Friday, March 16, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #202

 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
Squeee! Linwood Barclay has a new book coming out in July called A Noise Downstairs! Perfectly creepy without even knowing what the plot is@The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Okay, lets get to it. Black on both covers, white title and a difference with the author's name in size and colour. Now when I first looked at the US cover, I thought the image was of blinds with a bit of light seeping through. But on looking at the UK cover, I can see typewriter keys - with a wee bit of blood on one of them. Both covers feature tag lines that entice the reader, but I think the US line appeals to me more. Another hard call this week. I like the colours of the US cover better, as well as the tagline. But I like the image of the UK cover better. A tough choice, but I'm going to go with US this week. No matter the cover, it's going to be a great read!
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Zero Day - Ezekiel Boone

Zero Day is the last entry in Ezekiel Boone's Hatching trilogy.

It's the final showdown. Man against the carnivorous spiders that are threatening the extinction of the human race. The first book was the outbreak, the second the continuing fight and in this last book it's do or die.

"The world is on the brink of apocalypse. Zero Day has come."

Yes, the premise reads like a B-movie plot, but it's great fun to read. And cringe -worthy, creepy, crawly spiders skittering all around.....

 Boone has created an ensemble cast that I've come to know and enjoy over the course of the first two books and this is what kept me coming back. They are an eclectic group with many different outlooks and personalities and I'm hard pressed to pick a favourite. No surprise that there is an ending to this ongoing battle. And I have to say, I quite enjoyed the 'wrap-up' of where the lives of the large cast went. (And in that wrap-up I wonder if I'm the only one that thinks one or two of them might make appearances in the future?)

This trilogy could probably have been told in fewer pages, as the fight against the spiders seems a bit repetitive over the course of three books. That being said, Boone does have a way with words and does spin a good tale. I enjoyed his a wonderfully dark sense of humour. Boone fleshes out his narrative with lots of descriptions and side stories that I enjoyed.

I chose to listen to Zero Day, as I did with the previous books. The narrator was George Newbern, one of my favourites. He has a unique voice - clear, pleasant to listen to and easy to understand. He has a wry tone that matches the book and captures Boone's dark humour. His inflections rise and fall, giving the tale movement. Listen to an excerpt of Zero Day. 

You can connect with Ezekiel Boone on his website or follow him on Twitter. He has a new book coming out later in 2018 called The Mansion - it looks like another fun read.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

If I Die Tonight - Alison Gaylin

If I Die Tonight is Alison Gaylin's newest release. This was a first read of this author for me, but it won't be the last.

Small town USA. An aging pop star who goes by the name Amie Em stumbles in the local police station, saying she was carjacked by a teenaged boy. Another boy named Liam tried to stop the theft and was critically injured. But her story keeps changing and there are gaping holes in her recounting of the crime. The finger is inevitably pointed at Wade - a high school outcast.

Gaylin mirrors today's society - much of the case is debated online in various social forums. The presumption of innocent until proven guilty doesn't figure into the diatribe.. A young man's life is irrevocably changed and the injured teen becomes a downed hero to the town.

But is Wade guilty? He refuses to speak about that night. His mother Jackie knows he is not capable of such an act. Or is he? Gaylin tells this story through many points of view, giving the reader options as to what the outcome might be. I felt for Jackie as she struggled to clear her son's name. Gaylin's depictions of her emotions and relationships with her sons was well done. But my favourite supporting character was Officer Pearl Maze. She has her own issues, but was the clearest thinking character for me. (And I'd really like to see her in another book.)

Gaylin provides red herrings and alternative outcomes along the way to the final whodunit. I admit to having my suspicions about one character, who was just a little too calm and helpful for me. And yes, they did figure into the final reveal. But, that in no way detracted from my enjoyment of If I Die Tonight.  An entertaining read and I will be picking up Gaylin's next book. Read an excerpt of If I Die Tonight.

