Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Woman in the Dark - Vanessa Savage

The Woman in the Dark is Vanessa Savvage's debut novel. Now, I'm not too sure about that cover, but what's inside was a really good read!

When Sarah's mother dies, she falls into a bit of a tailspin. Hoping to have a fresh start and a new outlook, her husband Patrick convinces her to take her inheritance and buy his childhood home. He has such fond memories of this house and his time in it - it was 'perfect' in his words. And he wants that for Sarah and his two children Joe and Mia. But the house isn't quite perfect - it's actually known as The Murder House. Yes, a mother, father and child were murdered in the home after Patrick's family moved out.

Ahh, a nice set-up with lots of possibilities......I love a good spooky house story. But is it the house? Or the people living in it? Savage does an excellent job at keeping both options on the table.

The relationship with Sarah and Patrick begins to deteriorate, as does their own mental states. As readers, we want to shout at Sarah to just get out now. Take her kids and run. The teens are not exempted from the what's happening either. And yet, they all stay..... (and as a perquisite of spooky house stories - yes, there's a scary cellar - and you shouldn't go down there either.)

The Woman in the Dark is told from Sarah's point of view. But there's also someone else - is it the person that Sarah sees watching the house? Italicized chapters darkly hint at the past. Savage keeps the reader guessing with many supporting characters that are all just a little off. The suspense builds with many red herrings, possibilities, what-ifs and more as the book progresses. Shades of Jack Nicholson and redrum.

I found Savage's writing to be really addictive - I was always trying to squeeze in just one more chapter before putting the book down. I'm quite looking forward to what she writes next. Here's an excerpt of The Woman in the Dark.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Giveaway - A Dog's Way Home - Blu-ray™ and Book!

Based on the bestselling novel by W. Bruce Cameron, A Dog's Way Home releases on Digital March 26 and on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD on April 9 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. And I have a combo pack of both the Blu-ray™ and the novel to giveaway to one lucky reader!

What's it about? "The film chronicles the heartwarming adventure of Bella, the brave and adventurous dog that embarks on an epic 400-mile journey home after she is separated from her beloved human, Lucas. A Dog's Way Home highlights the power of unconditional love between man’s best friend and its human companion. The film stars Ashley Judd.

A Dog's Way Home arrives with adorable extras including a DIY guide to creating your own tasty dog treats at home and several deleted scenes. Also included are interviews with novelist W. Bruce Cameron, director Charles Martin Smith and cast and crew as well as a heartwarming look at the film’s canine star Bella’s rags to riches journey from the shelter to the big screen.

A Dog's Way Home has a run time of approximately 96 minutes and is rated PG for thematic elements, some peril and language." Check out the official trailer here.

Read the book and want to see the movie? Haven't read the book yet? Enter to win a copy of each using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only. Ends April 6/19.

Friday, March 22, 2019

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #255

- 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 was so excited to hear that Kate Atkinson was releasing a new Jackson Brodie novel! Big Sky releases in June on both sides of the pond! The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Both covers use the gull image. I wonder which came first? The bird only or the the seascape scene? The gull alone is quite striking and  and seems to suit and reflect the title. And yet it seems quite stark. The sky is still the focal point in the US cover, with the wharf and waves underneath. The tagline on the UK cover is simple and to the point. The US cover gives us more - but I was unable to read what the top blurb read. I did find a third cover this week that is quite different from these two. The Canadian cover is below.

Canadian cover
The Canadian cover is above. Well, a completely different look here! Gone is the blue sky and bird. The sky is somewhat ominous at the top, but fades out. The pier is there, but more like an arcade that the windswept version on the US cover. This cover doesn't appeal to me at all. I prefer the blue. And out of the two blues, I'm going to go with the US cover this week. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read Big Sky?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

All the Wrong Places - Joy Fielding

Joy Fielding's latest book All the Wrong Places is newly released.

The title immediately brought to mind the phrase 'looking for love in all the wrong places'.

Paige's breakup with her boyfriend was not friendly and she's hestitant to get back into the dating scene. But, convinced by her mother and best friend, she joins a number of online dating sites. Social media has made these sites even quicker - swipe left or right for immediate results. Results is what Mr. Right Now is looking for - he's a serial killer using the sites and apps to troll for victims.

Relationships, companionship, love and the search for those are the driving forces behind Fielding's latest tale. Paige's mother Joan, her cousin Heather and her best friend Chloe are also looking.

The killer is given his own chapters and voice. He's most definitely not someone you want to meet. As readers, we know what he's up to and what he's planning. He has his eye on Paige. And every
time Paige goes online I get that 'don't go in the basement' feeling.

All the Wrong Places ended up being a bit different than I had expected going in, as it was billed as a thriller. Much of the book is focused on the relationships of the four women. Drama. Lots of detail on clothes, hair etc that seemed extraneous after a certain point. Joan's many trips to the hospital. And the reason for her last trip just seemed awkward. Not sure if it was a PSA for those over sixty five? Heather was over the top - you can easily slot her into the mean girls with narcissism role. Philandering husband? Check. Spousal abuse. Check. Starting over. Check. And etcetera.

I like my suspense and thrillers to be a little grittier. Fielding does end the book on a nice twist that I appreciated. And just like dating, this was maybe just the wrong book for me. I think All the Wrong Places would appeal to fans of Iris Johansen and Tami Hoag. Read an excerpt of All the Wrong Places. Check out the five star reviews on Goodreads.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Over the Counter #472

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

Help Me: My Perfectly Disastrous Journey through the World of Self-Help by Marianne Power.

From Harper Avenue Books:

"A hilarious and heartwarming rampage through the world of self-care.

