Thursday, August 22, 2019

Hideaway - Nicole Lundrigan

Oh Nicole Lundrigan, you have a frightening imagination! I simply could not put down your latest release, Hideaway! Start to finish on a recent day off.

Gloria is a devoted wife to her husband Telly and mother to her teenaged son Rowan and young daughter Maisy. That's what you would see from the outside looking in. But inside it's a different matter. Gloria's moods swing from high to low with little warning. She either loves her children or 'disappears' them by banishing them to a room or a place and not speaking to them. When Telly leaves Glow for another woman, it tips her over the edge. One night Rowan has had enough and runs into the woods. And there, under a bridge, he meets Carl - a kind man who is battling his own demons - and Rowan decides to stay. And Gloria? I just don't want to say any more and spoil your discovery of the lengths a jilted (and unstable)  woman will go to to get her husband back. (But he too is, as my gran used to say, a piece of work) Yep, this is where things get downright terrifying.......

Lundrigan's character building is so very good. I don't even know how to describe Gloria. She's a master manipulator, devious, cunning and cruel. We see her actions, but don't really get a look at her inner thought processes. Instead we see them - and the aftermath - through the eyes of Rowan and Maisy. And yes, these are heartbreaking to read. It was the 'what is going to happen to Rowan and Maisy ?' that kept me reading for the whole day. Lundrigan takes her story places I couldn't have imagined .The tension was unbearable in parts and I really had to fight myself to not skip to the last chapter to make sure things turned out the way I needed them to.

It seems a little off for me to say how much I enjoyed this book given the darkness it explores. But there are patches of light as well. An easy five stars and one of my most addictive reads this year. See for yourself - here's an excerpt. This was a first read of Lundrigan for me - and it won't be the last.

Cr: AnnaLena Seemann
"Nicole Lundrigan is the author of six critically acclaimed novels, including The Substitute and Glass Boys. Her work has appeared on best of the year selections of The Globe and Mail, Amazon.ca, and Now magazine. She grew up in Newfoundland, and now lives in Toronto." You can connect with Nicole on her website and like her on Facebook.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Over the Counter #414

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? One that many of us will connect with....

Take Care, Son: The Story of My Dad and his Dementia by Tony Husband.

From Little Brown Books:

"Hi Dad . . . can we have a chat about your dementia . . . Can you remember how it started?

When Ron Husband started to forget things - dates, names, appointments . . . daft things, important things - it took a while to realize that this was 'a different form of forgetting'. But it was just the first sign of the illness that gradually took him away from the family he loved.

This is the touching, illustrated story of Tony's father and how dementia slowly took him away from his family. The title is a reference to his last words to his son - on a day when Tony had spent the day in the care home with no sign of recognition. The book is framed as a chat between Tony and his dad, who fades away through the last few pages of the book."

(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, August 20, 2019

Big Sky - Kate Atkinson

I was so happy when I heard that Kate Atkinson was penning a new Jackson Brodie novel. It's been nine years, but oh it was worth the wait. Big Sky was a fantastic read.

I loved settling in to catch up with Brodie. Atkinson has moved things along in real time - the book is set in 2019. He's living in a seaside town with his old doh, has contact with his son and is working as a private investigator. Lot of 'catch them cheating' cases, but hey, they pay the bills. He's out walking one evening when he comes across a desperate man standing on the edge of a cliff, ready to end things. This chance encounter leads Brodie down a dark and twisted path.

Oh, I had missed Jackson's irreverent sense of humour, his inner dialogue and his innate ability to land himself in the thick of things. With a few side trips....

Atkinson's plotting is impeccable, detailed and so current. The crime could be inspired by many newspaper headlines. But Atkinson puts her own twist and delivery on the crime. And I wondered how all the threads were going to be connected by the end. Where Atkinson shines for me is in her characterizations and dialogue. Each character, including minor players, are fully fleshed out and so detailed. I love that we're privy to each player's inner thoughts. I was particularly fond of Crystal - a wife and mother trying to leave her past behind. Her stepson Harry was another character I was drawn to. Fans of the series will recognize Reggie - now grown up and a policewoman. She and her partner Ronnie are a great duo - I hope we see more of them.  Just as detailed are her descriptions of time and place. The vaudeville-esqe theater, the boardwalk and it's tacky attractions and more.

Atkinson's work is meant to be savoured and enjoyed, taking in the details she provides in every aspect of the book. All four hundred delicious pages. Love, love, loved it! Here's hoping we don't have to wait another nine years for more of Jackson! Read an excerpt of Big Sky

Monday, August 19, 2019

Lady in the Lake - Laura Lippman

Laura Lippman takes us back to the Sixties in her new stand alone novel Lady in the Lake. Its also set in the city she knows so well - Baltimore.

The prologue had me hooked - its the voice of a dead woman, cursing the woman who wouldn't let her lie in peace. Curioser and more curiouser....

Maddie is the perfect housewife, but she's growing bored with her life, wondering if this is all there is and seeing nothing but the same for years to come. So - she leaves her husband, gets an apartment and a lover and an unexpected job at a local newspaper. Determined to make her mark as a reporter,  she latches on the story of a young woman found murdered.

Now, here's the neat thing about this book. While Maddie is the driving force, almost every person she comes into contact with is given the next chapter in the book. The reader gets an in depth look at many characters and their connection to both Maddie and the dead woman. (Cleo) This format provided a very different reading experience. It had the feel of a serialized news story. With so many points of view, I felt like I knew something about each player, but didn't really know them - and I wanted to know more about many of them. (This speaks volumes about Lippman's characterizations!) Maddie is the exception as her voice and chapters are updated as the book progresses. I felt one way about Maddie in the beginning and quite liked her. But as the book progresses, she grows harder, becoming quite conniving when it comes to getting a story and I found I was becoming disillusioned with her. But - you don't have to like a protagonist.

