Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Dry - Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

I'm a bit of a insomniac and often to listen to audiobooks at night. I eventually drift off and sometimes have to backtrack the next night to see what I missed. But this wasn't the case with Dry  by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman. It was so good, I just couldn't stop listening!

California's drought issues are ongoing and worsening - until the day of  the Tap-Out. The day the water is completely shut off, stores are stripped of water and thirst drives people to unthinkable choices.

Teen Alyssa, her younger brother Garrett and her teenaged prepper  neighbor Kelton are at the heart of the narrative. Two others - Jacquie and Henry become part of the story as well.

The first thing I thought to myself was this was not a far fetched premise at all. The Shusterman's imagining of what might transpire if the water disappeared was completely believable - and frightening real. Anarchy.

Each of the five characters is given a voice through their own chapters and outlooks. Each player has a different take on how to survive this catastrophe. What choices will they make? As a group? As individuals? What would you do?

The decision to record this audiobook with an ensemble cast of five narrators was brilliant. Each voice completely matched the character they were reading. Alyssa, (Jenni Barber) is the voice of reason, more disposed to consider society than the individual. But as things go from bad to worse, she is forced to make some terrible decisions. Garrett, (Kivlighan De Montebello) is young, frightened and innocent of what this shortage will mean. Kelton, (Noah Galvin) I quite liked - pragmatic on the outside, paddling hard on the inside. Henry, (Michael Crouch) oh Henry. As my Gran used to say - he's a piece of work and his inner dialogue and actions made me so angry. And then there's Jacqui (Candice Thaxton). She's tough, smart and a survivor. I have to say, she ended up being my favourite character. Each voice was clear, easy to understand and absolutely matched the character they were playing. Listen to an excerpt of Dry.

A few times, I said to myself - 'why don't you....?' But then I reminded myself that these were teens.

Bottom line - loved it! Honestly, I wanted more. But as the credits rolled, I thought hey, this would make a great movie. Turns out Paramount Pictures thought the same thing. And I also thought - I better pick up a few cases of water - you know - just to have on hand......

Monday, October 22, 2018

Giveaway - Every Breath - Nicholas Sparks

You've been waiting for it....and it's here! Nicholas Sparks' new novel Every Breath has just released - and I have a copy to give away to one lucky reader!

From Grand Central Publishing:

"Get swept up in #1 New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Sparks’s epic romance across decades and continents–from North Carolina to Zimbabwe–a heartbreaking love story in the tradition of his beloved classic, The Notebook.

Hope Anderson is at a crossroads. At thirty-six, she’s been dating her boyfriend, an orthopedic surgeon, for six years. With no wedding plans in sight, and her father recently diagnosed with ALS, she decides to use a week at her family’s cottage in Sunset Beach, North Carolina, to ready the house for sale and mull over some difficult decisions about her future.

Tru Walls has never visited North Carolina but is summoned to Sunset Beach by a letter from a man claiming to be his father. A safari guide, born and raised in Zimbabwe, Tru hopes to unravel some of the mysteries surrounding his mother’s early life and recapture memories lost with her death. When the two strangers cross paths, their connection is as electric as it is unfathomable . . . but in the immersive days that follow, their feelings for each other will give way to choices that pit family duty against personal happiness in devastating ways.

Illuminating life’s heartbreaking regrets and enduring hope, Every Breath explores the many facets of love that lay claim to our deepest loyalties–while asking the question, How long can a dream survive?" Read an excerpt of Every Breath.

"With over 100 million copies of his books sold, Nicholas Sparks is one of the world’s most beloved storytellers. His novels include fourteen #1 New York Times bestsellers, and all of his books, including Three Weeks with My Brother, the memoir he wrote with his brother, Micah, have been New York Times and international bestsellers, and were translated into more than fifty languages. Eleven of Nicholas Sparks’s novels–The Choice, The Longest Ride, The Best of Me, Safe Haven, The Lucky One, The Last Song, Dear John, Nights in Rodanthe, The Notebook, A Walk to Remember, and Message in a Bottle–have been adapted into major motion pictures." You can connect with Nicholas Sparks on his website, like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

And if you'd like to read Every Breath, enter for a chance to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada. Ends November 3/18.

Friday, October 19, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #233

- 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 devoured C.J. Tudor's debut novel, The Chalk Man. I was
excited to hear she has a new book releasing next year. So, you're saying to yourself - Luanne - those are two different titles! Well, they are - but it's the same story within. Both release in February 2019. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. So let's talk title first. Which one do you prefer? The Hiding Place is somewhat forgettable for me. But The Taking of Annie Thorne is unique and kinda scary. Now onto the covers. Both grey. The blood red font promises danger. The open window and empty metal bed frame hint at someone missing. And a scattered deck of cards. Now, that UK cover. Love it! It matches the tone of the UK cover of The Chalk Man that I really liked as well. The little girl figure torn out of newspaper headline with the word murders, the childish writing of the name...chilling. Easy choice for me this week on both cover and title - UK.
What cover and title do you like this week? Any plans to read this book?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Clockmaker's Daughter - Kate Morton

Kate Morton is one of my favourite writers. Every time I finish one of her books, I'm sure it's the best one yet. And it is, until the next one comes along. The Clockmaker's Daughter is her latest - and yes, it's the best one yet!

Morton again employs all the elements that are hallmarks of her work. Past and present narratives, houses, their history, love lost, love found, an element of other otherworldliness this time and so much more.

"My real name, no one remembers. The truth about that summer, no one else knows."

Summer 1862. A group of artists and friends plan to spend a month at Edward Radcliffe's new home, Birchwood Manor. But before the month is out, one of them will be dead, a priceless heirloom is missing and Edward's life will never the same. Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie, a young archivist, uncovers photographs that seem somehow familiar to her....