Marianne Power was a self-help junkie. For years she lined her bookshelves with dog-eared copies of definitive guide after definitive guide on how to live your best life. Yet one day she woke up to find that the life she dreamed of and the life she was living were not miles but continents apart. So she set out to make a change. Or, actually, to make every change.

Marianne decided to finally find out if her elusive perfect life—the one without debt, anxiety, hangovers or Netflix marathons, the one where she healthily bounced around town with perfect teeth to meet the cashmere-sweater-wearing man of her dreams—lay in the pages of those books. So for a year she vowed to test a book a month, following its advice to the letter, taking the surest road she knew to a perfect Marianne.

As her year-long plan turned into a demented roller coaster where everything she knew was turned upside down, she found herself confronted with a different question: Self-help can change your life, but is it for the better?"

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

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Harlan Coben - Run Away - Review AND Giveaway

I have been eagerly awaiting the release of Harlan Coben's latest thriller, Run AwayIt releases today - and it is sooooooo good! Honestly, every time I finish one of Coben's books, I think 'oh, that's the best one yet.' This latest? Settle in for the day when you start to read - it's impossible to put down!

Oh, and did I mention that I have a copy to giveaway, courtesy of Grand Central Publishing?!!

Nobody writes 'everyday guy in a bad situation' books better than Coben. In this latest, Simon's drug addicted daughter Paige has run away with her abusive boyfriend. Simon has been looking for her for months. Then one day, sitting on a bench in Central Park, he spies her playing the guitar for spare change. He approaches her, but she runs again. And Simon follows.....

Cut to a new set of characters - Ash and DeeDee - a pair of stone cold killers. ("Murder was simple if you kept it simple.") And one more player, Elena, a private investigator looking for a missing man. How are these stories all going to tie together? And that dear reader, is the beauty of Harlan Coben's books. There's no predicting where the story is going to go. The plot of Run Away is an intricate jigsaw of a plot - until that last piece is slotted in, you can't be sure there's not another turn in the story. (And there are many - that last one is a doozy.)

The reader is privy to all three narratives and is aware of what each set of characters are up to. Which only serves to ratchet up the tension even more. The cliffhangers at the end of each chapter are dangerous - I couldn't stop reading 'just one more chapter'. I had to know what would happen next.

Each character has their own story and they are really well drawn and fleshed out. Simon's anguish over his daughter is palpable. Elena's own personal story will resonate with you. And oddly enough, Ash has real feelings, despite his choice of profession.

Whew! What a ride! Absolutely recommended! Read an excerpt of Run Away. And if you'd like to read Run Away, enter for a chance to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, ends March 30/19.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Maker March with DK Canada!

It's Maker March time at DK Canada! They've got some great suggestions in their Maker March Boutique..."whether you've got a budding chef on your hands or a budding scientist who wants to build something awesome, we've got the perfect books to keep kids busy and creating during Maker March!"

And not just kids - they're some great ideas for adults as well! The new edition of The Sewing Book by Alison Smith caught my eye......

I'm a self taught sewist, always looking to improve on my skills and discover new ideas and techniques. I was quite excited to explore the 400 pages of The Sewing Book - "more than 300 step by step techniques. Tools. Fabric. How to Use Patterns. Projects for the Home and to Wear." I happily turned the first page....
DK books excel at presenting information and ideas. The Sewing Bible was no exception. The images presented  are full colour photographs. They are crisp, clean images that let you see easily see the details, such as the thickness of different threads and the different types of fabrics. The accompanying information is clear and concise. The layout makes it easy to read.

I sewed a lot of my children's clothes when they were young using commercial patterns. I've never attempted to create or alter patterns for myself, which is something I'd like to try. The section covering this was excellent.

The actual sewing process is detailed as well - stitches. There was a great little pattern for a simple tote bag at the end of this chapter to practice (I have lots of scraps I could use up here!) Subsequent chapters deal with the different techniques of sewing clothes. Again, excellent directions and accompanying photographs. (I preferred these over drawn illustrations.) There are more small projects to practice more skills such as zippers, linings, buttons and more. A small unit on mending was also included. Patterns and an index complete the book.

The Sewing Book is an excellent resource for both novice and experienced sewists. And it's the quality of information and product that I've come to expect and appreciate from DK. Here's an excerpt of The Sewing Bible. See the sample page below.

Friday, March 15, 2019

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #254

- 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 was a big fan of Jeffery Deaver's Lincoln Rhyme series when it first came out. But I've missed the last few as they began to seem repetitive. Deaver is coming out with the first book in a new series featuring investigator Colter Shaw in May. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. So, bright grab you attention colours on the US cover. More subdued on the UK cover. Both feature a lonely stretch of road. I can't say I'm a fan of the chopped look of the US cover. I like the tag line on the UK cover - it lets me know that it's the kind of book I would read. I'm going to go with the UK cover this week. That chopped image makes my eyes hurt. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read The Never Game?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Who Killed the Fonz? - James Boice

Okay, do any of these ring a bell with you? The Fonz, Fonzie or Arthur Fonzarelli? Yes? Then you might want to pick up James Boice's new novel Who Killed the Fonz? I was very curious about this book.

Boice has reprised the beloved cast of the sit-com Happy Days, that was set in the 1950's. Boice has taken the cast forward to 1984. (I quite enjoyed the pop culture references.)  Richie has moved away, but Ralph Malph, Potsy, Al and others still make their home in Milwaukee. Richie makes his way back home on hearing the news that Fonzie is dead. It can't be - can it? Richie can't believe it and starts his own investigation.

What a fun concept this was! I had no problem at all imagining the characters in this book. (Yes, I watched the show!) Boice has kept their traits and mannerisms intact and it was like visiting with old friends as I listened.

