Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Over the Counter #430

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

I am determined to make knitting a winter project this year. And One-stitch Baby Knits: 22 easy patterns for adorable garments and accessories using garter stitch by Val Pierce looks doable. And what baby wouldn't look cute in a cow hat?

From IMM Lifestyle Books:

"Welcome a new baby into the world with lovingly knitted garments!

22 adorable projects for baby clothing and accessories
Step-by-step instructions and photos for blankets, hats, bibs, booties, mittens, burp cloths, and more
Techniques and methods such as casting on, binding off, and creating slip knots
Expert tips for choosing yarn, working with different types of needles, and avoiding problems
Skill-level ratings, materials, gauges, and measurements for each project
Easy-to-understand charts for conversions and abbreviations
Create handmade cuddle-worthy knits!

This book is filled with easy-to-knit projects you'll want to make for the baby in your life. Top knitwear designer and author Val Pierce presents 22 simple patterns for practical but adorable baby knits, from booties to hats to blankets. Whether it's a kimono-style jacket that you don't have to pull over a newborn's head, or drawstring mittens that keep your little one from pulling them off, One-Stitch Baby Knits is full of thoughtful details that parents will love.

Made from the heart, One-Stitch Baby Knits is the perfect project book for any knitter on any level. Each and every one of these irresistible garments is made entirely with the garter stitch—the easiest stitch in knitting—making them both accessible to beginners and quick and simple for more experienced knitters. Every project also features a skill level rating of beginner, intermediate, or experienced, so you know where to start based on your current knitting skills.

Designed with small babies in mind, Val's patterns can be readily customized to get exactly what you want in a garment that's cheaper and sturdier than anything you'll find in stores. Nothing is more special than a hand-knit garment, especially when it's for a rosy-cheeked baby!

With the step-by-step instructions and photography inside One-Stitch Baby Knits, you'll complete the cutest ever pieces, including blankies, diaper covers, cardigans, scarves, shoes, rompers, clothes, and accessory sets.

Whether you gift your hand-knitted garments or keep them for your own little one, these designs are sure to make you say "Aww," all while you become a skilled knitter along the way!"

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

Monday, December 9, 2019

Giveaway - Vanishing Girls - Lisa Regan

If that creepy old barn caught your eye, you'll be 'thrilled' to know that I have a copy of Lisa Regan's book, Vanishing Girls, to giveaway to one lucky reader!

What's it about? From Grand Central Publishing:

"The USA Today bestselling thriller that “keeps the dramatic reveals coming” as Detective Josie Quinn desperately chases a killer hidden within her close-knit town before they claim another victim (Publishers Weekly).

The little girl curled into a tiny ball as the chamber grew colder around her. “Please,” she whispered, rocking back and forth. “I want to go home.”

When Isabelle Coleman, a blonde, beautiful young girl goes missing, everyone from the small town of Denton joins the search. They can find no trace of the town’s darling, but Detective Josie Quinn finds another girl they didn’t even know was missing.

Mute and unresponsive, it’s clear this mysterious girl has been damaged beyond repair. All Josie can get from her is the name of a third girl and a flash of a neon tongue piercing that matches Isabelle’s.

The race is on to find Isabelle alive, and Josie fears there may be other girls in terrible danger. When the trail leads her to a cold case labelled a hoax by authorities, Josie begins to wonder is there anyone left she can trust?

Someone in this close-knit town is committing unspeakable crimes. Can Josie catch the killer before another victim loses their life?" Read an excerpt of Vanishing Girls.

"Lisa Regan is the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Detective Josie Quinn series as well as several other crime fiction titles. She has a Bachelor’s degree in English and a Master of Education degree from Bloomsburg University. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and Mystery Writers of America. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband, daughter, and a Boston Terrier named Mr. Phillip." You can connect with Lisa on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

And if you'd like to read Vanishing Girls, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends Dec 21/19.

Friday, December 6, 2019

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #292

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

US/Canadian cover
UK cover
Elly Griffiths pens one of my favourite series - The Ruth Galloway mysteries. This twelfth entry releases in February across the pond and not until June in NA. I can't wait to read it! The US/Canadian cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Both versions follow the look of previous versions. The UK cover seems to be set on the salt marshes - a setting oft used in the books. I love that little stone cottage with smoke form a fire. That one bright window could be ominous or welcoming. The UK cover seems to literally represent the title with a lantern and also set on the marshes. I know I've gone with US versions of previous titles as it's the 'look' I'm used to...but this week I'm going to go with the UK cover. I love lonely houses. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read The Lantern Men?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Over the Counter #429

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

A unique running partner....Running with Sherman: The Donkey with the Heart of a Hero by Christopher McDougall.

From Knoph Books:

"From the best-selling author of Born to Run, a heartwarming story about training a rescue donkey to run one of the most challenging races in America.

When Chris McDougall agreed to take in a donkey from an animal hoarder, he thought it would be no harder than the rest of the adjustments he and his family had made after moving from Philadelphia to the heart of Pennsylvania Amish country. But when he arrived, Sherman was in such bad shape he could barely move, and his hair was coming out in clumps. Chris decided to undertake a radical rehabilitation program designed not only to heal Sherman’s body but to heal his mind as well. It turns out the best way to soothe a donkey is to give it a job, and so Chris decided to teach Sherman how to run. He’d heard about burro racing–a unique type of race where humans and donkeys run together in a call-back to mining days–and decided he and Sherman would enter the World Championship in Colorado.

Easier said than done. In the course of Sherman’s training, Chris would have to recruit several other runners, both human and equine, and call upon the wisdom of burro racers, goat farmers, Amish running club members, and a group of irrepressible female long-haul truckers. Along the way, he shows us the life-changing power of animals, nature, and community."

