Friday, July 20, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #220

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

US cover
UK cover
Shari Lapena's third suspense novel, An Unwanted Guest will release the end of July in the UK and the beginning of August in NA. I've enjoyed her first two novels, so this one has been added to my TBR list. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right.  Blue is used on both covers. But we've got completely different season. Winter in the US and either spring or summer in the UK, with those leaves still on the trees. A single lit window in both, similar font in a muted tone with the author's name at the top in colour. An easy choice for me this week. The US cover appeals to me more. Who is that mysterious person? What's in the briefcase? The snow, that single light and the stormy weather all promise a good read. Having read the plot summary, the Agatha Christie feel is spot on. The UK cover is 'been there, done that' for me. I feel like I've seen it before. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read An Unwanted Guest?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Anomaly - Michael Rutger - Review AND Giveaway

The publisher's description of Michael Rutger's new novel, The Anomaly, instantly caught my eye.

"If Indiana Jones lived in the X-Files era, he might bear at least a passing resemblance to Nolan Moore - a rogue archaeologist hosting a documentary series derisively dismissed by the "real" experts, but beloved of conspiracy theorists."

Nolan and his crew find a lost cave deep in the Grand Canyon. But the cave holds more surprises than they could have imagined.

What's not to love about this book? Great lead character - likeable, intelligent, curious, funny, loyal and more. His theories about many past events had me running to the computer to see if there was any truth to events referenced. And yes, there was. Rutger's plot is wildly imaginative, but that bit of reality gives the scenario that Rutger depicts deep down in that mysterious cave some credence. The supporting cast was just as well drawn. Sidekick Ken was my fave. The snappy dialogue between the two injects a note of humour along the way. Action? Oh yeah, lots of it. The book moves along very quickly and the tension never lets up 'til the final pages.

Five stars for such a fun, entertaining read. This one was mostly finished in the hammock one summer's day. I can absolutely see The Anomaly as a movie. And those references to Indiana Jones and the X-Files? Spot on! Read an excerpt of The Anomaly.

If you'd like to read The Anomaly, I have a copy to giveaway, courtesy of Grand Central Publishing. Open to the US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Ends July 31/18.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Over the Counter #427

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? "It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood....."

The Good Neighbor: The Life and Times of Fred Rogers by Maxwell King.

From Abrams Books:

"Fred Rogers (1928–2003) was an enormously influential figure in the history of television and in the lives of tens of millions of children. As the creator and star of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, he was a champion of compassion, equality, and kindness. Rogers was fiercely devoted to children and to taking their fears, concerns, and questions about the world seriously.

The Good Neighbor, the first full-length biography of Fred Rogers, tells the story of this utterly unique and enduring American icon. Drawing on original interviews, oral histories, and archival documents, Maxwell King traces Rogers’s personal, professional, and artistic life through decades of work, including a surprising decision to walk away from the show to make television for adults, only to return to the neighborhood with increasingly sophisticated episodes, written in collaboration with experts on childhood development. An engaging story, rich in detail, The Good Neighbor is the definitive portrait of a beloved figure, cherished by multiple generations."

(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, July 17, 2018

Halcyon - Rio Youers

The cover of Rio Youer's new book Halcyon appealed to me. And every so often I try to read outside of my usual genres. The premise of Halcyon? An island that's the answer for those who want to escape. "...but paradise isn't what it seems."

The opening prologue introduces us to Edith - a young girl who suffers from nightmares. But those nightmares seen to be more than bad dreams - could they be premonitions? After an unexpected tragedy, father Martin decides to move Edith and her sister Shirley to Halcyon - a seemingly idyllic island - where they can heal as a family.

But. Yes, there's always a but isn't there? The island is run by Mother Moon. She has for years been searching for what she calls Glam Moon - a utopia on a higher plane, a place of eternal beauty and peace. She sees Edith's affliction as a gift.......

I found Martin and his wife Laura's actions a bit off in the beginning chapters. They entrust their daughters' mental health to some somewhat sketchy 'therapists'. As a parent, I questioned these actions. But, I put those doubts aside and continued on. I found I really started to getting into the story once they arrived on Halcyon. (Who doesn't want to find an idyllic island?) But the pragmatic me still wondered at Martin's acceptance of this leader, her ideas and interactions - especially with his oldest daughter. I was seeing neon signs flashing, Don't Drink the Kool-aid! But of course, that just adds to the growing tension, doesn't it?

Good vs. Evil is the prevailing premise here. Billed as a thriller by the publisher, the island is where I found the thrills. And the kernels of good. The backstory of Mother Moon delves in the horror genre. And I found the evil here to be somewhat cliched. Two words. Animal masks.

And without revealing the details, Halcyon mirrors some recent, disturbing newspaper headlines.