"The woman in the white gloves unlatched the dull silver buckle and the satchel held its breath. Open me, open me, open me....She pushed back its leather strap and for the first time in over a century light swept into the satchel's dark corners."

The past has always fascinated me, bits of history and lore woven into family stories. Pictures of those now gone, houses now emptied. What is their story? I was immediately drawn to Elodie and couldn't wait to discover and uncover what happened in the past at Birchwood and why she seems to know the house. But it's not only Elodie we hear from. The past is unfolded from many different, yet intertwined viewpoints and time frames. Each and every one of those characters are so very well drawn. All of them have a connection to Birchwood Manor and feel inexplicably drawn to the house.

"Edward used to say that the river possessed a primeval memory of everything that had ever happened. It occurs to me that this house is like that, too. It remembers, just as I do. It remembers everything." It is this voice that I found the most poignant - the voice in the house. (No spoilers, so not saying another word about this.)

Kate Morton's descriptions are so wonderful. The house sprang alive for me - I could feel the warm spot on the turn of the stairs, smell the flowers in the garden, envision myself under a shady tree listening to the sound of the river going by.

I started reading slower as I realized I was reaching the end. I knew what was coming and I just didn't want to face it. But I wanted to see how all of those threads and lives would weave together.

My review doesn't do this book justice. But suffice it to say that I loved it. Absolutely, positively recommended. Pick up a copy for snowy nights reading. Read an excerpt of The Clockmaker's Daughter.

"Each clock is unique, he used to tell me. And just like a person, its face, whether plain or pretty, is but a mask for the intricate mechanism it concealed."

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Over the Counter #449

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Another in the 'life advice from other countries category'.....

The Finnish Way: Finding Courage, Wellness, and Happiness Through the Power of Sisu by Katja Pantzar.

From TarcherPerigee:

"An engaging and practical guided tour of the simple and nature-inspired ways that Finns stay happy and healthy--including the powerful concept of sisu, or everyday courage

Forget hygge--it's time to blow out the candles and get out into the world! Journalist Katja Pantzar did just that, taking the huge leap to move to the remote Nordic country of Finland. What she discovered there transformed her body, mind and spirit. In this engaging and practical guide, she shows readers how to embrace the "keep it simple and sensible" daily practices that make Finns one of the happiest populations in the world, year after year.

Topics include:

  *  Movement as medicine: How walking, biking and swimming every day are good for what ails us--and best done outside the confines of a gym
  *  Forest therapy: Why there's no substitute for getting out into nature on a regular basis
  *  Healthy eating: What the Nordic diet can teach us all about feeding body, mind and soul
  *  The gift of sisu: Why Finns embrace a special form of courage, grit and determination as a national virtue - and how anyone can dig deeper to survive and thrive through tough times.

If you've ever wondered if there's a better, simpler way to find happiness and good heath, look no further. The Finns have a word for that, and this empowering book shows us how to achieve it."

(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 16, 2018

Leave No Trace - Mindy Mejia

I enjoyed Mindy Mejia's last book and happily picked up her latest, Leave No Trace.

Lucas Blackthorne was nine when he and his father walked into the wilderness of Minnesota and never returned. Ten years later Lucas is found ransacking a store and is taken into custody. He doesn't or won't speak and refuses to communicate in any way, so he is admitted to a psychiatric facility. Where has he been? What has happened to him? Where is his father? Maya Stark is an assistant language therapist who begins to work with Lucas to find answers. Maya herself has a troubled past. (Which had me wondering how she could be working in a psychiatric facility.)

Okay, let me mention again that Lucas is 19 and Maya is 23. Uh huh - you see what I'm pointing at? The attraction is there between the two and only grows as the book progresses. Mejia does a good job at ramping up the suspense. But, I have pragmatic tendencies......and I found some of the plot developments a bit far fetched and frankly unbelievable. (Seriously, an assistant speech therapist doing what she's doing? Sorry, trying not to provide spoilers.) Now, that being said, I did finish the book as I really wanted to know the final answers as to where Lucas has been.

But, in the end, I felt like I had listened to a YA novel. Which I do really like. But that isn't what I was expecting when I started Leave No Trace. It was the billing of a "riveting and suspenseful thriller" that initially caught my attention.

Much of that YA feeling was down to Maya. Leave No Trace is told in first person through her viewpoint. And unfortunately - I didn't like her or didn't feel a great deal of sympathy or empathy for her. For me she came across as unprofessional, irresponsible, impetuous and juvenile.

I chose to listen to this latest book. I find listening to a book immerses me more fully in the story. The reader was Patricia Rodriguez and she was excellent. She had a voice that matched the age, demeanor and mental image I had imagined for the the lead character. Her voice is quite expressive and captures the tone of the plot and action very well. Listen to an audio excerpt of Leave No Trace.

So, great narrator, but only a so-so listen for me. I'm in the minority on this one I think - check out the positive reviews on Goodreads.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Giveaway - The Winters - Lisa Gabriele

Oh, I love the cover of Lisa Gabriele's new novel, The Winters. Take a second look at those beautiful roses....what story lies within? And what about this first line..."Last night Rebekah tried to murder me again."

The Winters releases tomorrow (Oct. 16) and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

From Viking Books:

"A spellbindingly suspenseful new novel set in the moneyed world of the Hamptons, about secrets that refuse to remain buried and consequences that can’t be escaped

After a whirlwind romance, a young woman returns to the opulent, secluded Long Island mansion of her new fiancĂ© Max Winter—a wealthy politician and recent widower—and a life of luxury she’s never known. But all is not as it appears at the Asherley estate. The house is steeped in the memory of Max’s beautiful first wife Rebekah, who haunts the young woman’s imagination and feeds her uncertainties, while his very alive teenage daughter Dani makes her life a living hell. She soon realizes there is no clear place for her in this twisted little family: Max and Dani circle each other like cats, a dynamic that both repels and fascinates her, and he harbors political ambitions with which he will allow no woman—alive or dead—to interfere.