"Alison Gaylin is the award-winning author of Hide Your Eyes and its sequel, You Kill Me; the standalones Trashed and Heartless; and the Brenna Spector series: And She Was, Into the Dark, and Stay with Me. A graduate of Northwestern University and of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, she lives with her husband and daughter in Woodstock, New York." Find out more about Alison at her website, friend her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.  See what others on the TLC book tour thought - full schedule can be found here.

I received this book for review from HarperCollins and TLC book tours.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Over the Counter #409

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? As someone who enjoys sewing the pun in the title caught my eye....

Pattern Behavior: The Seamy Side of Fashion Hardcover by Natalie Kossar.

From Running Press:

"For those who like their humor droll, deadpan, and hysterically funny, Pattern Behavior features more than 100 vintage McCall's patterns--with captions that will leave you in stitches.

Feeling nostalgic for your grandmother's old sewing patterns? Stitch some humor into your distant childhood with Pattern Behavior, featuring vintage covers from the McCall Pattern Company's archives. Based on the popular Tumblr blog, this droll comic collection brings the McCall's models back to life--in a way you haven't seen before! Combining retro fashion and modern wit, Pattern Behavior shines a light on the outdated social ideals of yesteryear--all with a big dose of humor."

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

Monday, March 12, 2018

Closer Than You Know - Brad Parks

Closer Than You Know is the latest stand-alone from author Brad Parks. Last year's Say Nothing was the first time I'd read Parks and it was a book I couldn't put down. (my review) I was eager to read this latest - and I couldn't put it down either!

As he did in Say Nothing, Parks' premise preys upon a parent's worst fear - their child disappearing.

Melanie Barrick goes to pick up her infant son Alex from the childminder, only to be told that Social Services has taken the child. A large amount of cocaine has been found in Melanie's house. Police are on their way to find her - and Alex is gone. Melanie protests her innocence, but at every step of the way, the evidence against her grows - and her chances of ever seeing her son again lessen.

Great premise and Parks only builds the tension with every new plot development, ensuring that I stayed up much too late, reading 'just one more chapter.' Parks manipulates the reader with some red herrings, alternate paths and more than one 'whodunit' to choose from along the way to the final pages. There were a few plot points that I thought were perhaps a bit far-fetched, but I didn't think too hard about them - instead I just kept turning pages. And although my suspicions were proven out in the end, I really enjoyed the journey to the final reveal.

Closer Than You Know is told from more than one viewpoint. I was drawn to Melanie and her inner thoughts. I did find her a bit calm in situations that I would have been losing it. The background Parks has drawn for her addresses this. The next door neighbor Bobby Ray was also a character I quite liked. Amy, the Assistant DA was a character I initially had high hopes for, but as the story progressed, her tunnel vision frustrated me. But my hands down fave was Melanie's rumpled, unprepossessing lawyer Mr. Honeywell.

All in all, Closer Than You Know was a fast paced, entertaining read. Fans of Linwood Barclay and Harlan Coben will enjoy this one. (And this reader will be eagerly awaiting Parks' next book.) Read an excerpt of Closer Than You Know.

You can connect with Brad Parks on his website, like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Cooking Step by Step with DK

Little Guy has recently expressed interest in the kitchen - helping to make supper and bake desserts.

Cooking Step by Step from DK Canada seemed like the perfect starting place for Gramma and Little Guy to cook together. (Check out the other great book suggestions in the 'Maker March' boutique.) #DKMakerMarch

There are fifty recipes included under the headings Light Bites, Main Dishes, Sweet Treats and Baked Goods.

Musts for a children's cookbook - colour photographs and lots of easy to understand instructions. Check. Cooking Step by Step has a simplified ingredients list that employs pictures of the ingredient and a plus symbol. Perfect for little ones. Basics such as hygiene and safety etc are covered and are good beginner foundations. Measurements are given in both imperial and metric.

Little Guy is at the younger end of the recommended age range (6-8), so we stuck to some simpler recipes. Ones he was interested in eating! Pancakes, Spaghetti and Meatballs. And then the baking section - his favourite. The Lemon Muffins were really good. (Little Guy decided to leave out the poppy seeds though) The favourite of all though, was the Clever Cookies recipe. The dough is a good basic recipe - and the fun comes in adding different bits. We divided the dough into four portions, then added chocolate chips, dried cranberries, raisins and blueberries. Tada! Four different cookies.