Halcyon was a distinctly different read for me. It raised enough what ifs and what's next to keep me turning pages. And a little bit of me wonders if there's more in store for Edith. I think Halcyon will appeal to horror fans. Read an excerpt of Halcyon.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Giveaway - Happily Ever Esther - Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter with Caprice Crane

The heartwarming story of Esther the Wonder Pig and her family continues with Happily Ever Esther, written by her dads Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter, with some help from Caprice Crane. And I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

What's it about? From Grand Central Publishing:

"Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter, had their lives turned upside down when they adopted their pig-daughter Esther–the so-called micro pig who turned out to be a full-sized commercial pig growing to a whopping 600 pounds–as they describe in their bestselling memoir Esther the Wonder Pig. The book ends with them moving to a new farm, and starting a new wonderful life where they will live on the Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary to care for other animals and just live happily ever after…

Or so they thought. People often think about giving it all up and just moving to a farm. In theory it sure does sound great. But as Derek and Steve quickly realized, the realities of being a farmer–especially when you have never lived on a farm let alone outside of the city–can be frantic, crazy, and even insane. Not only are they adjusting to farm life and dutifully taking care of their pig-daughter Esther (who by the way lives in the master bedroom of their house), but before they knew it their sanctuary grew to as many as 42 animals, including: pigs, sheep, goats, rabbits, chickens, cows, roosters, a peacock, a duck, a horse, a donkey, and a barn cat named Willma Ferrell.

Written with joy and humor, and filled with delicious Esther-approved recipes dispersed throughout the book, this charming memoir captures an emotional journey of one little family advocating for animals everywhere." Read an excerpt of Happily Ever Esther.

"In just two short years, Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter have cemented a place for themselves among the worlds most well-known and successful animal activists, accumulating hundreds of thousands of followers from all over the world. In 2014, Steve and Derek founded the Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary in Campbellville, Ontario, where they continue to rescue and rehabilitate abandoned and abused farmed animals."

And if you'd like to read Happily Ever Esther, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends July 28/18

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Nowhere to Call Home - Leah Denbok

Leah Denbok's book, Nowhere to Call Home: Photographs and Stories of the Homeless, came to my attention when my library ordered a number of copies. Libraries are a warm or cool place where anyone can take a seat, read a book, use a computer and most importantly, find a friendly face. Such is the case at the branch I work in.

Leah Denbok was fourteen when she first began photographing the homeless. She had personal inspiration for her book, as her own mother was found wandering the streets of Calcutta as a three year old. Leah's father accompanied Leah as she met and spoke to the homeless they encountered on the streets of Toronto, Barrie, New York City and other North American cities.

Her goal? "I hope, through my photographs and stories, to humanize the homeless. I want to capture their dignity as human beings. So often, the homeless are viewed as sub-human creatures one dare not approach, let alone talk to them. I want to change this perception of them."

Denbok's photography is striking. High contrast black and white images highlight the lines in every face, the sorrow and the strength. The words accompanying each photo achieve Denbok's goal. It's impossible not to look at the photo, read the story and then stop and examine the photo again. Does your perception change? I find myself wondering where these people are today? Have their circumstances changed?

Denbok's other goal is to '...shine a spotlight on the plight of homelessness. Contrary to what many think, few homeless people are on the street by choice." An appendix is included listing organizations who are tackling homelessness.

And the profits made from the sale of this book? "All the profits from the sale of this book will go the the Salvation Army Barrie Bayside  Mission Centre."

This is what a sixteen year old is doing. What can you do?

Friday, July 13, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #219

- 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
Kate Atksinson's new book, Transcription, releases in September on both sides of the pond. "A dramatic story of WWII espionage, betrayal, and loyalty, by the #1 bestselling author of Life After Life." Definitely on my TBR list! The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Both covers have almost the same blue background, the author's name up top in red and a tagline as well. But we have two very different images this week. It's hard to see, but there are words overlaying the image on the US cover - they appear to be part of a transcript. Dating the image is hard, but it seems to be in the past and the suggests London. But what in the world could a flamingo have to do with this story?! The UK cover is quite stark and definitely catches your eye. And I'm very curious as to how a flamingo would tie in, given the premise of the book. I'm going to go with the UK cover this week. Although the US cover is lovely, I feel like I've seen similar covers before. What bout you? Any plans to read Transcription? Which cover do you prefer?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Lying in Wait - Liz Nugent

I listened to Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent last year and really enjoyed her writing. (my review) I leapt at the chance to listen to her next book, Lying in Wait.

Nugent again starts her book off with a line guaranteed to draw the reader in....."My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it." Yup, I was hooked!

1980's Dublin. Lydia Fitzsimons has it all - successful husband, beautiful home and a son she dotes on. There is something missing from her life though - and that one thing is what leads to the opening line. And then her son Laurence discovers that secret....

Lying in Wait is told from three points of view - Lydia, Laurence and Annie's sister Karen. The time frame moves to 2016. The listener is privy to each narrative, knowing what each character doesn't. It makes for a curiously voyeuristic listen. As each player adds something to the narrative, the tension heightens. Nugent's plotting kept me off kilter and I honestly envisioned the ending going in a completely different direction. Nugent completely surprised me with her unexpected ending. I'm not sure I like it, but it is quite fitting.

I really enjoyed having three narrators used to tell Nugent's tale - Caoilfhionn Dunne, David McFetridge and Lesley McGuire. I'm not sure which woman was Lydia or Karen, but both were excellent. The voice for Lydia has an entitled air that perfectly captured her imperious, self assured demeanor. That tone never falters, no matter what she is saying - like that opening line. And for the listener, self assured becomes self deluded as the book progresses. The voice for Karen was deliciously low with an almost growly undertone. The accent is thicker for this character as she is from a different social strata. I really liked that low tone - it drew the listener in. The voice for Laurence is just as well suited. He captures Laurence's innocence and dawning awareness with each new revelation. Each reader was easy to understand and pleasant to listen to. Listen to an excerpt of Lying in Wait.

