! And you'll find them both in Patti Callahan Henry's new novel, The Bookshop at Water's End. An absolutely perfect summer read! And I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader.

Bonny and Lainey were known as the Summer Sisters when they were younger and spent summers in Watersend, SC. But those idyllic days ended when Lainey's mother disappeared one night. Now in their fifties, they are still friends, but have never gone back to Watersend. Bonny is a doctor, but a tragic mistake may cost her her career. Her marriage is also on the rocks and suddenly Watersend is the place she wants to be. She packs up her daughter Piper and Lainey decides to join her with her children as well. Being back revives old memories, hurts, first loves and lots of questions..... The one constant from now and then? Mimi and her bookshop.

Henry's description of time and place had me wishing to be in Watersend, sitting on a porch or browsing the bookstore shelves for a new read.

The Bookshop at Water's End is a character driven novel. The lives, hopes, wishes, dreams and mistakes of the women are very real and believable. The interactions and dialogue between the two friends, their spouses and children rings true. Each of the main characters (including nineteen year old Piper) is searching - for their purpose, for the place they belong, for forgiveness and for answers. Such a summer read would not be complete without some romance. Bonny's past with Owen - and possible future?- will have readers wondering about their own first love. And the mystery from all those years ago - whatever happened to Lainey's mother?

Henry's writing is languid and detailed, suiting the Lowcountry setting. And perfect for summer reading. Read an excerpt of The Bookshop at Water's End.

Patti Callahan Henry is a New York Times bestselling author of Losing the Moon; Where the River Runs; When Light Breaks; Between the Tides; The Art of Keeping Secrets; Driftwood Summer; The Perfect Love Song: A Holiday Story; Coming up for Air; And Then I Found You; The Stories We Tell; The Idea of Love. The mother of three children, she now lives in both Mountain Brook, Alabama and Bluffton, South Carolina with her husband. You can connect with Patti on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

I have a copy of The Bookshop at Water's End to giveaway - enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends August 26/17.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

She Rides Shotgun - Jordan Harper

She Rides Shotgun is Jordan Harper's debut novel.

Polly McClusky is eleven years old. She hasn't seen much of her father Nate in the past few years as he's been in prison. But when he shows up outside her school, she willingly goes with him. You see, there's a contract on both their heads....and Polly's mother has already been killed.

Polly and Nate are on the run, trying to stay one step ahead of those determined to wipe them out. Polly is an innocent, but that has to change. Nate needs to teach her skills - skills an eleven year old shouldn't need. An eleven year old he barely knows. But one that has 'gunfighter eyes' just like her father......

Whew! What a great premise. The danger, the action and the unknown direction the story was going to go immediately drew me in. But, it was also about the relationship between a father and daughter and Nate's unwavering desire to protect he at all costs. The reader cannot help but be firmly behind Nate and Polly as they run - and then fight back. Harper does a fantastic job manipulating the reader's emotions. Both characters were well drawn and I had no problem imagining what they looked like. The inclusion of Polly's stuffed bear as an extension of her personality and thoughts was a great device. With each new twist and turn in their lives, I became even more invested in the outcome - and the ride there.

I chose to listen to She Rides Shotgun - and I'm so glad I did. I'm sure it's just as good a read on the printed page, but for me, it was even better listening. I was sucked into the story and found it so hard to stop and climb out. David Marantz was the reader. I thought his voice interpreted Harper's work well. The tone and timbre he uses for Holly conveys her innocence. The gravelly tone for Nate drew a vivid mental image for me. He captures the danger and action of the book. His voice is easy to listen to and is very clear. Listen to an excerpt of She Rides Shotgun. Or if you prefer read an excerpt.

A caution to those who are adverse to violence. Those looking for a helluva a good tale? This one's for you. She Rides Shotgun has movie written all over it. I am now a devoted Jordan Harper fan - more please. You can connect with Jordan Harper on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

Friday, August 11, 2017

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #171

- 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
Hands up - who is looking forward to Harlan Coben's
forthcoming book? Don't Let Go releases in September and is on my must read list. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Well it's an easy choice for me this week. I'm not a fan of the blue and red on the UK cover. And I definitely don't like the image of the man as I prefer to draw my own mental images of characters as I read the book. And the picture of a woman(?) within the other picture. Pass.  I would be much more inclined to pick up the bright yellow US cover. The red font works on the yellow. The man's image with in the door in the 'O'  is understated but effective. So, US cover for me this week. Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read Don't Let Go? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

I Know a Secret - Tess Gerritsen

I Know a Secret is the twelfth book in Tess Gerristsen's celebrated Rizzoli and Ives series.

