Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sunnyside Blues - Mary Carter

You know me - I love cover art. And I really like the cover of Mary Carter's new book Sunnyside Blues - just released from Kensington Books.

The story behind the two pairs of dangling feet?

Andes (Emily) has been running from her past in rural West Virginia. Her family were part of a religious sect that embraced snake handling. After 15 years of wandering she wants to find a home of her own. She meets Jay and his ten year old son Chase on the 4th of July and arranges to rent a houseboat from Jay. However a fire breaks out during the celebrations, one thing leads to another and Jay is jailed. Somehow Andes ends up looking after Chase. And it turns out to be much longer than a few days. There have been many fires in the marina area and while Jay has confessed, others think it's Chase's doing. When Jay's paternity is questioned, Andes and Chase set out to see if they can find Chase's biological father while Jay is still imprisoned.

The trail leads to Sunnyside, Queens. We slowly find out about Andes' past and what led her to this point in life. Interspersed are thoughts from the unnamed pyromaniac.

I found I had to suspend disbelief in the first part of Sunnyside Blues. I found it implausible that someone would accept responsibility for a child that they met the day before or that a parent would entrust their child to a virtual stranger. For me this would have worked better had she lived in the houseboat for at least a little bit and established some sort of prior relationship. This opening salvo seemed chaotic with too much happening at once. Although, this may reflect the state of Andes' mind.

I really didn't connect with Andes and Chase until they landed in Sunnyside. There, the relationship between the two had a chance to build over time and was believable. Things slowed down and were allowed to evolve at a natural pace. I also connected with supporting characters such as Hilda and her son.

Carter has created a busy plotline. I was interested in Andes' background and found the sections written on her family and the snakehandling to be very well done. I wanted to know who the pyromaniac was as well - a good twist there. Sometimes the coincidences in Sunnyside were a little too convenient. I found I was most interested in Andes' personal development and enjoyed her confronting her 'demons' to reclaim her life.

There is an excellent set of questions included for reading groups.

Mary Carter has crafted a story full of romance, intrigue and mystery. If you're looking for some escapist reading, you'll enjoy this one.

Want a chance to read it yourself? Enter the giveaway here!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Guest Post And Giveaway - Mary Carter

A Bookworm's World is pleased to have Mary Carter guest posting today. Mary's latest book Sunnyside Blues releases tomorrow!

Summertime Blues
By Mary Carter

"I keep waiting for it to feel like summer, and I’ve been complaining about it a lot lately. My boyfriend’s taken to calling me Miss Moan-ie Boots. He’s Irish, and says things like that from time to time. Much nicer than, “Quit your bitching.” Part of the problem has been the rain, and between cheap umbrellas and the gusts of winds that have been whipping around here this summer, someone should really offer a course in umbrella-wrangling. Maybe even take the act to Vegas. Mine always end up flipped inside out with the spokes sticking straight out. Take that Mother Nature. I guess umbrellas don’t like the rain either. Every time I get a nice umbrella I leave it somewhere. The back of a cab, a coat hook in a pub, under my seat at the movies with the empty tub of popcorn that it turns out I could finish after all. I had a nice leopard-print umbrella once given to me by my mother who was forewarned I would lose it, and most recently a sleek black one that slid out with a touch of a button, and popped open like a parachute. The Jaguar Convertible of umbrellas. I was in love. I would’ve done a rain dance just to get the rush of power from pushing that button. I offered up wry smiles to the poor suckers trying to tame their wild discount beasts, being carried down the streets by their run-away umbrellas like the Mafia version of Mary Poppins. I found (my boyfriend says stole) my Jaguar Umbrella in my local pub. I had it for a glorious twenty-four hours before I accidentally left it in the same pub, on the same hook where I found it. In that case, I don’t think I can be blamed, obviously the umbrella, like a homing pigeon, just wanted to fly back to its local and roost.

The other thing I lose a lot is sunglasses. I’ve dropped them in lakes, cars, restaurants, plays, coffee shops, and left them on top of my head for days on end. It seems there’s some uncanny link between my accoutrements and the weather. If I have my sunglasses, it’s sure to rain. If I have my evil umbrella, the sun is shining. If I carry them both at the same time, a small fissure opens up in the middle of the street, wreaking havoc and inviting the occasional rainbow to my little section of Sunnyside Queens.