As the soon-to-be second Mrs. Winter grows more in love with Max, and more afraid of Dani, she is drawn deeper into the family’s dark secrets—the kind of secrets that could kill her, too. The Winters is a riveting story about what happens when a family’s ghosts resurface and threaten to upend everything." Read an excerpt of The Winters.

"Lisa Gabriele is the author of two literary novels. Her writing has appeared in Glamour, Vice, and Salon as well as various anthologies, including The Best American Nonrequired Reading. She lives in Toronto, where she is an award-winning television producer." You can connect with Lisa on her websiteand follow her on Twitter.

Enter to win a copy of The Winters using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends October 27/18

Saturday, October 13, 2018

What Remains of Her - Eric Rickstad

What Remains of Her is Eric Rickstad's latest book.

Jonah Baum's wife Rebecca and young daughter Sally went missing twenty five years ago from their home in Vermont. Jonah has never been the same from that day. He's living in a run down cabin in the forest, eschewing society, but hoping against hope that they might still be found. Sally's friend Lucinda might remember something still.....

When another little girl is lost in the woods, it is Jonah who finds her. Is she real or has Jonah's mind finally broken?

I liked the idea of the long disappearance and memories from a child perhaps holding the answers. The other little girl, Gretel was an unexpected entry in the plot. (Really? Gretel? Fairy tale lost in the woods Gretel?) And I think it was here that Rickstad lost me. Much time is spent on this mystery child with the plot going in directions that seemed utterly ridiculous. The mystery itself has limited options as to the whodunnit is. (Fairly easy to suss out.) The police investigation I was hoping for never really happened. (And c'mon - clues left for 25 years in the victim's house?!)

Sorry, this one was overdone and overwrought in my opinion. But I'm in the minority it seems - check out the positive reviews on Goodreads.

Friday, October 12, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover # 232

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

The Strange Diaries
UK cover
I can't get enough of Elly Griffith's Ruth Galloway series. Her
forthcoming book, The Stranger Diaries,  is a stand alone and I can't wait to read it....."A gripping contemporary Gothic thriller..." The US cover is  on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Two very different looks this week. I'm a sucker for old houses on covers. I like the image on the US cover and the line that cuts through the title, image and author's name is very effective. The tagline on the UK cover - death lies between the lines - seems to fit that image. But on looking closer at the UK cover, there are lines of handwriting in the background. Not sure about the plants. Poisonous perhaps? The dark blue is quite striking. But my fondness for Gothic reads and creepy houses has me voting for the US cover this week. How about you? Any plans to read The Stranger Diaries? 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 11, 2018

Play With Art - DK Canada

Who doesn't love being creative? I've always enjoyed creating and making. And so does Little Guy!

I thought Play with Art from DK Canada would be a title he would enjoy exploring. Check out the other titles in DK's Celebrate the Arts boutique.

Little Guy always likes looking at the cover before he opens a book. The cover of Play With Art is colourful and inviting. The inner flyleaf is covered in fingerprints with faces drawn on. I quite liked this one - I can see framing a set for Gramma. So, he wanted to know how to do that one right away.

We made it to the table of contents. He loves tables of contents, so we had to read out the name of every craft within before looking at pictures. The crafts are broken down into: Painting and Printing, Paper Craft, Drawing and Coloring, Make and Create.

I know I used some of these techniques and crafts with my own children when they were little, but I had forgotten many of them until I saw them again in Play With Art.

Make dinosaur tracks by dipping a plastic toy in the paint, use nature items - flowers, leaves, fruits and veggies as your brush. (But we'll hold off on the 'use your feet' until we can do it outside!) There's many more ideas in this chapter.

Cutting paper is fun when you've mastered the art of scissors. Paper chains, free form scuptures, tracers, shadow puppets and more in the Paper Craft chapter. Do you remember wetting down crepe paper for a watercolour picture?

Drawing and colouring. I'm always fascinated by what Little Guy chooses to portray in his drawings. Remember scratch art? Colouring, then covering it with black paint, then scratching in a picture.

Make and create. Save those empty rolls and cardboard boxes - staple elements of 'making things'.

Play With Art has some good, basic ideas (50) for creating for the 3-5 year old crowd. It also fits nicely into the STEAM educational approach to learning. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) There's no right and no wrong in creating and imagination is a wonderful thing. As is the satisfaction of making something. This one's going to wait on Gramma's bookshelf for Little Guy's next visit. See below for a peek inside.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Over the Counter #448

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter? A clever title, but I'll pass....

Offal Good by Chris Cosentino

From Clarkson Potter:

"The off cuts, the odd bits, the variety meats, the fifth quarter—it seems that offal is always hidden, given a soft-pedaled name, and left for someone else to eat. But it wasn't always this way, and it certainly shouldn't be.

Offal—the organs and the under-heralded parts from tongue to trotter—are some of the most delicious, flavorful, nutritious cuts of meat, and this is your guide to mastering how to cook them. Through both traditional and wildly creative recipes, Chris Cosentino takes you from nose-to-tail, describing the basic prep and best cooking methods for every offal cut from beef, pork, lamb, and poultry. Anatomy class was never so delicious."

(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 9, 2018

Fall Down Dead - Stephen Booth

Fall Down Dead is the newest release from author Stephen Booth. This is the 18th (!) entry in his Cooper and Fry series. It's a first read of this series for me.

