Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Us Against You- Fredrik Backman

I am a huge fan of Fredrik Backman's books. His last, Beartown, was superb. (my review) I was thrilled when I found out there was a sequel - Us Against You. I wanted to know what happened next.....

Us Against You picks up where Beartown left off. After an unthinkable crime, can the hockey mad Beartown ever pick up the pieces? Their team is disbanded, their funding non existent, they have no coach and there are cracks in the town's support system. An unnamed narrator again guides us through the months after that event.

The basis of Us Against You is hockey, but it's the story of the players, their supporters and their plans, hopes, dreams and schemes. And it is this exploration that has made these two novels five star reads for me. The cast is large and diverse, with the young players affecting me the most. Their stories are poignant and so well written.

But it is also about hockey and how that desire to win and conquer rivals can also lead down some disturbing paths. (And really, it's not that far from the truth)

"In many years’ time we may not know what to call this story. We will say it was a story about violence. About hate. About conflict and difference and communities that tore themselves apart. But that won’t be true, at least not entirely. It’s also a different sort of story." And just like Beartown, it's a helluva story.

I chose to listen to this latest. The reader was Marin Ireland, a narrator I have previously enjoyed. She's chosen a voice that suits the unnamed narrator - the almost dispassionate tone of an observer, not a player. This was quite effective, lending more weight to the words themselves. That's not to say there isn't any movement to her voice - there is. She articulates well and her voice is pleasant to listen to. Listen to an excerpt of Us Against You.

Us Against You is storytelling at its finest. Absolutely recommended listening or reading, but make sure to read Beartown first.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Giveaway - Secrets of a Happy Marriage - Cathy Kelly

Looking for a heartwarming read for the porch swing? I've got the perfect book for youb- Secrets of a Happy Marriage by Cathy Kelly. Thanks to Grand Central Publishing, I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

What's it about?

"Bess is happy and in love with her new husband Edward, a recent widow. However, when she plans a big celebration for Edward’s birthday, this May-December romance goes into a tailspin. She quickly realizes that joining a family isn’t going to be as easy as she thought. Especially when it comes to getting along with her step-daughter, Jojo who can’t seem to come to terms with her fathers new marriage, all the while battling inner-demons of her own. Jojo relies on her cousin Cari a fierce career-woman who isn’t unnerved by anything except for facing the man who left her at the alter–the man who Bess invited to the party.

Thanks to laughter, tears and a big surprise, the Brannigans might just discover the secrets of a happy marriage. . . But will they find out before it’s too late?" Read an excerpt of Secrets of a Happy Marriage.

"Cathy Kelly is published around the world, with millions of copies of her books in print. A #1 bestseller in the UK, Ireland, and Australia, she is one of Ireland’s best-loved storytellers. Kelly lives with her husband, their young twin sons, and three dogs in County Wicklow, Ireland." You can connect with Cathy on her website, find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

And if you'd like to know what the Secrets of a Happy Marriage are, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends August 11/18.

Friday, July 27, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #221

- 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
Another one for suspense lovers' lists! Our House by
Louise Candlish. Already released in the UK and coming out in August in NA. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. So....many different views of the same house this week - including an upside down one. The US is pretty standard - one light on in an upstairs window of an old house. The bottom half of the photo is somewhat blurred. A nice blurb from Fiona Barton. Now, the UK cover is definitely more interesting. Light and dark. Up and down. Night and day. Opposites and flip sides. We get more of an idea what might be inside with the cover tagline. and Still one light on upstairs, but on the opposite side. And a nice blurb from Clare Mackintosh. Wondering what it might be about? "On a bright morning in the London suburbs, a family moves into the house they’ve just bought on Trinity Avenue. Nothing strange about that. Except it's your house. And you didn’t sell it." Yep, on my TBR list. And I like the UK cover this week. What about you - any plans to read Our House? 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.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Believe Me - JP Delaney

I loved JP Delaney's previous book, The Girl Before. I've been eagerly awaiting this newest release - Believe Me.

Delaney starts things off with a great prologue that immediately hooked me - yes, a murder.

Part one introduces us to Claire, an actress who works as a decoy for a law firm, entrapping philandering husbands. "I'm not proud of the stuff I do for Henry. But sometimes I am proud of how well I do it."

Her last job takes a bad turn when the wife is found murdered. The cops suspect the husband, but to prove it, they need more evidence. Claire is approached to go undercover, get close to the husband and see if she can gather enough evidence to prosecute. It sounds like a good, if somewhat iffy, plan. But Claire is a complicated person. She sees the world and her interactions as though written as a screenplay. (I really liked this as a plot device - it was really effective.) She tailors her behaviour and actions as she thinks they would best present. "But then, this isn't lying. This is behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances."

There is most definitely something 'off' about Claire - she is the epitome of an unreliable narrator. What is truth and what is imagined is very hard to determine with her. And as part one ends and part two began, I was riveted. Is Claire doing the manipulating or is she the one being controlled? There really are no likable characters in Believe Me, they all seem to have their own hidden agenda.

Charles Baudelaire's book of poetry, Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil) plays a pivotal role in Delaney's plot. Dark stuff. Some scenes may be too graphic for gentle readers.

As I started reading part three of Believe Me, it seemed a wee bit of a stretch. But at this point I was so intrigued by Delaney's storytelling, I didn't give it another thought and kept turning pages. I had no idea where things were going to go. And I was rewarded at the end by a twist that I didn't fully expect. I'm not sure I completely bought it, but believe me, it was a good read! Read an excerpt of Believe Me.