It’s very difficult to maneuver the streets of Manhattan with an umbrella. The other day I had a rather large one, an uber-umbrella, and drenched New Yorkers were going out of their way to bump into me. Umbrella envy? I’d say. In Seattle, where I used to live, only the tourists carried umbrellas. Look at those idiots with umbrellas, us locals would say. They must be Canadian. Then we’d pull up the hoods of our rain jackets and take a good pelting like God intended it. I guess the only bright side to all this rain is snuggling up with a good book. Although when the sun is shining, it’s great to lounge on a beach or in a park with a book too. I miss having a yard. I could have the best of both worlds. A little table with a large umbrella, and a bucket of sunglasses on ice. I could read come rain or shine. I guess until then, I’m just going to be Miss Moan-ie Boots. That reminds me. Where are my rain boots? Oh forget it. I’ll just get wet. If I had my way, the only umbrella I’d see the rest of the summer would be floating in a tropical drink."

Thanks Mary for stopping by. I'll take that Canadian comment with a grain of salt!

You can read my review tomorrow. I've got a copy of Sunnyside Blues to giveaway, courtesy of the author. Leave a comment to be entered. Open to US and Canada. Closes Sat. July 18/09 at 6pm EST.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Vacation time!!

It's vacation time for me!! I will be winging my way to the U.S. of A. to visit my daughter and son-in-law. Flying is not something I'm good at, but once I get past that, I know I'm going to have a fantastic time!

I even managed to get ahead a bit and have some posts set to go while I'm away. If I don't answer email or comments right away, it may be that I've decided to take a vacation from the computer as well. (Even though the picture suggests otherwise!) Although that does mean my Google reader will be soooo out of control when I get back.... See you soon!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Winners - Giveaway - The Night Gardener

And the five lucky winners (chosen by random.org) of a copy of The Night Gardener, courtesy of The Hachette Book Group are:

1. kcatlin
2. Debb
3. Tarah's Food Reviews
4. Wendy
5. ZestyWonderland

I've contacted you by email for your mailing addresses. Please respond within 48 hours. Congratulations and thanks to all who entered. Check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Blog Awards

I am thrilled to have received each and every award listed here. I've moved them from the sidebar as it was just taking too long to load!

Priceless Memories - Bob Barker (audio book)

I listened to Priceless Memories in audio format. I was so glad to hear Bob Barker reading it himself. That voice brings back so many memories. His inflection and diction is still impeccable at 85.

Who hasn't watched The Price is Right? I remember watching it with my family when I was younger and my kids watched it too. Do you realize Bob Barker was on television for over 50 years in total!?

I had forgotten that he hosted Truth or Consequences as well for 18 years. I remember waiting to see what prank or reunion would take place.

Priceless Memories is the story of Bob's life. There is so much more behind the public persona. He was raised on a Native American reservation and his father died when he was quite young. His mother raised him alone. He was also Navy fighter pilot. (I did get a little bogged down in the technical tales here) Married to his childhood sweetheart, Dorothy Jo, Barker pays great tribute to both her and his mother.

Dorothy Jo was by his side as they forged ahead into the new world of television after putting much time into radio and live show. I found these chapters quite fascinating.

Barker has had quite the career. Again, I had forgotten some things I had seen him participate in, such as the Miss Universe Beauty Pageants and the Rose Bowl Parade master of ceremonies - both for over twenty years.

Of course you can't forget his signature closing line - "Help control the pet population. Have your pet spayed or neutered." Much of the book is devoted to his unfailing activism for animal rights.

I enjoyed listening to this biography. Barker has a fantastic memory or kept great journals - the stories are very detailed. Sometimes a little too much so, but all in all a good listen. I most enjoyed the memories of the game shows.

Listen to an excerpt of Priceless Memories. Or read an excerpt.

What was your favourite PIR game? I was always partial to Plinko. Here's a list from Wikipedia.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Winner - Giveaway - Miranda's Big Mistake

And the very lucky winner of a copy of Miranda's Big Mistake by Jill Mansell , courtesy of Sourcebooks is:


You're going to love it! I've contacted you by email for your mailing address. Please respond within 48 hours. Congratulations and thanks to all who entered. Check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Far North - Marcel Theroux

Stunning. Stark. Riveting. Powerful. Plausible.

