Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Over the Counter #354

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? I don't read true crime reader, but I was intrigued by two books penned by investigative reporters who became consumed, obsessed even, by the cases they were looking into....

First up is The Spider and the Fly: A Reporter, a Serial Killer, and the Meaning of Murder By Claudia Rowe.

From the publisher, Dey Street Books:

"“Extraordinarily suspenseful and truly gut-wrenching. . . . A must-read.”—Gillian Flynn, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Gone Girl

In this superb work of literary true crime—a spellbinding combination of memoir and psychological suspense—a female journalist chronicles her unusual connection with a convicted serial killer and her search to understand the darkness inside us.

"Well, well, Claudia. Can I call you Claudia? I’ll have to give it to you, when confronted at least you’re honest, as honest as any reporter. . . . You want to go into the depths of my mind and into my past. I want a peek into yours. It is only fair, isn’t it?"—Kendall Francois

In September 1998, young reporter Claudia Rowe was working as a stringer for the New York Times in Poughkeepsie, New York, when local police discovered the bodies of eight women stashed in the attic and basement of the small colonial home that Kendall Francois, a painfully polite twenty-seven-year-old community college student, shared with his parents and sister.

Growing up amid the safe, bourgeois affluence of New York City, Rowe had always been secretly fascinated by the darkness, and soon became obsessed with the story and with Francois. She was consumed with the desire to understand just how a man could abduct and strangle eight women—and how a family could live for two years, seemingly unaware, in a house with the victims’ rotting corpses. She also hoped to uncover what humanity, if any, a murderer could maintain in the wake of such monstrous evil.

Reaching out after Francois was arrested, Rowe and the serial killer began a dizzying four-year conversation about cruelty, compassion, and control; an unusual and provocative relationship that would eventually lead her to the abyss, forcing her to clearly see herself and her own past—and why she was drawn to danger."

Next up is True Crime Addict: How I Lost Myself in the Mysterious Disappearance of Maura Murray By James Renner.

From the publisher, Thomas Dunne Books:

"When an eleven year old James Renner fell in love with Amy Mihaljevic, the missing girl seen on posters all over his neighborhood, it was the beginning of a lifelong obsession with true crime. That obsession leads James to a successful career as an investigative journalist. It also gave him PTSD. In 2011, James began researching the strange disappearance of Maura Murray, a UMass student who went missing after wrecking her car in rural New Hampshire in 2004. Over the course of his investigation, he uncovers numerous important and shocking new clues about what may have happened to Maura, but also finds himself in increasingly dangerous situations with little regard for his own well-being. As his quest to find Maura deepens, the case starts taking a toll on his personal life, which begins to spiral out of control. The result is an absorbing dual investigation of the complicated story of the All-American girl who went missing and James's own equally complicated true crime addiction.

James Renner's True Crime Addict is the story of his spellbinding investigation of the missing person's case of Maura Murray, which has taken on a life of its own for armchair sleuths across the web. In the spirit of David Fincher's Zodiac, it is a fascinating look at a case that has eluded authorities and one man's obsessive quest for the answers."

(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!)

Friday, February 17, 2017

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover # 146

- 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
Matthew Quick's new novel, The Reason You're Alive releases in the US on July 4/17 and the UK a week later. The Independence Day release date seems tailored to fit the premise of the book. "The New York Times bestselling author of The Silver Linings Playbook offers a timely novel featuring his most fascinating character yet, a Vietnam vet embarking on a quixotic crusade to track down his nemesis from the war. Through the controversial, wrenching, and wildly honest David Granger, Matthew Quick offers a no-nonsense but ultimately hopeful view of America’s polarized psyche." The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Truthfully, I have no idea what the colours on the cover are meant to convey. Confusion? Camouflage? Art? I can say that if it wasn't Matthew Quick's name on the cover, I would not even pick the book up. For me, the cover doesn't invite the reader in. So, it's a draw for me this week - I dislike them both equally. What about you - any plans to read The Reason You're Alive? Which cover do you prefer?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Odds of You and Me - Cecilia Galante

The Odds of You and Me is Cecilia Galante's latest novel.