Michael Crouch was the reader.  His voice has a nice little gravelly undertone and his measured way of speaking suited Richie's dialogue. His voices for the supporting cast also suited the characters. Crouch's diction is clear and easy to understand. Listen to an excerpt of Who Killed the Fonz? Running time - 5 hours, 11 minutes.

So, yes there's the mystery - who killed The Fonz? The answer was just as I expected. But underneath that whodunit are the relationships - friendship and family. Boice weaves those bonds into his story, reprising the feel of the original. Those who are familiar with the show would enjoy this book the most - cozy, fun and nostalgic.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Over the Counter #471

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

Genealogy is so popular now - many of us are looking for our roots....

The Cowkeeper's Wish: A Genealogical Journey Hardcover  by Tracy Kasaboski and Kristen den Hartog.

From Douglas & McIntyre:

"Part intimate family memoir, part robust social history, The Cowkeeper’s Wish is a genealogical excursion through an era of astonishing change.

In the 1840s, a young cowkeeper and his wife arrive in London, England, having walked from coastal Wales with their cattle. They hope to escape poverty, but instead they plunge deeper into it, and the family, ensconced in one of London’s “black holes,” remains mired there for generations. The Cowkeeper’s Wish follows the couple’s descendants in and out of slum housing, bleak workhouses and insane asylums, through tragic deaths, marital strife and war. Nearly a hundred years later, their great-granddaughter finds herself in an altogether different London, in southern Ontario.

In The Cowkeeper’s Wish, Kristen den Hartog and Tracy Kasaboski trace their ancestors’ path to Canada, using a single family’s saga to give meaningful context to a fascinating period in history—Victorian and then Edwardian England, the First World War and the Depression. Beginning with little more than enthusiasm, a collection of yellowed photographs and a family tree, the sisters scoured archives and old newspapers, tracked down streets, pubs and factories that no longer exist, and searched out secrets buried in crumbling ledgers, building on the fragments that remained of family tales.

While this family story is distinct, it is also typical, and so all the more worth telling. As a working-class chronicle stitched into history, The Cowkeeper’s Wish offers a vibrant, absorbing look at the past that will captivate genealogy enthusiasts and readers of history alike."

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

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The Night Olivia Fell - Christina McDonald

The Night Olivia Fell is the latest book from author Christine McDonald.

Abi Knight receives the call that no parent ever wants to receive - her daughter has been hurt. But it's even worse than she could have imagined - Olivia is brain dead. She's also pregnant. And the police have ruled it an accident. Abi is shocked, stunned and doesn't understand. An accident? Pregnant? Abi thought she knew her daughter...And so she begins her own investigation.

The Night Olivia Fell is told from alternating voices - that of Abi and Olivia. What Abi believes she knows about her daughter is not reality - as she begins to find out. The listener is privy to Abi's thoughts and actions. We know what has gone on, even as Abi struggles to find answers.

I love back and forth narratives and having the knowledge of what is going on with both characters. It does ramp up the tension. And makes it hard to not want to listen to just one more chapter!

The clues as what may have really happened that night are laid out as the book progresses. I enjoyed following the clues, changing my and in the end my answer to whodunit was correct. McDonald does provide many options for that final answer. But the real strength of the novel are the relationships - specifically that of mother and daughter. McDonald's characterizations are believable, emotional and relatable.

I chose to listen to The Night Olivia Fell. There were two narrators - Kelly Burke and Laurel Lefkow. I always appreciate multiple readers - it just seems more realistic - as if you really are listening to two people's thoughts. Now, I'm not sure who read what character, but both readers were excellent.  Abi's voice is 'older' and seems just right for a parent. The emotion of this character was easily communicated by this reader. Her voice has a rich tone and is clear and easy to understand. Olivia's voice is definitely 'younger' and was believable as a teenager talking. She enunciates well and her voice is clear and pleasant to listen to. Different and distinct voices were provided for supporting characters. Listen to an excerpt of The Night Olivia Fell.

Those looking for a lighter mystery with a focus on relationships will want to pick up The Night Olivia Fell.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Giveaway - The Woman in the Dark - Vanessa Savage

The Woman in the Dark - Vanessa Savage's debut novel - releases March 12/19. And I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader! Vanessa - you had me at Gothic house and murder......

From Grand Central Publishing:

"In the vein of The Couple Next Door, a debut psychological thriller about a woman who moves with her family to the gothic seaside house where her husband grew up — and where 15 years ago another family was brutally slaughtered.

Sarah and Patrick are happy. But after her mother’s death, Sarah spirals into depression and overdoses on sleeping pills. While Sarah claims it was an accident, her teenage children aren’t so sure. Patrick decides they all need a fresh start and he knows just the place, since the idyllic family home where he was raised has recently come up for sale. There’s only one catch: for the past fifteen years, it has become infamous as the “Murder House”, standing empty after a family was stabbed to death within its walls.

Patrick believes they can bring the house back to its former glory, so Sarah, uprooted from everything she knows, pours her energy into painting, gardening, and giving the rotting old structure the warmth of home. But with locals hinting that the house is haunted, the news that the murderer has been paroled, strange writing on the walls, and creepy “gifts” arriving on the doorstep at odd hours, Sarah can’t shake the feeling that something just isn’t right. Not with the house, not with the town, or even with her own, loving husband — whose stories about his perfect childhood suddenly aren’t adding up. Can Sarah uncover the secrets of the Murder House before another family is destroyed?"

"Vanessa Savage is a graphic designer and illustrator. She has twice been awarded a Writers’ Bursary by Literature Wales, most recently for A Woman in the Dark. She won the Myriad Editions First Crimes competition in 2016 and her work has been highly commended in the Yeovil International Fiction Prize, short listed for the Harry Bowling Prize, and the Caledonia Fiction Prize. She is on the current longlist for the Bath Novel Award." You can connect with Vanessa Savage on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

And if you'd like to read The Woman in the Dark, enter for a chance to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada. Ends Mar. 23/19.