Lippman always brings the city of Baltimore to life for the reader. The racial tensions, mores of the time, gender and class divides, the newspaper industry (always well done as Lippman herself was a reporter) and more are woven into the story.

The ending provides a great twist - I like being surprised with unexpected turns. And it was only on finishing the book that I discovered that Lady in the Lake  takes inspiration from an actual murder.

Lippman is an excellent wordsmith. I quite enjoyed this character driven, different style of narrative. Have a look for yourself - here's an excerpt of Lady in the Lake.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

The Helpline - Katherine Collette

The Helpline is Katherine Collette's debut novel.

Germaine Johnson loves math and sudukos. She firmly believes that a formula can be found for everything in life. But such is not the case when an unfortunate happenstance at her insurance company job results in her being let go. But through a family connection she lands a job on a senior citizen's telephone helpline.

Although it is never specified, it is apparent that Germaine is somewhere on a spectrum - Asperger's? A telephone hotline is probably not the best fit for someone with her interests. But an unscrupulous city official has recognized that Germaine's naivete and attraction to a male Suduko player can be exploited.

And this is the part that saddened me. She has been taken advantage of more that once - the insurance company situation is particularly disheartening. But counterbalancing that are her new fellow employees at the council office. They are a quirky bunch, but for the most part good-hearted and accepting. They provide a needed balance to offset the nefarious mayor and counterparts. The seniors at the community center are also kind. And are also being taken advantage of.

And yes, you can see where the book is going to go. Can Germaine see and participate in life beyond the narrow constraints she has set for herself? Find friends and a new place for herself? Do the seniors take back their center? And is the mayor thwarted?

I liked the premise, but I must admit to having a harder time liking Germaine. I felt like I should be drawn to her as she's the lead character. But I wasn't. She is written with many hard edges and an inability to feel sympathy or empathy. This may be attributable to her 'condition', but I think I was expecting someone more like Don in The Rosie Project. Likable.

There are some funny moments in The Helpline. (I enjoyed the workplace fight for the biscuits) But I didn't find so many that I agreed with the idea that this would be a charmingly funny debut.

The ending provides a turn that I think it supposed to be humourous, but it fell flat for me and only solidified my inability to be on board with Germaine. Sadly, this book was just okay for me.

Others quite liked The Helpline - you can find those reviews on Goodreads. Read an excerpt of The Helpline.

Friday, August 16, 2019

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #276

- 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 know, it's a Christmas book! Sophie Kinsella has a new entry - Christmas Shopaholic - in the Shopaholic series releasing in October on both sides of the pond. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. There's no mistaking that its a Christmas book with the presents featured on both covers.  Both colour schemes are holiday oriented. I do find the US colors a bit muddy and dull though. I much prefer the brights used on the UK cover. The white background makes the colors pop as well. I quite like the tree made from presents as well. The UK cover lets you know it's part of a series and includes a tag line. I feel the UK cover conveys the 'too much' conundrum that Becky Bloomfield invariably finds herself in. An easy choice for me this week - UK. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? 
Any plans to read Christmas Shopaholic?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Someone We Know - Shari Lapena

I read Shari Lapena's first thriller, The Couple Next Door, in 2016 and loved it. I promptly added Lapena to my 'must read' list. Her latest suspense novel is Someone We Know.

Okay, here's the premise - and it's a really good one!

A quiet suburb. A bored teenager who has decided to break into his neighbour's homes and have a look around. Maybe check out what's on their computers, send some emails and see what happens. It might have gone unnoticed had the teenager's mom not left an 'I'm sorry' note at the houses for the break-ins she knows about. Not a good idea at all - there is someone who has a very dark secret in the quiet neighbourhood. And truly, almost every household has secrets they would prefer not to see the light of day.

Great set-up and excellent execution! One action leads to another action and so on, changing the direction of what is going to happen with each new development. (and for many of them, I was mentally yelling no, don't do that!) Lapena kept me guessing - it was impossible to predict what happen next. I quite enjoyed trying to solve the whodunit - yes, there is murderous intent within! And many suspects to choose from.

Suspense and mystery woven together in a very readable, fast paced package. Someone We Know was an excellent read, one I had a hard time putting down. And one that might have you wondering about that neighbour at the end of the street.......read an excerpt of Someone We Know.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Over the Counter #413

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner?  A little something on the side....

100 Side Hustles: Unexpected Ideas for Making Extra Money Without Quitting Your Day Job by Chris Guillebeau.

From Ten Speed Press:

"Best-selling author Chris Guillebeau presents a full-color ideabook featuring 100 stories of regular people launching successful side businesses that almost anyone can do.

This unique guide features the startup stories of regular people launching side businesses that almost anyone can do: an urban tour guide, an artist inspired by maps, a travel site founder, an ice pop maker, a confetti photographer, a group of friends who sell hammocks to support local economies, and many more. In 100 Side Hustles, best-selling author of The $100 Startup Chris Guillebeau presents a colorful "idea book" filled with inspiration for your next big idea. Distilled from Guillebeau's popular Side Hustle School podcast, these case studies feature teachers, artists, coders, and even entire families who've found ways to create new sources of income. With insights, takeaways, and photography that reveals the human element behind the hustles, this playbook covers every important step of launching a side hustle, from identifying underserved markets to crafting unique products and services that spring from your passions. Soon you'll find yourself joining the ranks of these innovative entrepreneurs--making money on the side while living your best life."