There are more recipe choices that would appeal to a more experienced palate and an older child such as Gazpacho, Falafels, Salmon Parcels and a few others. I actually liked some of them for myself - there's a quick and easy Fried Rice, a Quiche recipe and super simple flatbread I'll most likely make for myself.

STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) is a focus in learning in school systems today. Cooking is a great way to explore many STEM principles. So much can be learned and experienced in the kitchen. Measuring, techniques, tasting, new foods and the satisfaction that comes with creativity and sharing. And spending time together! Cooking Step by Step is a book that will grow with Little Guy. Thumbs up.

Friday, March 9, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #201

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
"A gripping thriller about a man who may or may not have dementia—and who may or may not be a serial killer—from a master of twists and turns, in the tradition of Laura Lippman and Gillian Flynn." Sigh, another one for the teetering TBR pile. Paper Ghosts is Julia Heaberlin's forthcoming novel. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Okay, so both covers employ the colour red - which connotes danger and death. The UK cover illustrates a woman who may or may not be dead with fallen leaves covering her. I'm kind of meh on this pic. But I quite like the image that the US cover has. The black and white definitely evokes a ghostly feel, fitting with the title. Twins make it even more eerie. Hands down the US cover for me this week. What about you -which cover do you prefer? And plans to read Paper Ghosts?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Halfway: A Memoir - Tom Macher

Halfway is Tom Macher's newly released memoir.

Macher came from a dysfunctional home, was an alcoholic youth, a petty criminal and lived in a string of communes, boy's homes, rehabs and halfway houses. All this before he's twenty.

Halfway is a documentation of these times and places with an emphasis on two halfway houses. Macher's recollections are sharp and focused, rattled off with machine gun rapidity. His honesty is admirable, baring his life for all to see. I hurt for the young child ignored by his birth father. Understood the anger and acting out of a growing boy. And the inevitability of the path his life was taking. Macher seems to have given in and given up, but he never loses the hope for something better for himself. He falls many, many times, but keeps getting back up.

We meet other residents, all with a nickname and a story. The groups, interactions and tenacity of the boys/men living together. The expectation that they will fail from those meant to help them. And the hope that they won't. I work in a low income neighborhood of a mid sized city. I interact with many addicted, homeless and marginalized people each day. Macher's memoir gives us a window into what life might be like for some of these people.

I chose to listen to Halfway. The reader was Corey Brill and he was the perfect choice. His voice has a defiant attitude to it and captures the tone and tenor of Macher's memories. His inflection is a perfect match for Macher's story. His voice is clear and easy to understand and the speed at which he speaks captures that machine gun delivery of Macher's almost stream of consciousness narrative. Here's an audio excerpt of Halfway.

Can you put a rating on someone sharing their life story? No, but if pressed, someone's life can be no less than five stars. Halfway is a dark and gritty memoir - one I'm glad I listened to.

"Tom Macher grew up in Georgia, New York, and California and spent his teenage years bouncing around from boys’ homes to halfway houses to communes in Montana, New York, and Louisiana. He attended Riverside City College, San Francisco State University, and The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was a Teaching-Writing Fellow. He has twice received fiction fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Halfway is his first book."

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Over the Counter #408

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Sadly, one whose subject is always in the headlines....

Shot: 101 Survivors of Gun Violence in America by Kathy Shorr.

From powerHouse Books:

"The increasing ubiquity of gun violence has become the norm across the world and particularly in the United States, where we have begun to hear horror after horror on a daily basis. So much so that it has started to produce a numbing effect, a helplessness that allows us to hear the news and say, “Here we go again,” and put it out of our mind. Gun violence is now something we expect to happen.

SHOT is about people who have been shot and survived the experience. It portrays 101 survivors, aged 8 to 80, from all races and many ethnicities. They are the representatives of “survivorhood.” Most were photographed in the location where they were shot.