A group of thirteen ramblers go walking on Kinder Scout, a difficult - and dangerous - climb, in the Peak District of England. The group becomes disoriented in the fog, losing their sense of direction and the path. When the rescue patrol finally brings them off the mountain, there are only twelve. One of their number has fallen - or was she pushed - at Dead Woman's Drop.

Cooper and his team are charged with investigating the event, while Fry is herself being investigated by Professional Standards.

It's great having twelve suspects to choose from. (A hint of Agatha Christie) As each recounts their memory of the event, Cooper and his team must discern who is telling the truth. For it seems like none are being completely forthright. Especially the group's leader Darius. My opinion on who it could be changed with each new interview and revelation. (And when I did reach the end, it wasn't who I suspected)

Diane is unsure what Professional Standards is looking for. It is only as the interviews continue that she begins to get an idea of what they're after. And that she might need some help. Not something she's used to asking for.

I quite liked both of these characters. The relationship between the two seems complicated. They're polar opposites and that makes for a charged dynamic. I enjoyed the personal story lines of each key player. British police duos are the basis of some of my favourite series. However, I did feel like I was playing catch up with what has transpired in the past for Cooper and Fry. Booth does provide enough information that I could appreciate what was happening with Fry in this latest. I am not a reader who will go backwards once I know where the character's lives are now. But I would absolutely pick up Booth's next book to see where they go from here.

Booth's description of the Peak area, the mountain and the climbing was really descriptive and brought the setting to life. Bleak, beautiful and treacherous. (I went online to look at pictures and it is something to see.) And the history behind the Mass Trespass of Kinder Scout was fascinating as well. I appreciate history woven into a fictional tale.

A new author to add to my list! Read an excerpt of Fall Down Dead.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Giveaway - The Night Stalker - Robert Bryndza

Mystery fans, I've gone a great giveaway for you! The Night Stalker is the follow-up to Robert Bryndza's bestselling mystery debut, The Girl in the Ice.

What's it about? From Grand Central Publishing:

"If the Night Stalker is watching, you’re already dead…

In the dead of a swelteringly hot summer’s night, Detective Erika Foster is called to a murder scene. The victim, a doctor, is found suffocated in bed. His wrists are bound and his eyes bulging through a clear plastic bag tied tight over his head.

A few days later, another victim is found dead, in exactly the same circumstances. As Erika and her team start digging deeper, they discover a calculated serial killer – stalking their victims before choosing the right moment to strike.

The victims are all single men, with very private lives. Why are their pasts shrouded in secrecy? And what links them to the killer?

As a heat wave descends upon London, Erika will do everything to stop the Night Stalker before the body count rises, even if it means risking her job. But the victims might not be the only ones being watched… Erika’s own life could be on the line." Read an excerpt of The Night Stalker.

"Robert Bryndza is the author of the international #1 bestselling Detective Erika Foster series. Robert’s books have sold over 2 million copies and have been translated into 27 languages. He is British and lives in Slovakia." You can connect with Robert on his website and follow him on Twitter

And if you'd like to read The Night Stalker, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, ends October 20/18.

Friday, October 5, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #231

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

UK cover
US cover
I've really enjoyed Fiona Barton's previous books and was excited to see she has a new book - The Suspect -  coming out in January 2019. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Okay, so muddy, darker tones on both covers. Author's name at the top of both covers. The title in white with a similar font on both covers. Two different images though. The US cover draws on (what I believe to be) a woman's image. Reflection of an image I feel as it's upside down. The image on the UK cover appeals to me much more. A burnt notebook, a cryptic question. So it's the UK cover for me this week. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read The Suspect?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Other Wife - Michael Robotham

Michael Robotham is one of my favourite authors. I couldn't wait to read his latest book, The Other Wife - especially when I found out it was a Joseph O'Loughlin book. (9th in the series)

Joe is a clinical psychologist, a widower, a father to two girls, a man living with Parkinson's disease - and a son who thought he knew his parents well. But when Joe receives a call that his father has been admitted to hospital in a coma, his world is turned upside down. He arrives at his father's bedside to find
 the woman who called him. The woman who says she is his father's wife. His other wife....

Oh, great opening and what a great premise to work with!

I've always enjoyed the personal story lines that Robotham weaves through his books. Joe's life (and that of the other supporting players) has moved forward with each new entry. That personal aspect is real, believable and I always look forward to seeing where Robotham has taken his characters. I especially like his relationships with his daughters. And every good lead character needs a sidekick. In this series, it's now retired police Detective Vincent Ruiz, now a corporate fraud investigator. He's tough, intelligent, loyal and brings an alternate view to the crimes being investigated. I was quite happy to see him again as well.

The unraveling of Joe's father's hidden life is serpentine, with each new revelation leading to more questions. Who is William O'Loughlin really? I have to say, I had no idea what was truth or lies. Everything other wife Olivia says is hard to believe. Is she truly a devoted 'wife' or does she have another agenda? I couldn't decide. And Joe questions everything he ever believed about his father. There are many possible outcomes to this tale and it's not until the final pages that the whodunit is revealed.

Robotham's writing has it all - great characters, wonderful plotting and addictive, well written prose. I recommend any of his books. The Other Wife was another great read from Michael Robotham  - and one I finished far too quickly. Read an excerpt of The Other Wife.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Over the Counter #447

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? A scathing look at the opioid crisis....

Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America by Beth Macy.

From Little, Brown and Company:

"The only book to fully chart the devastating opioid crisis in America: "a harrowing, deeply compassionate dispatch from the heart of a national emergency" (New York Times) from a bestselling author and journalist who has lived through it.