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

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Over the Counter #426

What book caught my eye at the library this week? One from the fall order list this week. Who doesn't love Reese Witherspoon?

Whiskey in a Teacup: What Growing Up in the South Taught Me About Life, Love, and Baking Biscuits Hardcover by Reese Witherspoon.

From Touchstone Books:

"Academy Award–winning actress, producer, and entrepreneur Reese Witherspoon invites you into her world, where she infuses the southern style, parties, and traditions she loves with contemporary flair and charm.

Reese Witherspoon’s grandmother Dorothea always said that a combination of beauty and strength made southern women “whiskey in a teacup.” We may be delicate and ornamental on the outside, she said, but inside we’re strong and fiery.

Reese’s southern heritage informs her whole life, and she loves sharing the joys of southern living with practically everyone she meets. She takes the South wherever she goes with bluegrass, big holiday parties, and plenty of Dorothea’s fried chicken. It’s reflected in how she entertains, decorates her home, and makes holidays special for her kids—not to mention how she talks, dances, and does her hair (in these pages, you will learn Reese’s fail-proof, only slightly insane hot-roller technique). Reese loves sharing Dorothea’s most delicious recipes as well as her favorite southern traditions, from midnight barn parties to backyard bridal showers, magical Christmas mornings to rollicking honky-tonks.

It’s easy to bring a little bit of Reese’s world into your home, no matter where you live. After all, there’s a southern side to every place in the world, right?"

(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, July 10, 2018

Sharp Objects - Gillian Flynn

Gillian Flynn's writing is frighteningly good. HBO has just released (July 8/18) a mini series based on her novel Sharp Objects.

Camille Preaker has mental health issues. She's a cutter - carving words onto every inch of her body.

"I am a cutter, you see. Also a snipper, a slicer, a carver, a jabber. I am a very special case. I have a purpose. My skin, you see, screams."

But she seems to have things under control now, holding down a job as a newspaper reporter. When two girls go missing in her hometown of Wind Gap, her editor asks her to cover the story, as she'll have the 'inside' view. But he doesn't seem to realize he's sending her back into the lion's den....

There's a reason Camille left Wind Gap and chose not to return - dysfunctional doesn't even begin to describe her family. Her relationship with her mother is decidedly unhealthy. There's something off  in her teenaged half sister's life as well. And frankly, most of the town. Flynn's descriptions and dialogue are permeated with jagged, sharp edges and will give you the creeps.  I found myself having the scary movie conversation with the book. Leave the house, get out of that town now!

Flynn builds layers of darkness even as Camille starts to bring the past to light. Sharp Objects is a mystery, but it's a also a disturbing and unsettling study of damaged psyches. Hard to read, but hard to put down. Read an excerpt of Sharp Objects.

(That cover is great - I love the cracks in each face. The casting is spot on and I can't wait to watch!)

Monday, July 9, 2018

Giveaway - How to Find Love in a Bookshop - Veronica Henry

Love! Bookshop!! Love in a Bookshop!!! A giveaway for How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry!!!!

I read How to Find Love in a Bookshop last year and absolutely adored it. (my review) The trade paperback releases on July 10/18 and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

What's it about? From Penguin Books:

"The enchanting story of a bookshop, its grieving owner, a supportive literary community, and the extraordinary power of books to heal the heart

Nightingale Books, nestled on the main street in an idyllic little village, is a dream come true for book lovers—a cozy haven and welcoming getaway for the literary-minded locals. But owner Emilia Nightingale is struggling to keep the shop open after her beloved father’s death, and the temptation to sell is getting stronger. The property developers are circling, yet Emilia’s loyal customers have become like family, and she can’t imagine breaking the promise she made to her father to keep the store alive.

There’s Sarah, owner of the stately Peasebrook Manor, who has used the bookshop as an escape in the past few years, but it now seems there’s a very specific reason for all those frequent visits. Next is roguish Jackson, who, after making a complete mess of his marriage, now looks to Emilia for advice on books for the son he misses so much. And the forever shy Thomasina, who runs a pop-up restaurant for two in her tiny cottage—she has a crush on a man she met in the cookbook section, but can hardly dream of working up the courage to admit her true feelings.

Enter the world of Nightingale Books for a serving of romance, long-held secrets, and unexpected hopes for the future—and not just within the pages on the shelves. How to Find Love in a Bookshop is the delightful story of Emilia, the unforgettable cast of customers whose lives she has touched, and the books they all cherish." "Absolutely delightful - People"  Read an excerpt of How to Find Love in a Bookshop.

CR: Jenny Lewis
"Veronica Henry worked as a scriptwriter before turning to fiction. A winner of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Romantic Novel of the Year Award, Henry lives with her family in a village in North Devon, England." You can connect with Veronica Henry on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

And if you'd like to read How to Find Love in a Bookshop, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends July 21/18.

Friday, July 6, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #218

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

US cover
UK cover
John Grisham has a new book coming out in October. I admit, I haven't loved the last couple of releases. The blurb for The Reckoning - "New York Times bestselling author John Grisham returns to Clanton, Mississippi, to tell the story of an unthinkable murder and the bizarre trial that follows it, in this powerful new legal thriller" - does sound promising though. The  US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. The first thing that hits me is the colour difference - dark vs. light. Cotton fields in both, but more recognizable in the US cover. And a rickety structure. Now, in the US shot, it looks like a barn to me and the light square is simply an opening. In the UK cover it looks like there is a steeple on top of the building. And is that a window with the light within or the sunset reflecting back?  The road to the structure is off to the side in the US cover, but takes center stage in the UK cover. This week I'm going with the US cover. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read The Reckoning?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.  

