Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Over the Counter #445

What book caught my eye this week? (Not over the counter and under the scanner though!) The picture and colour of this cover would have me picking it up to look inside....

Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby.

From Knopf Doubleday:

"From Samantha Irby--beloved author of New York Times bestseller We Are Never Meeting in Real Life--a rip-roaring, edgy and unabashedly raunchy new collection of hilarious essays.

Irby is forty, and increasingly uncomfortable in her own skin despite what Inspirational Instagram Infographics have promised her. She has left her job as a receptionist at a veterinary clinic, has published successful books and has been friendzoned by Hollywood, left Chicago, and moved into a house with a garden that requires repairs and know-how with her wife in a Blue town in the middle of a Red state where she now hosts book clubs and makes mason jar salads. This is the bourgeois life of a Hallmark Channel dream. She goes on bad dates with new friends, spends weeks in Los Angeles taking meetings with "tv executives slash amateur astrologers" while being a "cheese fry-eating slightly damp Midwest person," "with neck pain and no cartilage in [her] knees," who still hides past due bills under her pillow.

The essays in this collection draw on the raw, hilarious particulars of Irby's new life. Wow, No Thank You is Irby at her most unflinching, riotous, and relatable."

(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 the 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, April 6, 2020

In Five Years - Rebecca Serle

Rebecca Serle's latest book, In Five Years, is already a New York Times Bestseller and is a Good Morning America Book Club pick.

Lawyer Dannie Cohan interviews with a prestigious firm and knows she nailed the last question - where will you be in five years? She goes out to celebrate with boyfriend David and he pops the question. She happily goes to sleep that night, knowing that her five year plan is right on track. But when she wakes up, it's in a strange apartment with a strange man, a different engagement ring on her finger. And the date? Five years in the future. Aaron seems to know she dreaming? When she goes to sleep again, she wakes up with David in the 'right' time.

Oh, lots of places this one could go! And I really liked where Serle took it.

In Five Years is told from Dannie's viewpoint, so we get to know her pretty well. But we get to know her best friend Bella just as well. Serle has created a wonderful friendship between the two women. I have to admit, it was Bella who stole my heart. She's the opposite of Dannie, definitely not a type A. But. Yes, there's a but. Fate, karma, the universe steps into their lives and changes things. And suddenly all of Dannie's carefully laid plans mean nothing. And that mystery man from five years hence? He appears again...and that's all I'm saying! (Note - you may need a few tissues - I did.)

I chose to listen to In Five Years. The reader was Megan Hilty and she was great. The voice for Dannie suited the mental image I had created - a little uptight, exacting, but emotive. Bella's voice was a bit gravelly, quite engaging and suited the artistic nature of this character. I'm always in awe when I listen and realize that the conversation between two characters is being narrated by one person. Hilty also provided believable voices for two male characters. Hilty really interpreted the book well. Not gonna lie, there's a lot of emotions in this tale and Hilty captured them with her voice. Her voice is clear, easy to understand and is pleasant to listen to. Hear for yourself - here's an audio excerpt of In Five Years. I've always enjoyed listening to books, but even more so in these uncertain times. I love becoming immersed in the story and escaping for a wee bit.

I really appreciated Serle's writing. She has penned a wonderful tale of friendship, love, loss and living. She caught me off guard with the ending, but on reflection, it's just right.

If you like JoJo Moyes, you'd enjoy this book.

Friday, April 3, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #307

- 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
Woohoo! A new book by Karin Slaughter is on the way! The Silent Wife is the 10th book in the Will Trent series and is most definitely on my TBR list. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right.  The first time I looked at the UK cover, I thought the image was of a lake and some sort of barrier. (Yes, I need an eye checkup!) It is instead a braid with a red  ribbon. That red denotes danger. The title of the book is not as noticeable as it is on the US cover. And like most UK books, there's a cover blurb to catch your attention. Knowing from the UK cover that 'someone's watching you', that heart drawn on a window on the US cover seems very ominous, with the drip of condensation adding to that feeling. And the red underscores the danger. Title and author name are the same size on this cover. I'm going with the US cover this week. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read The Silent Wife?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Misconduct of the Heart - Cordelia Strube

I've been looking forward to Cordelia Strube's forthcoming book, Misconduct of the Heart. (releases April 21)  The premise had intrigued me....

"Stevie, a recovering alcoholic and kitchen manager of Chappy’s, a small chain restaurant, is frantically trying to prevent the people around her from going supernova: her PTSD-suffering veteran son, her uproariously demented parents, the polyglot eccentrics who work in her kitchen, the blind geriatric dog she inherits, and a damaged five-year-old who landed on her doorstep and might just be her granddaughter."

I picked it last week, sat in the sun and turned the first page....and was immediately hooked by the first few chapters. The introduction to Stevie et al is rough, raw and yes, powerful. Inside Chappy's you'll find the walking wounded, the marginalized, the forgotten and largely dysfunctional cast. And I wondered where in the world would Strube take this story from such a grab ya by the throat introduction?

But that was my initial gut response. As I kept reading, I found my perception changed - I cared about what happened to Stevie, her family and co-workers. I wanted more for them. My own emotions ran the gamut - anger, sadness, outrage (gotta love corporate - not) but also on the flip side hope, love and yes, humour.

One of the Chappy workers regals the others with animal kingdom facts. The facts given relate directly to what is happening in the book at that time - very clever. Stevie's inner dialogue and thoughts will make you stop and think. There is much wisdom to be found in her thoughts and dialogue. And I would challenge you to think about this character's observation...

"Olivia has this theory we go through life not really seeing what's around us or really knowing who's around us. And because we're shit-scared of what we don't know, we close our eyes to stuff."