(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, August 13, 2019

This Little Light - Lori Lansens

Lori Lansens is one of my favorite writers. (Rush Home Road will always be near and dear to me) Each of her books has brought something different to the page - and her latest - This Little Light - is no exception

This Little Light is set in the near future - 2023. The most frightening thing about this book? It's happening here and now. Abortion has been re-criminalized, as has birth control, 'Virtue Balls' where a teenage girl pledges chastity with a ring (to her father) are the norm, unwanted babies are being sold. And women are being 'kept in line.' Lansens weaves current issues - women's rights, the have and the have nots in terms of money and resources, religion and politics, immigration and more into this latest novel.

This Little Light is told by sixteen year old Rory Miller. Rory is (reluctantly) at her Purity Ball when a bomb goes off. And she and her best friend are now 'the most famous girls in America.' But for all the wrong reasons. They are being accused of being the bombers - and are now on the run. Through her blog over the course of forty eight hours, we get a bigger picture of what is going on - and who might be pulling strings. Why is she being targeted?

Rory questions the way things are, she's a square peg who refuses to go along with the crowd and accept the edicts being given to women. "I never shut up. I never give up. I ask too many questions I'm a contrarian. So I stared my blog, This Little Light." I loved her, I loved her voice and most of all - her courage in questioning.

Lansens has done a good job of finding the voice of a teenager. The dialogue, interior thoughts and actions all ring true. The stream of consciousness as she posts to her blog draws the reader into the action and tension. I was completely caught up in the who and the why. And as the number of pages left to read grew smaller, I couldn't put it down. What would the ending bring? I must admit - I was caught unawares and was gutted. It's right but wrong.

Bottom line? Couldn't put it down. Another great read from Lori Lansens. Who would like this book? If you like The Handmaid's Tale, pick up This Little Light. Here's an excerpt.

Monday, August 12, 2019

You've Been Volunteered - Laurie Gelman - Q and A and Giveaway!!

I'm today's stop on the blog tour for Laurie Gelman's new Class Mom novel - You've Been Volunteered! (If you're looking for a fun - and funny read, this one's for you!) Laurie was kind enough to answer a few questions.....and I have a fabulous giveaway as well!

Tell us about your background and when you decided to become a writer.
I had been a broadcast journalist before and partially during my time as a mother, so I had always written in some form - mostly “just the facts ma'am” pieces for the news. I decided to try my hand at writing when I realized I was going to need something to do now that my daughters were growing up.

 What was the inspiration for the Class Mom novels?
The inspiration for the books comes from my own horrifying, pride-swallowing, butt-chapping experience as the mom who volunteers in the classroom.

 Any favorite authors influence your writing?
Tina Fey is most definitely one of my favorite comedic writers, but I think I took my fiction cues from Lianne Moriarty.

Do you have a connection to Kansas City? Why are both novels set there?
I've never been but I plan to go this summer! I set the book there because it is close to the geographic center of the US. I wanted everyone to be able to relate to Jen's trials and tribulations.

What do you hope readers take away from your novels?
All I hope is that they get a good laugh. Moms always need one.

What’s next – for Laurie Gelman and for Jen Dixon?
Well, Laurie Gelman is going to be dealing with her daughter leaving for college and writing the third Class Mom novel. As for Jen Dixon...we'll just have to see.


"Laurie Gelman was born and raised in the Great White North. She spent twenty-five years as a broadcaster in both Canada and the United States before trying her hand at writing novels. The author of Class Mom, Laurie has appeared on Live With Ryan and Kelly, Watch What Happens Live, and The Talk, among others. She lives in New York City with her husband, Michael Gelman, and two teenage daughters." You can connect with Laurie on her website and follow her on Twitter and on Instagram.

And the giveaway? I have a copy of You've Been Volunteered, a fabulous “Ron’s Gym and Tan” T shirt, and the chance for Laurie Gelman to Skype with the winner’s book club! Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only, ends August 24/19.


See what other bloggers had to say - here's the full schedule. Follow the conversation at #You’veBeenVolunteered, #ClassMom, @lauriemgelman (Twitter), @lauriegelman (Instagram), @HenryHolt (Twitter), @HenryHoltandCompany (FB), and @HenryHoltBooks (Instagram).

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Giveaway - Hollow Kingdom - Kira Jane Buxton

Hollow Kingdom is Kira Jane Buxton's debut novel. Its garnering lots of praise - and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

What's it about? From Grand Central Publishing:

"One pet crow fights to save humanity from an apocalypse in this uniquely hilarious debut from a genre-bending literary author.

S.T., a domesticated crow, is a bird of simple pleasures: hanging out with his owner Big Jim, trading insults with Seattle’s wild crows (those idiots), and enjoying the finest food humankind has to offer: Cheetos ®.

Then Big Jim’s eyeball falls out of his head, and S.T. starts to feel like something isn’t quite right. His most tried-and-true remedies–from beak-delivered beer to the slobbering affection of Big Jim’s loyal but dim-witted dog, Dennis - fail to cure Big Jim’s debilitating malady. S.T. is left with no choice but to abandon his old life and venture out into a wild and frightening new world with his trusty steed Dennis, where he discovers that the neighbors are devouring each other and the local wildlife is abuzz with rumors of dangerous new predators roaming Seattle. Humanity’s extinction has seemingly arrived, and the only one determined to save it is a foul-mouthed crow whose knowledge of the world around him comes from his TV-watching education.

Hollow Kingdom is a humorous, big-hearted, and boundlessly beautiful romp through the apocalypse and the world that comes after, where even a cowardly crow can become a hero." Read an excerpt of Hollow Kingdom.

