Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Parting Shot - Linwood Barclay

Did you wish there was more when you turned the last page of Linwood Barclay Promise Falls Trilogy? Well, good news! There is! Parting Shot releases today. It's a stand alone, but features two of the players from that trilogy - Cal Weaver and my favourite - Detective Barry Duckworth.

It's roughly a year after the events that concluded the trilogy. But it seems that horrific crimes are a staple in Promise Falls. Jeremy, a young man, tagged by the press as Big Baby, successfully avoided jail time after killing a young woman while drunk driving. He may have been cleared by the courts, but social justice vigilantes are determined to give him no peace. Cal, a private investigator, is brought in to act as a bodyguard for Jeremy. Barry seems to have his own vigilante issues. A young man disappears for two days, only to reappear with a crudely tattooed message on his back.

Barclay employs a wide and varied cast of characters in Parting Shot. Each of them has their own drama and subplot in addition to their role in the bigger picture.

The quick, snappy dialogue, rapid plot developments, fast forward action will keep the reader turning pages. Barclay inserts a wry, darkly humourous undertone to many of the character's actions and dialogue. At times, you wonder if the criminals could really be that incompetent and the other players that foolish. The plot does need to be read with a few grains of salt - but it does make for an entertaining read! Barclay throws in numerous twist and turns, especially in the final run up to the ending. And that last page caught me off guard. Truthfully, I didn't like that last turn of events and found it rather harsh note to end on. Is Barclay done with Promise Falls? Only time will tell. I'd love to see more of Barry and Cal. Read an excerpt of Parting Shot. 

You can connect with Linwood Barclay on his website, follow him on Twitter and find him on Facebook.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Keep Her Safe - Sophie Hannah

I find Sophie Hannah's writing and plotting to be quite clever and have enjoyed many of her previous works. Her latest North American release is Keep Her Safe.

Cara has had enough of her family. She decides to flee to a spa in the US from her home in Britain - and enjoy herself. But there's a bit of a snafu when she checks in. The room she's initially given already has two occupants - a man and a teenager who seems a bit 'off'.

I thought this premise was great. So many possibilities could stem from a mistake of this kind.

But then Cara learns of a case of a girl named Melody, murdered by her parents, The teenager in the room looks just like her and there's an irrefutable piece of evidence that points to her being Melody. But when Cara sounds the alarm - the girl is gone. But is Cara herself now in danger?

An interesting cast of characters populate Keep Her Safe. I really liked Cara - and she's probably the only character I did. The supporting players are abrasive, harsh and somewhat unbelievable. Television maven and journalist Bonnie Juno is probably the worst of the bunch. Although her running diatribes do mirror many sensationalist journalists reporting today. Tarin Fry is another visitor to the spa and she takes it upon herself to 'help with the case. I found it unbelievable that the police would listen and take direction from her. I had to suspend disbelief with quite a bit of the plotting. The final 'ta-da' just seemed too far fetched. Although the descriptions of the spa painted vivid image for me, I found myself becoming somewhat tired of the details after a bit. That being said - the ending was a chilling little gotcha that I appreciated.

I will absolutely pick up the next book from Sophie Hannah, but have to say Keep Her Safe was just an okay read for me. Read an excerpt of Keep Her Safe.

You can connect with Sophie Hannah through her website,  find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Hello Sunshine - Laura Dave

Hello Sunshine is the latest book from Laura Dave.

Sunshine Mackenzie is an online culinary star, best selling author and has a husband who supports her efforts and goals. Until someone hacks her accounts and exposes her for the fraud she is. You see, she can't cook. Nope, those recipes aren't hers. And the devoted husband? She's cheating on him.

With those revelations happening early on in the book, I found myself immediately disliking Sunshine. What did she think was going to happen eventually? She has nowhere to go except to see her estranged sister Rain. Yes, Sunshine and Rain - a wee bit twee eh? Sunshine plays a wounded card that only fueled my dislike for her. Rain has her own life and her own issues. But because we only see her through Sunshine's jaded view, she comes across as excessively negative. The only bright spot character was the precocious niece.

I did chose to listen to Hello Sunshine. The narrator was Joy Osmanski - a reader I do enjoy. She's got a clear, concise way of speaking. She adds lots of inflection to her reading. As always, Osmanski delivers a wonderful reading. But, even her performance could not raise my opinion of the book. I dis finish it to see if things were 'better' by the end. For me Sunny's 'road to redemption' only confirmed that I really didn't like her - and frankly didn't care about her at all. And her last decision was a big mistake in my opinion. Sadly this one was a big miss for me. Listen to an excerpt of Hello Sunshine.

Friday, October 27, 2017

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #182

- 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
Yes, it seems I can't get enough of psychological suspense. Here's another one that's landed on my TBR list. The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn releases on January 2/18 on both sides of the pond. Film rights already belong to Fox. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Okay, so we've got dark blue on both covers. And the cover blurb from Gillian Flynn on both. (that's a pretty good sign for me that it will be worth reading) The blinds on the US cover bent like they are indicate 'spying' or watching someone. The black background says whoever is looking is in the dark. The UK cover takes the vantage point out a bit further, letting us see a building and window. Two different font colours. I think the red says 'danger' a bit more, while the yellow mimics the window light. Both are effective, but I think I am drawn to the starkness of the US cover. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read The Woman in the Window?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Salt Line - Holly Goddard Jones

I ran across a mention of Holly Goddard Jones' new book The Salt Line in a newsletter. The publisher's description intrigued me..."In the spirit of Station Eleven and California, award-winning novelist Holly Goddard Jones offers a literary spin on the dystopian genre with this gripping story of survival and humanity about a group of adrenaline junkies who jump 'the Salt Line'."

