Monday, April 23, 2018

Unbury Carol - Josh Malerman

Josh Malerman's first novel, Bird Box, is one of my favourite audio books. His latest release is Unbury Carol.

At times of stress, Carol goes into such a deep coma that she appears to be dead. She finds herself in a place she has dubbed 'Howltown'. Carol's greatest fear is that she will go into a coma and no one will realize that she is still alive. With the death of her mother, there are only two people who know about her condition - her husband Dwight and her long ago lover, the outlaw James Moxie. And Dwight has just decided that he doesn't need a wife any longer, just her money. When the next coma occurs, Dwight declares her dead.

The dark, what might happen in the dark, and what might be hiding in the dark have been a constant in the three books I've read of Malerman's. This latest addresses a classic fear - being buried alive. Along with the something else that wants Carol dead...

Malerman has set Unbury Carol in an Western setting. I'm not sure if it's past or future as there are references to an 'Illness' sweeping through. But, this setting is absolutely perfect for this tale. Townsfolk, a sheriff who is willing to ask quiet questions, a dangerous trail populated by outlaws, an evil witchy woman, a deranged killer named Smoke and the outlaw James Moxie. Yep, he's the one you'll be urging onward. Will he get to Carol in time?

Malerman is known as a horror author, having been nominated for the Bram Stoker award. But, for me, his work is hard to slot into a predefined genre. His plotting is unusual and his premise and setting are unique. I had no idea where the book was going to take me. (Although, the publisher's descriptive phrase "Unbury Carol feels like Cormac McCarthy rewriting Sleeping Beauty" is pretty darn good.) Yep, it's a love story as well.

I enjoyed the multiple points of view in Unbury Carol. We get to know many characters, including some minor ones and I felt more immersed in the story with so many perspectives to draw on.

The ending is satisfying, but leaves a question with the reader. I know what I want to transpire - I hope it does! Another great read from Malerman. Read an excerpt of Unbury Carol.

You can connect with Josh Malerman on his website, like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

Friday, April 20, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #207

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
"In this twisty psychological thriller from the New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling author of The Girl Before, an actress plays both sides of a murder investigation." That's the premise of JP Delaney's forthcoming novel, Believe Me. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right.So....two different looks. Red vs. White. A person vs. a place. Snap judgement - I would pick the UK cover as I am v. tired of women's faces on covers. But that US cover looked somewhat familiar to me. It took me a bit, but I finally remembered the book it reminded me of - In the Blood by Lisa Unger. The UK cover is very similar in tone to Delaney's first novel, The Girl Before. Just a different shot of the same house. So, this week is kinda been there, done that for me. But if pushed to choose, it would be the UK cover. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read Believe Me?

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

I'll Be Gone in the Dark - Michelle McNamara

I love a good, fictional murder mystery and rarely read true crime. But I was eager to read I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara. It was the subtitle that grabbed me: "One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer."

McNamara was a journalist and the founder of I say was, as she passed away before her book was published.

Michelle's instincts and drive for answers led her to delve deeply into the decades old case of a serial rapist and murderer who terrorized California for over the course of ten years.

It was truly fascinating to see the timeline, clues and hypothesis she built from her painstaking search.  McNamara pursued the tiniest of leads, coming up with connections that kept moving her forward. Her investigative skills were truly impressive. And along with fascinating, I'll Be Gone in the Dark is just as frightening. Definitely don't listen to this at night. Alone. By yourself.

The timeline of the book does jump around - keep an eye or an ear on the heading for each chapter. Despite that, it's not a problem to follow the story at all - it makes for riveting reading or listening.

McNamara offers up pieces of her own life in I'll Be Gone in the Dark. And for this reader, it was this personal aspect that had I'll Be Gone in the Dark encompassing more than simply a 'true crime' label.

I did choose to listen. Gabra Zackman was the narrator. She has a clean, crisp, no nonsense voice that matched the mental image I had for the author. Her inflection captures the tone and tenor of the content. An 'easy to to listen to' narrator that did a great job interpreting a not so easy narrative. Listen to an excerpt of I'll Be Gone in the Dark.

Gillian Flynn provides a great introduction to the book. And the title? "He pointed a knife at her and issued a chilling warning: "Make one move and you'll be silent forever and I'll be gone in the dark."

The case remains unsolved......

(Gentle readers, this is not the book for you -  the cases are somewhat graphic in their detail.)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Over the Counter #414

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Oh, that cover image....

Cringeworthy by Melissa Dahl.

From Portfolio Books:

"New York magazine's "Science of Us" editor explains the compelling psychology of awkwardness, and asks: what if the moments that make us feel most awkward are actually valuable?