"Kira Jane Buxton’s writing has appeared in the New York Times, NewYorker.com, McSweeney’s, The Rumpus, Huffington Post, and more. She calls the tropical utopia of Seattle, Washington, home and spends her time with three cats, a dog, two crows, a charm of hummingbirds, and a husband" You can connect with Kira Jane Buxton on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

And if you'd like to read Hollow Kingdom, enter for a chance to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada. Ends Aug 24/19.

Friday, August 9, 2019

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #275

- 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 new Virgil Flowers book - Bloody Genius - from John Sandford releases in October on both sides of the pond. This one time supporting character in the Lucas Davenport series has many fans. (including me) The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Well, the US cover does say bloody, doesn't it. The UK cover brings in red with the title font. The US cover has words in the forefront, while the UK cover has the image of a clock tower taking a good piece of the cover. A similar clock tower is on the US cover as well. There's more the images, but its hard to see.  Stephen King gives a nice blurb to Sandford on the UK cover. Busy vs. somewhat understated. Hmm, a hard choice for me this week....but I'm going to go with the in your face US cover this week. What about you? 
Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read Bloody Genius?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Good Girl, Bad Girl - Michael Robotham

Michael Robotham is firmly on my 'must read' list. I've read all of the Joe O'Loughlin  series. I've got the feeling that this series might be winding down. But, I'm pretty happy with Good Girl, Bad Girl - the first in a new series featuring forensic psychologist Cyrus Haven.

Haven is a great lead character - intelligent, driven but wounded, with darkness in his own background. He works with the police department, but isn't fully accepted. I appreciate a flawed lead as I find I bond more with the character. I enjoyed his fractious relationship with  DCI Lenny Parvel. She's gruff and tough and is also part of Haven's past.

When a teen skating star is discovered murdered on a lonely footpath, Cyrus is called in to assist. His interviews and probing uncover a life that doesn't match her 'good girl' reputation. And there are more than a few suspects for whodunit.

He's also called in to assess a teen girl (the 'bad girl' of the title) who wants to be released from the group home setting she lives in as she says she is eighteen. Says? Uh, huh no one truly knows how old she is. Evie Cormac (a name given to her) was discovered in a hidden room at a violent crime scene. The man who was holding her is dead - unable to provide answers. And Evie herself - she either doesn't know or won't tell. As the book progressed there are small references that only begin to hint at her past. And Haven is the only person she seems to actually like. Why? Because he tells the truth. And Evie can uncannily tell when someone is lying. It's hard to read Evie's story and the reader will be firmly on her side, despite her attempts to alienate everyone who crosses her path. Who can blame her? This first book is the beginning of (hopefully) a firmer relationship between Cyrus and Evie.

So good on so many levels. Robotham's books are easy to get lost in for hours at a time - addictive listening/reading at its best. Getting to know these new players intrigued me as did the search for the murderer. The tension in Good Girl, Bad Girl just never lets up. The final whodunit wasn't who I expected and there's a nice little twist in the last few chapters. And those last chapters are action packed as well.  Kudos to Robotham for coming up with this premise and these two leads. I will be eagerly awaiting the next book in this series. Another excellent listen/read from Robotham - but hey, I knew it would be. An easy five star book.

I did choose to listen to Good Girl, Bad Girl. And that choice was made based on the reader - Joe Jameson. His voice is rich and full. His speaking voice is clear and easy to understand. He created distinctive voices for each character, making it easy to know who was speaking. And those unique voice created much clearer mental images for me. He interprets the book well and uses his voice effectively for the emotions and action as they play out. I've said it before and I'll say it again - I find myself more drawn into a book when I listen to it (and it's often harder leave)!

Here's an audio excerpt of Good Girl, Bad Girl. Or if you prefer, here's a written excerpt.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Over the Counter #412

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Plants that you wouldn't want (or need) to water.....

Handmade Houseplants: Remarkably Realistic Plants You Can Make with Paper  by Corrie Beth Hogg.

From Timber Press:

"In Handmade Houseplants, expert crafter and tastemaker Corrie Beth Hogg offers a no-water option for your urban jungle: plants made from paper! This stylish guide includes step-by-step instructions and templates for making 30 of the most popular houseplants, from monstera and peperomia to fiddle leaf fig and philodendron. Additional projects show how to use paper plants for home décor, wall art, holiday decorations, gift giving, and more. The projects are simple enough to be made in few hours and the materials are affordable and easy to find. Packed with colorful photos and filled with inspiration, Handmade Houseplants shows how paper plants can provide a modern, light-hearted touch to a well-designed home."

(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, August 6, 2019

The Escape Room - Megan Goldin

A Bookworm's World is today's blog tour stop for Megan Goldin's brand new book, The Escape Room.

I love twisty suspense novels and Goldin's premise was a great one. Four co-workers believe they're doing a team building exercise by participating in an Escape Room. Believable right? Uh huh, until they realize that the elevator itself is the room - and getting out alive is the goal. Love it!

Each of the four in the elevator are selfish, self-serving and just downright unlikable. (And that's just right for this book.) As the heat turns up in their box, we learn more about each one, their secrets and their true natures. They are all financiers determined to make deals and more and more money - at the cost of just about anything. I wondered if the depictions of their cut throat practices were true. Alternating with the action in the elevator are chapters from a former employee named Sara. Details from the past are slowly played out until they collide with the present.

The Escape Room is a heckuva page turner - I couldn't wait to see what would happen next! The ending is a bit implausible, but perfect for this story and didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book. Oh, this one has movie written all over it!  What a great debut. Here's an excerpt of The Escape Room.