When I first started to read the book, it was like a train wreck that I couldn't stop staring at. But by the end? Yeah, I wanted to know these people. They're so, so.... well, so real, so well depicted. Just people doing the best they can in the situation they're in - bad and good. Each player has a tale to tell and I was interested in each and every one. But Stevie? She was one of the best characters I've met in a long time.

And yes, there are some really heavy situations. Gentle readers - this is no holds barred read, certain situations may be triggers for some.

Strube is a very, very talented wordsmith with a sharp eye for the human condition. I absolutely loved this book. Hands down one of my faves for 2020.

PS - I really started wondering about the behind the scenes at the restaurant. Makes you wonder how much is truth - and how much of that is fiction.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Over the Counter #444

What book caught my eye this week? (Not over the counter and under the scanner though!) The title.....

Race Me in a Lobster Suit: Absurd Internet Ads and the Real Conversations that followed by Kelly Mahon.

From Quirk Books:

"his collection of prank Craigslist ads and the real email exchanges that followed is the perfect gift for fans of offbeat humor.

When New York City copywriter Kelly Mahon started posting fake gig ads online as a creative outlet, she was surprised to find that there was someone interested in every bizarre job offer she dreamed up. Race Me in a Lobster Suit collects Mahon’s funniest posts, along with the improvised email exchanges with would-be cocoon knitters and lobster racers. Some correspondents became suspicious, while others seemed willing to play along. The result is good-natured comedy gold and a kind of collaborative entertainment that could only exist in the internet gig economy. Irreverent illustrations by cartoonist Graham Annable (creator of the Harvey Award nominated Grickle comics) ensure that this small book offers outsize laughs. A quick, hilarious read, Race Me in a Lobster Suit is perfect for anyone who needs a bit of absurdity to brighten their day."

(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 the 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 31, 2020

Girls With Razor Hearts - Suzanne Young

I listened to the first book in Suzanne Young's YA series 'Girls With Sharp Sticks last year (my review). I quite enjoyed it and happily settled in with the newly released second book, Girls With Razor Hearts.

Mena and some of her friends discovered the truth about the  experiments and violence at their school, Innovations Academy, in the first book. They escaped and are now on the hunt for the Corporation, determined to take it down and free the girls still at the Academy. (Now, I am deliberately leaving out a few details in order to prevent spoilers.) They head to another school, hoping to make contact with an investor's child that reportedly attends this institution.

I had to shut down my default pragmatic thinking. I could see flaws in their plan (and had suggestions on alternates!) But without that flawed scheme we wouldn't have the plotlines that lead to ever increasingly dangerous places and people on the way to the final aha! So, my advice? Just go with it. And take note that the words futuristic and dystopian are good descriptors of this series.

I liked the cast of characters I met in the first book. And Mena is a great lead. You'll have no problem knowing who to dislike and suspect - although there are some that I'm not sure about. Are they working with or against the girls? The friendships between the girls are well depicted. And a blossoming romance is well done and well paced.

Gentle readers, there are some 'darker' matter in Girls With Razor Hearts. Some of it may be triggers for certain readers and listeners. I will say that the phrase..'but he's such a nice guy' was powerfully used.

GWRH does explore a number of  themes - bullying, sexism, classism, abuse and more. Perhaps a few too many more as I started feeling overwhelmed with the issues, feeling like they were taking precedence over the plot.

I did choose to listen to Girls With Razor Hearts. I was so very glad to see that Caitlin Davies was also narrating this second book. She did a great job with the first book and continuity is important with series. Her voice has created mental images of all the players. She uses a well enunciated, almost clipped, naive voice for Mena that is just right for the character and plot. Davies provides many different voices for the other players (including males) that make it easy to differentiate who is speaking. Her voice is clear and easy to understand. She uses her voice well, interpreting and presenting anger, fear, action and more. Hear for yourself - listen to an audio excerpt of Girls With Razor Hearts.

While the girls found some answers in this second entry, there are still more questions and more 'baddies' to chase down. We'll see what book three brings!

Monday, March 30, 2020

Giveaway - A Mother's Lie - Sarah Zettel

Maybe a giveaway would brighten up your day a wee bit? I hope so! I've got a copy of Sarah Zettel's new book, A Mother's Lie (releasing April 7/20) to giveaway to one lucky reader!

What it about? From Grand Central Publishing:

"A compulsive family drama about a mother's desperate search to reclaim her daughter from the horrors of her own past, perfect for fans of Then She Was Gone.

Beth Fraser finally has her life together. She's built a successful career in the tech sector, has a bright fifteen-year-old daughter, and she's completely erased all evidence of her troubled past. At least that's what she thought.

Dana Fraser always wondered why she's the only kid with two backup phones, emergency drills, and a non-negotiable check-in time every single day. When a stranger approaches her on the street claiming to be her grandmother, Dana starts to question what else her mother has been hiding.

Soon Beth's worst nightmare is coming true: Dana is in grave danger, and unless Beth is willing to pull one last con job for her parents, she may never see her daughter again." Read an excerpt of A Mother's Lie.

"Sarah Zettel is an award-winning author. She has written more than thirty novels and multiple short stories over the past twenty-five years, in addition to hiking, cooking, stitching all the things, marrying a rocket scientist, and raising a rapidly growing son."You can connect with Sarah on her website, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

And if you'd like to read A Mother's Lie, enter to win a coy using the Rafflecopter form below. OPen to US and Canada, no po boxes please. Ends April 11/20.

Friday, March 27, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #306

- 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 going to forgive JP Delaney for his last book. His newest novel - Playing Nice -  comes out in July and looks pretty good. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. So...both images are child related. The swing would be used by an older child, while the crib suggests much younger. The tagline on the UK cover gives you a definite idea about what you'll find inside. I'd be likely to pick up the UK book based on that. The red title font says suspense. The US cover is...nice. On first glance I might have thought women's fiction. And the tones used are...nice. Well, I'm going to go for the thrill this week and say UK cover for me. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read Playing Nice?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Maker March with DK Canada

It's Maker March with DK Canada! If you're like me, I find myself gravitating towards books and my craft stash during this time of self isolation and social distancing. Books and creativity - what better to try and escape for a wee bit. DK Canada has some great ideas for Maker March - and beyond.