Friday, March 8, 2019

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #253

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

US cover
UK cover
The 29th (!) book, Neon Prey, in John Sandford's long running Lucas Davenport series releases in April on both sides of the pond. I've read the 28 that have come before and am looking forward to this newest. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Two very brightly coloured covers this week. The UK cover is very busy to me - too any images. But the neon part is well telegraphed. The US cover has a much cleaner look. It almost looks like a marquee. So easy choice for me this week - US. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read Neon Prey?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

How To Measure Everything - DK Canada

Little Guy is at the age where he questions everything - why and how and more. He loves to 'find out things.'

How to Measure Everything from DK Canada is a great learning tool for measurement. Height, length, weight, volume, time, temperature and the calendar.

How to Measure Everything has been published as a board book. The pages are sturdy and able to stand up to repeated (and not always gentle) use. That format also allows for some great surprises on many of the pages! There are lift the flap windows on most pages (questions/answers), a movable clock and a wonderful pop-up at the end.

As with every new book, Little Guy likes to start with the cover and talk about what we might find inside. The cover is bright and colourful with pictures that illustrate what measuring is. The rulers on the cover are a clever border. Explanations of what each measurement is are part of each category's page. Once the concept has been explained, there's the fun of answering the questions on the top of the lift up flap. And the answers are underneath the flap. And the last page covers all the principles using a pop up bedroom scene. Clever!

We decided to read one category - starting with weight - and then go around the house guessing what things might weigh, what might be heavier etc using everyday objects (and a lot of toys.) The kitchen and bathroom scales got a lot of use. But I loved that his curiosity was piqued. This is how we learn.

As always with DK publications, the book is bright, colourful, well laid out and appealing. The information within is perfect for a 4-7 year old.How to Measure Everything fits perfectly within the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) focus of learning in school systems today. Have a peek at what's inside below. Check out other titles in DK's Hands-on Learning with STEM boutique.

This was a five star, thumbs up read for Gramma and Little Guy.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Over the Counter #470

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner?  You should always say thank you....

Thanks a Thousand: A Gratitude Journey by A.J. Jacobs.

From Simon and Schuster:

"The idea was deceptively simple: New York Times bestselling author A.J. Jacobs decided to thank every single person involved in producing his morning cup of coffee. The resulting journey takes him across the globe, transforms his life, and reveals secrets about how gratitude can make us all happier, more generous, and more connected.

Author A.J. Jacobs discovers that his coffee—and every other item in our lives—would not be possible without hundreds of people we usually take for granted: farmers, chemists, artists, presidents, truckers, mechanics, biologists, miners, smugglers, and goatherds.

By thanking these people face to face, Jacobs finds some much-needed brightness in his life. Gratitude does not come naturally to Jacobs—his disposition is more Larry David than Tom Hanks—but he sets off on the journey on a dare from his son. And by the end, it’s clear to him that scientific research on gratitude is true. Gratitude’s benefits are legion: It improves compassion, heals your body, and helps battle depression.

Jacobs gleans wisdom from vivid characters all over the globe, including the Minnesota miners who extract the iron that makes the steel used in coffee roasters, to the Madison Avenue marketers who captured his wandering attention for a moment, to the farmers in Colombia.

Along the way, Jacobs provides wonderful insights and useful tips, from how to focus on the hundreds of things that go right every day instead of the few that go wrong. And how our culture overemphasizes the individual over the team. And how to practice the art of “savoring meditation” and fall asleep at night. Thanks a Thousand is a reminder of the amazing interconnectedness of our world. It shows us how much we take for granted. It teaches us how gratitude can make our lives happier, kinder, and more impactful. And it will inspire us to follow our own “Gratitude Trails.”"

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

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Blood Orange - Harriet Tyce

Blood Orange is Harriet Tyce's debut novel.

Alison has the life she wanted - successful barrister, loving husband, a beautiful little daughter. But what her friends and colleagues can't see is what goes on behind closed doors. There are cracks in her marriage - and Alison has had a hand in that. She's drinks too much. She works too much. And she's having an affair with her superior. A superior who has specific tastes. When she secures her first murder case, she see parallels to her own life and realizes she needs to turn things around. But, someone knows Alison's secrets and wants to make her pay....

Alison is most definitely an unlikable protagonist. I had a hard time buying her as a lawyer. She's a train wreck on so many fronts - but like an accident, it was hard not to look and wonder what was going to happen next.

What happens next is a lot of degrading sex (all willingly accepted and often initiated by Alison). She continually makes bad decision after bad decision. I had a really hard time with her choices. Her husband is no better - his sniping and superior attitude makes him just as unlikable. And don't even get me started on the boss - absolutely despicable. The fact that I did have such visceral reactions to the main players does speak to Tyce's writing.

So, while I found the characters unsettling, I kept reading as I wanted to see what the promised twists might be. And I must admit, I was surprised. I had been so focused on Alison that I missed a few clues along the way. (And had to go back to read the prologue again after turning the last page.) Kudos to Tyce for that last twist.

Blood Orange was a very different read than what I had expected going in. It's well written, but I found Alison's debasing behavior so hard to read. So, gentle readers, this may not be one for you. Read an excerpt of Blood Orange.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Giveaway - Her Father's Secret - Sara Blaedel

Sara Blaedel is back with a new book! Her Father’s Secret is a suspenseful follow-up to The Daughter and releases March 5/19. I have a copy to give away to one lucky reader!