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

Monday, December 2, 2019

Christmas Shopaholic - Sophie Kinsella

Christmas seems to have crept up on me this year and I know I need to get started on my shopping. But, the ninth book - Christmas Shopaholic - in Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic series is here! And surely a book about shopping and Christmas could inspire me - right?

Those of you familiar to the series will be happy to hear that this latest is a return to the 'old Becky' if you will. (I must admit that the last two books that took Becky to the US fell flat for me.)

Becky's love of shopping has not lessened. Or the predicaments she gets herself into. (And these are so much fun!) All of it is done with the best of intentions of course. But the pressure is on this year - Becky will be hosting the family Christmas.

It takes a bit to make me laugh out loud at a book, but Kinsella had me giggling many, many times throughout Christmas Shopaholic. Just what I needed! Just beneath that humour are some truths as well - family, friends and what is truly important.

I enjoyed catching up with Becky and all of the supporting players. I feel like I've come to know them all and hearing what they're up to is like catching up with old friends.

This latest was perfect reading for the season. The door has been left open for the tenth entry in Becky Brandon, nee Bloomwood's life. I look forward to it! But for now - here's an excerpt of Christmas Shopaholic.

Friday, November 29, 2019

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover # 291

- 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 Good Man is the debut novel from Ami Katz, releasing in January 2020 on both sides of the pond. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. "A Good Man is a dark and gripping novel of psychological suspense about a family man, in the wake of a horrifying act, trying to work out where he went wrong." Two very different cover interpretations of the book this week. Both employ bold colors. Instead of a woman's face, we have a male profile this week, one looking pensive and bit downtrodden. The font used for the tile is also bold. And that X between title and author name seems to underscore something dark. The US cover also has an X of sorts. That twisted green hose (must admit I thought it was a snake at first with the scale pattern on it) is also an X of sorts. I found this image much more evocative. I thought that little red dot by Ani might be blood, but it's a ladybug. An easy choice for me this week - US. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read A Good Man?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

The Guardians - John Grisham

John Grisham is a very talented writer, but I must admit - I've found his last few books to be 'just okay' reads. But, this latest release, The Guardians, is absolutely fantastic! It felt like a return to his roots, if you will. It's easily one of my fave reads for 2019.

I really liked the lead character - Cullen Post. He's a lawyer and a minister. He and a skeleton staff run Guardian Ministries. Their mandate is to overturn wrongful convictions, to release the innocent who have spent years behind bars for crimes they did not commit. Limited resources means they only take a few cases at a time.

Their latest case is that of Quincy Miller, who has spent over twenty years in prison for the murder of a lawyer. Their are many flaws in the case, but as Post investigates, he realizes that there are those still around who don't want this case - or Quincy - to see the light of day.

I loved the premise! It's not a new idea, but Grisham executes it so very well. A combination of investigation and legal maneuvers kept me thoroughly engrossed from start to finish. There are other smaller cases and some personal moments along the way that only added to the book.

I'd love to see more of Post and his team - I feel like there are so many more stories and cases that could be told by Guardian Ministries. On reading the author's notes at the end of the book, I learned that the plot of The Guardians is based on an actual case.

The Guardians was an excellent read and an easy five stars. Read an excerpt of The Guardians.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Over the Counter #428

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

Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America's Doomsday Preppers by Tea Krulos.

From Chicago Review Press:

"Full of dry humor, this sociological adventure explores potential doomsday scenarios and the people who believe them.

Everyone always seems to be talking about the end of the world—Y2K, the Mayan apocalypse, blood moon prophecies, nuclear war, killer robots, you name it. In Apocalypse Any Day Now, journalist Tea Krulos travels the country to try to puzzle out America's obsession with the end of days. Along the way he meets doomsday preppers—people who stockpile supplies and learn survival skills—as well as religious prognosticators and climate scientists. He camps out with the Zombie Squad (who use a zombie apocalypse as a survival metaphor); tours the Survival Condos, a luxurious bunker built in an old Atlas missile silo; and attends Wasteland Weekend, where people party like the world has already ended. Frightening and funny, the ideas Krulos explores range from ridiculously outlandish to alarmingly near and present dangers."

(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, November 26, 2019

Noel Street - Richard Paul Evans

It wouldn't be Christmas without a new holiday tale from Richard Paul Evans. This year's book is Noel Street.

Set in 1975, Noel Street introduces us to Elle, a widowed mother of young Dylan. She's barely scraping by on her waitress's paycheck. When her car breaks down again, she doesn't know how she'll pay to get it fixed. But William, a new-to-town mechanic and Vietnam vet, fixes it for free, to repay a kindness she has shown him.

And yes, you can see it coming can't you? And that's what I was waiting for - the slow building attraction, two wounded souls finding each other, complications that come between them and...hopefully a happily ever after ending. There's much comfort in listening to this type of book around Christmas. (And the book is set at Christmas as well)

Both leads have not come to term with their pasts, not forgiving themselves and having a hard time living in the present. Love, loss, family, friends, forgiveness and redemption all play a part in Evans' story.

I liked both characters a lot and Dylan was a treat. I liked the 'historical' setting. I don't think the story would have worked written in present day. Evans knows his audience and his writing reflects that. I did find the 'villain' of the story, The Ketchup Lady, to be a bit over the top. I appreciated the supporting players, notably Fran and the diner crew.

I chose to listen to Noel Street. The reader was Helene Maksoud - a nice bit of continuity as she has read the first two 'Noel' books. She has a wonderfully calm, paced manner of speaking. Her voice is gentle, with a nice undertone and is very easy to listen to. Maksoud enunciates well and her speech is clear. She provide different voices for all characters, making it very easy to tell who was speaking. (It's hard to portray a child's voice, but Dylan was done well.)  Listen to an excerpt of Noel Street.