 In this masterful work, Beth Macy takes us into the epicenter of America's twenty-plus year struggle with opioid addiction. From distressed small communities in Central Appalachia to wealthy suburbs; from disparate cities to once-idyllic farm towns; it's a heartbreaking trajectory that illustrates how this national crisis has persisted for so long and become so firmly entrenched.

 Beginning with a single dealer who lands in a small Virginia town and sets about turning high school football stars into heroin overdose statistics, Macy endeavors to answer a grieving mother's question - why her only son died - and comes away with a harrowing story of greed and need. From the introduction of OxyContin in 1996, Macy parses how America embraced a medical culture where overtreatment with painkillers became the norm. In some of the same distressed communities featured in her bestselling book Factory Man, the unemployed use painkillers to numb the pain of joblessness and pay their bills, while privileged teens trade pills in cul-de-sacs, and even high school standouts fall prey to prostitution, jail, and death.

 Through unsparing, yet deeply human portraits of the families and first responders struggling to ameliorate this epidemic, each facet of the crisis comes into focus. In these politically fragmented times, Beth Macy shows, astonishingly, that the only thing that unites Americans across geographic and class lines is opioid drug abuse. But in a country unable to provide basic healthcare for all, Macy still finds reason to hope and signs of the spirit and tenacity necessary in those facing addiction to build a better future for themselves and their families."

(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 2, 2018

Heartland - Sarah Smarsh

Sarah Smarsh's memoir, Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth, was written over the course of fifteen years.

Smarsh 'combed through public records, old newspaper, letters, photographs, and other archives to piece together a family history from the ill-documented chaos that poverty begets.'

Smarsh was born to a teenage mother on the plains of Kansas. Her birth was the next chapter in a story of teen mothers, domestic abuse, inter generational poverty and more. But is also a story of resilience, strength, tenacity and hope for something better.

Smarsh introduces us to the members of her family, with an honest and unadulterated voice. The emphasis is on the maternal members. I have to say, I was smitten by Grandma Betty. She is a force of nature, a rock to her family. Smarsh details her own family history, but also includes how government policies, programs and the economic climate over the years impact the working poor.

Smarsh has written Heartland with asides and ruminations to the child/daughter she will never have. (by choice). I did find this a bit hard to wrap my head around in the opening chapters. It continues throughout the book and although I understand she has broken the pattern and chosen not to raise another generation, it became a bit repetitive and lost it's initial impact.

As I read, I found myself nodding my head, as some of Smarsh's story is familiar to me - snippets of conversation, situations and hurdles to overcome. I always feel privileged to read a memoir, a telling of lives....

"With deepest reverence, thank you to my family for surviving, with humor and dignity, the difficulties that allowed this book to exist. When I asked for their blessing to tell our shared past, they bravely answered yes. Their reasons for standing behind my work, as they sometimes told me: Because it might help someone else, and because it is true."

Thank you Sarah Smarsh for sharing - here's an excerpt of Heartland.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Three Things About Elsie - Joanna Cannon

Three Things About Elsie is the newly released second book from Joanna Cannon.

"There are three things you should know about Elsie. The first thing is that she’s my best friend. The second is that she always knows what to say to make me feel better. And the third thing…might take a bit more explaining."

And so begins the story of a life, a friendship and a secret told by eighty-four-year-old Florence. Florence lives in the Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly and has fallen. As she awaits rescue, she worries about that secret finally coming to light.

Oh my - prepare to have a tissue (or two or three) handy. Three Things About Elsie is a moving, powerful, heartbreaking, heartwarming listen. It's about friendship, growing older, the foibles of memory and a life well lived. All of that is surrounded by the mystery of the new resident at the care home. Could he really be the man from Flo and Elsie's past?

I adored Florence's voice, her outlook on life and her sense of humour. Supporting players Elsie and Jack were also brilliantly drawn. Two employees of the home were also given a voice. Their humaneness belied the 'Nurse Ratchet' mindset I was afraid I would find.

I chose to listen to Three Things About Elsie. Listening always immerses me in a story, making it more 'real'. The reader was Paula Wilcox and she was wonderful. Her voice matched the mental image I had for Flo. Her accent was perfect, easy to listen to and easily understood. And yes, her voice seemed to belong to a senior. She interpreted Cannon's characters and story very well. Listen to an excerpt of Three Things About Elsie.

Cannon is a psychiatrist and has an 'interest in people on the fringes of society.' Her writing benefits greatly from these interests. Flo's narrative is full of keen observations, ruminations and truths. I do have to say I cried each time Flo imagined what her rescue would be like and who would come. And those final pages.......

Friday, September 28, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover # 230

- 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
Squee! Can I tell you how much I adore Flavia DeLuce!? Alan Bradley's newest Flavia mystery- The Golden Tresses of the Dead - will arrive in January 2019 on both sides of the pond - and I can't wait to read it! The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Both feature red, but with differing tones. We've got a train on both covers. A wedding on the US cover, but there is a church in the background as well on the UK cover. I admit, it's an easy choice for me this week. I find the UK cover a little too busy for my taste. I own all of the previous books and the US cover continues the 'look' of past covers. So US for me this week. Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read The Golden Tresses of the Dead?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Tear Me Apart - J.T. Ellison - Review and Giveaway

Tear Me Apart is the latest book from J.T. Ellison.

Seventeen year old Mindy Wright is a world class skier, on track for the Olympics. An accident during a race leaves her with a broken leg. To compound things, a routine blood test reveals Mindy has cancer - and that she is not related to the people she calls Mom and Dad.

Now how could that be? Yep, mom Lauren had to know right? So why has she kept that from both Mindy and husband Jasper. Who are Lauren's parents - can they find them in time for a stem cell transplant? Lauren's sister Juliet is a DNA expert with the Colorado Bureau of Investigations and starts the ball rolling to save her niece.