What one caught my eye? Knit Step By Step: Techniques, Stitches, and Patterns Made Easy by Vikki Haffenden and Frederica Patmore. I'm determined to master more than just the basics in knitting.

Knit Step by Step will take you from those basics - Tools and Materials to Techniques, to Projects and finally Stitch Patterns.

What I really, really like about DK books are the full colour pictures that accompany the information. And in this case, it's the actual items that would be employed in knitting. The information is laid out in a clean, attractive way that lets you read one piece at a time.

Very detailed, close up, well contrasted images are used to showcase the various stitches. These are really easy to follow. And then we arrive at the place I've never gotten past - harder stitches and patterns.....The key is not to panic! Just pick one to try and give it a go. That's what I'm doing - Fair Isle patterns are still aways off for me. But when I am ready, Knit by Knit has great, detailed info just waiting to be explored. Hint - make sure you check out the stitch pattern glossary at the back - this is where I picked the stitches I wanted to try.

And there are some projects included - there's a nice (easy!) baby blanket I'm going to make.

Knit Step by Step is a great resource for new and experienced knitters. Another great book from DK!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Over the Counter #443

What book caught my eye this week? (Not over the counter and under the scanner though!) I'm behind on my Momo! (I had a border collie and just love that face!)

Find Momo across Europe: Another Hide-and-Seek Photography Book by Andrew Knapp.

From Quirk Books:

"Momo is a border collie who loves to hide. And you can play hide-and-seek with him as he travels across Europe with his best friend, Andrew. Join them on their stops in Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, the UK, and more. No passport required!

Momo is a bandana-wearing, headtilting border collie who loves to tuck himself into beautiful photographs taken by his best buddy, Andrew Knapp. The duo’s first books—Find Momo, Find Momo Coast to Coast, and the children’s board book Let’s Find Momo!—explored landmarks and little-known places across the United States and Canada. Now they’ve embarked on a European adventure, and you’re invited to go along!

See if you can spot Momo concealed in picturesque neighborhoods, among ancient ruins, around castles and cathedrals, at legendary landmarks, and in off-the-beaten-path locations that only these seasoned travelers could find. It’s the Grand Tour of Europe you’ve always wanted to take—with Momo’s cute and happy face waiting for you at every destination."

(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 the 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 24, 2020

Eight Perfect Murders - Peter Swanson

Eight Perfect Murders is the latest from author Peter Swanson.

From William Morrow Books:

"Years ago, bookseller and mystery aficionado Malcolm Kershaw compiled a list of the genre’s most unsolvable murders, those that are almost impossible to crack—which he titled “Eight Perfect Murders”—chosen from among the best of the best.

But no one is more surprised than Mal, now the owner of the Old Devils Bookstore in Boston, when an FBI agent comes knocking on his door one snowy day in February. She’s looking for information about a series of unsolved murders that look eerily similar to the killings on Mal’s old list. And the FBI agent isn’t the only one interested in this bookseller who spends almost every night at home reading. The killer is out there, watching his every move—a diabolical threat who knows way too much about Mal’s personal history, especially the secrets he’s never told anyone, even his recently deceased wife.

To protect himself, Mal begins looking into possible suspects . . . and sees a killer in everyone around him. But Mal doesn’t count on the investigation leaving a trail of death in its wake. Suddenly, a series of shocking twists leaves more victims dead—and the noose around Mal’s neck grows so tight he might never escape."

My Thoughts:

I've enjoyed previous books from Peter Swanson and was looking forward to this latest. I thought the premise was excellent. A series of murders based on a list compiled by a bookstore owner? The possibilities are many! I enjoyed seeing what books made the list of eight. Swanson's choices and the exploration of why each title was picked was made for bibliophiles. (But only if you've read the books - otherwise there are spoilers galore)

I initially liked Kershaw, but as the book progressed I began to dislike him. Why? Well, unreliable narrators make for interesting reading. Things can change rapidly was truths and untruths are added to the mix. But in this case, they felt clunky and convenient to me. And rapidly really didn't happen here. Lots of downtime that just felt like filler in between murders. And I thought he was a bit of a git.

But, I did keep reading until the end and Swanson did come up with a nice twist. But it wasn't enough to make me love the book. I must admit to being disappointed given how much I've enjoyed previous works. So, just a middle of the road three for this reader.

Monday, March 23, 2020

A Conspiracy of Bones - Kathy Reichs

Kathy Reichs has just released A Conspiracy of Bones - the 19th entry in her long running Temperance Brennan series.

I was a few books behind but it was easy to catch up in the opening chapter. A quick recap of what's going on in Tempe's life had me up to speed - and ready to see what was next in store for this forensic anthropologist. A lot, as it turns out....

An unidentified corpse missing many parts - but has Tempe's phone number in his pocket, a new boss who despises Tempe (the feeling is mutual), missing children, conspiracists and their theories, the dark web and more. And on top of it all, she's been diagnosed with a brain aneurysm.

The book starts out strong and I was caught up from the opening pages. And it only gets better as it progresses. Honestly, there was no way to predict where the plot was going to go. I actually stopped listening at one point to go online and see if some of the plot devices actually happened. Frighteningly, the answer was yes - MKUltra is a fact. Each new piece of evidence and every revelation only intrigued me more. And just when I thought I had the ending figured out - there were three or four additional chapters that changed the outcome I had predicted. I really enjoy being surprised.