Thursday, July 5, 2018

The Outsider - Stephen King

I enjoy Stephen King's chunkster books. With his last few, I've started to listen to them instead of reading. And I've found that I actually prefer the audio version - I feel more immersed in the story.

King's latest is The Outsider. (creepy cover eh?) The Outsider does open with a horrible crime - an eleven year old boy is found dead and violated. Fingerprints and forensic evidence firmly point to the guilty part - his baseball coach. But Terry Maitland has an alibi, a seemingly airtight alibi. How could he be in two places at once? And there's the opening for another creepy King-esque twisty plot. A plot that veers into darkness. But is that darkness supernatural or could it be from the natural world? King keeps the listener guessing with a slow eking out of the case and its resolution. King fans will be happy to see the return of Holly Gibney in The Outsider. I always enjoy the large cast of characters and the detailed descriptions that earmark King's work.

The reader was Will Patton - one of my hands down favourite audio book narrators. He has a voice that is so versatile - from soft, dulcet tones to harsh, sharp tones and everything in between. One of the things I do enjoy about King novels is the large cast of characters. Patton had a voice and style for everyone of them. It was easy to identify who was talking in a conversation. This variance and versatility make the story come alive. It also keeps the listener engaged. Easy to understand, well enunciated as well. Listen to an excerpt of The Outsider.

King's style has evolved from the early days, but bottom line - no one spins a tale like Stephen King.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Over the Counter # 425

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Well, blueberry season is just around the corner....did I mention I love blueberries!

Blueberries: 40+ delicious recipes from Canadian chefs to celebrate this homegrown treat by Elaine Elliot and Virginia Lee.

From Formac Publishing:

"This cookbook offers all kinds of great ideas for preparing one of Canada's favourite summer treats! Of course there are recipes for the best blueberry grunt you've ever tasted, but there are also more modern recipes for Spinach Salad with Smoked Ahi Tuna and Blueberry Dressing, Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Blueberries and Cheese, as well as fancier dishes like Caramel Chocolate Crème with Warm Blueberry Sauce and Cold Blueberry Soufflé.

Authors Elaine Elliot and Virginia Lee went to some of Canada's finest chefs to get their best ideas for preparing blueberries and all the recipes have been adapted and tested for home cooking.

Recipes are illustrated in full colour throughout the book. As well, there's an introduction that answers every question about blueberries: where they are gown, how they are harvested, how to preserve them, their health benefits and how the varieties differ from one another."

(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, July 3, 2018

Giveaway - The Sister - Louise Jensen

Looking for a thriller to tuck into your beach bag this summer? Look no further than The Sister by Louise Jensen. And I just happen to have a copy to giveaway!

What's it about? From Grand Central Publishing:

"I did something terrible Grace. I hope you can forgive me..."

Grace hasn't been the same since the death of her best friend Charlie. She is haunted by Charlie's last words, and in a bid for answers, opens an old memory box of Charlie's. It soon becomes clear there was a lot she didn't know about her best friend.

When Grace starts a campaign to find Charlie's father, Anna, a girl claiming to be Charlie's sister steps forward. For Grace, finding Anna is like finding a new family, and soon Anna has made herself very comfortable in Grace and boyfriend Dan's home.

But something isn't right. Things disappear, Dan's acting strangely and Grace is sure that someone is following her. Is it all in Grace's mind? Or as she gets closer to discovering the truth about both Charlie and Anna, is Grace in terrible danger." Read an excerpt of The Sister.

Louise Jensen is a No. 1 bestselling author of psychological thrillers. Her first two novels, The Sister and The Gift, were both International #1 bestsellers, and have been sold for translation to sixteen countries. Her debut novel, The Sister, was nominated for The Goodreads Awards Debut of 2016. Louise lives in Northamptonshire with her husband, children, madcap dog and a rather naughty cat. She loves to hear from readers and writers and can be found at her website, where she regularly blogs flash fiction." You can also find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

And if you'd like to read The Sister, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends July 14/18.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Dear Mrs. Bird - A. J. Pearce

Oh, do you know that delicious thrill you get a few pages into a new book - just knowing that it's going to be an absolutely wonderful read? That was the case with A.J. Pearce's debut novel - Dear Mrs. Bird.

I loved the cover - those typewriter keys, colours and fashion style set the stage for the story within.

1940 London, England. With the war raging, everyone must Buckle Down and Do Their Part. Emmy Lake volunteers as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. She dreams of being a Lady War Correspondent as well. When she sees an ad for a position with a newspaper, she leaps at the chance. She gets the job, but it ends up being a typist position for an advice column in a women's magazine - Dear. Mrs. Bird. "Finally I gave what I hoped was a plucky Everything Is Absolutely Tip Top Smile. I had taken entirely the wrong job." Mrs. Bird is quite strict about what should be published - there is an Unacceptable Topics list. But Emmy feels bad about those whose letters go unanswered. You know what's coming next, don't you? Yes, she begins to reply..... (And before you think I've made some mistakes with capitalization in this post  - they are part of Emmy's inner dialogue and denote important information.)

Pearce has created an absolutely delightful character in Emmy. She's plucky, irrepressible and so darn likeable. The supporting cast including best friend Bunty, and the magazine staff are just as well drawn. Mrs. Bird is in a class of her own.