"Megan Goldin worked as a correspondent for Reuters and other media outlets where she covered war, peace, international terrorism and financial meltdowns in the Middle East and Asia. She is now based in Melbourne, Australia where she raises three sons and is a foster mum to Labrador puppies learning to be guide dogs. The Escape Room is her debut novel." You can connect with Megan Goldin on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Giveaway - Haben by Haben Girma

If you love memoirs, you're going to want to read Haben by Haben Girma. It releases tomorrow, August 6, 2019. Her story is riveting - and I just happen to have a copy to give away to one lucky reader! What's it about?

From Twelve Books:

"The incredible life story of Haben Girma, the first deafblind graduate of Harvard Law School, and her amazing journey from isolation to the world stage.

Haben grew up spending summers with her family in the enchanting Eritrean city of Asmara. There, she discovered courage as she faced off against a bull she couldn't see, and found in herself an abiding strength as she absorbed her parents' harrowing experiences during Eritrea's thirty-year war with Ethiopia. Their refugee story inspired her to embark on a quest for knowledge, traveling the world in search of the secret to belonging. She explored numerous fascinating places, including Mali, where she helped build a school under the scorching Saharan sun. Her many adventures over the years range from the hair-raising to the hilarious.

Haben defines disability as an opportunity for innovation. She learned non-visual techniques for everything from dancing salsa to handling an electric saw. She developed a text-to-braille communication system that created an exciting new way to connect with people. Haben pioneered her way through obstacles, graduated from Harvard Law, and now uses her talents to advocate for people with disabilities.

Haben takes readers through a thrilling game of blind hide-and-seek in Louisiana, a treacherous climb up an iceberg in Alaska, and a magical moment with President Obama at The White House. Warm, funny, thoughtful, and uplifting, this captivating memoir is a testament to one woman's determination to find the keys to connection." Read an excerpt of Haben.

"Haben Girma advocates for equal opportunities for people with disabilities. President Obama named her a White House Champion of Change. She received the Helen Keller Achievement Award, and a spot on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. President Bill Clinton, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Chancellor Angela Merkel have all honored Haben. Her work has been featured in the Financial Times, BBC, Washington Post, NPR, and more." You can connect with Haben on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

And if you'd like to read Haben, enter for a chance to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada. Ends August 17/19.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

The Magnificent Mrs. Mayhew - Milly Johnson

The Magnificent Mrs. Mayhew is a first read of Milly Johnson for me - but it won't be my last!

Sophie has been brought up to stifle her emotions and 'do her duty'. That duty doesn't include herself. Instead she is to support her husband, a politician who has a good shot of being Prime Minister. She has always done what is necessary to help his career. After all, he loves her - doesn't he?

Until....Doorstepgate.....the day that Trophy Sophie has had enough. Enough of her husband, their families and not enough of herself. She runs away to the only place she truly remembers being herself - and being happy. To a small village by the sea. (Who doesn't want to live in a village by the sea?!

The first few chapters have a lot of political machinations and descriptions - not my favorite. But it does give us an idea of what Sophie is living with and shy she rebels. (In fine fashion!)

The real treat is when she lands in the village. The village is home to many quaint shops, kind and generous villagers - and a handsome vicar and his son.... Uh huh, there is most definitely some attraction there.

I loved Milly as a lead character - the reader can't help but feel outraged at how her family and husband treat her. (And they are quite despicably well depicted) And hope that that little spark inside her can grow. The supporting cast in the village is simply wonderful - you can't help but wish you lived there! Johnson develops the Sophie romantic sub plot at the just the right speed - as friends with no agenda. There are also some other relationships in the village that need repair and these too are well depicted. There's a wee touch of magic in an old house as well that makes you wonder.....

And although the book builds towards it and the reader has an inkling of what it might be, the ending is simply perfect! I wonder if there could be more stories from this Yorkshire village?

Jenny Colgan is one of my go-to's for feel good reading. I've added Milly Johnson to that list as well! See for yourself - here's an excerpt of The Magnificent Mrs. Mayhew.

Friday, August 2, 2019

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #274

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

US cover
UK cover
I've enjoyed all of Jojo Moyes's previous books and am looking forward to her forthcoming book, The Giver of Stars. (October 2019) The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. This ones looks a little different than previous novels. And yes it's on my TBR list. (There's a travelling library involved!) So, a very bucolic picture on the US cover. No stars, just a horse and lot of scenery. The UK cover brings nothing but stars. I have to say, the US cover is a bit boring, but having read the premise, it suits the story. The UK cover is sparkly. But that sparkle could be anything. Magic? A night sky? Neither cover is a standout for me this week but I'm going to go with the US cover. What about you? Which cover do you prefer?
 Any plans to read The Giver of Stars?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Layover - David Bell

I was intrigued by the premise of David Bell's latest novel Layover.

Frequent flyer Joshua is killing time before his next flight when he meets a woman named Morgan. She is attractive and enigmatic and Joshua finds himself attracted to her. Even more so when she kisses him. She leaves to catch her flight.....and Joshua sees her face pop up on the television news - she's a missing person. Joshua decides to find her. But his imaginings of what might be aren't quite what he finds.

I was also curious as to why she was missing and why she was running. But here's the first thing that stood in the way of me loving this book. I had a very hard time believing that Joshua would abandon his job, miss his flight and go chasing after a woman he had few drinks with and one kiss. Believing the earth shattering attraction he feels towards Morgan was a bit of stretch for me. His immediate infatuation just said stalker to me. And even as we learn more about Morgan and her reasons, she just never coalesced into a character I cared about - or even liked for that matter. The why's - once I learned them - left me a bit flat as well. The only character I liked was the police detective. Although her sharing of information with Joshua seemed unprofessional and not likely to happen in a police investigation.

The chapters are short and this makes for a quick read. One that would kill time on a flight. Here's an excerpt of Layover.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Over the Counter #411

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? A book about a book about a murder.....