I've always liked Tempe as a character. She comes across as believable. Love interest Ryan makes an appearance as well - another long running character and relationship that adds another layer to the books. I also like Tempe's mom - her bawdy one liners make me laugh and I picked up some computer knowledge from her explanations. But the supporting player I really like is ex-homicide investigator Skinny Slidell. He's irreverent, loud and a bit obnoxious. But he's a dogged investigator and he and Tempe make a formidable team. He too has some great lines.

As I mentioned, I chose to listen to A Conspiracy of Bones. Having read physical copies of the previous books, I noticed a big difference. I really, really enjoyed the audio version! The reader was Linda Emond and she was fantastic. She has a very versatile voice. Her voice has movement, rising and falling as she narrates. I've never watched the television show Bones, so I didn't have a preconceived notion of what Tempe's voice should sound like. Emond's voice was perfect and will for me always be the voice of Tempe. (I hope she reads forthcoming books) The voice for Slidell was spot on as well - loud, with a down home accent that was just right. When they're talking, you could believe there are two people speaking. She did a good job with Ryan's French accent as well. I found by listening to this one, I took in more. I heard the humor in Reich's writing. Yes, there are lots of funny lines in such a 'deadly' book. Her voice is pleasant to listen to and easy to understand. And as I always say, I feel more drawn in to a tale when I listen. See for yourself - here's an audio excerpt for you.

PS - make sure you listen to the author's notes at the end!

Friday, March 20, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #442

- 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
India cover
I've enjoyed B A Paris's previous books and have added The Dilemma to the old TBR list. The UK cover is on the left and the cover from India is on the right....and the US/Canadian cover is down below! The Dilemma is already released over the pond and comes out in June in N.A. Well, we do have a dilemma don't we? Ha! Both covers are quite bold in design employ a black font for the title and it comes down to colour preference. I do like the gold/saffron color but the petals are somewhat lost being the same color. They stand out more against the blue. The Canadian/US cover image fits the book, having read the synopsis. Hmm, choices, choices...I'm going to go with the India cover this week as I like the color and simplicity. What about you? Which cover do you prefer. Any plans to read The Dilemma?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.
Canadian/UK cover

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Over the Counter #442

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the counter and under the scanner? Well, this week's offering came from a newsletter.......

Beware of .... Bites of Terror: 10 Frightfully Delicious Tales by Liz Reed and Jimmy Reed.

From Quirk Books:

"Tuck into these darkly funny horror stories served as an utterly unforgettable graphic novel of hand-sculpted dioramas.

The Cake Creeper cordially invites you to a delicious and diabolical feast . . . where he’ll serve you a slice of tasty terror. Enter the world of Bites of Terror, a gleefully macabre anthology of cautionary tales. Meet an ice-cream cone who regrets a wish granted by a sinister salesman, a quarantined strawberry trying to escape a deathly mold outbreak, and a widowed watermelon dying to regrow her husband from a seed. In the tradition of Tales from the Crypt and other classic horror comics, Bites of Terror presents a tasty combination of horror and humor that reflects the human condition."

(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 the counter at the library. But...I can mention them and maybe one of them will catch your eye as well. See if your local library has them on their shelves!)

Monday, March 16, 2020

Maker March with DK Canada

Well, it's officially March Break - plus a couple of extra weeks for some. If you're looking for something to keep everyone busy, DK Canada has some great books for Maker March - check out the selections here.

Which one caught my eye? Bake It - 150 favourite recipes from best-loved DK cookbooks. The book is recommended for 10-14 year olds, but honestly - who doesn't like to create in the kitchen? Fun for all ages I say - and a treat to eat!

Now, that cover doesn't lie - inside are some recipes for sweet treats and breads and rolls (my downfall!)  The first section deals with some good basic knowledge - kitchen equipment, terms, methods and techniques used. The layout is wonderful - info boxes, clear, easy to understand information - and what I love about DK books - full colour, detailed pictures to illustrate all the above. A glossary at the back also details terms used.

The subject headings are Creative cakes, cupcakes and muffins, Celebration Cakes, Pastries, pies and tarts, Creative cookies and tasty treats, Classic crusts and No-bakes. Something for everyone's tastes -sweet and savory. A handy index at the back is another way to search.

Each recipe has a difficulty rating of 1-4 cupcakes, time needed, ingredients, servings and equipment needed. I loved this bit - each step of the recipe is numbered - and accompanied by colour photos detailing the step. I'm in awe of some of the ideas for cakes - the pinata cake was a neat idea.

At Gramma's house? Well, so far my kitchen has turned out a gluten free zingy lemon cake, an apple crumble and some variations on a basic cookie recipe using chips, dried cranberries and blueberries. The soda bread requires no yeast or kneading and is made and baked in an hour. At Christmas I'll have to remember that there's a gingerbread house recipe - the templates for the house are also at the back of the book and just need to be traced. There are many more just waiting to be made.

I really thought this was a great collection of recipes, wonderfully laid out, with ideas that will appeal to everyone. There is no nutritional info listed for the recipes.As well, some recipes are British based and call for self rising flour, but it is easy to make your own at home. Check out the sneak peek below.

Friday, March 13, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #304

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

Canadian cover
UK cover
I really enjoyed Kate Eberlen's debut novel, Miss You. (my review) I'm looking forward to her forthcoming release, If Only. Now that's the Canadian title. In the UK, the book is titled Only You. I'm always curious as to why a title is changed from country to country. Now, on to looks. The style of both books matches the previous book. I find the Canadian cover visually more interesting. It's colorful and looking closer, there are pictures in the letters, giving hints about the story inside. The UK cover is rather bland and I'm not keen on the colors used. So, easy choice for me this week - Canadian cover. What about you? 
Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read If Only - or Only You?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Over the Counter #441

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under the scanner? It was the subtitle of Ladysitting by Lorene Cary that caught my eye - at the end of of her century.....

From WW Norton Books:

"Lorene Cary’s grandmother moves in, and everything changes: day-to-day life, family relationships, the Nana she knew—even their shared past.