Perfect listening for the holiday season. (Officially less than a month away!)

Monday, November 25, 2019

Giveaway - Jane Austen's Sanditon AND The World of Sanditon

Oh my gosh - I have the most amazing giveaway for Jane Austen fans!!

This new release of Jane Austen's Sanditon goes on sale December 10/19. "In the vein of Downton Abbey, Jane Austen’s beloved but unfinished masterpiece-often considered her most modern and exciting novel-gets a spectacular second act in this tie-in to a major new limited television series."

From Grand Central Publishing:

"Written only months before Austen’s death in 1817, Sanditon tells the story of the joyously impulsive, spirited and unconventional Charlotte Heywood and her spiky relationship with the humorous, charming (and slightly wild!) Sidney Parker. When a chance accident transports her from her rural hometown of Willingden to the would-be coastal resort of the eponymous title, it exposes Charlotte to the intrigues and dalliances of a seaside town on the make, and the characters whose fortunes depend on its commercial success. The twists and turns of the plot, which takes viewers from the West Indies to the rotting alleys of London, exposes the hidden agendas of each character and sees Charlotte discover herself… and ultimately find love. " "Now, author Kate Rioirdan has finished the novel so fans can read it right before the release of Masterpiece’s brand new TV adaption starring Rose Williams and Theo James! Read an excerpt of Sanditon.

And that's not all..... I also have a copy of The World of Sanditon: The Official Companion by Andrew Davies and Sara Sheridan to give away!

From Grand Central Publishing:

"An exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the making of Jane Austen’s Sanditon television series.

Sanditon, the final novel Austen was working on before her death, has been given an exciting conclusion, and will be brought to a primetime television audience on PBS/Masterpiece for the very first time by Emmy and BAFTA Award winning screenwriter Andrew Davies (War & Peace, Mr. Selfridge, Les Misérables, Pride and Prejudice).

This, the official companion to the Masterpiece series, contains everything a fan could want to know. It explores the world Austen created, along with fascinating insights about the period and the real-life heartbreak behind her final story. And it offers location guides, behind the scenes details, and interviews with the cast, alongside beautiful illustrations and set photography. Read an excerpt of The World of Sanditon.

And one lucky reader is going to win a copy of each book! Enter for a chance to win using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, ends December 7/19.

Friday, November 22, 2019

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #290

- 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 always enjoy browsing 'coming soon' lists and have added a number of them to my ever teetering TBR pile.Graham Moore's forthcoming book, The Holdout is one of those. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right.To give some perspective, the holdout is a juror. So, both images are a good match for the plot - a single wooden chair and figures tumbling, but hitting the holdout and stopping. Two different colour schemes, but both very bold. Both catch the eye, but the red seems to draw me more. The UK cover gives the prospective reader an idea about what will be found inside and also features a cover blurb from a 'big name' author. I like both, but find the cleaner look of the US cover more appealing. And I like the looking down perspective. The UK cover just seems a bit busy. So, US for me this week. Any plans to read The Holdout? Which cover do you prefer?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

The Knitting Book - DK Canada

There's a knitting group at my local library. I've stopped in many times to see what they're making and each and every time I leave I think - "I want to learn how to knit." And I've convinced myself I will knit hats for each and every family member for next Christmas!

But, I need some direction and instruction. And I've found it in The Knitting Book - New Edition- by Vikki Haffenden and Frederica Patmore.

And speaking of Christmas, The Knitting Book would make a great gift book for anyone on your list. DK Canada has some other great suggestions in their Wonders of Gift Giving Boutique.

The Knitting Book is a fabulous resource for anyone - beginner through to those who already have skills. Everything is covered from start to finish.... Materials, including types and weights of yarn. All accompanied with large, full colour photographs that really allow the user to see the detail. Tools includes the same excellent photos detailing needles and other equipment. The Swatch Gallery contains 30 different styles and full instructions for these are found in another chapter at the end of the book.

But how to knit? Well, the Key Techniques chapter has very explicit and detailed instructions from casting on, so many ways to knit with patterns, colours, styles, embellishments and more, right through to casting off. Over 250 step-by step techniques! Again, all with colour photographs showing how to proceed very clearly. This is what I love about DK books - the clear instructions, clean layout, easy to see and process detailed information and most of all the colour photos.

The Knitting Book also includes a number of project ideas for beginners through to seasoned knitters. And yes - there's two hat patterns! And a really easy baby blanket that would be a good starter project for me. There are sweaters, throws, runners, an arm knitted rug and more.

A wonderful resource! Check out the excerpts below.






Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Over the Counter #427

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? One from the coming soon list...

The Thank You Project by Nancy Davis Kho.

From Running Press:

"Gratitude and happiness go hand-in-hand — and The Thank-You Project provides an easy-to-follow approach for creating more of both.

Who helped you become the person you are today? As Nancy Davis Kho approached a milestone birthday, she decided to answer that question by sending thank-you letters to the many people who had influenced her, helped her, and inspired her over the years: family, friends, mentors, teachers, co-workers, even a couple of former friends and exes. While her recipients always seemed genuinely pleased to read the letters, what Nancy never expected was the profound and positive effect the process would have on her. As it turns out, emerging research proves that actively appreciating the formative people in your life, past and present, can lead to a lasting increase in your happiness levels–and The Thank-you Project offers a charming, entertaining roadmap to see, say and savor your way there."

(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, November 19, 2019

The Family Upstairs - Lisa Jewell

The Family Upstairs is the newest release from New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jewell.