Murder by the Book: The Crime That Shocked Dickens's London by Claire Harman. 

From Knopf Books:

"From the acclaimed biographer--the fascinating, little-known story of a Victorian-era murder that rocked literary London, leading Charles Dickens, William Thackeray, and Queen Victoria herself to wonder: Can a novel kill?

In May 1840, Lord William Russell, well known in London's highest social circles, was found with his throat cut. The brutal murder had the whole city talking. The police suspected Russell's valet, Courvoisier, but the evidence was weak. The missing clue, it turned out, lay in the unlikeliest place: what Courvoisier had been reading. In the years just before the murder, new printing methods had made books cheap and abundant, the novel form was on the rise, and suddenly everyone was reading. The best-selling titles were the most sensational true-crime stories. Even Dickens and Thackeray, both at the beginning of their careers, fell under the spell of these tales--Dickens publicly admiring them, Thackeray rejecting them. One such phenomenon was William Harrison Ainsworth's Jack Sheppard, the story of an unrepentant criminal who escaped the gallows time and again. When Lord William's murderer finally confessed his guilt, he would cite this novel in his defense.

Murder By the Book combines this thrilling true-crime story with an illuminating account of the rise of the novel form and the battle for its early soul among the most famous writers of the time. It is superbly researched, vividly written, and captivating from first to last."

(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 30, 2019

The Ghost Garden - Susan Doherty

Susan Doherty's recently released book, The Ghost Garden, is hands down one of the best non-fiction books I've read. And it is one of my favourite reads of 2019.

I work in the public sector, often waiting on those who have some form of mental illness, some more visible than others. The Ghost Garden has given me a different perspective - more understanding of those living with mental illness as well as those who love and care for them. And a renewed sense of empathy and awareness for carers, families and sufferers.

Susan Doherty has volunteered at the Douglas Institute in Montreal, Canada for over ten years. The Douglas houses those with severe mental illness - psychosis and schizophrenia. She has come to know many of the patients well and has continued those relationships outside the hospital. A childhood friend asked Doherty if she could write the life story of her sister, a woman who has struggled for decades with severe mental illness.

The family gave Doherty full access to their family history, dynamics and struggle to help their sister. And the result is a fascinating, gut-wrenching book that is hard to read, but hard to put down. Interspersed between chapters of Caroline's life are short vignettes of other patients Doherty has come to know. Their stories were all told with their or their family's permission.

"My hope is that this book will help family members and others pinpoint warning signs and thereby, perhaps, be in a position to identify incipient mental illness - thus preventing the harrowing lives experienced by the people I have written about.....And if that lofty goal proves hard to reach, at least I can tear down some of the fences that prevent us from seeing those with schizophrenia as intelligent, productive, engaged, hilarious, beautiful, poetic, insightful, maternal, responsible human beings - and above all, worth of love."

The Ghost Garden is so well written and the subject matter is handled with honesty and compassion. A must read book for everyone in my opinion - have a look- here's an excerpt.

"Susan Doherty is a Montreal writer whose award-winning debut novel, A Secret Music, was published in 2015. She worked on staff for Maclean's, and freelanced for The International Herald Tribune, La Tribune de Genève, and The Independent in London, and for eighteen years ran her own advertising production company. She has served on the boards of the Royal Conservatory of Music, the Quebec Writers' Federation and Nazareth House, a home for those afflicted by addiction and homelessness. Since 2009, she has volunteered at the Douglas Institute, a psychiatric hospital, working with people living with severe mental illness. She is married to the educator Hal Hannaford, and has two children." You can connect with Susan Doherty on her website, and follow her on Twitter.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Giveaway - Smokescreen - Iris Johansen

Iris Johansen's latest book, Smokescreen, releases tomorrow and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader! This is the 25th book featuring Eve Duncan!

What's it about? From Grand Central Publishing:

"In this heart-pounding thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Iris Johansen, forensic sculptor Eve Duncan journeys to Africa to help families torn apart by a violent attack deep in the jungle--but she may be putting herself in more danger than she knows.

A journalist shows up on Eve Duncan's doorstep with a plea for help. Jill Cassidy has just come from a small African village with a heart wrenching story: half the villagers--many of them children--have been killed in a horrific attack by guerrilla soldiers, the bodies burned beyond recognition. Now, the families desperately need Eve's help to get closure and begin to heal.

But when Eve arrives in the remote jungle, she begins to suspect that Jill's plea may have been a cover story for a deeper, more sinister plot. Isolated and unsure who she can trust, Eve finds herself stranded in an unstable country where violence threatens to break out again at any moment and with only her own instincts to rely on if she hopes to get home to her family alive . . ." Read an excerpt of Smokescreen.

"Iris Johansen is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than 30 consecutive best sellers. Her series featuring forensic sculptor Eve Duncan has sold over 20 million copies and counting, and was the subject of the acclaimed Lifetime movie, The Killing Game. " You can connect with Iris on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

And if you'd like to read Smokescreen, enter for a chance to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada. Ends August 10/19. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, July 27, 2019

The Campfire Cookbook - DK Canada

It's summer - and time for cooking outside. Seriously, does anything taste better?!

The Campfire Cookbook: 80 Imaginative Recipes for Cooking Outdoors by by Viola Lex and Nico Stanitzok caught my eye.

Note that the cover does show both a grill and a firepit cooking area. And that's what you'll find inside - recipes for different cooking scenarios. They are coded for use - gas stoves with one or two burner and BBQ's.