Pearce has captured the stalwart attitude of the Brits in the war years. "My mother steadfastly referred to the war as This Silly Business, which made it sound like a mild fracas over a marmalade sponge." Pearce's descriptions of  a London being bombed nightly, the damage, the loss of life, the rescue workers and more paint the backdrop of this tale and underscore the reality of those war years.

Dear Mrs. Bird had me laughing out loud many, many times. As the book progressed, things did take a more serious turn. And I couldn't stop turning pages. I was so invested in Pearce's tale. I loved reading the letters, from the advice column as well as those Emmy writes to friends and family. Letter writing is such a lost art nowadays.

Pearce says 'the inspiration for Dear Mrs. Bird began when I came across a 1939 copy of a women's magazine. It was a wonderful find - a glimpse into an era and world where I could read about everything from recipes for lamb's brain stew to how to knit your own swimwear.""Many of the readers' letters in Dear Mrs. Bird were inspired by the letters and advice, articles and features printed in those wartime magazine. I found them thought-provoking, moving and inspirational, and my admiration for the women of that time never stops growing....It is a privilege to look into their world and remember what incredible women and girls they all were."

I absolutely adored Dear Mrs. Bird and I know you will too - definitely recommended. Read an excerpt of Dear Mrs. Bird. You can connect with A.J. Pearce on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

The 12th Canadian Book Challenge

Happy Canada Day! It's also time for the next round of The Canadian Book Challenge. This is year 12 and the 9th year I've participated. Melanie of The Indextrious Reader hosts this challenge.

What's the Challenge?

"The Canadian Book Challenge is an annual online reading challenge in which participants from Canada and around the world aim to read and review 13 or more Canadian books in a one year span: Canada Day to Canada Day. Reviews must be posted online and participants are asked to share links to their reviews with other participants.

This year's theme is  all about monumental Roadside Attractions - "Last year we were speed reading along our highways and byways, this year we're going to slow down and check out some of the oversized attractions along the way."

I've met the challenge every year so far! It's a wonderful way to sample the great writing Canada has to offer and discover new authors. Interested in joining? Further details and sign up info can be found here. I'll be using this post to track my progress.

1. Nowhere to Call Home - Leah Denbok - July
2. Halcyon - Rio Youers - July

Friday, June 29, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #217

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

US cover
UK cover
The second book in Michael Connelly's new Renee Ballard
series releases in October 2018 on both sides of the pond. Dark Sacred Night will bring Renee and Harry Bosch together! Quite excited to read this one. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Similarities - white font for the author's name, both above the title. Both are night time images. The US is quite stark with just the moon, while the UK features a sprawling urban landscape. The US keeps Dark Sacred on the same line, while the UK cover gives each word a line of its own. I must admit, I'm not really enamoured of either cover, but if pressed to choose, will go with the US cover this week. I just feel like I've seen the 'sprawling, lit up city at night' shot on the UK cover before. What about you? Any plans to read Dark Sacred Night? Which cover do you prefer?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.  

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Choose Your Own Disaster - Dana Schwartz - Giveaway

Like memoirs? Quirky memoirs? Then I've got a great giveaway for you! Choose Your Own Disaster by Dana Schwartz.

From Grand Central Publishing:

"A hilarious, quirky, and unflinchingly honest memoir about one young woman’s terrible and life-changing decisions while hoping (and sometimes failing) to find herself, in the style of Never Have I Ever and Adulting.

Join Dana Schwartz on a journey revisiting all of the terrible decisions she made in her early twenties through the internet’s favorite method of self-knowledge: the quiz. Part-memoir, part-VERY long personality test, Choose Your Own Disaster is a manifesto about the millennial experience and modern feminism and how the easy advice of “you can be anything you want!” is actually pretty fucking difficult when there are so many possible versions of yourself it seems like you could be. Dana has no idea who she is, but at least she knows she’s a Carrie, a Ravenclaw, a Raphael, a Belle, a former emo kid, a Twitter addict, and a millennial just trying her best." Read an excerpt of Choose Your Own Disaster.

"Dana Schwartz is an arts and culture writer based in Los Angeles with writing for The New Yorker, The Guardian, New York Observer, Marie Claire, Glamour, Mic, GQ, VICE, and more. She is currently a staff writer for Entertainment Weekly. She created a parody Twitter account called @GuyInYourMFA based on the people she’s encountered in fiction workshops, and another one called @DystopianYA about the tropes in all of the young adult fiction books she’s read. Her own (non-dystopian) YA book, And We’re Off, was published May 2017 by Penguin/Razorbill." You can connect with Dana on her website and follow her on Twitter.

And if you'd like to read Choose Your Own Disaster, enter for a chance to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends July 7/18.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Over the Counter #424

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner?  While I'm in the midst of clearing out some stuff.....this is a level I don't think I'm quite ready for....

The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store by Cait Flanders.

From Hay House Publishing:

"In her late twenties, Cait Flanders found herself stuck in the consumerism cycle that grips so many of us: earn more, buy more, want more, rinse, repeat. Even after she worked her way out of nearly $30,000 of consumer debt, her old habits took hold again. When she realized that nothing she was doing or buying was making her happy—only keeping her from meeting her goals—she decided to set herself a challenge: she would not shop for an entire year.