For those of you who haven't read this series yet (?!) - the two female leads are Boston PD detective Jane Rizzoli and her friend, Boston medical examiner Maura Isles.

This latest case is a puzzler. Two bodies with no cause of death that Isles can detect. They've both been posed after death in unusual circumstances. Rizzoli is having just as hard a time finding a connection between the two.

But there is one - and I have to say - it's clever. Using actual crimes as a starting point, Gerritsen has created an inventive plotline. Tess keeps the reader guessing with many players to choose from for the final whodunit. She skilfully manipulates the reader's thinking with dialogue and actions from many that are 'suspicious'. One of those characters is given a voice and chapters of her own. These chapters are 'teasers' with actions and motives being slowly doled out. I did have my suspicions, but was happy to find that I wasn't completely right at the end. And that ending leaves the door cracked open for further stories....

The personal lives of these two leads, as well as the supporting cast, are just as much of draw for me as the main plot is in this series. Their lives have moved along in real time, with a few somewhat startling threads. (Maura's mother is something else....) Their human quirks, ruminations, successes and failures only serve to make them more 'real'. The dynamic between the two leads is believable and enjoyble.

Gerristen's take on the medical aspects of her books is excellent, a she herself is a licensed doctor.

I Know a Secret can absolutely be read as a stand alone, but the evolution of this pair is worth reading from the first book, The Surgeon. An entertaining, enjoyable read for me - and one of the best of the twelve. Read an excerpt of I Know a Secret.

There's a nice cover blurb from Lee Child: "Suspense doesn’t get smarter than this."

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Over the Counter #378

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

Crochet Ever After: 18 Crochet Projects Inspired by Classic Fairy Tales by Brenda K. B. Anderson.

From the publisher, Interweave:

"18 projects to crochet happily ever after.

From the whimsical mind of Beastly Crochet author Brenda K. B. Anderson comes a funtastic collection of 18 fairy-tale inspired crochet projects. Shows and movies based on fairy tales are incredibly popular, and crafty crocheters now have a book of fabulous projects that pay homage to their favorite stories. Little Red's hood with integrated infinity scarf will stay put when she's being chased by the Big Bad Wolf. Sleeping Beauty now has just the right nightie to wear while waiting for Prince Charming to wake her up. Gretel can take her snacks to go with her cupcake purse. Plus the Evil Queen will know exactly who the hottest in the land is when she gazes into her Mirror, Mirror on the Go makeup case.

Heroines, fairy princesses, witches, and big bad wolves are all accounted for in this fanciful collection of crochet accessories, toys, bags, kids' clothes, and more."

(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, August 8, 2017

Persons Unknown - Susie Steiner

I really enjoyed the first book (Missing, Presumed - my review) in Susie Steiner's new series featuring Cambridgeshire Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw. Manon returns in this second book - Persons Unknown

Manon has relocated from London back to Cambridgeshire and taken a position in Cold Cases. She figures the locale change will be better for her adopted son Fly and the baby she's expecting in five months. Her sister and her young son are living with them as well.

But, old habits die hard. When a businessman dies just steps away from the police station, Manon can't help herself - she sits in on the briefings. Things get real personal when it's discovered that the victim has ties to Manon's family - and that Fly is a suspect. That's just the beginning. Lines are crossed and boundaries broken in so many ways in this latest.

Oh, where to start? I adore Manon. She's dogged, determined, feisty, fierce and loyal. Exactly the person you would want in your corner. Her pregnancy adds a level of difficulty, but also some funny moments on the way to solving this latest mystery. As with Missing, Presumed, there's an excellent. well-plotted mystery at the heart of the book, but Steiner's novels are definitely character driven. And for me, that's why I am enjoying her writing so much. I was glad to see Davy and Harriet (both police officers) return. They too have 'full' personalities and lives. Davy is also given a voice and POV in this book. And I really like the developments and relationships that Steiner has inserted into Manon's life.

I always enjoy British police procedurals - the focus is not on blood or gore, but on the clues, the investigation, and the players. There are many ways things could have played out in Persons Unknown. I had my suspicions about whodunit, but was quite happy to be not completely right.

Persons Unknown was another excellent read from Steiner - and I'm really looking forward to the third book. Absolutely recommended. Read an excerpt of Persons Unknown.

You can connect with Steiner on her website and follow her on Twitter.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Giveaway - The Color of Fear - Marcia Muller

I have a wonderful giveaway for the mystery lovers today! Marcia Muller's latest Sharon McCone mystery, The Color of Fear, has just released - and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader! This is the 32nd book in the series!