Oh, I could come up with many more adjectives to describe this new release from Harper Collins Canada.

Far North by British author Marcel Theroux captured me from the first page, threw me for a loop on page 23 and held on to me 'til the last page. I'm still thinking about it.

Far North takes place up near the Arctic Circle in Siberia. Years before, when many were tired of the way the world was headed, they chose to build a new lives and new cities in this frontier. Makepeace was born here to Quaker parents and knows no other world. But Makepeace is the last one standing. The city has emptied, with others killed by violence and disease or making a desperate run to survive. The details are left to us to imagine to a great degree, but the implication is that civilization has collapsed. The logistics of the collapse are secondary in this story. It is more about the people.

Makepeace was the local sheriff and still patrols the city on horseback, saving books, cleaning guns and marking time.

"There were times when I wondered if I had done the right thing staying behind when everyone else had left or died."

When a plane flies over and crashes nearby, Makepeace is stunned. Could there be others alive? Could technology have been saved? The Sheriff decides to strike out and look beyond the confines of the dead city of Evangeline for the rest of humanity.

What Makepeace finds may be worse than than being alone - fortified villages, suspicion, slavery and a world trying to understand the old technology. And The Zone.

Makepeace is a compelling character and narrator, offering up a unique and thoughtful perspective on whatever presents itself. Rolling with the punches, considering, contemplating, enduring. It is the unveiling of Makepeaces's stoic character and past that had me quickly turning pages.

Theroux quietly inserts many surprises that catch you unawares and completely change the direction your thinking was headed. I love being unable to predict a novel.

Although this is set in the future, I don't know how far ahead we could say. The scenario presented is all too possible. A five star read for me.

Read an excerpt of Far North.

Fans of Matheson's I am Legend, McCarthy's The Road and even King's The Stand will enjoy this book.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Winners - Giveaway - The Way Home Audiobook

And the three lucky winners (chosen by random.org) of an audio book copy of The Way Home, courtesy of The Hachette Book Group are:

1. Belinda M
2. Kathy Pease
3. LoveMyCoffee

Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing addresses. Please respond within 48 hours. Thanks to all who entered and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways!

Giveaway - Off Season - Anne Rivers Siddons

Thanks to the generosity of The Hachette Book Group I have five copies of Anne Rivers Siddons' book Off Season to giveaway.

(Don't you just want to settle into that chair with a book?!)

From the publisher:

"Acclaimed novelist Anne Rivers Siddons's new novel is a stunning tale of love and loss.For as long as she can remember, they were Cam and Lilly--happily married, totally in love with each other, parents of a beautiful family, and partners in life. Then, after decades of marriage, it ended as every great love story does...in loss. After Cam's death, Lilly takes a lone road trip to her and Cam's favorite spot on the remote coast of Maine, the place where they fell in love over and over again, where their ghosts still dance. There, she looks hard to her past--to a first love that ended in tragedy; to falling in love with Cam; to a marriage filled with exuberance, sheer life, and safety-- to try to figure out her future.It is a journey begun with tender memories and culminating in a revelation that will make Lilly re-evaluate everything she thought was true about her husband and her marriage."

Lots of ways to check out this book before entering......

Listen to an excerpt of Off Season.

Read an excerpt of Off Season.

Listen to a podcast.

Giveaway is open to both the U.S. and Canada, no po boxes please. To be entered let me know if you've read this author before. (This is her 17th novel!) Please make sure I have a way to contact you, either through your blog or leave your email. Winners will be chosen using random.org. Ends Saturday July 25th at 6 pm EST. Good luck and check the sidebar for onging giveaways.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming - Joshilyn Jackson

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming is Joshilyn Jackson's third novel. After finishing this one at breakneck speed, I'll be hunting down the first two.

Laurel has escaped her childhood and the family history in poverty stricken DeLop, Alabama. She's married to David, has a daughter Shelby and lives a comfortable life in a gated community. The ghosts have stopped following her. Until one night, when she sees the ghost of a young girl beckoning to her. She looks out the window and there is the dead girl - in her pool.