Have you ever said goodbye to someone, only to discover that you're both walking in the same direction? Or had your next thought fly out of your brain in the middle of a presentation? Or accidentally liked an old photo on someone's Instagram or Facebook, thus revealing yourself to be a creepy social media stalker?

Melissa Dahl, editor of New York magazine's "Science of Us" website, has. After a lifetime of cringing, she became intrigued by awkwardness: a universal but underappreciated emotion. In this witty and compassionate book, Dahl explores the oddest, cringiest corners of our world. She chats with strangers on the busy New York City subway, goes on awkward friend dates using a "Tinder-for-friendship" app, takes improv comedy lessons, and even reads aloud from her (highly embarrassing!) middle school diary to a crowd of strangers.

After all of that, she realizes: Awkward moments are opportunities to test yourself. When everyone else is pretending to have it under control, you can be a little braver and grow a little bigger--while remaining true to your awkward self. And along the way, you might find that awkward moments unite us in our mutual human ridiculousness."

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

Monday, April 16, 2018

Then She Was Gone - Lisa Jewell

Then She Was Gone is Lisa Jewell's newest novel.

Laurel's fifteen year old Ellie Mack disappeared without a trace ten years ago. The loss of a daughter and sister has affected all members of the Mack family. When Laurel meets a man named Floyd and decides it's time to date again, she is stunned when she meets his young daughter. Poppy is the spitting image of Ellie.

All kinds of roads that this story could go down, isn't there? Astute readers will suss out the most obvious one as the story plays out.

There are multiple points of view in Then She Was Gone. Laurel and Ellie, but also Floyd and another protagonist. The timeline goes from a past to present narrative as well. All of the characters are strongly depicted and the reader will have no problem making up their minds about them. I did find Laurel's decision making to be a bit iffy. But, without those bad choices, there wouldn't be a story!

The plotting of Then She Was Gone was a bit predictable. But, I was surprised by the way Jewell chose to end the book. I wasn't sure about it, but it's fitting.

Then She Was Gone is an entertaining, easy read, perfect for the beach bag this summer.

Friday, April 13, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #206

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

US/Canadian cover
UK cover
"A remote lodge in upstate New York is the perfect winter wonderland getaway... until the bodies start piling up." That's the premise of Shari Lapena's forthcoming book, An Unwanted Guest. And yes, it's been added to my TBR list. The US/Canadian cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. the colour tones used on both covers are in the blue/black spectrum. Title fonts are in white. But, I like the red of the UN on the US cover. I feel like we've seen the 'mysterious lit window in a house with birds flying by a dark tree' cover before. I much prefer the androgynous head in the armchair. It's ominous in it's simplicity. So, easy choice for me this week - US/Canadian. What about you? Which cover to you prefer? Any plans to read An Unwanted Guest?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Beloveds - Maureen Lindley

I love the cover of Maureen Lindley's new novel, The Beloveds. Those overgrown vines covering the door hint at a tangled tale within.

And it is. Sisters Betty and Gloria have never really got along. Everything seems to come easy to the sunny-natured Gloria, but not so for Betty. Betty is not one of the "Beloveds". In her own words..."I am not one of the Beloveds. You know those people with a star above their heads: loved and admired, lucky in love, lucky in everything."

Betty yearns for the day when Pipits, the family home will be hers by birthright as the oldest child. The house speaks to Betty and she loves it and the gardens surrounding it. But when the girls' mother dies, she leaves the estate to Gloria - and that does not sit well with Betty. Not at all.

What follows is a dark and twisted tale of Betty's attempts to regain what she sees as her birthright. Initially I could understand Betty's anger and resentment. But Lindley takes Betty further down the path of animosity and obsession than I could have imagined. Her schemes to take back Pipits grow darker and more dangerous. As does Betty's mindset. The reader is along for the ride as she descends into what can only be termed madness. And yet.....I still felt sorry for her.

"It's true that I have learned how to appear calm when I am angry. But that doesn't mean I don't feel things. To have my way, I practice charm, keep my true nature hidden. People find it hard to deal with a person who doesn't emote in the way they expect. The want you to empathize with their trivial problems. They shy away from superior intellects, so I find it easier to act the part of loving sister, forgiving sister-in-law, accepting friend. I'm a good actress."

The Beloveds is told through Betty's point of view, with Gloria's actions and dialogue as seen by her. I wondered about Gloria - is she really the 'Beloved' she appears to be? Or is she aware of what losing the house has done to Betty?

I quite enjoyed the descriptions of Pipits and the grounds. The house is also a character in the book, not just a setting.

Deliciously dark and disturbing. The publisher has described The Beloveds as "An exploration of domestic derangement, as sinister as Daphne Du Maurier’s classic Rebecca, that plumbs the depths of sibling rivalry with wit and menace." Quite apt I would say. Read an excerpt of The Beloveds.