From cherished memories of weekends she spent as a child with her indulgent Nana to the reality of the year she spent “ladysitting” her now frail grandmother, Lorene Cary journeys through stories of their time together and five generations of their African American family. Brilliantly weaving a narrative of her complicated yet transformative relationship with Nana—a fierce, stubborn, and independent woman, who managed a business until she was 100—Cary looks at Nana’s impulse to control people and fate, from the early death of her mother and oppression in the Jim Crow South to living on her own in her New Jersey home.

Cary knew there might be some reckonings to come. Nana was a force: Her obstinacy could come out in unanticipated ways—secretly getting a driver’s license to show up her husband, carrying on a longtime feud with Cary’s father. But Nana could also be devoted: to Nana’s father, to black causes, and—Cary had thought—to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Facing the inevitable end raises tensions, with Cary drawing on her spirituality and Nana consoling herself with late-night sweets and the loyalty of caregivers. When Nana doubts Cary’s dedication, Cary must go deeper into understanding this complicated woman.

In Ladysitting, Cary captures the ruptures, love, and, perhaps, forgiveness that can occur in a family as she bears witness to her grandmother’s 101 vibrant years of life."

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

Monday, March 9, 2020

The Other People - C.J. Tudor

I have been a big fan of C.J. Tudor since the release of her debut novel, The Chalk Man. Her third novel, The Other People, is another fantastic read!

How's this for an opener - you're trying to get home on a rainy night. The car ahead of you is slow moving, rusty and sports some questionable bumper stickers. But the last thing you'd expect to see is your daughter's face in the back window, mouthing the word 'Daddy.' This is what happens to Gabe. The car, with his daughter inside, eludes him. He finally arrives home at last - only to find his wife has been murdered. And now, for the last three years, he's driven up and down the highway searching for that car, a clue, a memory - anything.

Uh huh, you're hooked right? I was! Putting an 'everyday' person into an untenable situation is one of my favourite scenarios. The possibilities are endless with an opener such as this. And C.J. Tudor has come up with some crackerjack plotlines. Each new entry led down another rabbit hole - the dark web, a mysterious man who also drives the highways, calling himself the Samaritan, a rest stop waitress who knows more than she lets on, a girl in a coma and... The Other People.

The story unfolds from numerous viewpoints and flips from past to present. I expected to be able to piece together what the end outcome might be, but was happily unable to. We all love a good twist at the end right? Well, Tudor provides more than one! She's blended a great mystery/thriller with a touch of supernatural and it makes for addictive reading. Read an excerpt of The Other People.

I can't wait for book number four! There's also a nice blurb from Stephen King on the cover..."If you like my stuff, you'll love this."

Friday, March 6, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #303

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

Canadian cover
UK cover
Oh, I adore Jenny Colgan's feel good tales. Her latest - 500 Miles From You - arrives in a few months and is most definitely on my must read list. The Canadian cover  is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. The title takes top billing on the Canadian cover, while it's the author on the UK cover. I prefer the blue background of the Canadian cover to the pink?salmon? of the UK. The image on the Canadian cover denotes the distance and that it's city vs nature. Distance is also achieved with the UK cover, but not as well IMO. An easy choice for me this week - the bolder feeling Canadian cover. What about you?
Any plans to read 500 Miles From You? Which cover do you prefer?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Follow Me - Kathleen Barber

I loved Kathleen Barber's debut novel Are You Sleeping. (my review) Social media was a large part of that book and this latest, Follow Me, does as well.

Follow me can be taken literally as following someone down a hallway. today's age of online everything, your first thought might have been following someone on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

Audrey Miller is an influencer on Insta, with over a million followers that eagerly await Audrey's next post. On the plus side, her social media savvy has landed her a dream job promoting an art gallery's exhibits. She rents an apartment unseen, moves a new city and reconnects with an old friend. And....lets all her followers know every step she's taking, every place she's been and more. Lots of followers for sure, but one of them has taken things to a new level - stalking.

Follow Me in told in three voices - Audrey, her old friend Cat and Him. We know the stalker is a man, but it could be any of the suspects Barber gives us to choose from - creepy guy at the apartment building, old flame, sketchy co-worker, new friend or random stranger. I honestly had no idea who the final aha was going to be. I was quite surprised by the final reveal. Barber does a great job of keeping the listener guessing.

I had a hard time liking Audrey and her somewhat narcissistic personality. Okay, maybe a bit more than somewhat. She's a bit of a user. But it absolutely works in this plot. There are a number of times she disregards the danger in front of her and blithely carries on - the equivalent of a movie 'don't go in the basement'. But again, integral to the plot. Good friend Cat has her own issues, but I shared her frustration with Audrey. And that brings us to the third voice - Him. Wonderfully (and frighteningly) drawn! His obsessions, delusions and stream of consciousness thinking are terrifying.

I chose to listen to Follow Me. I've said it before and I'll say it again - I always feel more immersed in a story when I hear it. I really liked that there were three narrators for Follow Me. And even more so when there are multiple narrators. The three for this book were excellent choices. - Corey Brill, Erin Moon and Emily Tremaine. Brill's voice for Him is suitably creepy and suited the unstable nature of this character. He interprets the plot very well and his tone and intonation reflects that. I'm not sure which woman read which part, but again they were both very well suited. Audrey's voice is strong in tone and captures the self centeredness of the character. The reader for Cat employs a softer voice that depicts the uncertainty of this player very well. All three were easy to listen too, were well enunciated and easily understood. Hear for yourself - here's an audio excerpt. 

Make sure you listen to the author's notes on writing this book - absolutely creepy. And the most alarming thing? This is completely plausible.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Over the Counter #440

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under the scanner? This one is for the Royal watchers in the crowd....

Our Rainbow Queen: A Tribute to Queen Elizabeth II and Her Colorful Wardrobe by Sali Hughes.