Tear Me Apart is told in present day with flashbacks to the past in the form of letters between two teenagers. The truth is in those missives and is slowly revealed as the book progresses. My suspect for 'whodunit' was decided early on in the book, but the journey to the final answers is a twisty road.

There's a lot packed into the 500 pages of Tear Me Apart - suspense, mystery, family drama, secrets. sports, romance, medical and mental health issues and more. The characters leave no doubt - you'll be firmly behind some and cursing others. (And there's a great dog!) The book moves along really quickly, with lots of action. A few plot points niggled at me. One of them being where and with whom the letters ended up. But it was easy to let that go in the run up to the final pages.

Tear Me Apart is another great read from J.T. Ellison. See for yourself - here's an excerpt.

"New York Times and USA Today bestselling author J.T. Ellison writes standalone domestic noir and psychological thriller series, the latter starring Nashville Homicide Lt. Taylor Jackson and medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens, and pens the international thriller series "A Brit in the FBI" with #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter. Cohost of the Emmy Award-winning show, A Word on Words, Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband." You can connect with J.T. Ellison on her website, find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. See what others on the TLC book tour thought - full schedule can be found here.

And if you'd like to read Tear Me Apart, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends Oct 6/18.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Over the Counter #446

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

Blue Planet II: A New World of Hidden Depths by James Honeyborn and Mark Brownlow.

From BBC Books:

"Our understanding of ocean life has changed dramatically in the last decade, with new species, new behaviors, and new habitats being discovered at a rapid rate. Blue Planet II, which accompanies an epic 7-part series, is a ground-breaking new look at the richness and variety of underwater life across our planet. With 300 breathtaking photographs and stills from the BBC Natural History Unit's spectacular footage, each chapter brings to life a different habitat of the oceanic world. Voyages of migration show how each of the oceans on our planet are connected; coral reefs and arctic ice communities are revealed as thriving underwater cities; while shorelines throw up continual challenges to those living there or passing through. A final chapter explores the science and technology of the Ocean enterprise—not only how they were able to capture these amazing stories on film, but what the future holds for marine life based on these discoveries."

(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, September 25, 2018

Lies - T. M. Logan

Lies is T.M. Logan's debut novel.

Joe Lynch is driving home with his young son William when he spots his wife Mel's car in traffic. William wants to show her something, so they decide to follow her and say hi. Uh huh, you got it.....what happens isn't quite what Joe expected.

He finds Mel arguing with her best friend's husband in a hotel lobby. He backs off and waits in the parking garage instead to speak to her. Mel leaves before Joe can catch up with her, so decides to confront the husband instead. Bad move Joe. This chance meeting is the starting point of a crazy spiral that leaves Joe a wanted man.

Social media and technology are used very effectively as a plot device in Lies. How much of what we see and read is the truth? Or lies? What can be manipulated? Lies will definitely have you wondering  about your own online presence. But what about the human factor? Mel keeps telling Joe he's got it wrong. She tells one tale after another. And Joe keeps believing her! I must admit, I got quite frustrated with Joe's continued belief in his wife. Joe is the ultimate nice guy though and without that belief, the book wouldn't move forward. And it does move forward quickly. I hadn't fully predicted the twist at the end, but there are only so many characters to choose from, so you may suss out the whodunit it in the final chapters.

Lies was an easy, addictive, entertaining read. See for yourself - here's an excerpt of Lies. Great debut and I look forward to Logan's next novel.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Giveaway - A Knife in the Fog - Bradley Harper

Calling all mystery lovers! I've got a wonderful giveway for you today!

A Knife in the Fog: A Mystery Featuring Margaret Harkness and Arthur Conan Doyle by Bradley Harper releases October 2/18 and I have a copy to give away to one lucky reader.

What's it about? From Seventh Street Books:

"Physician Arthur Conan Doyle takes a break from his practice to assist London police in tracking down Jack the Ripper in this debut novel and series starter.

September 1888. A twenty-nine-year-old Arthur Conan Doyle practices medicine by day and writes at night. His first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, although gaining critical and popular success, has only netted him twenty-five pounds. Embittered by the experience, he vows never to write another “crime story.” Then a messenger arrives with a mysterious summons from former Prime Minister William Gladstone, asking him to come to London immediately.

Once there, he is offered one month’s employment to assist the Metropolitan Police as a “consultant” in their hunt for the serial killer soon to be known as Jack the Ripper. Doyle agrees on the stipulation his old professor of surgery, Professor Joseph Bell–Doyle’s inspiration for Sherlock Holmes–agrees to work with him. Bell agrees, and soon the two are joined by Miss Margaret Harkness, an author residing in the East End who knows how to use a Derringer and serves as their guide and companion.

Pursuing leads through the dank alleys and courtyards of Whitechapel, they come upon the body of a savagely murdered fifth victim. Soon it becomes clear that the hunters have become the hunted when a knife-wielding figure approaches." Read an excerpt of A Knife in the Fog.

"Bradley Harper is a retired US Army Colonel and pathologist with a great deal of experience in autopsies and forensic investigation. A life-long fan of Sherlock Holmes, he did intensive research for this debut novel, including a trip to London's East End with noted Jack the Ripper historian Richard Jones. This is his first novel." You can connect with Bradley Harper on his website, like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

And if you'd like to read A Knife in the Fog, enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada. Ends Oct 6/18. Good luck!

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Earthly Joys - Philippa Gregory

While mysteries and suspense are my favourite genres, I do enjoy historical fiction as well. I've often had patrons at the library recommend Philippa Gregory to me. Earthly Joys is the first book I've read by Gregory.