It was the cover that first drew me to the book. I love those little sneakers protected by the bigger pair.

And that's the premise of the book....

Bird Connolly is a young single mom to four year old Angus. She loves him more than anything, but wishes their lives were different. Living with her mother cleaning houses was not what she imagined for herself. At one time, she wanted to be a nurse. But some bad choices have set her back. But her probation is almost up and she has plans. Until the past comes barreling into the present.

A young man she used to work with commits a serious crime. He escapes police custody, but is injured. Holed up in the local church, Bird inadvertently comes across him...

....and now new choices must be made. Help him? At what cost? Or walk away? When is the wrong choice the right choice?

I liked Bird as a lead character and her love for her son is well portrayed. The relationship between Bird and her Ma is quite fractious and in the first bit of the book, I could see both sides. But as the book progressed, their bickering grew tiresome and repetitive. Ma is quite religious, bordering on fanatical. When Bird reveals a horrific event from her past to her mother, Ma's reaction is downright shameful. And I ended up firmly in Bird's camp. But, there is much to be fixed in this relationship - on both sides.

Galante explores many relationships in The Odds of You and Me with both the main players and the supporting cast - parent and child being in the forefront.

There are a number of coincidences that drive the plot of this book, but who's to say serendipity doesn't exist?  Or second chances? I was urging Bird on out loud many times - I wanted her to succeed. I had no idea where Galante was going to take the ending. I can't say it's the one I wanted, but it seems right. Read an excerpt of The Odds of You and Me.

Cecilia Galante, who received an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Goddard College, Vermont, is the author of eight young adult novels and a children’s chapter-book series. She has been the recipient of many awards, including an NAIBA Best Book of the Year, and an Oprah’s Teen Read Selection for her first novel, The Patron Saint of Butterflies. She lives in Kingston, Pennsylvania with her three children. Find out more about Cecilia at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and 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.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Over the Counter #353

What books caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? I love abandoned buildings, flea markets, curbside treasures and more......

First up is Junk Gypsy: Designing a Life at the Crossroads of Wonder and Wander by Jolie Sikes and Amie Sikes.

From Touchstone Books:

"In their first book, the Junk Gypsies—sisters and stars of the popular Texas-born brand and HGTV show—combine big dreams, stories of roadside treasures found, and down-home design projects inspired by epic makeovers for friends like Miranda Lambert, Billie Joe Armstrong, and Sadie Robertson.

Amie and Jolie Sikes, the Thelma and Louise of the design world, are the Junk Gypsies: a family with an addiction to flea markets, wanderlust, and Americana inspired design. In their world, cowgirls are heroes, road trips last forever, and junk is treasured.

Beginning with a little bit of faith and a whole lot of heart and soul, the sisters travelled the back roads of America like gypsies, collecting roadside trinkets and tattered treasures while meeting kindred spirits and lively characters along the way. With a mix of hippie, rock n’ roll, southern charm, and big dreams, these small-town Texas girls became restless wanderers and owners and operators of their dream business and bohemian brand, Junk Gypsy.

Filled with stories from their unique journey as well as DIY projects and bohemian inspired designs, Junk Gypsy is a tribute to all the rowdy gypsies, crafty junkers, free-spirited romantics, and true-blue rebels who have ever dared to dream big."

Amazing Barn Finds and Roadside Relics by Ryan Brutt.

From the publisher, Motorbooks:

"Something that to the rest of the world is nothing but a forgotten automotive hulk slowly degenerating into a pile of iron oxide is to the car enthusiast something so much more. Like those who restore Victorian homes or antique furniture, car guys see not a decrepit piece of junk, but a desirable object that "just needs some attention." And should the vehicle abandoned in a field or lying in a creek bed be too far gone to resurrect, car enthusiasts can simply enjoy it for what it once was (while lamenting that it has come to such a sad end).