On her twenty fifth birthday Libby Jones receives an unexpected letter from a lawyer. She learns her birth name and is stunned to find out she has inherited a Chelsea home worth millions. Desperate for answers to her past, she visits the home and discovers it has been abandoned for years. But perhaps not....there are others who have been waiting for Libby to turn twenty five.

Well, I had no idea where Jewell's story telling would take me this time. There are so many directions the past could take. But, the house is at the core of the story. Just Henry and his parents lived in the home - until his mother invited two other families to live with them. And one of those 'others' slowly takes control of the house - and the lives of the rest of the inhabitants. Cult-like you could say.

Jewell employs a past and present narrative in The Family Upstairs. We start with Libby's discovery - that twenty five years ago, she was the baby found alive, with three dead bodies in the house and two others missing. We're along as she tries to find answers with a journalist friend. But, the reader is privy to two narratives from the missing. From them the reader learns what life was like inside the house and what lead to those bodies. And what they might want from Libby today.

And that makes for some disturbing listening. I could feel the tension rise as I listened to each new entry in the tale. The Family Upstairs has a pretty dark undertone running through it - traumatized children being the main plot line. The now grown survivors have created new lives and in some cases, new names for themselves. I had to cement who was who in the beginning.

The present begins to make more sense as the listener learns more and more about the past. The final run to the last pages had me listening late into the night. And Jewell throws in a nice little twist in the end that gave me shivers...

I chose to listen to The Family Upstairs and was really happy that there was more than one reader. It became easy to know who was talking with three narrators - Tamaryn Payne, Bea Holland and Dominic Thorburn. All did a great job and I thought each voice suited the character they were portraying. Thorburn does the innocence and outrage of young Henry really well and adds a darker note as adult Henry. I'm not sure what reader did the two female roles, but they were excellent as well. Again, innocence and confusion for Libby. But the Lucy reader was the one I enjoyed the most. (She was also my favourite character) All were easy to understand, their diction was clear and the speaking speed was just right. I've said it before and I'll say it again - I become much more immersed in a book when I listen to it. See for yourself - here's an excerpt of The Family Upstairs.

Monday, November 18, 2019

The Night Fire - Michael Connelly

I've been eagerly awaiting the third book in Michael Connelly's Renee Ballard and Harry Bosch series. The Night Fire is newly released - and I couldn't put it down.

Connelly keeps things moving along in real time with his characters. Renee is still without a partner - and that's okay. She's a pariah in her own department and is just fine working the night shift alone. But she does have an unofficial partner in retired Harry Bosch.

After attending the funeral of his old mentor, the widow hands him a binder - a murder book in fact. The case is still unsolved - and no one even knows the book is missing form the department. Yes, you guessed it - Harry can't let it go. He approaches Ballard to help him from inside the force.

Connelly nails it on every front. The characters are fantastic. At first I was resistant to a new character in Harry's world, but I really like Renee - she's tough, intelligent and relentless. She and Harry play well off each other. Mickey Haller also makes an appearance in The Night Fire.

The plotting? Again - fantastic. Connelly's mysteries and police investigations are intricate and authentic. Not surprising, as Connelly is a crime journalist. If you haven't listened to his Murder Book podcast you're missing some great investigative listening. As the story progressed, I realized that there were pieces of that real life case woven into this latest book.

Each of the leads are given POV narratives. We are privy to their private lives, both good and bad. This just makes the characters more 'real' for me.

The title? From Harry..."Take every case personally and you get angry. It builds a fire. It gives you the edge you need to go the distance every time out." Here's an excerpt of The Night Fire.

This is easily a five star read - and one of my favourites for 2019.

(And there's a fun cameo from Double the French Bulldog - can you name the owner in real life?)

Friday, November 15, 2019

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #289

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

UK cover
US cover
Jussi Adler Olsen pens one of my favourite series - the Department Q books. The mysteries are always intricate, but it is the two lead characters and their dialogue that have me eagerly awaiting this eighth book in in this series - Victim 2117. ( March 2020 on both sides of the pond)The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. For those who read this series, it looks like we might get some answers about Assad's background at last! Having read the synopsis, water plays a part in this plot - the sea specifically. The subdued tone of the UK cover suits the darkness of the plot. The rocks also speak to  danger. Water is part of the US cover image as well, but with a red tone that just says death. I like that there's no face on the body, although my initial impression is that it is a female. I find the red and the image on the US cover drew me in more, so that's my vote this week. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read Victim 2117?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Over the Counter # 426

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the counter and under my scanner? Yes, another dog book - I am still missing my old girl terribly....

Our Dogs, Ourselves: The Story of a Singular Bond by Alexandra Horowitz.

From Scribner Books:

"From Alexandra Horowitz, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Inside of a Dog, an eye-opening, informative, and wholly entertaining examination and celebration of the human-canine relationship for the curious dog owner and science-lover alike.

We keep dogs and are kept by them. We love dogs and (we assume) we are loved by them. We buy them sweaters, toys, shoes; we are concerned with their social lives, their food, and their health. The story of humans and dogs is thousands of years old but is far from understood. In Our Dogs, Ourselves, Alexandra Horowitz explores all aspects of this unique and complex interspecies pairing.

As Horowitz considers the current culture of dogdom, she reveals the odd, surprising, and contradictory ways we live with dogs. We celebrate their individuality but breed them for sameness. Despite our deep emotional relationships with dogs, legally they are property to be bought, sold, abandoned, or euthanized as we wish. Even the way we speak to our dogs is at once perplexing and delightful.

In thirteen thoughtful and charming chapters, Our Dogs, Ourselves affirms our profound affection for this most charismatic of animals—and opens our eyes to the companions at our sides as never before."

