Saturday, June 23, 2018

Drawn Together - Minh Lê and Dan Santat

Drawn Together is a new children's picture book from author Minh Lê and illustrator Dan Santat.

Before Little Guy and Gramma turned the first page we talked about the images on the cover - what would we find inside. As well as the dual meaning of 'drawn'.

Who do you think the two people on the cover could be?  What about the  'elf' with the wand be? And the 'scary' black and white character? The flyleaf has some crayon scribble illustrations that are so real, Little Guy thought someone had colored inside!

There is very little text in Drawn Together, asking the reader to tell much of the story through observing, imagining and wondering about the illustrations. What a great idea! The Grandpa and grandson have differences - food, language, interests etc. Little Guy is quite intuitive when it comes to facial expressions and really focused on these. We kept turning pages asking each other - what do you think?

They discover they can communicate through drawing. "All the things we could never say come pouring out....and we build a new world that words can't describe." Heroes and mythical creatures illustrate the connection and divide between the two. Little Guy is quite literal and was a bit frightened by the dragon. But subsequent pages have the dragon defeated and the distance between the two conquered.

Gramma thought the concept of Drawn Together was excellent - one that can be used in so many life situations. Caldecott Medalist Santat's illustrations are detailed and very beautiful - a perfect accompaniment.

Friday, June 22, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #216

- 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 followed Faye Kellerman's Decker and Lazurus series for
many years, but haven't kept up. (Too many books, too little time!) The latest (#25) is Walking Shadows. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Two very, very similar covers this week. White for the author's name, red for the book title. Somewhat similar fonts. The main differences are the window shape/style. They both have broken glass, both are worn wood, with a bit of paint still left on the UK window. Four panes vs. six panes plus. The US cover gives us a bit of the building the window is in - the UK does not. Now, what about the addition of that green weed in the UK cover? What does it signify? Life? Tenacity? And of course the UK cover has a tag line, giving you a hint about the story within. So, this is a hard one to pick this week. I think I am going to go with the UK cover. The US window/building says 'Deliverance' to me. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read Walking Shadows?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.  

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Sweetshop of Dreams - Jenny Colgan

My go to author for a feel-good, heartwarming read is Jenny Colgan.

Sweetshop of Dreams is the first book featuring Rosie Hopkins. (Note that this was released in the UK as Welcome To Rosie Hopkins' Sweetshop Of Dreams.)

"Rosie Hopkins thinks leaving her busy London life, and her boyfriend Gerard, to sort out her elderly Aunt Lilian's sweetshop in a small country village is going to be dull. Boy, is she wrong."

Rosie arrives in Lipton and makes her presence immediately known, through a series of mishaps. And we begin to meet the residents of the village of Lipton - in all their quirky glory.

The descriptions of the village, homes and shops made me want to move to Lipton.

Rosie is a wonderful lead character - warm, kind, funny and more - just the kind of person you'd love to have in your circle of friends. The supporting cast is just as well drawn and the listener can't help but be drawn to them. (Most of them - the dentist opposed to the sweetshop is especially unpleasant.)

Colgan's books have love at the heart of them. Love lost, love found, love for friends, family and partners. The yes, no, maybe so of the Rosie's search for happiness will have you wishing and hoping for a fairy tale outcome. I found Lillian's memories of the past (1940's) to be especially poignant, well written and yes, heartbreaking.

Each chapter opens with an excerpt from Lillian's book on candy. Various types are lauded and dissected in detail with a droll, dry wit. Recipes for some confections are included.

Beverley A. Crick was the narrator. I really enjoyed her interpretation. Her voice for Rosie captured the mental image I had in my head. She provided easily identifiable voices for the other characters. Lillian's had just the right quaver, young Edison the right innocence and male voices that felt right as well. She has an expressive voice and it reflected the emotion, humour, sadness etc. in Colgan's tale. Her voice is clear, easy to understand and pleasant to listen to. Listen to an excerpt of Sweetshop of Dreams.

Sweetshop of Dreams has everything you want in a great listen - love, loss, drama, humour and yes - a just right ending.

You can connect with Jenny Colgan on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Over the Counter #423

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Well, this one hasn't crossed the counter yet - I spied the title in a newsletter - but it does release mid September. The title was quirky enough to catch my eye......

No Place to Go: How Public Toilets Fail Our Private Needs by Lezlie Lowe.

From the publisher, Coach House Books:

"This book is Number One in addressing the politics of where we're allowed to 'go' in public.

Adults don't talk about the business of doing our business. We work on one assumption: the world of public bathrooms is problem- and politics-free. No Place to Go: How Public Toilets Fail Our Private Needs reveals the opposite is true. No Place To Go is a toilet tour from London to San Francisco to Toronto and beyond. From pay potties to deserted alleyways, No Place to Go is a marriage of urbanism, social narrative, and pop culture that shows the ways -- momentous and mockable -- public bathrooms just don't work. Like, for the homeless, who, faced with no place to go sometimes literally take to the streets. (Ever heard of a municipal poop map?) For people with invisible disabilities, such as Crohn's disease, who stay home rather than risk soiling themselves on public transit routes. For girls who quit sports teams because they don't want to run to the edge of the pitch to pee. Celebrities like Lady Gaga and Bruce Springsteen have protested bathroom bills that will stomp on the rights of transpeople. And where was Hillary Clinton before she arrived back to the stage late after the first commercial break of the live-televised Democratic leadership debate in December 2015? Stuck in a queue for the women's bathroom. Peel back the layers on public bathrooms and it's clear many more people want for good access than have it. Public bathroom access is about cities, society, design, movement, and equity. The real question is: Why are public toilets so crappy?"