Earthly Joys opens in 1603 with the death of Queen Elizabeth and the succession of  her cousin King James VI of Scotland - the beginning the Stuart reign of England. Earthly Joys is written through the eyes of and life of gardener John Tradescant. It was only on further investigation that I learned that Tradescant is an actual historical figure. He was gardener to the aristocracy , a traveler, a collector and much, much more.

Gregory's research is detailed and her fictionalization of Tradescant's life is fascinating. He is a strong personality, but loyalty, honour and duty drive the decisions in his life. I quite liked him to begin with, but found my opinion often changed as his life progressed. And that was true of many of the characters, including his wife Elizabeth and son John. They are not as mercurial as John the Elder, but I applauded their views, beliefs and hopes for a different society. There are some particularly vile characters - notably the Duke of Buckingham.

Tradescant's love of plants and trees and his skills are so vividly depicted that I felt I could 'see' his garden. Rich detail is woven throughout Gregory's narrative clearly illustrating both time and place.

Now, this isn't a time period I would normally gravitate to, but I chose to listen to Earthly Joys, which made a huge difference. I felt drawn into the story, could make sense of what political machinations were afoot and the characters sprang to life for me.

The reader was David Rintoul and he was absolutely wonderful. He has a powerful voice and uses it well. He captured the character of John the Elder perfectly, using his voice to interpret Gregory's work and bring it life. His tones are rich and sonorous with a lovely gravelly undertone. He uses a softer tone for the female players that works just as well. His voice is pleasant to listen to and easy to understand. He matches his voice to the tenor of the tale. Listen to an excerpt of Earthly Joys.

Earthly Joys covers the whole of John the Elder's life. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Tradescant story continues in a sequel titled Virgin Earth with John the Younger taking the lead role.

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Boy at the Keyhole - Stephen Giles - Review AND Giveaway

The Boy at the Keyhole is the latest novel from Stephen Giles.

1961 Britain. A run down estate. A surly housekeeper. And a young boy dependent on that housekeeper while his mother is away. All the elements for a read with a gothic feel to it.

But is his mother away? After many months, young Samuel is desperate to see his mother again. And then doubt begins to creep in and with his imagination in overdrive, Samuel begins to wonder if Ruth could have killed his mother.....

Giles ups the ante by pitting a child against an adult. Ruth is more than surly - she rules the house with a heavy hand. A hand she uses against Samuel. The bulk of the book is a back and forth battle between the two over the whereabouts of the mother. I did find this got a bit repetitive over the course of the book. Clues as to his mother's whereabouts are slowly revealed through Samuel's narrative. As adults, we can read a bit more into the letters he finds than a child can. But Giles still caught me unawares with the final chapters, although I found the ending is a bit ambiguous.

The Boy in the Keyhole is light gothic fare, perfect for a rainy night and a comfy chair, easily finished in one sitting. Read an excerpt of The Boy at the Keyhole.

"Stephen Giles is the Australian author behind the lauded children’s series “Anyone But Ivy Pocket”, penned under the pseudonym Caleb Krisp. The series, published in the US by HarperCollins/Greenwillow and the UK by Bloomsbury, appeared on the New York Times Best Seller List, has been translated into 25 different languages and was optioned by Paramount Pictures.Prior to selling his first book, Stephen worked in a variety of jobs to supplement his writing including market research, film classification and media monitoring. “The Boy at the Keyhole” is Giles’ first work for adults and the film rights for this book have been acquired by New Regency." See what others on the TLC book tour thought - full schedule can be found here.

And if you'd like to read The Boy at the Keyhole, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends Sept 29/18.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #229

- 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 read a number of Lou Berney's books and see that he has a new book, November Road, releasing in October in NA and next spring in the UK. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. So at first glance, very similar looks. The same image of a young girl. Differences? The black and read font colour is switched on each cover. Sepia tones vs. black and white. The 'Kennedy Assassinated' headline placement from top to middle.  A taglines on the UK cover. A newspaper in used on both, but is more recognizable on the US cover. Hmm, this week I'm going to go with the UK cover - I just like the black and white better. Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read November Road?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Over the Counter #445

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

Conan Doyle for the Defense: The True Story of a Sensational British Murder, a Quest for Justice, and the World's Most Famous Detective Writer by Margalit Fox.

From Random House:

"For all the scores of biographies of Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the most famous detective in the world, there is no recent book that tells this remarkable story—in which Conan Doyle becomes a real-life detective on an actual murder case. In Conan Doyle for the Defense, Margalit Fox takes us step by step inside Conan Doyle’s investigative process and illuminates a murder mystery that is also a morality play for our time—a story of ethnic, religious, and anti-immigrant bias.

In 1908, a wealthy woman was brutally murdered in her Glasgow home. The police found a convenient suspect in Oscar Slater—an immigrant Jewish cardsharp—who, despite his obvious innocence, was tried, convicted, and consigned to life at hard labor in a brutal Scottish prison. Conan Doyle, already world famous as the creator of Sherlock Holmes, was outraged by this injustice and became obsessed with the case. Using the methods of his most famous character, he scoured trial transcripts, newspaper accounts, and eyewitness statements, meticulously noting myriad holes, inconsistencies, and outright fabrications by police and prosecutors. Finally, in 1927, his work won Slater’s freedom."

(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, September 18, 2018

Transcription - Kate Atkinson

Oh my gosh, how do I even begin to describe Kate Atkinson's just released novel, Transcription? Brilliant! Mesmerizing! Incredibly clever! Uh huh - that good!

Juliet is 18 years old in 1940. She is recruited into the murky world of MI5 as a transcriptionist. She puts to paper the recordings of British Fascist sympathizers. 1950 - the war is over and Juliet is now working for the BBC. She assumes she has left the past where it belongs, but it's not to be.......