(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, November 12, 2019

White Elephant - Trish Harnetiaux


Next up in my Christmas listens is the newly released White Elephant by Trish Harnetiaux.

Do you know the White Elephant game? I've played it at holiday gatherings in the past. Everyone brings a wrapped gift with no name on it. Numbers are picked and gifts chosen - and then they can be stolen. But what if one of those gifts has significance to an attendee? A maybe murderous participant? Right from the start, the reader is aware that there is a murder in the mix. The who and the why remain to be seen.

Aspen real estate agents Claudine and her husband Henry are the hosts for this annual event. Their staff are all invited to the party and it's to be held at a home the pair are hoping to sell to pop star Zara. That Aspen setting guarantees snow - keeping people in - and the cops out. Harnetiaux also brings in some fact to her fiction - actual murder mysteries in the Aspen area are mentioned. I'm not sure this belonged with the somewhat cozy tone of White Elephant.

 None of the characters are particularly likable, except perhaps Zara. Claudine, Henry and Zara are all given a voice, as is a mystery fourth person. Claudine is the one you'll love to dislike - a lot.

The timeline flips from present to past as details are slowly added. I did find that there was almost too much detail and thought it slowed the book down. But overall, it was a fun, quirky little listen - a cozy Christmas mystery for the ears.

Renata Friedman was the narrator. She has a really pleasant voice that is easy to listen to and clearly understood. Her voice rises and falls as she reads, giving movement to the story. She interprets the book well and provides emphasis where the plot calls for it. The voices she provides for the different characters matched the mental images I had created. Listen to an excerpt of White Elephant.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Missing Person - Sarah Lotz

Missing Person is Sarah Lotz's latest book. It's a first read of this author for me, but won't be the last.

Irish bookseller Shaun has always believed his Uncle Teddy was dead. But then he learns the truth - his family lied. Teddy ran away to New York twenty years ago - and the family declared him dead. But why? Shaun can't leave it be and keeps asking questions, despite being warned off. But when he's contacted by an online missing persons group in the US, he might finally find some answers.

I adore epistolary novels - it feels like a more intimate read, like you're more 'in' the book. The group's questions, inquiries and internal conversations are all presented in a series of online chats, emails, messages, articles and more. Lotz does some great character building with the members of missing-linc.com. We are privy to their private lives, even though the members have not met one another. They're all battling something in real life and can be someone else online. But, one of those members has some personal knowledge of 'The Boy in the Dress' case. Shaun is just as well portrayed and I found myself quite drawn to him. There are four POV's - three members of the online group and Shaun. Lotz explores family, friendship, love, loss, grief and more through these characters alongside the investigations.

I liked having two settings - the US and Ireland. As well as investigating the case from two different countries. I thought the crime was well plotted. Lotz provides unexpected turns as the search for whodunit progresses. I was kept engaged the whole time. A quite different, but really good crime novel. See for yourself - here's an excerpt of Missing Person.

Friday, November 8, 2019

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #288

- 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
Long Bright River by Liz Moore releases at the top of 2020 on both sides of the pond. Blurbs by Paula Hawkins and Dennis Lehane had me taking a second look at this one. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Well, we have stark white font on both covers. And both are suitably dark. The US cover employs water in it's image, giving it movement. The UK cover has what looks to be a river as well, albeit a red river - death? I like the red, but what I don't need is another woman's face on the cover. I want to make my own mental images of characters from the author's words. For that reason alone, I'm going with the US cover this week. What about you? Which cover do you prefer?
Any plans to read Long Bright River?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Short and Sweet # 8 - The Reckoning - John Grisham

What? Well, time flies and sometimes I just seem to run out of it! So, Short and Sweet will be just that - some brief thoughts on books I've read or listened to. And when you see S and S, chances are I'm either busy, tired or on vacation!

The Reckoning by John Grisham was another back and forth to work listen. Narrated by Michael Beck.

From Random House Audio:

"October 1946, Clanton, Mississippi

Pete Banning was Clanton, Mississippi’s favorite son—a decorated World War II hero, the patriarch of a prominent family, a farmer, father, neighbor, and a faithful member of the Methodist church. Then one cool October morning he rose early, drove into town, and committed a shocking crime. Pete’s only statement about it—to the sheriff, to his lawyers, to the judge, to the jury, and to his family—was: “I have nothing to say.” He was not afraid of death and was willing to take his motive to the grave.

In a major novel unlike anything he has written before, John Grisham takes us on an incredible journey, from the Jim Crow South to the jungles of the Philippines during World War II; from an insane asylum filled with secrets to the Clanton courtroom where Pete’s defense attorney tries desperately to save him.

Reminiscent of the finest tradition of Southern Gothic storytelling, The Reckoning would not be complete without Grisham’s signature layers of legal suspense, and he delivers on every page."

My Thoughts:

I hadn't read or listened to a Grisham book in awhile and thought I would give this one a go. I hadn't read the premise before slipping in the first disc. I liked that it was a period piece, set in the years just after the war. The setting was the South, a place Grisham uses often and does well. And The Reckoning was no exception.

The shooting takes place in the first few chapters. The reason for that shooting is the mystery. And that's what kept me listening. As the book progressed, I had a pretty good idea of the why. But the ensuing trial and verdict takes place long before the end of the book - without revealing the why. The timeline switches back to before the shooting, when Pete was in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. I listened to a bit of this, but admit to fast forwarding - I just didn't want to listen to war atrocities. And then we bump back to the present where Pete's family is still trying to find that why. I found the timeline jumping jarring. And when I got to the final why, I was disappointed - in Pete and Grisham.

This was just an okay listen for me. Perhaps I went in expecting another type of read. The book is very well written - it's just not one I loved. But, I do have a hold on his forthcoming book, The Guardians.