The Salt Line defines the area of 'safe' and 'unsafe'. Civilization and the wilds. The are outside of the Line has become a tourist destination for those wealthy enough to pay for an excursion - and what's needed to survive the deadly ticks that populate the land outside the Line. But ticks aren't the only danger....there are people living on the other side of the border as well.

Goddard Jones gives us an ensemble cast with numerous strong personalities and leads. They are all flawed to a degree, with some eliciting sympathy and others fueling anger. Her world building is imaginative and believable. The ticks are darn right scary - and take inspiration from the illness that ticks cause in our present day. I am always fascinated by the imagining of a populace that survives outside of a 'protected' zone. The plotting that ties the outside and the tourists back to their world is inventive and well thought out. But Goddard Jones takes a further step and spends as much time on the relationships of the characters, their thoughts, actions and interactions.

I'm so very glad I stumbled across The Salt Line. I loved it - and am hoping that there might be another book in the works. There's a nice little scene at the end - some unfinished business that perhaps promises more. Read an excerpt of The Salt Line.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery - Jenny Colgan

I adore Jenny Colgan' books. They're feel-good, heart-warming escapist reading and they never disappoint. I'm always eager to read Colgan's newest book. The latest North American release is Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery.

If you're already a Jenny Colgan fan, you'll be delighted to know that this is the third book in the Little Beach trilogy. Now, you don't have to have read previous books in this series to enjoy this latest - but you'd appreciate the story more if you had.

I adore the (imagined) Cornish town Colgan had used as a setting. Mount Polbearne is (happily) cut off from the mainland twice a day by the tides and is populated by an eclectic group of townsfolk. It's somewhere I could cheerfully live. Polly is the owner of the Little Beach Street Bakery. She, her boyfriend Huckle and pet puffin Neil make their home in a repurposed  lighthouse. Huck is ready to take the next step in their lives, but Polly is hesitant to change the good thing they have going.

Polly is looking forward to a quiet Christmas Day with just Huckle, but of course that's not meant to be. Her friend Kerensa is having a personal crisis, her husband Reuben asks Polly to take on a crazy amount of catering (and truthfully she needs the money), a piece of Polly's past makes itself known and there's trouble between her and Huck. Can all of this be resolved? In time for Christmas? As always, the warmth, friendship and romance elements shine through. Colgan does take on a few heavier topics in this latest - and handles them very well.

Polly is a wonderful lead character - warm, kind, thoughtful and more - just the kind of person you'd love to have in your circle of friends. Huck is pretty much the perfect boyfriend. But it's Neil who takes best supporting player!

Descriptions of baking and baked goods will have your mouth watering. And might be a catalyst for starting your holiday baking! Colgan includes recipes for some of Polly's creations.

This is the time of the year when I enjoy seasonal reading, cosying up with a feel-good read, a cup of tea and a warm blanket. Delightful, inviting and heartwarming, Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery was the perfect start to my holiday reading. In the author's notes, Colgan indicates this may be the last Little Beach book. I'll miss Polly and company (especially Neil!), but know I'll love whatever and whoever Colgan writes next. Read an excerpt of Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery.

"Jenny Colgan is the New York Times-bestselling author of numerous novels, including The Bookshop on the Corner, Little Beach Street Bakery, and Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery, all international bestsellers. Jenny is married with three children and lives in London and Scotland." Find out more about Jenny at her website, like her on Facebook and follow her 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.

Tuesday, October 24, 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 - and releases today in Canada.

I have such a delicious sense of anticipation when I open the cover of the latest Banks. I had no idea what this latest plot would entail, but knew it would be another great read. I couldn't wait to catch up with characters I've come to know and appreciate. What has transpired in their lives? Robinson keeps his character's lives 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.

Over the Counter # 389

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Well, my library doesn't have this one (and I have my doubts they'll be buying it), but I saw it in a newsletter and it was just too....well, odd to not share.......

I give you..... Goat Yoga by Yoga Shenanigoats with photographs by Ashley Hylbert.

From Turner Publishing:

"You have GOAT to be KIDDING me!

This crowd-pleasing trend is undeniably hilarious, udder-ly ridiculous, and best of all, FUN. We promise that you will forgoat all your troubles during this unprecedented blend of yoga asana and petting zoo. Not only will you get a great stretch, but the nonstop laughter will make your endorphins soar. Consider Goat Yoga the yogi’s guide to goats as well as the goat-lover’s guide to yoga. Inside you’ll find:

  • instructions from one of the best goat yoga studios in the US, including all the necessary do’s and dont’s
  • beautifully photographed guides and instructions to all the best goat-friendly poses
  • all-inclusive instructions to throwing the best goat yoga party.

Life’s too short not to kid around!"

(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, October 23, 2017

The Last Mrs. Parrish - Liv Constantine

The Last Mrs. Parish is the latest novel from two sisters writing as Liv Constantine. And for those of you who like psychological suspense - you're going to want to read this one!

Amber has set her sights set on having Daphne Parrish's fairy tale life. Not just a life like Daphne's - she literally wants her husband Jackson, her house, her money and her social standing. And why shouldn't she have it she thinks? She's smart, beautiful and just as good as these society women. So, she reinvents herself, begins ingratiating herself with Daphne and slowly insinuates her way into the Parrish family life......

Oh, Amber is one of the best 'worst' characters I've read in a long time. She's callous, cold and calculating. Constantine's depiction of her scheming is impossible to put down. The reader is aware of Amber's plan and I wanted to shout at Daphne - to wake her up to what is happening right under her nose. Surely she can't be that oblivious?