What's it about? From Grand Central Publishing:

"A woman’s murder is only the beginning as a daughter races to unravel the maze of secrets her father left behind–before she becomes the next victim–in the latest emotionally gripping novel from Sara Blaedel, #1 internationally bestselling author with over 3 million copies sold worldwide.

After suddenly inheriting a funeral home from her father–who she hadn’t heard from in decades–Ilka Jensen has impulsively abandoned her quiet life in Denmark to visit the small town in rural Wisconsin where her father lived. There, she’s devastated to discover her father’s second family: a stepmother and two half sisters she never knew existed. And who aren’t the least bit welcoming, despite Ilka’s efforts to reach out.

Then a local woman is killed, seemingly the unfortunate victim of a home invasion turned violent. But when Ilka learns that the woman knew her father, it becomes increasingly clear that she may not have been a completely random victim after all.

The more Ilka digs into her father’s past, the more deeply entangled she becomes in a family drama that has spanned decades and claimed more than one life–and she may be the next victim…" Read an excerpt of Her Father's Secret.

“Sara Blaedel knows how to reel in her readers and keep them utterly transfixed.” –Tess Gerritsen
“One of the best I’ve come across.” –Michael Connelly

"Sara Blaedel is the author of the #1 international bestselling series featuring Detective Louise Rick, as well as a new Family Secrets series. Her books are published in thirty-eight countries. In 2014 Sara was voted Denmark’s most popular novelist for the fourth time. She is also a recipient of the Golden Laurel, Denmark’s most prestigious literary award. Originally from Denmark, Sara has lived in New York, but now spends most of her time in Copenhagen."  You can connect with Sara on her website, follow her on Twitter and like her on Facebook.

And if you'd like to read Her Father's Secret, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada. Ends March 16/19.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Where Are the Children? - Mary Higgins Clark

Where Are The Children by Mary Higgins Clark was originally released in 1975. It is newly released as an audio book.

Clark has penned a new introduction to the book. She names Where Are the Children as the book that kick-started her incredible career.

Although I've read a number of Clark's books, I had never read Where Are the Children. More and more, I'm doing my 'reading' through audiobooks, so I was quite happy to listen to this title.

Nancy Harmon was a suspect in the deaths of her two young children. She was cleared in court, but not in the public eye. She changed her name, appearance and locale in an attempt to start over. She found love with Ray and they have two children together. And she is as happy as she can be. Until......yep, unbelievably these children go missing. How could this happen again to her? And as much as she knows knows she has nothing to do with their disappearance, the cops think she does......

Now, this book  was written 44 years - and at the time it created some controversy. In the intro, Clark mentions this book was turned down by some publishers because of some of the content. It would have been boundary pushing in 1975. I kept this in mind as I listened. Clark also says that the inspiration for the story was the real life case of Alice Crimmins.

What happens to Nancy is unthinkable and she collapses. A friend of the family who happens to be a therapist believes that the past holds the clues to what is happening now. As she answers his questions we learn that Nancy's first marriage was more than a little creepy. The childsnatcher also has a voice. Creepier. His motive for taking the children is, well, deviant. And this is probably what scared off publishers in 1975.

The reader knows what is happening with the children as well as how the search for them is progressing. A back and forth narrative ramps up the tension. (And ensures the reader listens to just one more chapter) And kudos to Clark. Twists and turns in a novel are all the rage now. Where Are the Children includes some nice unexpected twists.There's a reason Mary Higgins Clark is called the Queen of Suspense.

This early novel was a treat to listen to.  January LaVoy was the reader. She's a narrator I know and I quite enjoy her voice and readings. Her performance in Where Are the Children was excellent. She has a rich, smooth voice with a nice undertone. Her enunciation is crisp and clean. Her voice is clear and easy to understand. She has interpreted the book well and her voice telegraphs the tension and action well. She provided really believable and distinctive voices for the characters. Her children's voices were especially well done. Listen to an excerpt of Where Are the Children.

Friday, March 1, 2019

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #252

- 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'm really looking forward to Hannah Jameson's debut novel
The Last. "One Hotel. Twenty Survivors. One of them is a murderer." Ticks all the boxes for me. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. The title font size and colour is almost the same on both. Two very different background colours. That red is eye catching for sure. But I like the blues and purples of the US sky image. But what wins it for me this week is the US picture. I love isolated crumbly mansions. Add murder. Even better. Add an apocalyptic event. Delicious. I had to look twice at the UK image. It's a hotel as well, but just doesn't draw me in as much. What about you? Any plans to read The Last? Which cover do you prefer?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Watcher in the Woods - Kelley Armstrong

I have been addicted to Kelley Armstrong's Rockton series, aka City of the Lost, from the very first book. I've been eagerly awaiting this fourth entry - Watcher in the Woods. 

Rockton is a hidden town of two hundred in the Yukon where people go to disappear. They're either running from something or someone. It's not on a map and is 'hidden by both technological and structural camouflage.' Casey Duncan arrived in Rockton nine months ago. She was a cop 'down south' and is still a cop on a the Rockton staff of three.

Watcher in the Woods picks up two weeks after the end of the third book. Still picking up the pieces from a murder, Casey and company are caught unawares when they find a man who says he's a US Marshall, lurking in the woods surrounding the town. He says he's there to take one of the residents into custody and demands that he be turned over. But most of the residents go by an alias and the Marshall doesn't know that name. Within hours of being taken to Rockton, the Marshall is shot and killed. And Casey and Sheriff Dalton have another murder on their hands. Is the man really a Marshall? How did he find the town? Who killed him? And how did the killer have a gun - they're banned for residents. In a town full of fugitives how do you ferret out the truth? Rockton is 'governed' by a Council - and their latest edicts are raising questions about their motives and directives.