From Plume Books:

"A full-spectrum collection of photos of Queen Elizabeth II, paired with illuminating captions explaining each outfit, spanning nine decades of fashion and every color of the rainbow.

This riotously colorful book takes a photographic journey through Queen Elizabeth II's ten decades of color-blocked style. The photographs, which span the colors of the rainbow and a century of style, are gloriously accessorized with captions and commentary by journalist and broadcaster Sali Hughes, who gives fascinating context to each photo. Readers will learn how the Queen has used color and fashion in strategic and discreetly political ways, such as wearing the colors of the European flag to a post-Brexit meeting or a pin given to her by the Obamas to a meeting with Donald Trump.

With stunning photographs that span from the 1950s to today, and featuring brilliant colors ranging from the dusky pinks the Queen wore in girlhood through to the neon green dress that prompted the hashtag #NeonAt90, this must-have collection celebrates the iconic fashion statements of the UK's longest reigning and most vibrant monarch."

(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 the counter at the library. But...I can mention them and maybe one of them will catch your eye as well. See if your local library has them on their shelves!)

Monday, March 2, 2020

The Holdout- Graham Moore

I like a good legal thriller so The Holdout by Graham Moore caught my eye. It ended up being more than that....

Maya Seale was the foreman on a contentious case - the murder of fifteen year old Jessica - by her teacher. The others jurors initially said guilty. But Maya swayed them - and he was found not guilty. Maya's experience  with the court cemented her decision to become a lawyer. Another of jurors has been investigating the case  since the 'not guilty' verdict. He's finally convinced a true crime series to make a documentary. A big part of it will be a reunion of  the twelve. All well and good - until one of them turns up dead - and Maya is the prime suspect.

Every one of those jurors has secrets, both then and now. Moore deliciously ekes them out, flipping from present to past and back again. Each of the jurors is given page time. Though Maya is the lead character, I found I enjoyed some of the supporting players more than I did her.

With some plot developments, you'll need to take a few grains of salt - which I happily did. The legal aspects of the case were interesting and underlined how truths - and lies - can be manipulated.

Moore provides lots of twists as the story progresses. I thought I had the ending figured out, but one last aha! was an unexpected surprise. You get two mysteries for the price of one in The Holdout. An entertaining, escapist read for me. Here's an excerpt of The Holdout.

Friday, February 28, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #302

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

US cover
UK cover
John Grisham will be releasing the second 'Camino' book in the Spring of this year. I know I listened to the first one, but apparently didn't write a review on it. It was okay, but not a standout if I remember correctly. The US cover of Camino Winds is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Well, we have palm trees on both covers The US palms are still in the sunshine while the UK trees are dark and in midst of a good wind. The two images seem to be opposite with the US rather peaceful and the UK promising a storm. I think I prefer the US cover this week - I'd rather like to be underneath a palm tree in the sun! What about you? 
Any plans to read Camino Winds. 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 27, 2020

The Second Chance Club - Jason Hardy

Fiction is my usual genre, but I also enjoy social science books - ones that ask the reader/listener to take a look at our world, society and the people within. I knew I wanted to listen to The Second Chance Club: Hardship and Hope After Prison by Jason Hardy.

Hardy was a high school English teacher, had a master's degree in creative writing, but was toiling away in a retail job when he applied to become a probation officer in New Orleans. Armed with a badge, a gun and good intentions, Hardy is handed his caseload - over 200 cases, double the national average. The department is understaffed and underfunded.  Here's a stat for you - over 4.5 million people are on probation or parole in the United States.

Hardy focuses on seven of his cases in The Second Chance Club. Drugs are present in each of these people's lives. Some of them truly want a way out to a better life. But, what does that encompass? A better life means something different for each person. Others are gaming the system. I found myself quite surprised by the breadth of Hardy's job. Maybe it's from reading all those fictional police procedurals - for me, a probation officer sat in an office, with clients checking in on a regular basis, told to get a job and have a drug test. Well, yes that happens, but there's much more to the job. Hardy and his co-workers regularly visit for home inspections (and yes, home includes homeless tent encampments), find shelters, detoxes, counselling, court help and so much more than I knew.

I quickly became invested in the story of those seven cases. What would happen to each of them? Would they escape the past, find a future or continue to live the life they know? Sadly, disaster prevention becomes a phrase heard more than once in this book.

It was impossible not to stop, turn off the player and think as I reflected upon the latest chapter. Hardy himself reflects that "Every hour on the job presented a new opportunity to reflect on my own privilege and the extent to which a person’s place of birth dictates his aspirations..."

The Second Chance Club gives us a real look at the inner workings of the criminal justice system - and suggestions for what needs to change. And change only comes with knowledge. An excellent book and most definitely recommended.

I chose to listen to The Second Chance Club. The reader was a favorite of mine and an excellent choice - Jacques Roy. He seems to take on the personality of the author and becomes the voice for the mental image I had created. It's calming and suited the subject matter. His voice is clear, easy to understand and pleasant to listen to. The speed of speaking is just right, allowing the listener to take it all in. He enunciates well. His voice rises and falls with the emotion/actions etc. Listen for yourself -  here's an audio excerpt of The Second Chance Club.

(And as an aside, American Prison is about prisons in Louisiana - a nice companion piece to The Second Chance Club)

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Over the Counter #439

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

Where the Lost Dogs Go by Susannah Charleson.

From Houghton Mifflin Harcourt:

"From a New York Times best-selling author, an important and heartfelt exploration into the world of lost dogs and the power of reunion

One in six dogs go missing at some point in their lives, leaving bereft owners to search high and low, hang missing posters, check shelters, and hope for good news. But amid these grim statistics, countless happy endings are forged. Tails wag again. Best friends are reunited.