Juliet is such a great lead character. I adored her spunk and her acerbic sense of humour. Her naivete about some things makes her all the more human, likeable and believable.

Atkinson's plotting is intricate, richly detailed and so well done. There is no way to predict where the story was going to go, what would happen next and what the final pages would bring. It's a joy to be completely surprised by a story. Atkinson only slowly reveals an 'event' that happened at the end of Juliet's MI5 career. I was so curious to find out what that was - and how it affected the present in 1950. And the ending? Caught me completely unawares!

"And together they had committed a hideous act, the kind of thing that binds you to someone for ever, whether you like it or not."

Atkinson's plot found inspiration in National Archive releases - transcripts of an actual WWII agent's infiltration of Fascist support organizations. I loved the historic details of dress, settings, mores etc. of the time period. It was so easy to imagine the little apartment where Juliet toiled. And ten years on, her time at the BBC is just as vividly drawn.

 I mentioned Juliet's acerbic sense of humour. I laughed out loud many times - her inner dialogue is so sharp and witty. The descriptions of the BBC players, writers and programming are 'dreadfully' clever. As are Atkinson's prose. She is truly a gifted wordsmith.

And that flamingo? What a great cover! It's mentioned in the latter half of the book and pivotal to the plot....

If you've read Atkinson before, you know you're in for a treat. And if you haven't - I can't recommend her books enough! Read an excerpt of Transcription.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Giveaway - We All Love the Beautiful Girls - Joanne Proulx

Let's start off the week with another great giveaway! We All Love the Beautiful Girls by Joanne Proulx is perfect for "fans of Rick Moody, Lauren Groff, and Celeste Ng."

From Grand Central Publishing:

"Who suffers when the privileged fall?

One frigid winter night, Mia and Michael Slate's comfortable world dissolves in an instant when they discover that their best friend has cheated them out of their life savings. At the same time, a few doors down, their teenaged son passes out in the snow at a party--a mistake whose consequences will shatter not just their family, but an entire community.

In this arresting, masterful page-turner shot through with fierce, clear-eyed compassion and a sublime insight into human fragility, award-winning novelist Proulx explores the savage underpinnings of betrayal, infidelity, and revenge--and a multilayered portrait of love, in all its glory, that no reader will soon forget." Read an excerpt of We All Love the Beautiful Girls.

"Joanne Proulx’s fist novel Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet won Canada’s Sunburst Award for Fantastic Fiction and was named a best debut by The Globe and Mail and Kirkus Reviews. A feature film adaptation will be released in 2018. A graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars, Joanne lives, writes and teaches in Ottawa, Canada." You can connect with Joanne on her website and follow her on Twitter.

And if you'd like to read We All Love the Beautiful Girls, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, ends Sept. 23/18.

Friday, September 14, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #228

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

UK cover
US cover
I've enjoyed Diane Setterfield's previous books and was excited to learn that has a new book called Once Upon a River coming out this winter on both sides of the pond. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. So, two very similar looks this week. A river in the UK cover, complete with water plants and a black background. Also a black background in the US cover, but the river image is actually a swan's neck. And the plants are more suited to land. Having read the synopsis, it sounds like a magical read. I am hard pressed to choose a favourite this week, but if pressed will choose the UK cover. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read Once Upon a River?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Exes' Revenge - Jo Jakeman

The Exes' Revenge is Jo Jakeman's debut novel.

Imogen, Ruby and Naomi all have one thing in common - Phillip. Current wife Imogen desperately wants a divorce and full custody of their son. Ex wife Ruby still believes she has a connection with Pip. And girlfriend Naomi has discovered the kind of man Phillip really is....abusive, manipulating and sadistic. And he's a cop.

I loved the timeline of Jakeman's storytelling. The book opens with Phillip's funeral. So we know the ending....

"There are only three of us here - Naomi, Ruby and I - who know how satisfying it feels to know that Phillip Rochester got the death he deserved."

....but it is the how that makes the book. That how unfolds in chapters starting twenty two days before Phillip's death and moves forward to the day of the funeral. We get to know the background of each woman with a few flashback chapters to set the tone for the present. The Exes' Revenge is not a character driven novel, but is instead driven by action. Jakeman keeps the reader on their toes with many shifts of power between the women and Phillip. And between themselves as well - can they really trust each other?

For pragmatic readers, some of the plot devices will need to be taken with a grain of salt. But go with it as they absolutely work for the tale Jakeman has imagined. The Exes' Revenge was a good debut and an entertaining page turner. I can absolutely see this one as a movie. Read an excerpt of The Exes' Revenge.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Over the Counter #444

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

Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading Hardcover by Lucy Mangan.

From Square Peg Books:

"When Lucy Mangan was little, stories were everything. They opened up new worlds and cast light on all the complexities she encountered in this one.

She was whisked away to Narnia – and Kirrin Island – and Wonderland. She ventured down rabbit holes and womble burrows into midnight gardens and chocolate factories. She wandered the countryside with Milly-Molly-Mandy, and played by the tracks with the Railway Children. With Charlotte’s Web she discovered Death and with Judy Blume it was Boys. No wonder she only left the house for her weekly trip to the library or to spend her pocket money on amassing her own at home.

In Bookworm, Lucy revisits her childhood reading with wit, love and gratitude. She relives our best-beloved books, their extraordinary creators, and looks at the thousand subtle ways they shape our lives. She also disinters a few forgotten treasures to inspire the next generation of bookworms and set them on their way.

Lucy brings the favourite characters of our collective childhoods back to life – prompting endless re-readings, rediscoveries, and, inevitably, fierce debate – and brilliantly uses them to tell her own story, that of a born, and unrepentant, bookworm."

(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!)