There are three parts to The Last Mrs. Parrish. Part Two comes from a different viewpoint - and is no less addictive. You might have an idea whose viewpoint part two belongs to - and yes, you're going to race through it as well. Part three? Well, it's just perfect. And just deserts.

Constantine does a wonderful job of manipulating her characters - and the reader. Although the twist is telegraphed ahead, it didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book. The Last Mrs. Parrish was a five star read for me - twisty, addicting and just plain fun to read. I wouldn't be surprised to see film rights for this book being snapped up. I look forward to the next thriller from these two sisters. Read an excerpt of The Last Mrs. Parrish.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Skitter -Ezekiel Boone

Skitter is the second book in Ezekiel Boon's 'Hatching' trilogy.

Skitter doesn't stray that far from the tone, premise and style of the first book, The Hatching. For most of us, spiders are creepy crawlers that we avoid. (at least I am) What about killer spiders? Yeah, even worse eh? So, that's at the heart of Boone's trilogy. Man eating spiders that are seemingly unstoppable.

Boone has written an ensemble cast to carry out his premise. I really enjoy ensemble books - the large casts and multiple points of view. He's done a great job of creating such a wide net of characters, richly described and varied. His imagining of a world under siege by spiders is imaginative. (and creepy crawly)

I chose to listen to Skitter. (even typing that word makes my skin crawl.) The reader was George Newbern, one of my favourites. He has a unique voice - clear, pleasant to listen to and easy to understand. He has a wry tone that matches the book and captures Boone's dark humour. His inflections rise and fall, giving the tale movement. Listen to an excerpt of Skitter. Or if you prefer, read an excerpt. And yes, you really should listen or read the first book before jumping into Skitter.

I remember finishing the first book, The Hatching, and feeling somewhat disappointed that there were no final answers and I would have to wait 'til the next book came. (I hadn't realized that this was only book one until the very end.) There are further developments in the fight against the spiders in Skitter, but some of it seemed to be somewhat repetitive. I found a lot of Skitter was much detailing and describing of the multiple players' thoughts, lives and actions. But, I still found it to be a fun, entertaining read. The third book releases in February of 2018 and is titled Zero Day. Will I pick it up? Yeah, I will, but I think I'll listen to it as well. I can see this trilogy on the screen - it absolutely reads like a movie.

You can connect with Ezekiel Boone on his website, find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

Friday, October 20, 2017

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #181

- 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
Still Me by Jojo Moyes releases at the top of next year on both sides of the pond. It continues the story of Louisa Clark - and is on my TBR list. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. The US cover continues the look and style of the previous books in this series. The image of the Empire State Building let you know where the book takes place. it's definitely a bolder look than the UK cover. But, although the UK cover is 'quieter, I think I prefer the subtlety of it. And I like that little bee image. The red font is too jarring for me. So, UK cover for me this week. What about you? Any plans to read Still Me? Which cover do you prefer?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Unraveling Oliver - Liz Nugent

I had not heard of Liz Nugent's debut book, Unraveling Oliver, until I read about it in a publisher's newsletter. It was quickly added to my TBR list after I read the premise -  and the accolades. It was Ireland's Crime Novel of the Year in 2014. That cover image is absolutely perfect - cracks in a picture, peeling back of layers, what lies beneath that facade?

The first line of the book is killer...."I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her."

Oliver Ryan is a successful children's book author and is happily married to his devoted wife Alice. So what would possess him to beat her into a coma? And that is the question at the heart of Unraveling Oliver. Who is Oliver really? What does the polished exterior he presents to the world hide?

Through Oliver's own ruminations and additional points of view from neighbours, friends and others from his life, we slowly see how and why he's come to be the way he is over fifty years. Each point of view was really well written. And can I say, I unexpectedly felt pity for him as I learned more and more. Nugent does a brilliant job of manipulating the reader's thoughts and emotions as the story progresses.

The publisher has promoted Unraveling Oliver promoted as a psychological suspense novel. I agree that it's an addicting, chilling exploration of a darkly drawn character. But, we know the end already and are working our way back to the beginning of the end. A clever, unique book, one I really, really enjoyed.

I chose to listen to Unraveling Oliver - and I found myself even more drawn into the story. Sam O'Mahony was the narrator. He has a lovely Irish accent that was easy to listen to and clearly understood. His understated interpretation of Oliver suited the character perfectly. His matter of fact tone is at odds with the horrible things Oliver does, but matches his mindset perfectly. He never raises his voice beyond a calm tone, which makes the revelations all the more chilling. Listen to an excerpt of Unraveling Oliver. Or if you prefer, read an excerpt.

You can connect with Liz Nugent on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. I'm eager to get my hands on her next book - Lying in Wait.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Odd Child Out - Gilly MacMillan

Odd Child Out is the latest novel from Gilly MacMillan.

Detective Jim Clemo is coming back from a compulsory leave following his last case. His superior hands him what looks to be a simple 'welcome back' case  - a seeming accident. Two young men at the canal in the night - one falls in and is rescued, but..... A witness heard arguing and the second boy won't speak or answer questions. The first boy's mother insists that there is more to this than an accident. And she throws out the 'race' card. Noah is white and Abdi is black - a refugee from Somalia. And yes, there's much more to the case than a simple accident.

Macmillan combines a mystery with some great character studies and takes a page from current events headlines.

I initially thought the detective in the book was female. When 'he' was finally used and I realized it was a male, I went back to the opening chapter to confirm that I'd not missed something. I hadn't. I had not read MacMillan's first book, What She Knew, so I didn't realized this was the second book to feature Jim Clemo. Having not read that book, I didn't fully appreciate the references to a past case and the fallout from it. Still, you don't need to have read What She Knew to enjoy Odd Child Out. But,I found I didn't really bond with Clemo. His past angst, regrets and mistakes didn't overly engage me. The characters that did were Abdi's family. Their desire for a better life, their difficulty assimilating, the prejudice they face, the violence and hate that is visited on them and what they've left behind - both good and bad. I thought MacMillan did a wonderful job depicting this through the Mahad family. Just as well depicted is Noah's family - they too have heartache in their lives. Their anger, fear, hope, grief and frustration are just as well written.