On reading the author's notes at the end of the book, I discovered that Delaney had written a book seventeen years ago about an actress in a undercover sting. It failed to sell, but with the success of The Girl Before, Delaney was able to take that early idea, rewrite it and have it published as Believe Me.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Over the Counter #428

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? I must admit, I'm not a sushi fan, but am in awe of the artistry!

Sushi Art Cookbook: The Complete Guide to Kazari Sushi by Ken Kawasumi.

From Tuttle Publishing:

"Entertain your friends and family with sushi that looks as fantastic as it tastes!

As the world's appetite for Japanese sushi continues to skyrocket, the Sushi Art Cookbook introduces readers to the art of creating sushi that looks as fantastic as it tastes! Author Ken Kawasumi—principal lecturer at the Japanese Sushi Institute—is the pioneering chef behind Kazari Maki Sushi. The designs revealed by slicing the sushi logs into delicious morsels can be understated or refined, expressive or playful—whatever suits the occasion!

A sushi cookbook like no other, this guide to decorative Kazari Maki Sushi includes:
Instructions on how to prepare sushi rice, ingredients, and garnishes
Essential sushi rolling and pressing techniques
85 designs from simple to sophisticated
Detailed color photographs, documenting step-by-step assembly

Anyone can create these simple-to-sophisticated sushi recipes and designs:
Chrysanthemum, Bunny, Clown, Smiley-Face, Panda, Cherry Blossom, Guitar, and much more!"

(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 24, 2018

A Noise Downstairs - Linwood Barclay

I've been eagerly awaiting Linwood Barclay's latest book - A Noise Downstairs. It's just released and it's one you're going to want to pick up!

Eight months ago Paul Davis almost died at the hands of the 'Apology Killer' - a murderer who made his victims type out an apology to him before they died. Still recovering, Paul begins hearing the clicking of his Underwood's keys in the night.....and his wife Charlotte can't hear it.

What a delicious premise! Is Paul still feeling the effects of his head injury? He's still losing time and memories. Is he also losing his mind? Or is something or someone trying to contact him via the typewriter? "Just think of all the things that may have been written on this....A machine like this, it has a soul, you know." Lots of possibilities and directions the story could take!

I love the idea of everyday, inanimate objects taking on a malevolent presence. There's something especially frightening about noises in the night. Noises waking you from a dead sleep. Unexplained noises downstairs. Undertones of Stephen King.

The group of supporting characters are all just as questionable - especially Paul's psychiatrist and one of her patients named Gavin. He's particularly creepy. I trusted none of them - including Charlotte.

I began to have my suspicions as the book progressed and thought things would play out a certain way. They did and they didn't - Barclay surprised me with an abrupt turn and a twist at the end. Didn't see that coming! It's so nice to be caught unawares.

Barclay's storytelling is so addictive - I had a hard time putting A Noise Downstairs down. Get settled into your favourite reading chair - you won't be getting up anytime soon! Read an excerpt of A Noise Downstairs. Recommended for fans of Harlan Coben.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Giveaway - Watch the Girls - Jennifer Wolfe

Looking for your next suspense read? Look no further than Jennifer Wolfe's debut thriller, Watch the Girls. And I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

What's it about? From Grand Central Publishing:

"Fame and obsession collide in this darkly twisted novel from an incredible new voice in suspense.

I've been watched all my life. I'm used to being stared at. Observed. Followed.

SOMEONE IS WATCHING
Washed up teen star Liv Hendricks quit acting after her beloved younger sister inexplicably disappeared following a Hollywood party gone wrong. Liv barely escaped with her life, and her sister was never heard from again. But all this time, someone's been waiting patiently to finish what was started...

FOUR MISSING GIRLS
Now fifteen years later, broke and desperate, Liv is forced to return to the spotlight. She crowdfunds a webseries in which she'll pose as a real-life private detective--a nod to the show she starred on as a teen. When a mysterious donor challenges her to investigate a series of disappearances outside a town made famous by the horror movies filmed there, Liv has no choice but to accept.

FOLLOW THE WHITE WOLF
Liv is given a cryptic first clue: Follow the white wolf. And now a darker game is about to begin. Through social media, someone is leaving breadcrumbs to follow. As Liv makes increasingly disturbing discoveries, her show explodes in popularity. A rapt internet audience is eager to watch it all--perhaps even at the cost of Liv's own life...

Filled with provocative twists and turns as the line between plot and reality blurs in this inventive tour-de-force from breakout writer Jennifer Wolfe." Read an excerpt of Watch the Girls.

"Jennifer Wolfe worked as a phlebotomist, a fiction writing teacher, a copywriter, and ran a concert venue before quitting to move to Los Angeles, where she performed odd jobs in the film industry for a decade. She now divides her time between Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. Watch the Girls is Jennifer’s debut thriller. She also publishes young adult fiction under the name Jennifer Bosworth." You can connect with Jennifer on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

And if you'd like to read Watch the Girls, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends August 4/18.

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
3. An Unwanted Guest - Shari Lapena - August
4. Foe - Iain Reid - August
5. The Saturday Night Ghost Club - Craig Davidson - August
6. Her Pretty Face - Robyn Harding - September
7. Sadie - Courtney Summers - September
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