There is so much to love about this series! First off, I am fascinated by the idea of a hidden town up in the North. A town full of liars, thieves and criminals provides a wealth of opportunities for story telling. It's not just the town. There are those who have chosen to leave the town and make their home elsewhere in the wilderness. There is First Settlement who live a rough but recognizable life. But there are also Hostiles - people who have reverted to an almost animalistic state. And a few who live alone. Armstrong has eked out the details on these outsiders through each book - and it's done nothing but make me more curious.

The characters are just as engaging as the premise. Casey is a strong female lead - tough, intelligent and determined - but not perfect. She has also found love with Sheriff Eric Dalton. I like the relationship between the two. It adds another layer to the books and is well written, steering clear of cloying romanticism. With Casey and Dalton, what we know as readers is the truth about them both. Dalton is also the only resident born in the town. His experience and outlook is different having not lived down south. There is a large supporting cast that features in each book. They too are just as well written. Given the reason for the town, they are an eclectic bunch and we're never sure if they are what or who they say they are. A new character has moved to the town and I think she'll add an interesting sub plot to the next book.

And that brings me to the whodunnit. The reader is along for the ride as Casey and Dalton try to determine who the killer is. It's not a straight path to the guilty party as all, which I really appreciate. Casey's reasoning and deductions ask the reader to pay close attention. But, I was still happily kept guessing until the last pages.

And best of all? There's more stories to come from Rockton. And this reader can't wait! Watcher in the Woods is another five star read from Kelley Armstrong. Here's a excerpt of Watcher in the Woods.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Over the Counter #469

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

Paperback Crush: The Totally Radical History of '80s and '90s Teen Fiction by Gabrielle Moss.

From Quirk Books:

"A hilarious and nostalgic trip through the history of paperback pre-teen series of the 80s and 90s.

Every twenty- or thirty-something woman knows these books. The pink covers, the flimsy paper, the zillion volumes in the series that kept you reading for your entire adolescence. Spurred by the commercial success of Sweet Valley High and The Babysitters Club, these were not the serious-issue YA novels of the 1970s, nor were they the blockbuster books of the Harry Potter and Twilight ilk. They were cheap, short, and utterly beloved.

PAPERBACK CRUSH dives in deep to this golden age with affection, history, and a little bit of snark. Readers will discover (and fondly remember) girl-centric series on everything from correspondence (Pen Pals and Dear Diary) to sports (The Pink Parrots, Cheerleaders, and The Gymnasts) to a newspaper at an all-girls Orthodox Jewish middle school (The B.Y. Times) to a literal teen angel (Teen Angels: Heaven Can Wait, where an enterprising guardian angel named Cisco has to earn her wings "by helping the world's sexist rock star.") Some were blatant ripoffs of the successful series (looking at you, Sleepover Friends and The Girls of Canby Hall), some were sick-lit tearjerkers à la Love Story (Abby, My Love) and some were just plain perplexing (Uncle Vampire??) But all of them represent that time gone by of girl-power and endless sessions of sustained silent reading.

In six hilarious chapters (Friendship, Love, School, Family, Jobs, Terror, and Tragedy), Bustle Features Editor Gabrielle Moss takes the reader on a nostalgic tour of teen book covers of yore, digging deep into the history of the genre as well as the stories behind the best-known series."

(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, February 26, 2019

The Hiding Place - C.J. Tudor

I added C.J. Tudor to my 'must read' list of authors after devouring her debut novel The Chalk Man. (my review) I couldn't wait to read her newly released second book, The Hiding Place.

Joe became a teacher after leaving his hometown of Arnhill. He left behind heartache, loss and more. It was this descriptor that had me hooked....

"Because for Joe, the worst moment of his life wasn't the day his sister went missing. It was the day she came back."

And so Joe goes back to Arnhill to work as a teacher. But he has his own reasons for returning. He's in a bit of trouble himself...

Arnill is a place full of secrets where the past seems to be repeating itself. Tudor paints a darkly vivid setting. Joe's cottage, the school, the abandoned mines and the rest of the town are places you wouldn't choose to be. And the inhabitants? Just as dark and duplicitous.

But through it all is the question - what happened to Joe's sister?

"And that's when I feel it. A sudden wave of dread like vertigo, that hollows out my stomach from within and saps the strength from my bones. I will not let that happen. It's happening again."

And Joe. He's a deeply flawed character, but I was drawn to him and happily alongside as he plumbed both the past and present for answers. I absolutely loved his voice - his acerbic wit and sarcasm are perfect, but don't always serve him well.

Tudor drops hints about what happened to Annie as the book progresses through flashback to the past chapters. About two thirds of the way through, I had a good idea of what transpired. And I was right (a nod to Stephen King), but it didn't detract at all from my enjoyment of this book.

Tudor's writing makes for addictive reading and I can't wait for book number three. Read an excerpt of The Hiding Place.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Giveaway - This Much Country - Kristin Knight Pace

I'm looking forward to reading Kristin Knight Pace's memoir This Much Country. It releases March 5/19 - and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

From Grand Central Publishing:

"A memoir of heartbreak, thousand-mile races, the endless Alaskan wilderness and many, many dogs from one of only a handful of women to have completed both the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod.

In 2009, after a crippling divorce that left her heartbroken and directionless, Kristin decided to accept an offer to live at a friend’s cabin outside of Denali National Park in Alaska for a few months. In exchange for housing, she would take care of her friend’s eight sled dogs.

That winter, she learned that she was tougher than she ever knew. She learned how to survive in one of the most remote places on earth and she learned she was strong enough to be alone. She fell in love twice: first with running sled dogs, and then with Andy, a gentle man who had himself moved to Alaska to heal a broken heart.