What's it about? From Grand Central Publishing:

"In New York Times bestselling author Marcia Muller's captivating new mystery, private detective Sharon McCone's investigation hits closer to home than ever before...

When a knock on the door in the middle of the night wakes Sharon, she's wholly unprepared for the horrifying news: her father has been the victim of a vicious, racially-motivated attack.

A nationally recognized Shoshone artist, Elwood had been visiting Sharon for the holidays, browsing for gifts in San Francisco's exclusive Marina district when he was set upon by a mob of angry young men. Now he lies in a coma, hovering between life and death.

With little progress on the investigation from the overworked, short-handed police, Sharon resolves to track down Elwood's attackers herself. But when Sharon begins receiving hate-filled, racist threats from a shadowy group, it becomes clear that her pursuit of justice may be putting her own life in jeopardy..."

"Marcia Muller has written many novels and short stories. She has won six Anthony Awards, a Shamus Award, and is also the recipient of the Private Eye Writers of America's Lifetime Achievement Award as well as the Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Award (their highest accolade). She lives in northern California with her husband, mystery writer Bill Pronzini." You can connect with Marcia on her website and like her on Facebook.

If you'd like to add The Color of Fear to your bookshelf, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends August 19/17. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, August 5, 2017

A Dog Called Hope - Jason Morgan and Damien Lewis

A Dog Called Hope:A Wounded Warrior and the Service Dog Who Saved Him  is the story of Jason Morgan. and his service dog Napal.

Morgan was a Combat Meteorologist with a Special Forces unit when a covert mission went awry and he suffered catastrophic injuries. Morgan was declared a paraplegic. Fighting unbelievable pain both physically and mentally, Morgan seized upon a ray of hope - Canine Companions for Independence. CCI provides service dogs free of charge to those in need.

A Dog Called Hope is Morgan's life story after that horrific accident - and the dog named Napal, who changed Jason's life.

Although we know accidents happen like this all the time, it is hard to listen to someone's personal story - the pain, the anguish and the grief. But I knew that Morgan had an important and uplifting message to impart. As a dog lover, I was already invested in this story simply from looking at the warm, wonderful and somehow wise face of Napal on the cover of the book. The journey through his accident, to CCI and Napal and afterwards is fascinating, uplifting and yes tear-jerking. (You're going to need a tissue for a few chapters) Morgan has made it his life's work now to spread the word about CCI and the service dogs they train. He now spreads that word as a motivational speaker.

I chose to listen to Morgan's story - the reader was John Moraitis. His voice fit the story of this soldier. He has a matter of fact, get on with life tone that suits this soldier's story. His enunciation is crisp, clean and easy to listen to and understand. I often find that listening to a book is much more intimate than reading - the listener becomes part of the story. And what a story this was! Listen to an excerpt of A Dog Called Hope. Or if you prefer, read an excerpt.

Damien Lewis is an author who worked with Morgan on this book - and indeed plays a part in Napal's story.

While I found the writing slightly overly dramatic in spots, how can you give anyone's life story anything but a five?

Friday, August 4, 2017

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #170

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

US cover
UK cover
Karin Slaughter is one of the best thriller/mystery writers out there. I always look forward to reading her latest. That latest (a stand alone) is The Good Daughter releasing this coming week in North America and already released across the pond. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Well, I don't think there's any doubt that this is a dark thriller with these covers. I like the match image on the US cover - it can be interpreted many ways - shining a light on, snuffing out a light etc. I'm very glad that there is no face on the woman image, but I am still tired of those female silhouettes on covers. So, I think it's going to be UK for me this week. The blood on the flowers is ominous. Is that a latched window or door? And those scrawled letters have me curious. Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read The Good Daughter?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Heart of the City - Robert Rotenberg

Heart of the City is the fifth entry in Robert Rotenberg's  Homicide Detective Ari Greene series.

Greene is no longer a detective, having left the force after the events of the last book. Personally, he's learning how to be a father to Alison, the daughter he never knew he had. Professionally he's taken a job as a construction worker. But death still seems to find Greene. Controversial developer Livingstone Fox is found dead on his much contested latest project. And it just happens to be the site Ari is working on - and he finds the body. Old instincts die hard and Greene finds himself drawn into the case - just not as a Homicide Detective this time. And what he doesn't yet know is that his personal life is going to play a big part in this case.