Beck did a good job of capturing the character of Pete with his low tone and slower pace of speaking. His interpretation matched the mental image I had created for the lead character. His voice is clear, easy to understand and pleasant to listen to. Hear for yourself - here's an excerpt of The Reckoning.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Over the Counter #425

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the counter and under my scanner? I'm a sucker for dog - and underdog - books.....

Hero Dogs: How a Pack of Rescues, Rejects, and Strays Became America's Greatest Disaster-Search Partners Hardcover by Wilma Melville with Paul Lobo. 

From St. Martin's Press:

"Lola was a buckshot-riddled stray, lost on a Memphis highway. Cody was rejected from seven different homes. Ace had been sprayed with mace and left for dead on a train track. They were deemed unadoptable. Untrainable. Unsalvageable. These would become the same dogs America relied on when its worst disasters hit.

In 1995, Wilma Melville volunteered as a canine search-and-rescue (SAR) handler with her Black Labrador Murphy in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing. At the time, there were only fifteen FEMA certified SAR dogs in the United States. Believing in the value of these remarkable animals to help save lives, Wilma knew many more were needed in the event of future major disasters. She made a vow to help 168 dogs receive search-and-rescue training in her lifetime—one for every Oklahoma City victim.

Wilma singlehandedly established the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF) to meet this challenge. The first canine candidates—Ana, Dusty, and Harley—were a trio of golden retrievers with behavioral problems so severe the dogs were considered irredeemable and unadoptable. But with patience, discipline, and love applied during training, they proved to have the ability, agility, and stamina to graduate as SARs. Paired with a trio of firefighters, they were among the first responders searching the ruins of the World Trade Center following 9/11—setting the standard for the more than 168 of the SDF’s search-and-rescue dogs that followed.

Beautiful and heart-wrenching, Hero Dogs is the story of one woman’s dream brought to fruition by dedicated volunteers and firefighters—and the bonds they forged with the incredible rescued-turned-rescuer dogs to create one of America’s most vital resources in disaster response."

(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, November 5, 2019

Short and Sweet #7 - The Whisper Man - Alex North

What? Well, time flies and sometimes I just seem to run out of it! So, Short and Sweet will be just that - some brief thoughts on books I've read or listened to. And when you see S and S, chances are I'm either busy, tired or on vacation!

I was hearing good things about Alex North's latest book, The Whisper Man, and decided to make it my latest back and forth to work listen. Narrated by Christopher Eccleston.

From Macmillan Audio:

"In this psychological thriller, Alex North weaves a multi-generational tale of suspense, as a father and son are caught in the crosshairs of an investigation to catch a serial killer preying on a small town.

After the sudden death of his wife, Tom Kennedy believes a fresh start will help him and his young son Jake heal. A new beginning, a new house, a new town. Featherbank.

But the town has a dark past. Twenty years ago, a serial killer abducted and murdered five residents. Until Frank Carter was finally caught, he was nicknamed "The Whisper Man," for he would lure his victims out by whispering at their windows at night.

Just as Tom and Jake settle into their new home, a young boy vanishes. His disappearance bears an unnerving resemblance to Frank Carter's crimes, reigniting old rumors that he preyed with an accomplice. Now, detectives Amanda Beck and Pete Willis must find the boy before it is too late, even if that means Pete has to revisit his great foe in prison: The Whisper Man.

And then Jake begins acting strangely. He hears a whispering at his window..."

My thoughts:

Oh, what a great, creepy premise. Is the house haunted? Is Jake seeing things that are only in his head? Or are they real? Is there a killer about? The listener is never quite sure. North does a great job of keeping us guessing as the book progresses. North introduces events into the narrative that changed my thinking as it built momentum. The whodunit was one I didn't seen coming - and I always appreciate that. But for this listener, it was all about the journey and the uncertainty. Great listen!

And here's a fun fact: "The Whisper Man was inspired by North's own little boy, who mentioned one day that he was playing with "the boy in the floor."

Christopher Eccleston does a fantastic job or narrating. He has such a rich, sonorous, expressive voice - it's wonderful to listen to. He does a great job catching the tone of the book with his voice. And his reading of The Whisper Man rhyme gave me goosebumps. Listen to an excerpt of The Whisper Man.

Monday, November 4, 2019

White Christmas Wedding - Celeste Winters

No, it's not too early to start your Christmas listening (and reading!) I'm starting off the season with White Christmas Wedding by Celeste Winters.

Beth has found the love of her life and decides to get married at her rural family home so that her grandmother can attend. Her best friend Jen is the wedding planner. She decides to turn the two family's barns into winter wonderlands. But winter also brings.....snow, lots of snow. And all their carefully made plans are falling apart.....

And it's not just the wedding plans that are changing. Love, from many different character's views, is explored. Beth's mother in-law to be is adamant that Beth sign a pre nup. She is so easy to dislike as she disparages the venue and more. Jen is also faced with the past - in the form of Jared, her old boyfriend. Are the sparks still there? Bridesmaid Destiny also finds herself questioning her decision to not go to New York to pursue her dreams. And a guest finds herself wondering the opposite - would life be better in a smaller locale? (And there's a few more!)

Winters does a great job exploring relationships from very different viewpoints. All are well written, believable and draw the listener into the story. I liked the large cast. When everything goes wrong for the wedding, I could imagine how they were feeling. And curious as to how things would be solved.

And of course things do work out in the end. And that's what I was looking for - a feel good listen with romance and a winter's tale to start the season. Entertaining, escapist listening.