Finding a lost, restorable car is every auto collector's dream! Amazing Barn Finds and Roadside Relics taps into the thrill of the hunt with hundreds of photos of lost cars - each accompanied by detailed information covering the nature of the find and details about the car. Ride along as author Ryan Brutt, the "automotive archaeologist," travels the United States documenting lost and abandoned automotive gems."

(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, February 14, 2017

A Darkness Absolute - Kelley Armstrong

A Darkness Absolute is the second book in Kelley Armstrong's Casey Duncan series. I devoured the first book, City of the Lost, and have been eagerly awaiting this next entry.

Casey Duncan was a homicide detective 'down south'. She also killed a man before she became a cop. But the past caught up with her. So, she and her friend Diana, headed for an off the grid town called Rockton, deep in the wilds of the Canadian north. Rockton doesn't exist on a map and everyone in town is running from something or someone. Casey is admitted to town based on her profession -  and she's now Rockton's detective.

The first book laid the groundwork for the series, introduced us to the town and had a darn good mystery included. And, yes some romance - with the town sheriff.

In a Darkness Absolute, Casey and her deputy Will, storm stayed outside the town's borders, take refuge in a cave. It is there that they find a former town resident held captive for more than a year. So..... a detective in a hidden town that doesn't exist on any map and populated by criminals and those looking to disappear. Well, that makes for a wealth of suspects, doesn't it?

The search to find the perpetrator is a page turner. I love the voice Armstrong has given Casey. She's intuitive and clever. The supporting cast is wide and varied, all hiding secrets. Casey has her work cut out, trying to ferret out the truth.

Armstrong's setting is fascinating. There very easily could be a hidden settlement in the north. But what's outside those town boundaries is just as intriguing. There are those living even more 'lost' than the townsfolk of Rockton. Armstrong is slowly giving us glances at these people.

Solving the case is full of twists, turns and lots of action. Lies and false leads keep the reader guessing until the final pages. And although the end is satisfying.....I want more.....I can't wait 'til book number three is released!

Read an excerpt of A Darkness Absolute. You can connect with Kelley Armstrong on her website and follow her on Twitter.

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Impossible Fortress - Jason Rekulak

I love finding a book that is completely different from my usual reading fare - quirky, funny, heartwarming and just fun to read. The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak is one of those finds.

I think it was nostalgia that sold me on reading The Impossible Fortress. Set in the late 1980's in New Jersey, we meet a trio of fourteen year olds determined to get their hands on the latest Playboy - featuring Vanna White. That's the premise but there is so much more to the tale.

It's a story of friendship, growing up, first love, dreams, discoveries and yes - disappointments. And who doesn't remember those years - good and bad?

Rekulak's trio - Billy, Alf and Clark - are wonderful characters - they're a misfit bunch, but eminently likeable. As adults, we can easily see that their schemes are likely to fail, but their hopes and enthusiasm are contagious.

Computer programming is in it's infancy in the 1980's. Billy and Mary (yes, there's a girl involved) are fascinated by this new technology. Remember the Commodore 64? There's coding at the beginning of every chapter - take the time to read it - Rekulak cleverly ties the coding to the story.

Engaging, entertaining and oh so eighties. Here's an excerpt of The Impossible Fortress. This is another one of Entertainment Weekly's 'Most Anticipated Novels of 2017."

Check out Jason Rekulak's website and play The Impossible Fortress game. (It's really kind of fun!)

And as an aside - Rekulak is "the publisher of Quirk Books, where he has acquired a dozen New York Times bestsellers. Some of his most notable acquisitions at Quirk include Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and the YA fantasy novel series Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, which has spent five years on the New York Times bestseller list."

Friday, February 10, 2017

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #145

- 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
I've enjoyed British author Paula Daly's previous books. Her latest, The Trophy Child, is on my ever teetering TBR pile. "A thrilling tale of ambition and murder, Daly’s richly imagined world of suburban striving and motherly love is an absorbing page-turner about the illusions of perfection and the power games between husband and wife, parent and child." The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Two very different looks this week. Just on first look the US cover appeals to me more. The US's overgrown hedges and the gate and fence underline the 'what happens behind closed door' part of the plot. The colours on the UK cover don't appeal to me at all. But the image of a child studying is part of the plot as well. So, any plans to read The Trophy Child? Which cover do you prefer?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

There has been tons of buzz surrounding the release of Sarah Pinborough's just released novel, Behind Her Eyes.