Kristin and Andy married and started a sled dog kennel. While this work was enormously satisfying, Kristin became determined to complete the Iditarod — the 1,000-mile dogsled race from Anchorage, in south central Alaska, to Nome on the western Bering Sea coast.

This Much Country is the story of renewal and transformation. It’s about journeying across a wild and unpredictable landscape and finding inner peace, courage and a true home. It’s about pushing boundaries and overcoming paralyzing fears."

"Kristin Knight Pace was born in Fort Worth, TX and graduated with honors from The University of Montana with a degree in photojournalism. After writing for several newspapers and magazines, she left the publishing world to lead a life worth writing about — one of adventure.  What was supposed to be a five-month stay turned into years on end, and now she has found and married the love of her life, become the Lead Backcountry Ranger for Denali National Park, and realized her dream of running dogs through the wilderness of Alaska. Kristin finished the 2015 Yukon Quest and the 2016 Iditarod."

If This Much Country sounds like a book you'd like to read, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, ends March 9/19.

Friday, February 22, 2019

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #251

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

US cover
UK cover
The sister writing duo of Liv Constantine returns with a new book entitled The Last Time I Saw You. It releases in May on both sides of the pond. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Okay, so - two very different looks for this title. I have to admit, right off the start, I'm not a fan of the woman in the window image on the UK cover. The all blue background with yellow font for the title is effective - it stands out. I do like the simpler look of the US cover this week. The serpentine strand of jewels seem somewhat ominous and dangerous. The red color used also denotes danger. An easy choice for me this week - US. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read The Last Time I Saw You?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

The Woman Inside - E.G. Scott

The Woman Inside is a debut collaboration from E.G. Scott - a pseudonym for two NYC-based writers, one a publishing professional and one a screenwriter.

The Woman Inside is told from two viewpoints - Rebecca the wife and Paul the husband. They've been married for twenty years and each of them came to the marriage with secrets. And after twenty years, there are new secrets. Paul is having an affair and it looks like he's planning a new future for himself. Rebecca has a serious drug problem, but is not going to let Paul throw away their marriage. They're each capable of so much....

"I didn't realize what I'd done until many minutes later. Sometimes my anger is like that. The rage has been within me for so long....I've worked hard to keep it under wraps, especially from my husband."

Ahh, what follows is a lovely game of cat and mouse between the two. The reader is aware of what each player is thinking and scheming. There's also a back and forth narrative - giving us insight into the early days of the marriage.

But things takes a turn with an unexpected twist and the two are now forced to work together against a common threat. But the reader is still privy to that insider knowledge - and I could see what was coming. But I wasn't completely right - there was still another few surprises. You'll have to suspend belief on a few plot devices, but go with it.

Neither character is likeable and both are distinctly unreliable. The characters I did like were the police detectives - I found their back and forth banter quite entertaining. (Perhaps we'll see them in another book from this duo?)

If you're looking for domestic noir with some really nice twists, this is a really good bet. (But I'm not sure about that cover....) Read an excerpt of The Woman Inside.

The Woman Inside reads like a film - and TV rights to The Woman Inside have already been bought!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Over the Counter # 468

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Trying to make ends meet....

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive Hardcover by Stephanie Land.

From Hachette Books:

"Evicted meets Nickel and Dimed in Stephanie Land’s memoir about working as a maid, a beautiful and gritty exploration of poverty in America. Includes a foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich.

At 28, Stephanie Land’s plans of breaking free from the roots of her hometown in the Pacific Northwest to chase her dreams of attending a university and becoming a writer, were cut short when a summer fling turned into an unexpected pregnancy. She turned to housekeeping to make ends meet, and with a tenacious grip on her dream to provide her daughter the very best life possible, Stephanie worked days and took classes online to earn a college degree, and began to write relentlessly.

She wrote the true stories that weren’t being told: the stories of overworked and underpaid Americans. Of living on food stamps and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) coupons to eat. Of the government programs that provided her housing, but that doubled as halfway houses. The aloof government employees who called her lucky for receiving assistance while she didn’t feel lucky at all. She wrote to remember the fight, to eventually cut through the deep-rooted stigmas of the working poor.

Maid explores the underbelly of upper-middle class America and the reality of what it’s like to be in service to them. “I’d become a nameless ghost,” Stephanie writes about her relationship with her clients, many of whom do not know her from any other cleaner, but who she learns plenty about. As she begins to discover more about her clients’ lives-their sadness and love, too-she begins to find hope in her own path.

Her compassionate, unflinching writing as a journalist gives voice to the “servant” worker, and those pursuing the American Dream from below the poverty line. Maid is Stephanie’s story, but it’s not her alone. It is an inspiring testament to the strength, determination, and ultimate triumph of the human spirit."

(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, February 19, 2019

I Owe You One - Sophie Kinsella

Sophie Kinsella's books are the perfect antidote for dreary days. Light, fun and fluffy. I Owe You One is newly released and it happily kept me company over the course of a very cold, gray winter's Sunday afternoon.

Fixie Farr, her mom and her two siblings run the family business, a housewares store. Well, it's pretty much Fixie - the relationships between her and her brother and sister are fractious to say the least. But, as her father always said - family first. And Fixie has lived by that tenet.

Where did she get that name? She wasn't born a Fixie, but she can't help fixing things for almost everyone. Except herself.....

Fixie is a wonderfully engaging lead character. You can't help but like her and root for her. But the more she tries to fix things, the worse things get. Handsome strangers, old flames, misunderstandings, missteps, family quarrels - and of course the will they/won't they romance plot.