Although they disagree strongly on many, many things, she calls on her actress sister Thalia to come and help her deal with this. As the sisters 'investigate', the past comes charging up behind them. Secrets long buried won't be kept quiet any longer.

This is an absolute gem of a novel. Jackson's prose are captivating and unsettling at the same time.

"But her house did not feel normal. It was silent and too large around her, as if it had been hollowed out. The wrongness in her yard had it's nose pressed against her glass doors, and she felt something small and feral scrabbling in her belly. Every time she thought she'd lose herself in her work, the something would run one spiky tooth along her stomach lining."

The story is addicting. Can she really see ghosts? Hints of the past are eked out and I was reading as quickly as I could to piece it altogether. It's a mystery, but also a study in families and relationships and how the past affects the present.

In the reading group guide and notes, the author notes that "at it's heart, this book is about poverty". I found this quite interesting. As well as the literal translation of fiscal poverty, emotional poverty plays a key role.

This was a fantastic read for me. You can read an excerpt of The Girl Who Stopped Swimming here.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Winners - Giveaway - Cemetary Dance Audiobook

And the three lucky winners (chosen by random.org) of an audio book copy of Cemetery Dance, courtesy of The Hachette Book Group are:

1. Lady Roxi
2. ossmcalc
3. Carolyn

Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing addresses. Please respond within 48 hours. Thanks to all who entered and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways!

Winners - Giveaway - The Scarecrow Audiobook

And the three lucky winners (chosen by random.org) of an audio book copy of The Scarecrow, courtesy of the Hachette Book Group are:

1. Tatertot374
2. Jennifer B
3. Pam

Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing addresses. Please respond within 48 hours. Thanks to all who entered and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Die For You - Lisa Unger

Lisa Unger tantalizes us in the opening prologue of Die For You.

An American woman lies on the ground in Prague, staring up at a man approaching her with a gun. She knows him - "He is impervious, his face expressionless, as though I've never meant anything to him. And maybe I haven't."

The novel then begins with author Isabel Raine and her husband Marcus eating breakfast. Marcus leaves for work, but he doesn't return home. When Isabel's phone rings and she sees her husband's number she is relieved - until she hears the terrible screaming. She races to his office, where a group of people clothed in FBI jackets slaughter the entire staff....

Isabel survives, but is determined to find her husband, dead or alive. The more she digs, the less she knows. The man she married is someone completely different from the man she is following. Who is he? We are offered tantalizing snippets of Marcus as Isabel searches for him. The action ranges from Manhattan to Europe. Tension is ratcheted up as we alternately read chapters from the past to the present - each revealing just a little bit more.

There's a great cast of supporting characters, each with their own secrets. And that seems to a be a large part of Die for You. How well do we really know the person closest to us? Isabel's sister is deceiving her husband. The lead cop on the case has been betrayed by his wife. Each character has their own secrets and their own reasons for hiding something. It explores the thoughts and reasoning behind the secrets. I enjoyed the subplots involving the supporting cast. Unger has a deft way with words and author Isabel showcases those talents.

Unger has created yet another fast paced, page turning thriller.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Best Intentions - Emily Listfield

Emily Listfield is a new author for me - and one I was happy to discover.

Best Intentions tells the story of four college friends. The story is told in first person from Lisa's perspective. Lisa and Sam married and have two beautiful daughters. Sam is a journalist, always on the trail of the next big story. Lisa works in public relations. They are relatively happy, but money is always a worry. She also has some doubts about Sam's fidelity. Dierdre is her best friend. Successful in business, but not in love, she wants to settle down and have a child. Jack was her lover in college, but moved away and married someone else. In New York for a job interview, Jack contacts them all to get together for his 4oth birthday. This seemingly innocuous celebration brings old tensions, lies, betrayals to the forefront. With deadly results.

Listfield explores and examines the fabric of a marriage, parental bonds, the intricacies of a friendship, trust, the pressures of modern day work and life and the influence the past has on the present. Her scenes and dialogue are seamless and flowing, allowing you to become immersed in Lisa's life. The suspense/murder plot line is subtly introduced and skillfully blended into the existing story. Neither overpowers the other. The murder itself is not clear cut - it could be one of three and the answer changes as the story twists again. Although I enjoyed the suspense of the murder, I think I enjoyed the character development even more - especially Lisa.