I've always enjoyed Ari Greene as a lead character. He's smart, intuitive, dogged - and human. He makes mistakes, but it only has made him more realistic. His personal storyline is just as engaging as the main plots. I've always enjoyed his father's scenes. I imagine that Alison will be found in future books, but I'm still not sure how I feel about her. We'll see how she develops from here. Greens' former protege Daniel Kennicott has moved up in the department with Greene's leaving. This makes for a very different dynamic this time 'round. I am torn on Kennicott  - I'm not as firmly in his camp - he makes quicker decisions and acts too rashly at times. But, on the other hand, this works well for plotting.

Rotenberg has taken inspiration for this latest novel from current news. The development in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) is seemingly never ending and always controversial. Fox's developments are pretty much the truth. What I do like - and without revealing anything pertinent - is the proposed alteration to that growth.

I just love the Canadian setting - the descriptions of streets, stores and neighbourhoods that I recognize and have visited. It really brings the novel to life. Rotenberg himself is a criminal lawyer in Toronto and has based his series in the same city.

As for the whodunit, there are many available suspects and Rotenberg keeps us guessing until the end. I'm not sure I completely bought the final resolution (the killer's motivation was a bit of a stretch for me) but I really enjoyed the journey there. I'll be looking for the next entry in this series. Read an excerpt of Heart of the City.

You can connect with Robert Rotenberg on his website, like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Over the Counter #377

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Who wouldn't look twice at this one....

One-Hour Cheese: Ricotta, Mozzarella, Chèvre, Paneer--Even Burrata. Fresh and Simple Cheeses You Can Make in an Hour or Less! by Claudia Lucero.

From Workman Publishing:

"It’s a DIY cook’s dream come true: It’s pizza night, and you’ve made not only the crust and sauce but the mozzarella, too. Or you're whipping up quesadillas for a snack, using your homemade Triple Pepper Hack. Or the dinner party's in high gear and out comes the cheese plate—and yes, you've made all the cheeses on it. Even better—you made them all earlier that day.

In a cookbook whose results seem like magic but whose recipes and instructions are specific, easy-to-follow, and foolproof, Claudia Lucero shows step by step—with every step photographed—exactly how to make sixteen fresh cheeses at home, using easily available ingredients and tools, in an hour or less. The approach is basic and based on thousands of years of cheesemaking wisdom: Heat milk, add coagulant, drain, salt, and press. Simple variations produce delicious results across three categories—Creamy and Spreadable, Firm and Chewy, and Melty and Gooey. And just as delicious, the author shows the best ways to serve them, recipes included: Squeaky “Pasta” Primavera, Mozzarella Kebab Party, and Curry in a Hurry Lettuce Wraps."

(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, August 1, 2017

Are You Sleeping - Kathleen Barber

I'm going to use the publisher's description to introduce you to Kathleen Barber's wonderful debut novel novel - Are You Sleeping.

"Serial meets Ruth Ware’s In A Dark, Dark Wood in this inventive and twisty psychological thriller about a mega-hit podcast that reopens a murder case - and threatens to unravel the carefully constructed life of the victim’s daughter."

Uh huh - it definitely caught my eye - 'twisty' and 'psychological' always do! Would Are You Sleeping live up to this blurb? Yes it did - Barber delivers as promised - this was a wonderfully addicting read!

Father murdered, next door neighbour convicted on her sister's testimony, mother running off and joining a cult. It's no wonder Josie left home as soon as she was able. But with the death of her mother, she reluctantly returns home for the funeral. She has created a life for herself with the man she loves. But she's lied to him about everything. The podcast opens not just the case, but the wounds and secrets in this family.

Past and present are explored through Josie's narrative. Those memories, the tumultuous present and that podcast raise nothing but questions for Josie. I really liked Josie as a main character. And I disliked her sister Lainie just as much. The dynamic between the two is quite complicated and underlines how much our younger years affect the present. There's something 'off' about a number of supporting characters and I had suspicions about many of them.

I thought Barber's format was an inventive premise. I loved the inclusion of tweets, news articles, transcripts, blog comments and more. The podcast as a driving part of the plot is so very current - as is the public's fascination with such cases. The 'right of the public to know' and invasion of people's lives in the name of news also speaks to today's society. The investigative reporter - Poppy - is a perfect caricature of this style of reporting.

Are You Sleeping is a commentary on society, an exploration of familial relationships and a really good whodunnit. (Yes, it's a twisty ending!) I really enjoyed it and will be looking for Barber's next book. Read an excerpt of Are You Sleeping.

You can connect with Kathleen Barber on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.