I did find that much of the book was devoted to those who have a more permanent setup such as a mobile home or camper van. Many of the recipes call for cooking in an oven ahead of your trip. And the list of ingredients are somewhat extensive for some recipes. White wine vinegar, ginger, dried tarragon etc. For me, these are ingredients I would not be packing for a camping trip.

I did find the sandwich and wrap recipes to be inventive and doable. There are also many make ahead recipes such as granola bars, honey roasted peanuts and nut mixes. And I liked the salads. Some quick freeze dried meal ideas most definitely would work in a camping situation. As would the bread on a stick recipe. Not so much the paella, sea bass and mussels in white wine.

I had a different idea when I saw the title and campfire image on the cover of the book. I was expecting simpler recipes for more rustic settings. That said, the recipes are good and could be made at home instead.

Interspersed are tips and hints. Some of them seem downright simple and common sense - 'to prevent the sandwich ingredients falling out if  you're taking it on the road, 'pack it in paper or plastic sandwich bags.'

Bottom line? Some good recipes - but not as many as I had hoped for true campfire cooking.

Check out the other titles in DK Canada's Great Tastes of  Summer Boutique.

Here's a look inside:


Friday, July 26, 2019

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #273

- 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
Joshilyn Jackson has a new novel coming out in the next week - Never Have I Ever. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. "It starts as a game at a book group one night. Never Have I Ever... done something I shouldn't." Havinf read the synopsis, I've added it to my teetering TBR pile. Both covers easily convey domestic suspense with the house images and keys. The US cover with multiple houses shows a neighbourhood, while the single key seems more sinister. The tag line on the UK cover gives prospective readers a bit more info. I'm going to go with the UK cover this week - the image just seems to promise more and the US looks like a family relationship tale perhaps. What about you?
Which cover do you prefer? And plans to read Never Have I Ever?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

The Friend Zone - Abby Jimenez

It's no secret that my favorite genres are mysteries and thrillers. But to temper all that mayhem, I really enjoy a good chick lit, romantic kinda read. I had been seeing lots of positive reviews about Abby Jimenez's debut novel - The Friend Zone, so I made it my next 'light' read.

Kristen's fiancee is deployed in the Middle East. He's on one last tour and then coming home. The plan is to move in together and see what the future will bring. They've both agreed on one thing though - no children. But in Kristen's case, it's a medical impossibility. She's come to terms with it......kinda. Sorta.

But then she meets Josh, the best man in her friend Sloan's wedding. And initially there's no love lost between the two of them. Until about fifty pages in and yes, you got it - there's definitely some attraction there. This back and forth carries on as the two become friends. Only friends, 'cause you know there's a fiancee. But, the reader just knows that that attraction is only going to grow....

I applaud Jimenez for her plotting. Giving Kristen this medical issue allows Jimenez to explore the emotional issues that accompany infertility and the journey to self-love and acceptance.

The dialogue is sharp and snappy. The characters were okay and I only wished them the best. But. Yes, there's a but. I had a hard time connecting with Kristen. IMO she was overwritten - too sassy, too rude, too irritating, just too much all round. I wish we knew more of Josh than the 'hunky guy hopelessly in love from first meeting with cute lead character with issues." And while the back and forth builds the romantic tension and the hope that love will triumph in the end, I grew tired of the repetitiveness after awhile and wanted things to just move along a little faster. For gosh sakes, just tell him the truth. When I got to the ending? Sorry, it just left me flat after focusing so much on infertility. And the ending for friend Sloan? Didn't like it either - but it opens the door for 2020's release - The Happily Ever After Playlist.

The Friend Zone was just okay for this reader. I am in the minority on this one though - The Friend Zone has made the USA Today Bestseller list. Here's an excerpt of The Friend Zone.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Over the Counter #410

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner?  The cover image right away - I'm a dog person.....

The Animal's Companion: People and Their Pets, a 26,000-Year Love Story Hardcover by Jacky Colliss Harvey.

From the publisher, Black Dog and Leventhal:

"A unique and compelling exploration of why humans need animal companions — from dogs and cats to horses, birds, and reptiles — through the eyes of a New York Times bestselling historical detective author.

In The Animal’s Companion, the acclaimed social anthropologist and author of Red: A History of the Redhead turns her keen eye for cultural investigation toward uncovering why humans have such a strong desire to share everyday life with pets. It’s a history that can be traced back to a cave in France where anthropologists discovered evidence of a boy and his dog taking a walk together — 26,000 years ago.

From those preserved foot and paw prints, Jacky Colliss Harvey draws on literary, artistic, and archaeological evidence to sweep readers through centuries and across continents to examine how our relationships with our pets have developed, but also stayed very much the same. Through delightful stories of the most famous, endearing, and sometimes eccentric pet owners throughout history, Colliss Harvey examines the when, the how, and the why of our connection to the animals we take into our lives, and suggests fascinating new insights into one of the most long-standing of all human love affairs."

(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 23, 2019

Bad Axe County - John Galligan

Bad Axe County is John Galligan's latest novel. If you're a 'grit-lit' fan, you're going to enjoy this one.

Heidi Kick is a former Wisconsin Dairy Queen. She's also the interim Sheriff for Bad Axe County. There are many who don't want her to have the job permanently - including others on the force, drug dealers, corrupt local government and a whole bunch of other lowlifes. She does have some supporters though. And she's going to need all the help she can get.....

I couldn't help but think bad a** as I got to know the lead character. She's tough, smart, determined to clean up the town and solve the mystery of her own parents' murder. All while trying to juggle being a wife and mother as well. Heidi is the main voice in the book, but we also hear from some of the antagonists - each one of them perfectly skin-crawling despicable. And one victim, determined to save herself. I have to say, her chapters were really hard to listen to.