In Where the Lost Dogs Go, Susannah Charleson, author of Scent of the Missing and a trusted chronicler of the human/animal bond, dives headlong into the world of missing dogs. The mission to reunite lost pets with their families starts with Susannah’s own shelter rescue, Ace, a plucky Maltese mix with a mysterious past who narrowly survived months wandering lost. While Susannah formally studies animal behavior, lost-pet search tactics, social media strategies, and the psychology of loss, Ace also steps up for training. Cheerful and resourceful, Ace has revealed a nose for the scent of lost pets, and together they help neighbors and strangers in their searching.

In Where the Lost Dogs Go, readers take to the streets beside Susannah to bring home a host of missing pets. Along the way, Susannah finds a part of herself also lost. And when unexpected heartbreak shatters her own sense of direction, it is Ace—the shelter dog that started it all—who leads Susannah home. Inquisitive, instructive, heartrending, and hopeful, Where the Lost Dogs Go pays tribute to the missing dogs—and to the found—and to the restless space in between."

(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 the 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 25, 2020

The Chill - Scott Carson

Michael Connelly and Stephen King provided glowing blurbs for Scott Carson's newest novel, The Chill. Both are favorite authors of mine, so I definitely wanted to have a listen!

The premise intrigued me, the idea of a lost town under water. In order to bring water to New York, Galesburg, a town that had existed for centuries was flooded seventy five years ago. The residents were not happy of course - then or now. Because, you see, there are ghosts still in the tunnels, working away until they have their revenge. And there are descendants of those lost souls still alive, that are aware of their plans....

The Chill is a character driven novel. I enjoyed the many details of each of the player's lives, especially the two leads, Aaron and Gillian. Carson gives them personalities and emotions that were believable.

Carson did loads of research for this book - there are many details about dams, sluices, reservoirs and how they are maintained and run. Initially I found this interesting, but as the book progressed, it grew a bit boring and repetitive. (But it did make me think about our use of and need for fresh water) I wanted more about the underwater entities. We do meet the 'leader', but I still wanted more interaction. The Chill is billed as a horror novel - and I wanted chills running and up and down my spine. I did, but not as much as I had hoped. Maybe part of it was because I didn't really 'get' how the underwater inhabitants were going to get revenge on New York City. They're busy digging to finish a tunnel. But what then? Flood? Cut off? Poisoned? I found it hard to buy into the 'dying to dig a tunnel' aspect as well.

Now, that being said, I did like the book. I like Carson's writing. And I was entertained by this tale. I do feel it could have been shortened up a bit and still told the same story. I would like to see Aaron again - I think he has unplumbed depths to explore. Pun intended ;0)

I did choose to listen to The Chill. The reader was John Bedford Lloyd. And he was a great choice. He has such a rich, resonant voice. He has a measured way of speaking that lets you appreciate every word and phrase. It's pleasant to listen to, well enunciated and easy to understand. I think his voice suited this book and the genre. Hear for yourself - here's an audio excerpt of The Chill.

(And while looking for Carson's website, I made an interesting discovery - Carson is the pseudonym for an author I quite enjoy...."Scott Carson is going to handle the supernatural stories for me.")

Monday, February 24, 2020

Giveaway - Girl at the Edge - Karen Dietrich

Does this description catch your eye? " In this nature vs. nurture psychological suspense, a teenage girl is both fascinated by her father’s legacy and determined to escape it." Yes? Karen Dietrich's debut novel, Girl at the Edge, releases on March 3/20 - and I have a copy to give away to one lucky reader!

What's it about? From Grand Central Publishing:

"Not a single resident of St. Augustine, Florida, can forget the day that Michael Joshua Hayes walked into a shopping mall and walked out the mass murderer of eleven people.

He’s now spent over a decade on death row, and his daughter Evelyn – who doesn’t remember a time when her father wasn’t an infamous killer – is determined to unravel the mystery and understand what drove her father to shoot those innocent victims.

Evelyn’s search brings her to a support group for children of incarcerated parents, where a fierce friendship develops with another young woman named Clarisse. Soon the girls are inseparable, and by the beginning of the summer, Evelyn is poised at the edge of her future and must make a life-defining choice. Whether to believe that a parent’s legacy of violence is escapable or that history will simply keep repeating itself. Whether we choose it to or not."Read an excerpt of Girl at the Edge.

"Karen Dietrich is a writer of fiction, poetry, and memoir. She earned an MFA in poetry from New England College. She also writes music and plays drums in Essential Machine, a band she formed with her husband.Karen was born and raised in southwestern Pennsylvania and currently lives outside Pittsburgh with her husband and son." You can connect with  Karen on her website, follow her on Twitter as well as on Instagram.

And If you'd like to read Girl at the Edge, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends March 7/20.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Board Games in 100 Moves - DK Canada

I am not a winter person at all. I find a book, a cup of tea and a comfy chair is a great way to stay cozy. DK Canada has put together some other ideas for books to stay cozy with - any day of the year!

The other thing we do at our house is regularly play games - card games, dice games, board games and more. So, Board Games in 100 Moves: 8000 Years of Play definitely caught my eye!

There's a great introduction from Ian Livingstone on the history and importance of games and how games and culture are interwoven. Right at the front of the book is a timeline of the 100 games that are featured in this book, each with a colour image.

The first entry is 3100 BCE! Did you know Backgammon is 500 CE and Chess is 600 CE!? I was fascinated to see how long many of the games have been in existence. And how the rules for each are available. Hands up if you had marathon Monopoly games with your family and friends. Invented in 1935. I still have my childhood set. Scrabble - 1938 - and again, I play it regularly still. Oh, so many more faves and memories - Clue, Candy Land, Yahtzee and the list goes on.

The book has been divided into categories based on the materials used to make the game - Wood and Stone, Paper and Print, Cardboard, Plastic, Imagination and The Future. Within those chapters you'll find details on other games and how they came to be. Mousetrap? Twister?