(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, June 19, 2018

The House Swap - Rebecca Fleet

I've stayed in numerous B and B's while travelling, but have never actually swapped houses with someone. And honestly, I don't think I would want to. My penchant for suspense and thriller reads provides too much fuel for an abundance of imagined scenarios.....

The House Swap by Rebecca Fleet gives rise to those imaginings.

Francis and Caroline's marriage has been rocky for the last few years. They are trying to pick up the pieces and get past what has happened. A week away will give them some together time, away from their day to day life. And they could save money by house swapping with someone. Uh huh.

They do swap, but the house they land in is oddly sterile, with not many personal touches. But there are a few and they seem to be oddly familiar to Caroline. The neighbour a few houses down also seems strangely interested in Caroline as well. Caroline is indeed keeping secrets - and it seems like someone else wants them revealed.

What happened in the past is only slowly revealed in entries from 'then'. As details are added, what's going on in the present becomes clearer. That slow reveal makes for addictive reading. The 'who' and 'why' ended up not being what I had imagined. Fleet adroitly manipulates the reader's expectations and assumptions along the way. The unknown other person is given italicized entries - and they will keep you guessing.

Fleet's depiction of a marriage in trouble is believable, harsh and sharp in its presentation. Francis is also given a voice, providing an alternate look at Caroline's depiction of their marriage. I must admit, I didn't like either Caroline or Francis at all. I felt sorry for their young son as he doesn't seem to be the priority in either parent's life.

The House Swap is a combination of domestic drama and suspense. It's a bit of a slow burn, but does pick up speed midway. I didn't love the ending, but enjoyed the journey there. A good debut and I would pick up Fleet's next book. I do have to say that The House Swap has cemented my decision to not house swap! Read an excerpt of The House Swap.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Giveaway - What My Sister Knew- Nina Laurin

Nina Laurin's second novel, What My Sister Knew, releases tomorrow - and I have a copy to give away to one lucky reader.

What's it about? From Grand Central Publishing:

"A psychological suspense novel that is “a mind-bending ride. Just when you think you’ve discovered the truth, a new secret is revealed.” (Wendy Walker, author of All Is Not Forgotten).
“…currently wanted by the police. If you know anything about the suspect’s whereabouts, please call…”

I look up at the TV screen, and my twin brother’s face is splashed across it, life-size.

It’s a shock that makes my breath catch. This is my brother as an adult, my brother who I last saw fifteen years ago after the fire that killed our parents, covered in soot, clutching a lighter in his hand, his knuckles stark white against the dirt and ash.

Everyone always said he’d grow up to be a heartbreaker. But his face has gone gaunt instead. The stubble on his cheeks and chin is patchy, and his eyes look dull and dark.

My first thought is that it’s not him. Not my beautiful brother, the golden boy who everyone loved. Yet, deep down, I’ve always known this would eventually happen.

What did you do this time, Eli? What the hell did you do?" Read an excerpt of What My Sister Knew.

"Nina Laurin, author of Girl Last Seen, studied Creative Writing at Concordia University, in Montreal where she currently lives. She has published speculative short stories in various e-zines and anthologies over the years and her narrative nonfiction piece, “On Happiness” is soon to be published in the local literary journal Cosmonauts Avenue. She blogs about books and writing on her website." Follow Nina on Twitter.

Sound like a book you'd like to read? Enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no po boxes please. Ends Jun 30/18.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Emergency Contact - Mary H. K. Choi

Summer seems to be the time that I enjoy YA fiction the most. I'm not sure why - lighter reading or maybe I'm just trying to relive those younger years!

Whatever the reason, Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi was great summer listening.

Penny has finished high school (a relief) and is headed to university (lots of worry, but also a relief to escape her mother and start the next chapter) Sam works at a local cafe, sleeps upstairs on the floor and is stuck in his own pit of angst and despair. He wants more, but is having trouble climbing out and getting started again.

Now, you can see it coming, can't you? Yes, the two meet and.....well it's inevitable right? But of course there's a rocky road to the final pages. Lots of yes, no, maybe so. Along the way, Choi's story explores race, relationships (friends and parental), love and self awareness and exploration. Stepping outside your comfort zone and taking a chance.

Choi does 'amplify' her situations and her characters. They're a bit over the top, but I just went with it as I was looking for entertainment, not necessarily to the letter reality.

Emergency Contact was read by two narrators -  Joy Osmanski and Jacques Roy - both favourites of mine. Osmanski's voice fit the mental image I had created for Penny. It's smart and sassy, but still conveys her worry. Roy's voice for Sam is low, quiet and dare I say it - sexy. Both are easy to listen to, clear and well enunciated. Listen to an excerpt of Emergency Contact.

Emergency Contact was fun, fresh and yes, entertaining for this listener. Listen to an excerpt of Emergency Contact.