Galligan's descriptions are very atmospheric - I could easily picture the settings. And I doubt I would stop in Bad Axe County - it just says 'keep on driving' to me. The winter storm and flood only serve to isolate the county.

The plotting was good as well, with the pieces falling into place with each new chapter and revelation. The reader is privy to more information than the Sheriff and can only hope she puts the pieces together before it's too late.

I chose to listen to Bad Axe County. The reader was Samantha Desz - and her voice was perfect for this character. It has a nice gravelly tone, is easy to understand and completely matched the mental image I had created for Heidi. She rarely raises her voice which is right for this character. The calm way of speaking belies her determination. It's well paced, never rushing and perfectly modulated. The voices employed for other characters are really good as well. Listen to an excerpt of Bad Axe County.

I hope there's another book in the works with the Dairy Queen. I think they are more stories to be told.  Fans of Fargo (indeed, one of the really nasty guys has 'that' way of talking), Justified or Ace Atkin's Quinn Colsen novels would enjoy Bad Axe County. Gentle readers, this one is probably not for you - there are graphic sexual and abuse situations.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Giveaway - The Possession - Michael Rutger

I enjoyed The Anomaly last summer - the first book in Michael Rutger's Anomaly Files. (my review) The second book, The Possession, releases tomorrow - and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

What's it about? From Grand Central Publishing:

"From the author of The Anomaly comes the second installment in The Anomaly Files, a series in the tradition of James Rollins of a team investigating American myths and legends.

Still recovering from the shocking revelations they uncovered deep in uncharted territory in the Grand Canyon, American myth and legend investigator Nolan Moore and his team take on a new mission, investigating a rumored case of witchcraft and possession.

Nolan hopes their new case, in a quaint village in the middle of the woods, will prove much more like those he and his team investigated prior to their trip to Kincaid’s cavern.

But as the residents accounts of strange phenomena add up, Nolan and company begin to suspect something all too real and dangerous may be at play. A force that may not be willing to let them escape the village unscathed." Read an excerpt of The Possession.

"Michael Rutger is a screenwriter whose work has been optioned by major Hollywood studios. He lives in California with his wife and son."

And if The Possession sounds like a book you'd like to read, enter for a chance to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, ends August 3/19.

Friday, July 19, 2019

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #272

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

US cover
UK cover
I've enjoyed J.P. Delaney's previous psychological suspense novels. There's a new one - The Perfect Wife - coming in August 19 on both sides of the pond. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. The stark, simple look of both covers matches the look of previous covers. And we've got a woman in white on both covers. I did like the insertion of the figure for the letter I on the US cover. And I like the blue tones and water images. At first glance I wasn't sure what the image on the UK cover was. (It's a very modern staircase.) The word perfect is off kilter - a nice touch. We also get a tagline. I think I"m going to go withe the US cover this week - it just appeals to me more. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read The Perfect Wife?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

The Sentence is Death - Anthony Horowitz

The Sentence is Death is the second book in Anthony Horowitz's Detective Daniel Hawthorne Series. (The first was The Word is Murder - my review.)

I found the first book incredibly clever and that originality continues with book two.

The protagonist is the enigmatic Hawthorn, let go from the police and now working as a P.I. Hawthorne is such a great character - a brilliant detective, but somewhat lacking in personal interactive skills. I quite like him. And playing Watson to his Holmes? Anthony Horowitz. Uh, huh - Horowitz has written himself in as a character in the series. And in the series, he plays himself, writing about Hawthorne's cases, often referring to actual events. Can you imagine the writing process? The interactions between the two are wonderfully depicted.

In this latest, a divorce lawyer is found bludgeoned to death with an expensive bottle of wine. Hawthorne picks up on the smallest clues and discrepancies. Horowitz also tries to investigate at times, but doesn't have the skill set of Hawthorne. What Horowitz desperately wants to konw is more about Hawthorne. The personal details of the detective are sparse and are only slowly being brought to light.

The murder is clever and takes several turns, keeping the reader guessing along with Horowitz. Hawthorne is far ahead of us on the final path to whodunit.

Clever, clever, clever. And so much fun to read. Here's an excerpt of The Sentence is Death. This reader will be looking forward to book number three. (And Horowitz has stated that he sees nine or ten Hawthorne book in the series.)

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Over the Counter #409

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

The Valedictorian of Being Dead by Heather B. Armstrong.

From Gallery Books:

"From New York Times bestselling author and blogger Heather B. Armstrong comes an honest and irreverent memoir—reminiscent of the New York Times bestseller Brain on Fire—about her experience as one of only a few people to participate in an experimental treatment for depression involving ten rounds of a chemically induced coma approximating brain death.

For years, Heather B. Armstrong has alluded to her struggle with depression on her website, dooce. It’s scattered throughout her archive, where it weaves its way through posts about pop culture, music, and motherhood. But in 2016, Heather found herself in the depths of a depression she just couldn’t shake, an episode darker and longer than anything she had previously experienced. She had never felt so discouraged by the thought of waking up in the morning, and it threatened to destroy her life. So, for the sake of herself and her family, Heather decided to risk it all by participating in an experimental clinical trial involving a chemically induced coma approximating brain death.

Now, for the first time, Heather recalls the torturous eighteen months of suicidal depression she endured and the month-long experimental study in which doctors used propofol anesthesia to quiet all brain activity for a full fifteen minutes before bringing her back from a flatline. Ten times. The experience wasn’t easy. Not for Heather or her family. But a switch was flipped, and Heather hasn’t experienced a single moment of suicidal depression since.

Disarmingly honest, self-deprecating, and scientifically fascinating, The Valedictorian of Being Dead brings to light a groundbreaking new treatment for depression."

(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!)