The supporting cast is lots of fun as well. The 'negative' characters are easy to spot. (and very easy to dislike) I laughed out loud many times at the antics and dialogue of the shop assistants.

And yes, the outcome is pretty much a given, but it's the journey there that is so much fun to read. Kinsella's books are engaging, entertaining, humourous and a perfect pick me up. Read an excerpt of I Owe You One.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Giveaway - Winter Sisters - Robin Oliveira

The paperback edition of Robin Oliveira's novel Winter Sisters has just released - and I have a copy to give away to one lucky reader. Historical fiction fans, this one's for you!

What's it about? From Penguin Books:

New York, 1879: An epic blizzard descends on Albany, devastating the city. When the snow finally settles, two newly orphaned girls are missing. Determined not to give up hope, Dr. Mary Sutter, a former Civil War surgeon, searches for the two sisters. When what happened to them is finally revealed, Dr. Sutter must fight the most powerful of Albany’s citizens, risking personal and public danger as she seeks to protect the fragile, putting at risk loves and lives in her quest to right unimaginable wrongs.

As contemporary as it is historic, Winter Sisters is part gripping thriller, part family saga, and ultimately a story of trauma and resilience that explores the tremendous good and unspeakable evil of which humans are capable." Read an excerpt of Winter Sisters. A reading group guide is also available.

“Stunning. . . Oliveira writes with feeling.”—The New York Times Book Review
“[An] engrossing story. . . that feels utterly timely.”—People, “The Best New Books”

Photo: © Shellie Gansz
"Robin Oliveira is the New York Times bestselling author of My Name Is Mary Sutter and I Always Loved You. She holds a BA in Russian and studied at the Pushkin Language Institute in Moscow. She received an MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is also a registered nurse, specializing in critical care. She lives in Seattle, Washington." You can connect with Robin on her website, and like her on Facebook.

And if you'd like to read Winter Sisters, enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only, ends March 2/19.

Friday, February 15, 2019

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #250

- 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
US cover
I was intrigued by this description of A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C.A. Fletcher...."When a beloved family dog
is stolen, her owner sets out on a life-changing journey through the ruins of our world to bring her back in this fiercely compelling tale of survival, courage, and hope. Perfect for readers of Station Eleven and The Girl With All the Gifts." Yup, added to the ever teetering TBR list. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. On first glance, we have two very similar covers. Differences? First off I noticed that the dog is alone on the US cover and the UK cover has both boy and dog. The gold tones while slightly darker at the top on the UK cover, are very similar. Two different fonts used. The UK font seems more suitable to an apocalyptic world.  The US font has that dangerous red around the edges. The interior of the cave (?) is black on the US cover and bit lighter on the UK cover. Hmm, I think I prefer the UK cover this week. Which cover do you prefer? 
Any plans to read A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Once Upon a River - Diane Setterfield

I've read Diane Setterfield's previous two historical fiction novels and really enjoyed them. But her latest, Once Upon a River? Absolutely fantastic!

1887. A pub in a small village on the River Thames. And what is a pub if not a gathering place, a place to catch up with neighbours and friends and a place to tell stories. Many stories are told of the dark and stormy night that Henry Daunt stumbled into The Swan, half dead and carrying a small girl. The girl appears to be dead....but miraculously isn't. But who is she? Many claim to know her, but is she Ann? Amelia? Alice?

"In this room, in this inn, they had seen her dead and seen her alive. Unknowable, ungraspable, inexplicable, still one thing was plain: she was their story."

I was drawn into Setterfield's tale from the opening pages. I could picture myself sitting in a cozy corner of the pub, listening to the stories being told. Once Upon a River has a delicious fairy tale feel to it.

We are introduced into a wealth of characters as the search for  who the child is begins. Each and every one is wonderfully drawn. And as with a fairy tale, you'll find the 'good' and the 'bad' very easy to determine. I was drawn to so many of the 'good' ones. But my favourite has to be Robert Armstrong, a farmer who plays a pivotal role in this tale. His goodness shines through, his determination to do the right thing. And...he talks to his pigs. And the pigs seem to understand and answer with their eyes. A close second was Rita Sunday - a no nonsense nurse whose crisp exterior covers up her heart's desire - and fears. But the entire book revolves around this character - the water, the River Thames. The water gives and takes, holds memories of what has gone and knows what should be.

Who the girl might be (and was she really dead?) is at the center of the book. And the answer to that drives the book forward in a measured, meandering, magical journey.

Setterfield's prose are wonderful and the story captivated me. I was sad to turn the last page. But so very glad I read this one. Once Upon a River has found a forever home on my bookshelf. Read an excerpt of Once Upon a River.

"And now, dear reader, the story is over. It is time for you to cross the bridge once more and return to the world you came from. This river, which is and is not the Thames, must continue flowing without you. You have haunted here long enough, and besides, surely you have rivers of your own to attend to?"

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Over the Counter #467

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

Snacks: a Canadian food history by Janis Thiessen.

From University of Manitoba Press:

"Snacks is a history of Canadian snack foods, the independent producers and workers who make them, and the consumers who can’t put them down.

Janis Thiessen profiles several iconic Canadian snack food companies, including Old Dutch Potato Chips, Hawkins Cheezies, and chocolatier Ganong. These companies have developed in distinctive ways, reflecting the unique stories of their founders and their intense connection to specific places.

These stories of salty or sweet confections also reveal a history that is at odds with popular notions of ‘junk food.’ Through extensive oral history and archival research, Thiessen uncovers the roots of our deep loyalties to different snack foods, what it means to be an independent snack food producer, and the often-quirky ways snacks have been created and marketed.

Clearly written, extensively illustrated, and lavish with detail about some of Canadians’ favorite snacks, this is a lively and entertaining look at food and labour history."

(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!)