Especially the ending. And to get to the ending, you need to start at the beginning. (no cheating!) I started reading and was immediately immersed in the story.

David, a psychiatrist and his wife Adele have just moved to a new city. It's a new job for David and what looks to be a fresh start for their marriage. Louise is a single mom who works as a secretary, out on the town for a night, when she meets a handsome man. And takes him home. Unbelievably, that man turns out to be David - her new boss. And Adele wants to be friends with Louise.

So much could go wrong here eh? Nothing is as you expect it to be in this book. But there is definitely something wrong - in so many ways. I thought I had things pegged in the first few chapters and that Pinborough's plot would be similar to others in the psychological suspense genre. But I was mistaken, very mistaken. The character I thought was the victim is not. One of these three is playing a long range 'game', one you can't even begin to imagine.

The reader is privy to all the machinations of that character. We know what the other two players do not. But it's still not easy to fit together what's going on. Pinborough is quite cryptic with her dropped clues and foreshadowing.

So, that ending. It's definitely good. I thought the book had ended and then there was that one last 'gotcha'. That I did not see coming. Surprise endings are hard to pull off but Pinborough does.

So why would I rate this a four and not a five? Well, being deliberately obtuse so as not to ruin the book for you, I wasn't one hundred per cent sold on the plot device Pinborough employs to achieve that ending. Pragmatic me found it a bit of a stretch. But overall, Behind Her Eyes was a good read, one that will keep you intrigued. Read an excerpt of Behind Her Eyes.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Over the Counter #352

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? A combo - nature and social media.....

@NatGeo: The Most Popular Instagram Photos.

From the publisher, National Geographic:

"Featuring the most liked, commented on, and favorite photos from National Geographic’s iconic Instagram account, @NatGeo is a winning combination of expertly curated National Geographic photographs. National Geographic, or @natgeo, is one of the world's top accounts on Instagram, with millions of followers and several billion likes on its thousands of images posted. Embracing the diversity of the account and weaving in social media trends such as hashtags, throwbacks, flashbacks, and of course animals, @NatGeo’s stunning imagery will delight and inspire."

(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, February 7, 2017

To Catch a Killer - Sheryl Scarborough Release Day Giveaway

Sheryl Scarborough's debut novel, To Catch a Killer releases today and I have a copy to give away to one lucky reader!

From the publisher, Tor Books:

"In this contemporary mystery by debut author Sheryl Scarborough, a teenage girl uses forensic science to solve the cold-case murder of her mother.

Erin Blake has one of those names. A name that, like Natalee Holloway or Elizabeth Smart, is inextricably linked to a grisly crime. As a toddler, Erin survived for three days alongside the corpse of her murdered mother, and the case—which remains unsolved—fascinated a nation. Her father's identity unknown, Erin was taken in by her mother's best friend and has become a relatively normal teen in spite of the looming questions about her past.

Fourteen years later, Erin is once again at the center of a brutal homicide when she finds the body of her biology teacher. When questioned by the police, Erin tells almost the whole truth, but never voices her suspicions that her mother's killer has struck again in order to protect the casework she's secretly doing on her own.

Inspired by her uncle, an FBI agent, Erin has ramped up her forensic hobby into a full-blown cold-case investigation. This new murder makes her certain she's close to the truth, but when all the evidence starts to point the authorities straight to Erin, she turns to her longtime crush (and fellow suspect) Journey Michaels to help her crack the case before it's too late." Read an excerpt of To Catch a Killer.

Sheryl Scarborough worked as a story writer and series developer in children's television before
receiving her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College, where she studied under Rita Williams-Garcia, Tom Birdseye, and Susan Fletcher, among others. She currently lives and works in Kalama, Washington. To Catch a Killer is her debut. You can connect with Sheryl on her website, follow her on Twitter and like her on Facebook.