The Year of Less documents Cait’s life for twelve months during which she bought only consumables: groceries, toiletries, gas for her car. Along the way, she challenged herself to consume less of many other things besides shopping. She decluttered her apartment and got rid of 70 percent of her belongings; learned how to fix things rather than throw them away; researched the zero waste movement; and completed a television ban. At every stage, she learned that the less she consumed, the more fulfilled she felt.

The challenge became a lifeline when, in the course of the year, Cait found herself in situations that turned her life upside down. In the face of hardship, she realized why she had always turned to shopping, alcohol, and food—and what it had cost her. Unable to reach for any of her usual vices, she changed habits she’d spent years perfecting and discovered what truly mattered to her.

Blending Cait’s compelling story with inspiring insight and practical guidance, The Year of Less will leave you questioning what you’re holding on to in your own life—and, quite possibly, lead you to find your own path of less."

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

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Color of Bee Larkham's Murder

The Color of Bee Larkham's Murder is Sarah J. Harris's  debut adult novel.

"Synesthesia: the subjective sensation of a sense other than the one being stimulated. For example, a sound may evoke sensations of color."

Jasper Wishart hears colors. For everything - words, sounds, people's voices. He also cannot recognize faces and is on the autism spectrum.

"I'm glad I'm not like most other teenage boys because I get to see the world in its full multicolored glory."

The Color of Bee Larkham's Murder opens with Jasper being interviewed about a neighbour's disappearance - although Jasper is sure it is murder. He needs to "untangle the long, snaky ticker tape in my head." Because he thinks he's the one who killed Bee......

Harris has created a wonderful lead character in Jasper. My heart ached for him as he is bullied at school, subjected to angry neighbours and at times disparaged by his father. (Who, to be fair, is struggling himself) Jasper desperately misses his deceased mother, who could also see the colors. (she alone is cobalt blue) But Harris also transmits the joy Jasper feels when painting and when observing and journaling the lives of his beloved wild parakeets. His desire and determination to find the truth will have the reader firmly in his corner. I loved his voice and thoughts.

Jasper's color descriptions of people, things, sounds and words make perfect sense. An angry dog - 'red triangles stretch into pointed deep orange darts." "Estranged was a gray gravel-chip word and not pleasant to look at for long."

As the book is told through Jasper's narrative, the reader has only his memories and flawed observations to go on. We can slowly put together the pieces that are laid out, but there is no way to guess the final whodunit before the final pages.

A really good read - Here's an excerpt of The Color of Bee Larkham's Murder. If you enjoyed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, you'll love the Color of Bee Larkham's Murder.

Monday, June 25, 2018

June is Audiobook Month (JIAM) - Giveaway!

I love audiobooks! If you love listening as well or have never tried listening, I have an amazing giveaway for you today - eight great audio downloads, courtesy of the Audio Publishers Association!

Why do I enjoy audiobooks so much? They make the long drive to and from work much more enjoyable. They allow me to multitask - many a quilt has been made while listening. When I can't sleep, I pop in the headphones, as the light bother my husband. And the biggest reason is that sometimes a book is just better for me in audio format - I find I become more immersed in the story by listening.

One of my favorites is The Passage by Justin Cronin. This is the first book is in an apocalyptic trilogy. The reader for all three entries is Scott Brick. Brick is a fantastic narrator. Or perhaps I should say performer. His voice is amazingly expressive. He narrates all three books. Listen to an excerpt of The Passage.(My review)

Lisa Genova's Every Note Played is one of those titles that I know I enjoyed more by listening. Every Note Played is a personal story that is very emotional. There were dual narrators - Dennis Boutsikaris and Dagmara Dominczyk - who made me feel like I was in the room with them. Listen to an excerpt of Every Note Played. (my review)

I enjoy memoirs and biographies. I really enjoyed North of Normal by Cea Sunrise Person. Even better as the author herself is the reader. Listen to an excerpt of North of Normal. (my review)

And right now, I'm listening to Stephen King's latest - The Outsider.  The reader is one of my favorite narrators - Will Patton. He has a myriad of voices for King's large cast of characters. And his interpretation is so good! Listen to an excerpt of The Outsider.

Who else loves audiobooks? All these great bloggers on the JIAM tour! Check out their thoughts and recommendations! And scroll down to the bottom of the post for a chance to win eight great audiobook downloads! #loveaudiobooks

Enter to win these great listens using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only, ends July 1/18.

1. Seven by Paula Cizmar, Catherine Filloux, Gail Kriegel, Carol K. Mack, Ruth Margraff, Anna Deavere Smith, and Susan Yankowitz
2. Gone to Dust by Matt Goldman, narrated by MacLeod Andrews
3. Bring Me Back by B. A. Paris, narrated by Kevin Hely and Cathleen McCarron
4. Wings of Fire Book One: The Dragonet Prophecy by Tui T. Sutherland, narrated by Shannon MacManus
5. Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan, narrated by Todd McLaren
6. Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan, narrated by David Shih
7. A Girl Stands at the Door by Rachel Devlin, narrated by Robin Miles
8. Torn from Troy, Book 1 in the Odyssey of a Slave Trilogy by Patrick Bowman, narrated by Gerard Doyle

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Drawn Together - Minh Lê and Dan Santat

Drawn Together is a new children's picture book from author Minh Lê and illustrator Dan Santat.

Before Little Guy and Gramma turned the first page we talked about the images on the cover - what would we find inside. As well as the dual meaning of 'drawn'.