We slowly learn what happened that night on the canal through a then and now timeline. I enjoy this technique, but it does always have me reading 'just one more chapter past my bedtime. I thought I had sussed out what the final 'whodunit' might reveal. I was right but it certainly didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book. Lots of action in the last chapters had me wanting to take a sneak peek at how things resolved, but I didn't. I expect there will be a third book featuring Clemo as there were some unresolved threads.

The title is effective - both boys can be described as the odd child out in many ways. Read an excerpt of Odd Child Out.

"Gilly Macmillan is the Edgar Nominated and New York Times bestselling author of What She Knew. She grew up in Swindon, Wiltshire and lived in Northern California in her late teens. She worked at The Burlington Magazine and the Hayward Gallery before starting a family. Since then she’s worked as a part-time lecturer in photography, and now writes full-time. She resides in Bristol, England." Find out more about Gilly at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and follow her 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.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Far, Far Better Thing to Do - Joelle Herr - Review AND Giveaway

Here's the dilemma I always have...what do you buy a book lover for a gift? Guessing at a title they haven't read is always risky. But, what about a book about books? An interactive book? And here's the answer - A Far, Far Better Thing to Do - A Lit Lover's Activity Book by Joelle Herr with illustrations by Lindsay Spinks.

From the introduction: "If you're reading this, chances are you're a card-carrying (library card, natch), TBR-stacking, unabashed book nerd. Bibliophile or bookworm, whichever moniker you prefer, if you consider yourself a lit lover, welcome - and get ready to experience and appreciate the classics in a whole new, super-fun and interactive way."

Check! That would be me. I adore books like this - books that challenge my brain, provide some distraction from the busyness of life and celebrate the written word.

Match the famous lines, characters, actors and more with the book title, mazes, crossword puzzles, connect the dots, word searches, knowledge quizzes and much more. A Far, Far Better Thing to do is printed in two tone, black and red. But....there are many line drawings that call out for pencil crayons or markers. There are sixty five activities tucked in between the covers. And if you get stuck.....the answers are included in the back. Have a peek inside here.

(And the title? Did you guess? It's a take on a quote from Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities.)

A great gift for a friend - or yourself! And thanks to Running Press, I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader. And your choice - gift it to a friend or keep it for yourself! Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends October 28/17.

Over the Counter # 388

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner. Hair stylin' this week....

Pin It!: 20 Fabulous Bobby Pin Hairstyles by Annamarie Tendler, photographs by Justin Ouellette.

From the publisher, Chronicle Books:

"Brightly colored pins styled into fun patterns and designs are the hottest new trend in hairstyling, and Pin It! gives short- and long-haired fashionistas the know-how to create 20 colorful bobby pin hairstyles for everything from an afternoon trip to the mall to an elegant party. Step-by-step photos make it easy for anyone to follow along, and the unique looks appeal to trendy teens and stylish young women as well as parents looking for a wholesome hair-styling book with fresh-faced appeal. With style tips to pull it all together and five DIY projects for personalizing bright and sparkly pins, this is the new must-have beauty book."

(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, October 16, 2017

The Dark Lake - Sarah Bailey - Review AND Giveaway

The Dark Lake is Australian author Sarah Bailey's debut novel.

DS Gemma Woodstock is the lead investigator in a rural Aussie town. When a woman is found dead in a local lake, Gemma recognizes her from their high school days. But she downplays this connection. Why? "It's amazing what you can keep buried when you want to." The dead woman is an enigma - her students adored her and her colleagues admired her. But as the investigation continues, Gemma discovers that no one really 'knows' Rosalind, including her own family.

Bailey sets up the reader with not one, but two mysteries - who killed Rosanind and what event occurred in Gemma's past that she is so determined to keep hidden.

Gemma was an interesting lead character. She's smart and driven to find answers. But. She's also playing a dangerous game with her personal life. I didn't agree with the choices she was making and the actions she took to pursue that choice. I can't say that I liked her partner Felix either. I was intrigued by Rosalind. We only get to 'know' her from other's memories and observations though. I would have like a peek into her life from her own point of view.

Bailey's use of the 'then and now' technique gives the reader small glimpses into Gemma's past and then flips back to the present. The book is equally divided into a search for the killer and a character driven exploration of Gemma and her life.

Bailey gives us lots of options and characters to choose from for the closing 'whodunit' and the final answer was clever. I did find the reveal of Gemma's secret to be a bit of a letdown and the resolution she finds in her personal life in the final pages to be somewhat cliched. The book weighs in at 400+ pages. I feel this could have been tightened up a bit, as Gemma's dilemma became somewhat repetitive after awhile and I found my interest slipping.

I think this may be the first in a series. If so, I would be curious to see where Bailey next takes her character. Read an excerpt of The Dark Lake.

I think The Dark Lake is a solid debut, but the publisher's comparisons to Tana French and Paula Hawkins may be a bit ambitious at this stage of Bailey's career. I think I'm in the minority on this one, so please weigh in if you've read it already.

If you'd like to read The Dark Lake, I have a copy to giveaway. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, ends Oct. 28/17.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

My Encyclopedia of Very Important Animals - DK Canada

Little Guy loves visiting the zoo, farms, pet stores and more. DK Canada has a great selection of books in their All Creatures Great and Small Boutique that seemed like it would cover a wide variety of animals. And it did!