And if you'd like to read To Catch a Killer, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends Feb 18/17.


Monday, February 6, 2017

Little Deaths - Emma Flint

Little Deaths is Emma Flint's latest novel.

Flint professes that "Since childhood, she has been drawn to true crime stories, developing an encyclopaedic knowledge of real-life murder cases. She is equally fascinated by notorious historical figures and by unorthodox women – past, present and fictional."

Those interests are put to good use in Little Deaths. The novel is a fascinating blend of literary mystery, character study and social commentary.

Set in 1960's blue collar New York. Ruth Malone is a single working mother of two. She works nights as a cocktail waitress - and yes, she exploits her looks and her body for extra tips. And even when not working, she likes to look good. And so what if she unwinds with a drink now and then. Sex is not a taboo word for her either.

Except that one morning she wakes up and her children are missing. Gone. And Ruth's lifestyle, demeanor and attitude all factor into the police's opinion of what happened. The reader knows from the first pages that Ruth is in prison. Flint takes the reader back through the investigation, vilification and conviction of Ruth. Her clothes, her drinking, her carousing, her not behaving 'as she should.'

The glimpses into Ruth's past, mind and thinking are fascinating and go far to explain who Ruth is - and why she wears 'armor.' I was sickened by the police investigation, the bullying of the lead officer, the newspaper's bias, the certainty by most of the neighborhood that she is guilty. One reporter doesn't believe she is guilty though and makes it his mission to clear Ruth's name. While Ruth is not perhaps a likeable character, my sympathies were in her corner.

And as I read, I realized that really, nothing has changed. Social and public judgement is still there, but has changed venue - appearing online everywhere. Thought provoking for sure - what would be your thinking?

Was the ending what I expected? No, not quite. But it absolutely fits. Little Deaths is based on the actual case of Alice Crimmins.

Little Deaths is another of Entertainment Weekly's Most Anticipated Books of 2017. Read an excerpt of Little Death. You can connect with Emma Flint on her website and follow her on Twitter.

Friday, February 3, 2017

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover # 144

- 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
I'm quite looking forward to reading The Impossible Fortress - Jason Rekulak's debut novel,  It's on Entertainment Weekly's most anticipated novels of 2017 list. " A dazzling debut novel—at once a charming romance and a moving coming-of-age story—about what happens when a fourteen-year old boy pretends to seduce a girl to steal a copy of Playboy but then discovers she is his computer-loving soulmate. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Two very different looks this week. The US cover is bright and in your face. I like the use of a keyhole for the 'o; and the little heart and girl pictured within. But I have to say, it brings back memories looking at the UK cover! So, UK for me this week. What about you? Any plans to read The Impossible Fortress? Which cover do you prefer?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. 

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #143

- 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
I try to sample debut authors through the year as well as keeping up with established authors that I follow. Foxlowe is Eleanor Wasserberg's debut novel and it's on my TBR list. This blurb from the publisher caught my eye.
"An astonishing literary debut about a young girl’s coming of age in the haunting, enchanting world of an English commune—a modern Gothic novel with echoes of Room and Never Let Me Go." It's an easy choice for me this week - I'm going with the US cover. The dark muted colours, the picture of a real (and imposing) mansion and that foreboding gate seem to convey a darker sense than the UK cover. Frankly the UK cover somewhat reminds me of a fairy tale - Hansel and Gretel maybe. Has anyone else added Foxlowe to their TBR list. Which cover do you prefer?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

This is Not Over - Holly Brown

So, have you ever stayed in a Bed and Breakfast or booked a few nights in an Airbnb? Ever have any problems? Well, a problem with a rented stay is the the starting point for Holly Brown's new novel, This is Not Over.

Dawn looks forward to her 'getaways' with her husband Rob. A weekend rental in a luxurious home is a chance to imagine what life might be like for them. It's also a large financial outlay for them. So, when their latest 'host' Miranda deducts $200.00 from their deposit to 'replace the stained sheets', Dawn sees red. She knows that they did not ruin the sheets. And the rental was not perfect......