The reader was Charlotte Penfield. She was a new to me narrator. I liked her voice - it was well modulated and clearly enunciated. She interprets the author's work well, adding emphasis and inflection where situations call for it. Her voice is pleasant to listen to with a soft undertone. I did find her speaking speed to be a bit slow for me, so I turned the speed up to 1.25 and I found this better for me and it didn't distort anything. Hear for yourself - here's a audio sample.


Friday, November 1, 2019

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #287

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

US/Canadian cover
UK cover
I was perusing the coming soon lists and Tanen Jones' forthcoming book, The Better Liar, caught my eye. "When a woman conceals her sister’s death to claim their joint inheritance, her deception exposes a web of dangerous secrets in this addictive new thriller for fans of Megan Abbott, Gillian Flynn, and Paula Hawkins." Added to my TBR list. The US/Canadian cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. The tone of both cover is dark and hints at a dark story. The UK cover gives you an idea of the plot with the tagline - two sisters - and the US cover image depicts that. But the eye of each sister is quite different. One seems decidedly devious while the other seems more innocent. Yellow roses signify feelings of joy and delight - not sure that's what going on here. Now to the UK cover, which is quite appealing to me. It's different and a change from the old 'woman's image on the cover.' Two beds, two lights, one phone. I like the fuchsia color and the yellow plays off it well. An easy choice for me this week - UK. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read The Better Liar?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Many Rivers to Cross - Peter Robinson

Peter Robinson has just released the 26th (!) entry - Many Rivers to Cross -  in the Inspector Banks series. I've read them all and am always eager to pick up the latest.

The body of a young boy is found stuffed into a refuse bin on the Eastvale Estate. No one steps forth to identify him but there may be drugs involved.  And on another estate, the body of a life long drug user is also found - a seeming overdose. Banks and his team ,Gerry (I'm growing to quite like her) and Annie (I always appreciate her acerbic tongue), pick up both cases.

Running parallel to this investigation is Zelda's narrative. We met Zelda in the last book Careless in Love. She's a super recognizer and is working with law enforcement to identify those in the sex trafficking trade. She herself is a survivor of that world. But when she sees pictures of men who were involved in her past, she hesitates to share that knowledge. What path will she take? Robinson does an admirable job of writing Zelda's story.

Organized crime from Europe has spilled into England and on to Banks' patch. Politics, political viewpoints and machinations are also a large part of Many Rivers to Cross.

Inspector Banks books are meant to be savored. The story moves along well, but at a thoughtful pace that allows the reader to ruminate along with Alan. I enjoy his honest self contemplation....

"The 'black dog' of depression had been visiting more frequently and biting more viciously of late....At work he often felt like Sisyphus pushing that bloody rock up the hill only to have it roll back down again....He was also alone."

And I've always enjoyed checking out the music he plays. I wonder if the title from this book was inspired by the song Many Rivers to Cross, written and recorded by Jimmy Cliff in 1969. Lyrics are here and they seem to speak to both Banks' state of mind and the direction the plot takes.

That plot is believable, relevant and intricately woven. There's a satisfying ending to Many Rivers to Cross as Banks and team solve their case. Zelda however is another story - one I'm sure we'll see in the next book.

Another excellent read for me from Robinson. See for yourself - here's an excerpt.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Over the Counter #424

What books caught my eye this week? Well, my library doesn't own this book, but I came across it while browsing online. Pretty amazing creations!

Realistic Pumpkin Carving: 24 Spooky, Scary, and Spine-Chilling Designs by Lundy Cupp.

From Fox Chapel Publishing:

"Make Halloween magic this year by carving realistic pumpkins!

This book will show you how to use easy-to-learn techniques to create awesome "3D" pumpkin personalities that will astonish your neighbors, family, and friends. Learn the secrets of bringing expressive pumpkin characters to life by adding realistic details like teeth and eyes—instead of just cutting out solid shapes—so you can create your own one-of-a-kind Halloween pumpkins.

Award-winning pumpkin carver Lundy Cupp teaches you how to use simple household knives and inexpensive tools to carve memorable pumpkin faces, from frightful and spooky to fanciful and goofy. He takes you step-by-step through detailed projects for both beginning and advanced carvers.

Twenty-four ready-to-use patterns are included for carving imaginative faces in pumpkins, gourds, squashes, and sweet potatoes, plus two complete step-by-step projects, and a stunning photo gallery for inspiration."

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

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Elevator Pitch - Linwood Barclay

I don't even bother to read the descriptions of Linwood Barclay's new releases - I just know it's going to be a great read. Elevator Pitch is the latest release from Barclay.

I'm not a fan of elevators at all, so the premise already had me already squirming. A tragic accident - an elevator with four people in it - but the elevator isn't responding - it rises up to the top without stopping - and then plummets to the bottom of the shaft. And then it happens again....and its clear that these are not accidents.

Think about how many elevators are in Manhattan - and the fact that now no one wants to use them. The city is in turmoil. The frightening thing is that this premise isn't all that far-fetched. A great idea for a story!

Barclay introduces us to a wealth of characters from the opening chapters. Even seemingly supporting characters get lots of description and page time. The protagonists are two detectives (Bourque and Delgado) and Barbara, a journalist. Barbara was my favourite character. I liked her drive, her spunk and her attitude. The detectives were a close second - they played off each other really well. (And flawed leads are my fave.) I do love large ensemble novels and this one will have you keeping a mental scorecard of who's who in the beginning. I wondered how all these players would come together by the end.

Barclay takes the plot in a direction that was impossible to guess as he wove all those characters together. However, there was one subplot that I thought was a bit much,'over- busied' things and by the end didn't add much to the main whodunit IMO.

The chapters are short and the book moves along at a good clip. This was another entertaining, enjoyable read from Barclay. Here's an excerpt of Elevator Pitch. And I will continue to take the stairs when possible!