Who do you think the two people on the cover could be?  What about the  'elf' with the wand be? And the 'scary' black and white character? The flyleaf has some crayon scribble illustrations that are so real, Little Guy thought someone had colored inside!

There is very little text in Drawn Together, asking the reader to tell much of the story through observing, imagining and wondering about the illustrations. What a great idea! The Grandpa and grandson have differences - food, language, interests etc. Little Guy is quite intuitive when it comes to facial expressions and really focused on these. We kept turning pages asking each other - what do you think?

They discover they can communicate through drawing. "All the things we could never say come pouring out....and we build a new world that words can't describe." Heroes and mythical creatures illustrate the connection and divide between the two. Little Guy is quite literal and was a bit frightened by the dragon. But subsequent pages have the dragon defeated and the distance between the two conquered.

Gramma thought the concept of Drawn Together was excellent - one that can be used in so many life situations. Caldecott Medalist Santat's illustrations are detailed and very beautiful - a perfect accompaniment.

Friday, June 22, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #216

- 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 followed Faye Kellerman's Decker and Lazurus series for
many years, but haven't kept up. (Too many books, too little time!) The latest (#25) is Walking Shadows. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Two very, very similar covers this week. White for the author's name, red for the book title. Somewhat similar fonts. The main differences are the window shape/style. They both have broken glass, both are worn wood, with a bit of paint still left on the UK window. Four panes vs. six panes plus. The US cover gives us a bit of the building the window is in - the UK does not. Now, what about the addition of that green weed in the UK cover? What does it signify? Life? Tenacity? And of course the UK cover has a tag line, giving you a hint about the story within. So, this is a hard one to pick this week. I think I am going to go with the UK cover. The US window/building says 'Deliverance' to me. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read Walking Shadows?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.  

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Sweetshop of Dreams - Jenny Colgan

My go to author for a feel-good, heartwarming read is Jenny Colgan.

Sweetshop of Dreams is the first book featuring Rosie Hopkins. (Note that this was released in the UK as Welcome To Rosie Hopkins' Sweetshop Of Dreams.)

"Rosie Hopkins thinks leaving her busy London life, and her boyfriend Gerard, to sort out her elderly Aunt Lilian's sweetshop in a small country village is going to be dull. Boy, is she wrong."

Rosie arrives in Lipton and makes her presence immediately known, through a series of mishaps. And we begin to meet the residents of the village of Lipton - in all their quirky glory.

The descriptions of the village, homes and shops made me want to move to Lipton.

Rosie is a wonderful lead character - warm, kind, funny and more - just the kind of person you'd love to have in your circle of friends. The supporting cast is just as well drawn and the listener can't help but be drawn to them. (Most of them - the dentist opposed to the sweetshop is especially unpleasant.)

Colgan's books have love at the heart of them. Love lost, love found, love for friends, family and partners. The yes, no, maybe so of the Rosie's search for happiness will have you wishing and hoping for a fairy tale outcome. I found Lillian's memories of the past (1940's) to be especially poignant, well written and yes, heartbreaking.

Each chapter opens with an excerpt from Lillian's book on candy. Various types are lauded and dissected in detail with a droll, dry wit. Recipes for some confections are included.

Beverley A. Crick was the narrator. I really enjoyed her interpretation. Her voice for Rosie captured the mental image I had in my head. She provided easily identifiable voices for the other characters. Lillian's had just the right quaver, young Edison the right innocence and male voices that felt right as well. She has an expressive voice and it reflected the emotion, humour, sadness etc. in Colgan's tale. Her voice is clear, easy to understand and pleasant to listen to. Listen to an excerpt of Sweetshop of Dreams.

Sweetshop of Dreams has everything you want in a great listen - love, loss, drama, humour and yes - a just right ending.

You can connect with Jenny Colgan on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Over the Counter #423

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Well, this one hasn't crossed the counter yet - I spied the title in a newsletter - but it does release mid September. The title was quirky enough to catch my eye......

No Place to Go: How Public Toilets Fail Our Private Needs by Lezlie Lowe.

From the publisher, Coach House Books:

"This book is Number One in addressing the politics of where we're allowed to 'go' in public.

Adults don't talk about the business of doing our business. We work on one assumption: the world of public bathrooms is problem- and politics-free. No Place to Go: How Public Toilets Fail Our Private Needs reveals the opposite is true. No Place To Go is a toilet tour from London to San Francisco to Toronto and beyond. From pay potties to deserted alleyways, No Place to Go is a marriage of urbanism, social narrative, and pop culture that shows the ways -- momentous and mockable -- public bathrooms just don't work. Like, for the homeless, who, faced with no place to go sometimes literally take to the streets. (Ever heard of a municipal poop map?) For people with invisible disabilities, such as Crohn's disease, who stay home rather than risk soiling themselves on public transit routes. For girls who quit sports teams because they don't want to run to the edge of the pitch to pee. Celebrities like Lady Gaga and Bruce Springsteen have protested bathroom bills that will stomp on the rights of transpeople. And where was Hillary Clinton before she arrived back to the stage late after the first commercial break of the live-televised Democratic leadership debate in December 2015? Stuck in a queue for the women's bathroom. Peel back the layers on public bathrooms and it's clear many more people want for good access than have it. Public bathroom access is about cities, society, design, movement, and equity. The real question is: Why are public toilets so crappy?"