SHOT allows us to explore a dialogue about gun violence and how we are all vulnerable."

(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, March 6, 2018

Find You in the Dark - Nathan Ripley

Find You in the Dark is Nathan Ripley's debut novel - and if you like suspense fiction, its one you're going to want to pick up!

The premise is deliciously dark....... Martin Reese is obsessed with serial killers, specifically with the victims not found. He's been buying up police reports for many years and has managed to locate (and dig up) the bodies they couldn't find. But, he's doing all of it anonymously and taunts the cops with a tip off of each new body located. Oh, and he takes only photos as souvenirs. Uh huh. He's been branded as The Finder by the cops. And it's all going along as it has for many years got it - a serial killer figures out who Martin is and what he's doing - and......

I know, I couldn't wait to start reading either! Martin knew something would happen eventually with his 'hobby', but "I didn't know yet that I'd made deeper mistakes I wouldn't ever be able to put all the way right." Martin didn't engage me as a person, rather I found myself observing him, somewhat dispassionately.

Now, someone else is after The Finder as well. Detective Sandra Whittal. I loved this description of her...."She was thirty-two and lacked the penis that functioned as a skeleton key to acceptance, but she had the competence and could properly talk shit, which went a long way." Whittal is clever, dogged and determined. This is the character I really liked.

Find You in the Dark is a delicious cat and mouse game. It is a plot driven novel, with numerous twists and turns and some great foreshadowing. Now, yes there are some moments in the plot that I thought were a bit of a stretch, but I quickly let them go and kept turning page after page. For this reader, Find You in the Dark was definitely an entertaining read. I look forward to Ripley's next book. Read an excerpt of Find You in the Dark. (And you know, I think this book would make a great movie.)

"Nathan Ripley is the pen name of literary fiction writer and journalist Naben Ruthnum. His stories and essays have appeared in The Walrus, Hazlitt, Sight & Sound, and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, among other places. He lives in Toronto. Visit him at or follow him on TwitterMartin is not quite the responsible cit @NabenRuthnum."

Monday, March 5, 2018

Death of an Honest Man - M.C. Beaton - Review AND Giveaway

Death of an Honest Man is the 33rd (!) entry in M.C. Beaton's Hamish MacBeth series. I have a copy of this latest to give away to one lucky reader courtesy of Grand Central Publishing.

Paul English has retired to the Scottish Highlands. He prides himself on his 'honesty'. But that honesty is often cruelty - and one of the recipients of his candor has taken exception - and killed Paul. The murder has happened in Police Sergeant Hamish MacBeth's beat.

For those unfamiliar with this series, Hamish is quite content to live in his remote Scottish village. In fact, he usually solves the cases and lets someone else take the credit, so he doesn't get promoted. Beaton has created a cast of recurring characters from those quirky inhabitants of the village of Lochdubh, to the higher ups in the police department, both friend and foe. His romantic life is an ongoing saga and I don't see any resolution happening now or in the future. The rotating constables and ongoing pet saga are also mainstays of the plotting.

And that's the fun of this series - the continuity and the revisiting of familiar characters. The clues come fast and furious, the logic leaps sometimes mystify me and some of the goings on require a few grains of salt, but again that's also part of the charm of the series. They're quick little reads, perfect for a dreary day.

Hamish had developed a bit of a sharp edge in the last few books that I didn't enjoy. I'm happy to say that's not the case with this latest, as he seems to be back to his old self. Read an excerpt of The Death of an Honest Man.

And if you'd like to read Death of an Honest Man, I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends March 17/18.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

The True Adventures of Esther the Wonder Pig - Steve Jenkins, Derek Walter and Caprice Crane

I first wrote about Esther the Wonder Pig back in 2016 when Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter inadvertently ended up living with a full sized pig instead of the mini-pig they thought they were raising. Esther changed their lives - and the lives of many others. (my review)

The True Adventures of Esther the Wonder Pig, written by Steve and Derek with Caprice Crane, is a retelling of Esther's story in a children's picture book format. It was perfect for Gramma and Little Guy storytime.