The cover was colourful with a mixture of real and drawn picture of various animals. It invited opening up to see what was inside. The boarding used for the covers was slightly padded, making it nicer for holding. The contents are divided between four categories: All About Animals, Amazing Animals, Animal Antics and More Very Important Animals. Now, while Gramma is a front to back reader, Little Guy is not. There is an attached bookmark to keep your place if you do manage to read front to back!

The first few passes through, he just picked pages at random, looking at pictures and stopping at what caught his eye. Subsequent readings slowed down. We would finish looking at each double paged entry. He happily pointed out those he recognized. The entries are a mixture of actual photos and drawings. The majority are photos, which Gramma preferred. The drawing are well done though and not 'cartoonish'. Little Guy loves 'interesting things.' (Yes he actually calls it that) It can be something he finds outside or something he learns. There are many interesting things to be learned in the entries of this book. Gramma learned too - did you know that Dalmatian puppies are born white and only acquire their spots as they grow? And a few new names for groups of animals....a flamboyance of flamingos, a prickle of porcupines.

The publisher recommends for ages 4-8. Best suited for the younger end of that I think. Thumbs up from both Little Guy and Gramma. Gramma's only dither is the title. I'm not sure about the VIP, but have no alternatives suggestions. Still, it was what was inside that counted. Read an excerpt of My Encyclopedia of Very Important Animals. 

The Last Magician - Lisa Maxwell

I loved the age recommendation for Lisa Maxwell's New York Times bestseller, The Last Magician......14-99. Because really, who doesn't love a magical tale? At any age.

The Last Magician is set in New York City in the early 1900's. Esta has travelled back in time from the present day to steal one last artifact from a sinister group that has been killing off those that are truly magic. Can she do it - and save the magic?

Ahh, what's not to love - time travel, magic, good vs. evil, romance. Yes, romance - a lovely yes/no/maybe so attraction! Dastardly villains, thrills, dangers, intrigue, action and much more. Maxwell's world building was excellent, the plotting detailed, the characters engaging and the story moved forward at a good pace.

I chose to listen to The Last Magician. As I've mentioned many times before, I find I become more immersed in a story while listening. A magical world seemed like the perfect book to get lost in.

The reader was Candace Thaxton. She has an unusual voice - it is very, very expressive with intonations that rise and fall in tone many times in each sentence. Her voice is somewhat gravelly and quirky, if that makes sense. I liked it and thought it matched the book she was narrating. She enunciates well - her words were clear and easy to understand. She conveyed the emotions of the characters well. Actions, time, place and tone of the story as well. See for yourself listen to an excerpt of The Last Magician.Or if you prefer, read an excerpt.

And at the end I wondered.....what if there was still a bit of magic in the world? Even better - there's a sequel in the works!

Friday, October 13, 2017

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #180

- 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
The 20th book in the Harry Bosch series from Michael Connolly releases on Oct. 31 on both sides of the pond. I've read the entire series and will be picking this one up too.The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Two very similar looks this week. I must admit to being slightly underwhelmed by both though. Obviously a large metropolis and interstate play a part. From the UK cover I would guess somewhere warm from what looks to be palm trees. The US cover could be anywhere. I find the US cover to be bland, so this week I am going with the UK cover. The blue and yellow perk it up a bit for me. What about you? Any plans to read Two Kinds of Truth? Which cover do you prefer?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Chalk Pit - Elly Griffiths

Elly Griffiths' Ruth Galloway mysteries are hands down one of my favourite series. The ninth entry is The Chalk Pit.

The series takes place in the Norfolk area of Britain. The area is home to lots of history - and bones. (I find I always learn a little something reading these books.) Ruth Galloway is a forensic archaeologist. She is a lecturer at the university, but is often called by the police for assistance. This time 'round, Ruth is called in when bones are found in an old chalk mine tunnel that an entrepreneur is turning into an underground restaurant. DCI Nelson and his team are also busy - a number of 'rough sleepers' have disappeared - amongst rumours that they may have gone 'underground'.

Griffiths' blending of historical fact with a mystery is always fascinating. Her plotting is excellent and always captures my interest. But what brings me back, book after book, are the characters. I have become so engaged in their lives. As I've said before.."Griffiths has created a wonderful protagonist in Ruth. I just really like her. She's decidedly unique and different. She is a single mother at forty plus, overweight, messy, introverted, but highly intelligent and curious. Griffiths has not endowed her with super sleuth abilities, rather she comes off as an actual person - unabashedly and happily herself." The supporting cast is just as interesting and engaging. Cathbad, the enigmatic, self proclaimed Druid is a perennial favourite of mine.  For those that also follow this series and taking care not to spoil things....Griffiths provides some surprising twists in the lives of Ruth....and Harry. I can't wait to see what transpires next!

This is the first time I've chosen to listen to one of the series. I always find that I become more immersed in a book through listening. And it depends on the narrator doesn't it? Well, reader Jane McDowell did an excellent job of interpreting Griffiths' work. My mental image of Ruth didn't change - it was only enhanced by McDowell's voice. She provides different tones and inflections for other supporting characters. Her voice is easy and pleasant to listen to. I think I would chose to listen to the upcoming tenth novel as well. The Dark Angel, due out mid 2018.

The Chalk Pit is wholeheartedly recommended! (As is the entire series - do yourself a favbour and start at the beginning with The Crossing Places) Listen to an excerpt of The Chalk Pit.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Giveaway - Dark Signal - Shannon Baker

Dark Signal is the second entry in Shannon Baker's Kate Fox series. It releases on October 17/17 - and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

From Forge Books:

"Dark Signal by Shannon Baker is the second installment in the Kate Fox mystery series, called "A must read" by New York Times bestselling author Alex Kava, starring a female Longmire in the atmospheric Nebraska Sandhills.