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

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The House Swap - Rebecca Fleet

I've stayed in numerous B and B's while travelling, but have never actually swapped houses with someone. And honestly, I don't think I would want to. My penchant for suspense and thriller reads provides too much fuel for an abundance of imagined scenarios.....

The House Swap by Rebecca Fleet gives rise to those imaginings.

Francis and Caroline's marriage has been rocky for the last few years. They are trying to pick up the pieces and get past what has happened. A week away will give them some together time, away from their day to day life. And they could save money by house swapping with someone. Uh huh.

They do swap, but the house they land in is oddly sterile, with not many personal touches. But there are a few and they seem to be oddly familiar to Caroline. The neighbour a few houses down also seems strangely interested in Caroline as well. Caroline is indeed keeping secrets - and it seems like someone else wants them revealed.

What happened in the past is only slowly revealed in entries from 'then'. As details are added, what's going on in the present becomes clearer. That slow reveal makes for addictive reading. The 'who' and 'why' ended up not being what I had imagined. Fleet adroitly manipulates the reader's expectations and assumptions along the way. The unknown other person is given italicized entries - and they will keep you guessing.

Fleet's depiction of a marriage in trouble is believable, harsh and sharp in its presentation. Francis is also given a voice, providing an alternate look at Caroline's depiction of their marriage. I must admit, I didn't like either Caroline or Francis at all. I felt sorry for their young son as he doesn't seem to be the priority in either parent's life.

The House Swap is a combination of domestic drama and suspense. It's a bit of a slow burn, but does pick up speed midway. I didn't love the ending, but enjoyed the journey there. A good debut and I would pick up Fleet's next book. I do have to say that The House Swap has cemented my decision to not house swap! Read an excerpt of The House Swap.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Giveaway - What My Sister Knew- Nina Laurin

Nina Laurin's second novel, What My Sister Knew, releases tomorrow - and I have a copy to give away to one lucky reader.

What's it about? From Grand Central Publishing:

"A psychological suspense novel that is “a mind-bending ride. Just when you think you’ve discovered the truth, a new secret is revealed.” (Wendy Walker, author of All Is Not Forgotten).
“…currently wanted by the police. If you know anything about the suspect’s whereabouts, please call…”

I look up at the TV screen, and my twin brother’s face is splashed across it, life-size.

It’s a shock that makes my breath catch. This is my brother as an adult, my brother who I last saw fifteen years ago after the fire that killed our parents, covered in soot, clutching a lighter in his hand, his knuckles stark white against the dirt and ash.

Everyone always said he’d grow up to be a heartbreaker. But his face has gone gaunt instead. The stubble on his cheeks and chin is patchy, and his eyes look dull and dark.

My first thought is that it’s not him. Not my beautiful brother, the golden boy who everyone loved. Yet, deep down, I’ve always known this would eventually happen.

What did you do this time, Eli? What the hell did you do?" Read an excerpt of What My Sister Knew.

"Nina Laurin, author of Girl Last Seen, studied Creative Writing at Concordia University, in Montreal where she currently lives. She has published speculative short stories in various e-zines and anthologies over the years and her narrative nonfiction piece, “On Happiness” is soon to be published in the local literary journal Cosmonauts Avenue. She blogs about books and writing on her website." Follow Nina on Twitter.

Sound like a book you'd like to read? Enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no po boxes please. Ends Jun 30/18.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Emergency Contact - Mary H. K. Choi

Summer seems to be the time that I enjoy YA fiction the most. I'm not sure why - lighter reading or maybe I'm just trying to relive those younger years!

Whatever the reason, Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi was great summer listening.

Penny has finished high school (a relief) and is headed to university (lots of worry, but also a relief to escape her mother and start the next chapter) Sam works at a local cafe, sleeps upstairs on the floor and is stuck in his own pit of angst and despair. He wants more, but is having trouble climbing out and getting started again.

Now, you can see it coming, can't you? Yes, the two meet and.....well it's inevitable right? But of course there's a rocky road to the final pages. Lots of yes, no, maybe so. Along the way, Choi's story explores race, relationships (friends and parental), love and self awareness and exploration. Stepping outside your comfort zone and taking a chance.

Choi does 'amplify' her situations and her characters. They're a bit over the top, but I just went with it as I was looking for entertainment, not necessarily to the letter reality.

Emergency Contact was read by two narrators -  Joy Osmanski and Jacques Roy - both favourites of mine. Osmanski's voice fit the mental image I had created for Penny. It's smart and sassy, but still conveys her worry. Roy's voice for Sam is low, quiet and dare I say it - sexy. Both are easy to listen to, clear and well enunciated. Listen to an excerpt of Emergency Contact.

Emergency Contact was fun, fresh and yes, entertaining for this listener. Listen to an excerpt of Emergency Contact.

Friday, June 15, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover # 215

- 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 love Val McDermid's crime writing. The fifth book in her
Karen Pirie series releases in August in the UK and in December in NA. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. And it's on my TBR list. So, we have landscapes on both covers, each with a single tree and water flowing by. The sky is mottled in both, but the time frame is slightly different. The moon has risen in the US cover, but the sun seems to have just set in the UK cover. The colour scheme is very dark in the US cover, while the UK dies have some greens and rusts. I'm a bit torn this week, but am going to go with the US cover. It says crime novel to me more than the UK cover. What about you? Any plans to read Broken Ground? Which cover do you prefer this week?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.