We had to stop at the forward for awhile as there is an actual photograph of Esther in a bathtub that fascinated him. I had to promise that we would go on the computer after we read the book to look at more pictures of Esther.

The first read through had us guessing how big the pig was going to get. And where would she sleep as she keeps outgrowing her beds? What will they do next? There are many themes and ideas to explore with subsequent readings. Love, animal rescue, pets and families of all shapes and sizes. Having read the adult version, I wondered if the picture would touch on veganism, but did not - that's a much heavier topic for a young one.

Cori Doerrfeld's illustrations are playful. She gives Esther expressions that can be 'read' by a child - most of then being happy. Steve and Derek's expressions are also easy to interpret. The colour palette used is bright and appealing, as are the illustrations. Doerrfeld has captured Esther's story with her illustrations.

Little Guy was quite taken with Esther and I am sure this is one book we'll be reading again. And the burning question that we had to investigate after reading? Can a pig really smile? What do you think!?
You can keep up with Esther, Steve and Derek and learn more on : || Website || Esther the Wonder Pig's Facebook Page || Esther's Community Kitchen Facebook Page || Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary || Twitter || Instagram || Fan Club ||

Friday, March 2, 2018

Girl Unknown - Karen Perry

Girl Unknown is written by two authors - Paul Perry and Karen Gillece. I mention this right off the bat as Girl Unknown is told in alternating chapters from a husband and wife and I wonder if each author took on one of the  personas writing the book.

David is a university professor. He is stunned when one of his first year students comes to his office professing to be his daughter. When DNA results prove that she is, he wants her to be part of his family, along with his son and daughter. But his wife Caroline, while welcoming Zoe on the surface, has her own doubts about Zoe's motives. And being privy to both David's and Caroline's take on the situation, the reader does as well.

I did not like David at all. Even though he starts out trying to do the right thing, I found him somewhat entitled and smug. Without giving anything away, as the book progresses, his thoughts and actions became increasingly disturbing to me. Caroline has made mistakes in the past and is far from perfect, but she is the character I was on side with the most. Zoe is a manipulator, beguiling David and toying with his wife, children and friends. I wondered what her end game was.

Kudos to Perry and Gillece for creating such strong reactions in this reader. Their depiction of this couple's interactions is really well done. And I liked the back and forth of the chapters, seeing the same events through different eyes. As the cracks in their foundation widen with the addition of Zoe, the reader knows that things are not going to go well. And it was here that I grew saddened (and a little frustrated) with the inability of this couple to actually be honest with and listen to each other and to actually see what is going on in their lives.

Those looking for a fast paced thriller won't find it in Girl Unknown. Instead it is a slow burn, with the tension and the inevitable outcome building with every chapter.  But, I was caught unawares by the final turn the ending took. An unsettling, literary family drama. Read an excerpt of Girl Unknown.

Cr: Edmund Ross
Karen Perry is the pen name of Dublin-based authors Paul Perry and Karen Gillece. Together they wrote Girl Unknown.

Paul Perry is the author of a number of critically acclaimed books. A recipient of the Hennessy Award for New Irish Writing, he teaches creative writing at University College, Dublin.

Karen Gillece is the author of several critically acclaimed novels. In 2009 she won the European Union Prize for Literature (Ireland). Connect with them on Facebook.

See what others on the TLC book tour thought - full schedule can be found here.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover # 200

- 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 Anthony Horowitz's writing - his plotting is deliciously intricate. The Word is Murder is his latest - already released in the UK and coming to NA in June of this year. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. So, the colour scheme is the same on both covers - white, red and black. But the emphasis in on the black with the US cover. A knife and a pen captures the title quite succinctly. But I like the British phone box images on the UK cover - especially the dripping bloody one on the word murder. The UK cover seems to have a 'retro' feel to it. I'm torn this week - the US definitely catches the reader's eye, but I truly enjoy UK mysteries and the UK cover also catches my eye. If pressed to choose, I will go with the US cover. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read The Word is Murder?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.