Monday, October 28, 2019

Giveaway - Floating in the Neversink - Andrea Simon

I love the cover of Andrea Simon's new novel Floating in the Neversink: A Novel in Stories. And what's inside sounds pretty great too! I'm today's stop on Andrea's blog tour and I have a copy of Floating in the Neversink to giveaway to one lucky reader. AND a copy of Andrea's other award-winning historical fiction novel, Esfir is Alive.

What's it about? From Black Rose Writing:

"In the summer of 1955, nine-year-old Amanda Gerber tearfully leaves her best friend, Francine, and their adventurous life on her block in Brooklyn’s Flatbush. She joins her cantankerous family on the long, hot drive to her grandmother’s home in the Catskill Mountains among the city’s Jews who flock to countless hotels and bungalow colonies in the heyday of the Borscht Belt. In the idyllic mountains, Amanda  becomes ensconced in the tumult of her extended family and their friends, often seeking solace in the woods with her beloved cousin Laura.

Through the following summers, interspersed with the heightened drama of her emotionally charged city life, Amanda faces severe tests to her survival mechanisms, including the pain of loss, abuse, and betrayal, while family secrets threaten to disrupt her life even further. A novel-in-stories, Floating in the Neversink is a testament to the power of survival, friendship, and love." Read an excerpt of Floating in the Neversink.

Andrea Simon is the author of the award-winning historical novel "Esfir Is Alive," the memoir "Bashert: A Granddaughter's Holocaust Quest," now in a new paperback edition, the novel-in-stories, "Floating in the Neversink," as well as several published stories and essays. She is the recipient of numerous literary awards, including the winner of the Ernest Hemingway First Novel Contest, two Dortort Creative Writing Awards, the Stark Short Fiction Prize, the Short Story Society Award, and the Authors in the Park Short Story Writing Contest. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the City College of New York where she has taught writing. Andrea is also an accomplished photographer, and her work has been featured in international publications and galleries. Andrea lives in New York City. @simonandrea19 (Twitter), @andreasimon (Facebook)

And if you'd like to read Floating in the Neversink and Esfir is Alive, enter for a chance to win using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only. Ends November 4/19.

#FloatingintheNeversink #indielit #indiepublishing #indielove , @blackrosewriting (Facebook and Instagram), and @brwpublisher (Twitter)

Friday, October 25, 2019

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #286

- 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
You might be saying to yourself (again) - Luanne, those are two  different books! Well, they're another case of same story, same author but with a different title and cover. Phaedra Patrick's new book releases in April 2020 on both side of the pond. It sounds like another heartwarming story and I will most likely pick it up. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Now, having read the synopsis, the US cover absolutely catches the plot. Those padlocks are important. And I love yellow. I really love yellow (and sunshine), so I have to admit that the UK cover is truly calling to me. There's are a couple of padlocks there as well - and a letter. An easy choice for me this week - the UK cover. What about you? Any plans to read this book - under either title?
Which cover do you prefer? Or which title for that matter?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

The Lying Room - Nicci French

With the finale of Nicci French's Frieda Klein series, I was curious as what this husband and wife writing team would pen next.

What's next is the newly released The Lying Room, a wonderful stand-alone mystery.

Neve's marriage has reached that twenty year marker. She's tired of it all - husband, kids, job and more. She wants a little excitement - and finds it in the arms of her boss, Saul. Uh huh, familiar story right? Well, yes, right up to the point where she calls on him early one morning after being with him the night before.....and finds that her lover has been murdered. But instead of calling the police, she then makes a crazy decision and cleans the apartment, erasing all traces of herself and her time there.

A setup I've read before, but one that offers up so many possibilities as to how things can play out. As a matter of course the police interview all the employees at the firm, including Neve. And she of course lies. The lead detective, Hitching, makes a great foil for Neve - one hunting for answers and one determined to keep her secrets. They dance around each other, with the suspicions there, but left unvoiced.

Muddying the waters is a large cast of supporting players. Much of the book takes place in Neve's home, where her family, friends and acquaintances tend to congregate. Each of them is just a little bit 'off' - too flamboyant, too quiet etc. Relationships are tried and tested throughout the book. The dwelling is a bit of a madhouse. As is Neve's mind as she tries to keep her lies straight.

But at the heart of it is who killed Saul? Any one of those at the house is a possibility. French provides many choices for whodunit as the book progresses. And who I thought it was? Wasn't. Nicely done Nicci French - I enjoy not being able to solve things early on!

Another great read from French - see for yourself - here's an excerpt of the Lying Room.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Over the Counter #423

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

The Outlaw Ocean: Journeys Across the Last Untamed Frontier by Ian Urbina.

From Knopf Books:

"A riveting, adrenaline-fueled tour of a vast, lawless and rampantly criminal world that few have ever seen: the high seas.

There are few remaining frontiers on our planet. But perhaps the wildest, and least understood, are the world’s oceans: too big to police, and under no clear international authority, these immense regions of treacherous water play host to rampant criminality and exploitation.

Traffickers and smugglers, pirates and mercenaries, wreck thieves and repo men, vigilante conservationists and elusive poachers, seabound abortion providers, clandestine oil-dumpers, shackled slaves and cast-adrift stowaways — drawing on five years of perilous and intrepid reporting, often hundreds of miles from shore, Ian Urbina introduces us to the inhabitants of this hidden world. Through their stories of astonishing courage and brutality, survival and tragedy, he uncovers a globe-spanning network of crime and exploitation that emanates from the fishing, oil and shipping industries, and on which the world’s economies rely.

Both a gripping adventure story and a stunning exposé, this unique work of reportage brings fully into view for the first time the disturbing reality of a floating world that connects us all, a place where anyone can do anything because no one is watching."

(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!)