Reeling from her recent divorce, Kate Fox has just been sworn in as Grand County, Nebraska Sheriff when tragedy strikes. A railroad accident has left engineer Chad Mills dead, his conductor Bobby Jenkins in shock. Kate soon realizes that the accident was likely murder.

Who would want to kill Chad Mills? Kate finds that he made a few enemies as president of the railroad workers union. Meanwhile his widow is behaving oddly. And why was his neighbor Josh Stevens at the Mills house on the night of the accident?

While her loud and meddling family conspires to help Kate past her divorce, State Patrol Officer Trey closes in on Josh Stevens as the suspect. Kate doesn’t believe it. She may not have the experience, but she’s lived in the Sandhills her whole life, and knows the land and the people. Something doesn’t add up—and Kate must find the real killer before he can strike again." Read an excerpt of Dark Signal.

"Now a resident of Tucson, Baker spent 20 years in the Nebraska Sandhills, where cattle outnumber people by more than 50:1. Shannon is proud to have been chosen Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ 2014 and 2017 Writer of the Year. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Western Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers.

Baker moved seven times in less than ten years, from the Nebraska Sandhills, to Boulder, CO, Flagstaff, AZ, back to Boulder and a short stint in southwestern Nebraska. It might be schizophrenic, but helpful for writing great western settings. She’s hoping to let a little moss grow on the rolling stone, as she’s settled in Tucson with her favorite person, and her dog, Jezebel, the crazy Weimaraner." You can connect with Shannon on her website and follow her on Twitter.

And if you'd like to read Dark Signal, I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only. Ends October 21/17.

Over the Counter #387

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

A Life Discarded by Alexander Masters.

From the publisher,  Farrar, Straus and Giroux:

"Alexander Masters, the bestselling author of Stuart: A Life Backwards, asks you to join him in celebrating an unknown and important life left on the scrap heap

In 2001, 148 tattered and mold-covered notebooks were discovered lying among broken bricks in a bin on a building site in Cambridge, England. Tens of thousands of pages were filled to the edges with urgent handwriting. They were a small part of an intimate, mysterious diary, starting in 1952 and ending half a century later, a few weeks before the books were thrown out. The anonymous author, known only as “I,” is revealed as the tragicomic patron saint of everyone who feels their life should have been more successful. Over five years, the brilliant biographer Alexander Masters uncovers the identity and real history of this secret author, ending with an astounding final revelation.

A biographical detective story that unfolds with the suspense of a mystery—but has all the dazzling originality that made Masters’s Stuart: A Life Backwards such a beloved book—A Life Discarded is a true, poignant, often hilarious story of an ordinary life."

(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, October 10, 2017

Bellevue Square - Michael Redhill

Bellevue Square is the latest book from Michael Redhill. It's also a Scotiabank Giller Prize Finalist.

The premise? A customer in Jean Mason's bookstore tells her that she has a double, a doppelganger. Jean is intrigued and heads to Bellevue Square (a park) to see if she too can see this woman.

I was intrigued by the idea of the double. And my interest was further piqued by this early line..."I put the phone away and at that exact moment a woman I would later be accused of murdering walked into my shop."

And with those two pieces, I thought I was in for a mystery. And I was - but the book certainly did not unfold in any way I could have predicted. There is so much more to Jean's tale. The facade that Jean presents to the world - and her family - has cracks in it.

Redhill's writing in Bellevue Square is fiendishly clever. The reader must pay close attention as Jean's world turns on a dime. What is truth? What is fiction? There is no way to tell as we see everything from Jean's viewpoint - and she is most definitely an unreliable narrator. Her mind is frightening, yet brilliant.

What I really enjoyed were the conversations and interactions between Jean and those that frequent Bellevue Square. While somewhat nonsensical at times, these interactions seem the closest to 'real' for Jean, often overshadowing the relationship with her husband and children.

Take your time reading Bellevue Square. There is much to consider as Jean seeks answers. There are hints and references dropped along the way that had me forming in my mind what I thought was 'the answer.' And I was wrong. I think I hooted out loud when I realized what was happening in the final chapters. I don't want to say anymore and spoil the book, but overlapping is a word I'll throw out there. I am still not sure if I completely 'got' everything that Redhill has woven into his book, as some of it is a bit confusing. In an interview with the Globe and Mail, Redhill mentions that Bellevue Square explores loss and "is about the surprising (and disturbing) plasticity of the self and what happens when the sense you've made of things stops making sense."

Bellevue Square is set in the streets and area around Kensington Market in Toronto. Redhill has lived and worked in the Toronto area for many years and his descriptions benefit from his first hand observations. References to Canadiana - Dominion grocery stores, Tim Hortons, Shopper's Drug Mart will be familiar to Canuck readers.

Inger Ash Wolfe is Redhill's nom de plume. I was delighted to find references to the Hazel Micallef books. And it was only on reading the acknowledgements that I discovered Bellevue Square is "part one of a Modern Ghost, a triptych." I will pick up the next book, as I truly want to see where and what could transpire next.

Thought provoking and fiendishly clever. Read an excerpt of Bellevue Square.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Genuine Fraud - E. Lockhart

E. Lockhart had a New York Times bestseller with her 2014 YA novel, We Were Liars. Her latest book is Genuine Fraud.

Lockhart starts her book with the ending. Jule is alone in a Baja resort, enjoying life - doing whatever she want when she wants. Then a woman appears, asking Jule about herself. Jule gives her name is Imogen. But the appearance of this woman triggers fight or flight response in Jule. Why? Is she in hiding or on the run? Who is she - Jule or Imogen?