I really enjoyed this one and couldn't put it down- spent Sunday in a lawn chair 'til the very last page.

Read an excerpt of Best Intentions.

There is a reading guide available and you can contact Emily to speak to your book group or catch up with her on her blog.

Thanks to Lauren and Atria Books for this review copy. Want a chance to own a copy? Enter my giveaway here. Ends July 11/09.

Giveaway - Best Intentions - Emily Listfield

Thanks to the generosity of Atria Books, I have a copy of Emily Listfield's latest novel - Best Intentions - to giveaway. You can read my review here or

From the Publisher:

"What happens when you think you know the person you love -- and you're dead wrong?

After tossing and turning all night, thirty-nine-year-old Lisa Barkley wakes up well before her alarm sounds. With two daughters about to start another year at their elite Upper East Side private school and her own career hitting a wall, the effort of trying to stay afloat in that privileged world of six-story town houses and European jaunts has become increasingly difficult, especially as Manhattan descends into an economic freefall.

As Lisa looks over at her sleeping husband, Sam, she can't help but feel that their fifteen-year marriage is in a funk that she isn't able to place. She tries to shake it off and tells herself that the strain must be due to their mounting financial pressures. But later that morning, as her family eats breakfast in the next room, Lisa finds herself checking Sam's voicemail and hears a whispered phone call from a woman he is to meet that night. Is he having an affair?

When Lisa shares her suspicions with her best friend, Deirdre, at their weekly breakfast, Deirdre claims it can't be true. But how can Lisa fully trust her opinion when Deirdre is still single and mired in an obsessive affair with a glamorous photographer even as it hovers on the edge of danger?

When Deirdre's former college flame, Jack, comes to town and the two couples meet to celebrate his fortieth birthday, the stage is set for an explosive series of discoveries with devastating consequences. Filled with suspense and provocative questions about the relationships we value most, Best Intentions is a tightly woven drama of love, friendship and betrayal. "

Leave a comment to be entered. And PLEASE make sure I can contact you either by email or through your blog. Open to US and Canada. Closes Sat. July 11 at 6 pm EST. Good luck and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Run for Your Life - James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge (audioformat)

Well I really doubt that there is anyone who hasn't heard of James Patterson. He is one of the best selling authors of all time. He has numerous series and co authors with a number of writers.

Run for Your Life was co written with Michael Ledwidge and features NYPD Detective Michael Bennett. Bennett's wife Maeve died, leaving him to raise their adopted brood of ten children. A lot of the story focuses on his family and the children. But the bad guy in this crime thriller is The Teacher - he's out to teach the citizens of New York City some manners. And in quite a definitive manner - by killing those that he's thinks have treated him rudely.

I listened to this in audio format. There were two readers - Bobby Cannavale, as Bennett and Dallas Roberts as The Teacher. Cannavale has a wonderful New York accent that seemed to personify the character. Roberts sinister, sarcastic, sibilant delivery was perfect for the serial killer. Also adding to the audio experience were sound effects and music to heighten certain scenes.

You know what you're getting with a Patterson tale. A quick, entertaining read that will keep you turning pages (or listening). Perfect to listen to while you multi task!

Listen to an audio clip of Run for Your Life from the Hachette Book Group.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Gone Tomorrow - Lee Child

Gone Tomorrow is the latest from another one of my favourite authors - Lee Child. This is the 13th novel in the Jack Reacher series.

Jack is a former Army MP. He left service after 13 years and has criss crossed the country ever since. He has no home, but is not homeless. He chooses to live with the clothes on his back and his toothbrush in his pocket. On his travels, he runs into many people and many situations. Some of those situations make him stick around a little longer and have a closer look.

Such is the case with Gone Tomorrow. Jack is riding the subway late at night in New York City. He has a bad feeling about the woman who is extremely nervous across the aisle. He suspects she may be a suicide bomber.

The opening line of the book is a classic:

"Suicide bomber are easy to spot. They give out all kinds of tell-tale signs. Mostly because they're nervous. By definition they're all first-timers."

When the woman dies in front of him, he sticks around to be interviewed by the police. When he meets her brother and learns more about her, he decides to do a little investigation on his own. And it leads to a former war hero who's making a run for the U.S. Senate, some old world mobsters who really don't like Jack. And a whole lot more than he bargained for....