Board Games in 100 Moves makes for fascinating reading. It's well written and researched.  Livingstone makes his living in the game industry, so although is it factual, Livingstone's personal thoughts and biases do pop up.

I appreciated that actual images of the games - boards, boxes etc. were included. The book is well made and sturdy. This is a fun book to browse. Have a peek below.

Friday, February 21, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #301

- 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
Stephen King has a collection of four novellas coming out in May of this year titled If It Bleeds. The title story is a follow up to 2018's The Outsider. I've quite enjoyed the last few books from King and have always liked the novellas, so this is on my TBR list. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. So, solid vs. white. Both use fonts that are ominous. The red on the UK cover promises danger. The dancing? disappearing? man on the UK cover is curious. The image used on the US cover is even more curious. (and more than a little creepy.) Obviously a cat, but there's a mouse there too. Cat and mouse suggest a 'game. Hmm, I think I'll go with the UK cover this week. What about you? Which cover do you prefer?
Any plans to read If It Bleeds?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Picturepedia: An Encyclopedia on Every Page - DK Canada

'Learning begins at home' - and DK books are great part of that! They've put together a great selection of titles with learning in mind - you can check them out here.

The one that caught my eye was Picturepedia: An Encyclopedia on
Every Page. Inside you'll find "ten thousand stunning photographs and illustrations"!

Now Little Guy and I always have to look at the cover first. There was lots up front to pique his interest. Once he was done looking at that, and instead of reading front to back, we just started reading whatever page caught his attention. Animals, trucks and diggers have been the favourites so far.  (I quite liked the Women's Fashion and Bread pages. Did you know that Turkey consumes more bread per person than any other county?)

For those of you who like to be a little more organized, the book does categories listed up front - Science and Technology, Nature, Geography Culture, Sports and Hobbies and History. Within those headings, you'll find a number of subcategories. There's also an index in the back if you want to look up specific topics.

And you'll find exactly what I expect from DK books. Beautiful, crisp, clean, full colour photographs and pictures. The layout is always great - with sidebars, information boxes and text with lots of white space framing them all. The book has sturdy covers and is very well made. And above all - concise information written in easy to understand language.

There's so much information inside - enough to keep preschool and elementary school aged interested and curious. This made for great reading together for Gramma and Little Guy. It's going to take a while to work our way through Picturepedia. Lots of learning to be had as he grows! Now this book is part of the DK children's collection, but I have to say the adults that saw this book were just as fascinated by it as the children that read it. It was left on the coffee table and everyone just had to have a peek inside! And here's a peek for you...

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Over the Counter #438

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

The League of Wives: The Untold Story of the Women Who Took on the U.S. Government to Bring Their Husbands Home Hardcover by Heath Hardage Lee.

From St. Martin's Press:

"The true story of the fierce band of women who battled Washington—and Hanoi—to bring their husbands home from the jungles of Vietnam.

On February 12, 1973, one hundred and sixteen men who, just six years earlier, had been high flying Navy and Air Force pilots, shuffled, limped, or were carried off a huge military transport plane at Clark Air Base in the Philippines. These American servicemen had endured years of brutal torture, kept shackled and starving in solitary confinement, in rat-infested, mosquito-laden prisons, the worst of which was The Hanoi Hilton.

Months later, the first Vietnam POWs to return home would learn that their rescuers were their wives, a group of women that included Jane Denton, Sybil Stockdale, Louise Mulligan, Andrea Rander, Phyllis Galanti, and Helene Knapp. These women, who formed The National League of Families, would never have called themselves “feminists,” but they had become the POW and MIAs most fervent advocates, going to extraordinary lengths to facilitate their husbands’ freedom—and to account for missing military men—by relentlessly lobbying government leaders, conducting a savvy media campaign, conducting covert meetings with antiwar activists, and most astonishingly, helping to code secret letters to their imprisoned husbands.

In a page-turning work of narrative non-fiction, Heath Hardage Lee tells the story of these remarkable women for the first time. The League of Wives is certain to be on everyone’s must-read list."

(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 the 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 18, 2020

Things in Jars - Jess Kidd

I loved Jess Kidd's previous book, Mr. Flood's Last Resort. (my review). I was eager to see what story lived between the pages of her latest novel, Things in Jars.

What's not to love? 1863 Victorian England, a female private investigator named Bridie Devine, curiosity collectors and a baffling new case.

Young Christobel Berwick has been kidnapped and Bridie is on the case. But, as she investigates, she meets much resistance and more questions than answers. There is a mystery surrounding the young girl - rumours of sharp teeth, water and yes, the word mermaid is whispered. Christobel would be a prize for any collector, exhibit or circus.

Bridie was such a wonderfully wrought lead character. Bright, tough, accepting, but with hidden wounds in her soul. Those scars figure into the dark plot line that runs parallel to the investigation. Bridie's companions are a ghost named Ruby that only she can see and a bearded, seven foot maid named Cora. Additional supporting players are just as well drawn.

Kidd's writing is absolutely fantastic - she captures Victorian England in every passage. Descriptions of time and place conjure up smoky alleyways, dark rooms, fog on the River Thames, questionable activities, Resurrection Men and more. The dialogue is true to the time, flowery and detailed

Kidd unfurls the mystery slowly, adding in new paths and people along the way. Things in Jars is a journey to be savoured and enjoyed. Mystery, history, fantasy all take turns in Things in Jars, but it is Bridie and her companions that stayed with me after the last chapter ended.

I chose to listen to Things in Jars. The reader was Jacqueline Milne and she was brilliant. The lilt and movement of her voice captured the time, the characters and the plot so very, very well. Her voice supports the magical, fantasy feel of Things in Jars. She provided many different voices for assorted characters that matched the mental images I had created. Her voice was pleasant to listen. Here's an excerpt for you to listen to. Absolutely recommended.