And it is that last question that drives the book.

"If only she could go back in time, Jule felt, she would be a better person. Or a different person. She would be more herself. Or maybe less herself. She didn't know which, because she didn't any longer know what shape her own self was, or whether there was really no Jule at all, bu only a series of selves she presented for different contexts. Were all people like that, with no true self? Or was it only Jule?"

Lockhart's timeline as I mentioned, starts with the ending and weaves it way back to the beginning. I was curious to find out about Imogen. Who is she and why is Jule pretending to be her? Who is Jule really? Initially I was quite intrigued, but as the book progressed, I found myself growing somewhat bored with Jule's repetitive deceptions. What is truth and what is fiction are inextricably intertwined. I also found myself predicting what the beginning (end) would reveal. Turns out I was right - and slightly disappointed. I think I was perhaps expecting a twist such as the one in We Were Liars.

I found the timeline used a bit confusing. But it did mirror Jule's mind. Lockhart's descriptions of that mind's inner workings were quite chilling....

"Her mind was cinematic. She looked superb in the light from the streetlamps. After the fight, her cheeks were flushed. Bruises were forming underneath her clothes, but her hair looked excellent. And oh, her clothes were so very flattering. Yes, it was true that she was criminally violent. Brutal, even. But that was her job and she was uniquely qualified for it, so it was sexy."

Genuine Fraud echoes some actual cases and some other mystery works of fiction - The Talented Mr. Ripley comes to mind. But at the end Genuine Fraud was just an okay read for me. Read an excerpt of Genuine Fraud.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Matchup - Edited by Lee Child

I'm leaving the cover of Matchup a little larger this time so you can see the wealth of authors who contributed to this compilation. But if you look again, you'll see that they are paired - pairings that you wouldn't expect to see. For in Matchup, two well known authors have take their signature characters and co-written a short story featuring the two. Lee Child is the editor and he provides a small commentary before each story, giving some background on the authors as well as the collaboration.

I have read many of these authors and it was nice to see familiar characters again, but a few were new to me. Matchup  was a great way to get idea of who these characters were. Some of the pairings had me wondering how in the world two quite different leads would work together. Diana Gabaldon and Steve Berry? Sandra Brown and C.J. Box? Well, the answer is - really well. The stories are clever, fun to read and satisfying. I enjoy short story collections as you can pick them up and down, easily (and satisfyingly) finishing  a story at a short sitting.

I chose to listen to Matchup and I'm so glad I did. There are a number of narrators as well. I had listened to some of them before, but a few were new to me. This was also a great opportunity to discover some new audio  book readers.

It's really hard to pull out favourite stories, as I did truly enjoy them all. But if pressed I would say Lee Child and Kathy Reichs were a favourite. Tempe bossing Reacher around was great fun. And I also really liked Karin Slaughter and Michael Koryta. Koryta was new to me, but I am going to pick up one of his Joe Pritchard books after this introduction. Slaughter gives us a look at a young Jeffery Tolliver that was fun. I am a huge fan of both Peter James and Val McDermid. Having both Tony Hill and Roy Grace on the same case was wonderful.

I really enjoyed Matchup and hope we can see another collection such as this. Take a listen to an excerpt here. You can find out more about the readers here. Or if you prefer, read an excerpt of Matchup.

Friday, October 6, 2017

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover # 179

- 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
John Grisham's newest book, The Rooster Bar releases in late October on both sides of the pond. This is the second book for Grisham this year, following Camino Island. I listened to Camino Island, but must admit to being underwhelmed by it. This latest features a scam as well, but this time with law students. So, the US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. The first think I noticed was a dark image vs. a lighter image. The US cover hints at a nightlife or bar atmosphere. I'm not sure what the bridge image on the UK cover is meant to convey? The tagline does help. The type is all caps on the US cover, while the UK goes with upper and lower case. This week, I must admit that I find both images kind of meh. But if pressed, I would go with the US cover, simply because it seems a little more 'alive'. Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read The Rooster Bar?
 You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Film on Friday #56 - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

I kept hearing again and again from fellow booklovers that I needed to read Rebecca Skloot's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - a #1 New York Times Bestseller. I never did get around to it, but jumped at the chance to watch the HBO film of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Henrietta Lacks is at the heart of a myriad of medical breakthroughs and developments. Polio, AIDS, cancer, tuberculosis and so many more. How you ask? Her cells - cells that didn't die. Cells taken during a cancer biopsy - cancer that killed Lacks in 1951. But taken without and used without her permission. Her family received little information, respect and no compensation. Initially these cells were shared freely amongst medical communities. But later they were charged for, becoming the basis of the biomedical industry. The cells were known as HeLa, but never publicly attributed to Henrietta Lacks.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is told after the death of Henrietta as her daughter Deborah (played by Oprah Winfrey) searches for answers about what happened to her mother, as well as a sense of who that mother really was. That was also the case for Rebecca Skloot (played in the film by Rose Byrne.) Winfrey did a wonderful job conveying Deborah's heartache, confusion and loss. She came across as believable. (Although sometimes it is hard to take 'Oprah' out of her roles.) Byrne does a wonderful job as Skloot. Her dogged determination to find answers for not just Deborah and her family, but for herself and to show the world what really transpired. But at the heart of it - who was Henrietta Lacks? Young Henrietta was played by RenĂ©e Elise Goldsberry. The joie de vivre of Henrietta simply shone through in her portrayal.

And what transpired sickened me. Lacks was nothing more than cells to the medical community. The treatment of her and others like her was appalling and despicable. I found myself crying many times at the cavalier nature of their attitudes and actions and the heartache of her children. The treatment of Deobrah's older sister Lily is also a disturbing piece of medical history.