And so begins a war of sorts. Escalating nasty emails and texts, online stalking and more that threatens to consume each woman and their lives. Neither can let it go. They are each adamant that they are right and neither will back down. This is not over....

Each woman has a voice and as readers, we become privy to the details of their lives. We're observers, along for the ride, as the misconceptions compound and the resentment grows. I use observer as that was what I felt like as I read. I didn't become invested with either character as they are not likeable in any way, shape or form. I felt a bit like a rubbernecker, driving by an accident, unable to turn away but wanting to know what happened. I was curious as to where Brown was going to take things from that initial set of emails.

I had my suspicions about the ending as things progressed and I wasn't far off. I do feel the back and forth between the two women went on a bit too long in my opinion and could have tightened up a bit. And some of the plot devices need to be taken with a grain of salt. But that being said,  I can absolutely see how this would happen. Social media has become the public ring for battles of all sorts.  Read an excerpt of This is Not Over.

Brown is a practicing therapist and her descriptions of Dawn and Miranda's thinking and 'logic' benefits from her expertise. In the acknowledgments, Brown writes: "Thanks are also due to my 'host', who shall remain nameless. Sometimes inspiration comes from the most unlikely of places, and I am so grateful for that."

Cr: Yanina Gotsulsky
Holly Brown lives with her husband and toddler daughter in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she's a practicing marriage and family therapist. She is the author of the novel Don't Try to Find Me, and her blog, "Bonding Time," is featured on the mental health website PsychCentral.com. You can connect with Holly on Facebook.

See what other 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, February 1, 2017

Over the Counter #351

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? A serious topic this week......mental illness....

First up is Show Me All Your Scars: True Stories of Living with Mental Illness edited by Lee Gutkind.

From the publisher, In Fact Books:

"What do you do when your father kills himself, or your mother is committed to a psych ward, or your daughter starts hearing voices telling her to harm herself—or when you yourself hear such voices?

In any given year, one in four American adults suffers from a diagnosable mental illness—but the tremendous stigma attached to being labeled as “crazy” still prevents many from reaching out to professionals or even loved ones for help. As former US Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy writes in his introduction: “The only way for this to change is for people to share their truth. Total honesty is essential not only for recovery, but also for changing societal attitudes and enacting public policies.”

Addressing bipolar disorder, OCD, trichotillomania, self-harm, PTSD, and other diagnoses, the twenty fascinating stories collected in Show Me All Your Scars vividly depict the difficulties and sorrows—and sometimes, too, the unexpected rewards—of living with mental illness."

Next up is While the City Slept: A Love Lost to Violence and a Young Man's Descent into Madness by Eli Sanders.

From Viking Books:

"A Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter’s gripping account of one young man’s path to murder—and a wake-up call for mental health care in America.

On a summer night in 2009, three lives intersected in one American neighborhood. Two people newly in love—Teresa Butz and Jennifer Hopper, who spent many years trying to find themselves and who eventually found each other—and a young man on a dangerous psychological descent: Isaiah Kalebu, age twenty-three, the son of a distant, authoritarian father and a mother with a family history of mental illness. All three paths forever altered by a violent crime, all three stories a wake-up call to the system that failed to see the signs.

In this riveting, probing, compassionate account of a murder in Seattle, Eli Sanders, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his newspaper coverage of the crime, offers a deeply reported portrait in microcosm of the state of mental health care in this country—as well as an inspiring story of love and forgiveness. Culminating in Kalebu’s dangerous slide toward violence—observed by family members, police, mental health workers, lawyers, and judges, but stopped by no one—While the City Slept is the story of a crime of opportunity and of the string of missed opportunities that made it possible. It shows what can happen when a disturbed member of society repeatedly falls through the cracks, and in the tradition of The Other Wes Moore and The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, is an indelible, human-level story, brilliantly told, with the potential to inspire social change."

(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!)