Moving, profound and a story that should have seen the light before now. This viewer loved it.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Giveaway - We Were Strangers Once - Betsy Carter

I have a wonderful giveaway today for anyone who enjoys historical fiction - We Were Strangers Once by Betsy Carter.

From Grand Central Publishing:

"For fans of The Nightingale and Brooklyn comes an exquisite and unforgettable novel about friendship, love, and redemption in a circle of immigrants who flee Europe for 1930s-era New York City.

On the eve of World War II Egon Schneider–a gallant and successful Jewish doctor, son of two world-famous naturalists–escapes Germany to an uncertain future across the sea. Settling into the unfamiliar rhythms of upper Manhattan, he finds solace among a tight-knit group of fellow immigrants, tenacious men and women drawn together as much by their differences as by their memories of the world they left behind.

They each suffer degradations and triumphs large and small: Egon’s terminally acerbic lifelong friend, bestselling author Meyer Leavitt, now wears a sandwich board on a New York street corner; Catrina Harty, the headstrong daughter of a dirt-poor Irish trolley driver, survives heartbreak and loss to forge an unlikely alliance; and Egon himself is forced to abandon his thriving medical practice to become the “Cheese Man” at a Washington Heights grocery. But their spirits remain unbroken, and when their little community is faced with an existential threat, these strangers rise up together in hopes of creating a permanent home. With her uncanny ability to create indelible characters in unforgettable circumstances, bestselling author Betsy Carter has crafted a gorgeous novel that will resonate with anyone who has ever felt adrift and longed for home. Read an excerpt of We Were Strangers Once.

"In this unsentimental yet affecting novel, intertwined tales of Irish and German immigrants to the U.S. vividly capture the characters and their eras. Taking its title from a Barack Obama quote, the book illuminates the experience of immigrants--and our conflicted promise to them--even today."--- People Magazine

"The daughter of German immigrants, Betsy Carter is the author of the novels Swim to Me, The Orange Blossom Special, and The Puzzle King, as well as her bestselling memoir, Nothing to Fall Back On. She is also the creator and editor of New York Woman Magazine, and has worked at many other magazines, including Newsweek, Harper’s Bazaar and Esquire."

If you'd like to read We Were Strangers Once, enter to win using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends October 14/17.

Over the Counter #386

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

Fun and Fantastical Hats to Knit: Animals, Monsters and Other Favorites for Kids and Grownups by Mary Scott Huff.

From Creative Publishing International:

"Knit a hat for someone, and you'll keep their head warm. Give the hat googly eyes, floppy ears, or a prehensile tail, and you will give them and everyone they meet something to giggle about.

Do you know someone who could use a beyond-cute hat that resembles their favorite animal or character? Fun and Fantastical Hats to Knit adds a little fun to cold-weather wear. It doesn't have to be cold out for you to sport some fuzzy cuteness! You can have these amazing and easy-to-knit styles year-round! The twenty-one knit hats in this book are designed in sizes to fit everyone from babies to adults and are knit in-the-round with lots of amazing details!

Feeling a bit bonkers? Time to knit up a Tea Party topper or sport your new Rabble of Butterflies hat. Geek out with Architeuthis, Gargoyle, or Mercury hats; express your culinary inclinations with California Roll or Cherry Pie bring out your wild side with a Blue Crab cap, Frilly the frilled lizard, Baldy the eagle, or a Hedgehog helmet! Find all of these and more inside Fun and Fantastical Hats to Knit."

(Over the Counter is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. I've sadly come the realization that I cannot physically read every book that catches my interest as it crosses over my counter at the library. But... I can mention them and maybe one of them will catch your eye as well. See if your local library has them on their shelves!)

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Caroline - Sarah Miller

I've just turned the last page of  Caroline by Sarah Miller - and I'm truly sad that it's ended, as I find myself wanting more. I had hesitated when I was offered the opportunity to read Caroline, as The Little House books are childhood favourites of mine. I imagined myself as Laura in many a book (and the television series as well) and didn't want to sully my perception of 'Ma.'

Well, I needn't have worried - Sarah Miller's portrayal of Ma has only added to my love of this series and given it more depth. The Little House books are of course told through Laura Ingalls Wilder's eyes. Caroline is told through Ma's eyes, thoughts, heart and actions. It's the perfect accompaniment for adult readers who grew up reading the Wilder books.

Miller does a wonderful job of portraying Caroline - the love between her and Charles, both intellectual and physical. And of course the love for her children and her desire to raise them 'right'. Her inner dialogue is often in turmoil, but she presents a calm, measured countenance to the world.

Just as well depicted are the details of the physical and mental strength needed, moving, settling in a raw land, raising children in this time and the details of daily life. But, along with those hardships are the moments of joy. Simple things - good weather, a kind neighbour, music, family and many more 'small' things. We all need to take a step back from our consumerism and enjoy the simple pleasures that life has to offer.

As adults, we can view the prejudice and disturbing historical actions of moving the First Nations peoples to reserves with the contrition it deserves.

Miller's author notes at the end explained a few departures from Wilder's memoirs. Miller had the permission of the Little House Heritage Trust. Here's an interesting post from Miller on her decision to tell Caroline's story.

Caroline has found a place beside the Little House books on my bookshelf. Read an excerpt of Caroline.

"Sarah Miller began writing her first novel at the age of ten, and has spent the last two decades working in libraries and bookstores. She is the author of two previous historical novels, Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller and The Lost Crown. Her nonfiction debut, The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden and the Trial of the Century, was hailed by the New York Times as “a historical version of Law and Order.” She lives in Michigan." Find out more about Sarah at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, as well as on Instagram.

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.