Reacher is such a great character. He has a firm moral compass, carefully delineated lines on what's right and wrong, but has no problem using questionable methods to get to the bottom of things. He's big, strong, smart and not afraid of too much at all. For many of the people whose lives intersect with his, he is an unexpected hero.

If you're looking for some great escapist reading with lots of action, intrigue, an intricate plot that could be taken from today's headline, this newly released page turner from Random House Canada is one to pick up. I'll be waiting for number 14!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Secrets to Happiness - Sarah Dunn

Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn, newly released from the Hachette Book Group is the latest book chosen for the Early Bird Blog Tours.

I'm a sucker for cover art and I absolutely loved the cover for Secrets to Happiness. That dog's grin makes me smile!

From the publisher:

"Holly Frick has just endured the worst kind of breakup: the kind where you're still in love with the person leaving you. While her wounds are still dangerously close to the surface, her happily married best friend confesses over a bottle of wine that she is this close to having an affair. And another woman comes to Holly for advice about her love life--with Holly's ex! Holly decides that if everyone around her can take pleasure wherever they find it, so will she. As any self-respecting 30ish New York woman would do, she brings two males into her life: a flawed but endearing dog, and a good natured, much younger lover. She's soon entangled in a web of emails, chance meetings, and misguided good intentions and must forge an entirely new path to Nirvana. From the author of The Big Love, Secrets to Happiness is a big-hearted, knife-sharp, and hilariously entertaining story about the perils of love and friendship, sex and betrayal--and a thoroughly modern take on our struggle to be happy."

Usually when I write a review I like to recap the plot in my own words. However this time, I was stymied. From the above description and cover, I was expecting something a little bit lighter and somewhat funny. Truthfully I didn't find it in any way hilarious. It is definitely a modern take on the search for happiness. But I found the search somewhat depressing and desperate. There are many characters and story lines introduced in the first few chapters. Putting the book down and coming back I had to reread to get back up to speed. The cavalier attitude towards sex, drugs and infidelity left me feeling quite sad and dismayed.

"Was it true, Holly found herself wondering, that if you could keep from feeling bad about something bad that you'd done and you never got caught, then it didn't really count?

Although each of the characters had some redeeming qualities I just never really connected or frankly cared about any of them. Their self ruminations fell flat for me.

I found the dialogue Holly has with the Native American vet Two Feathers distasteful as well. During her first personal conversation with him, one of the first things she says is;

"It's very difficult for me, Holly said, you know, being here in the park with you, not to ask if you can do that thing where you walk over dried leaves and twigs and sticks and things without making any sound." An earlier description on page 215 left the same sour taste - "instead of his usual expression - the one that made Holly think of smallpox-laden blankets and wampum trades gone sour..."

I had high hopes with the cover, but I'm sorry to say - this was a miss for me.

For some different opinions check out what my fellow bloggers thought.

Serena at Savvy Verse and Wit
Beth at Beth Fish Reads
Kathy at Bermuda Onion's Weblog
S.Krishna's Books
Sandie at Booksie's Blog
Amber Stults
Wendy's Minding Spot
A Circle of Books
Shelly at Write for a Reader
Reading with Monie
Dar at Peeking Between the Pages
Cindy's Love of Books
Kristi at Books and Needlepoint
Sheri at Bookopolis

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Giveaway - Secrets to Happiness - Sarah Dunn

Thanks to the generosity of The Hachette Book Group, I have a copy of Sarah Dunn's latest book, Secrets to Happiness, to giveaway.

From the publisher:

"Holly Frick has just endured the worst kind of breakup: the kind where you're still in love with the person leaving you. While her wounds are still dangerously close to the surface, her happily married best friend confesses over a bottle of wine that she is this close to having an affair. And another woman comes to Holly for advice about her love life--with Holly's ex!Holly decides that if everyone around her can take pleasure wherever they find it, so will she. As any self-respecting 30ish New York woman would do, she brings two males into her life: a flawed but endearing dog, and a good natured, much younger lover. She's soon entangled in a web of emails, chance meetings, and misguided good intentions and must forge an entirely new path to Nirvana. From the author of The Big Love, Secrets to Happiness is a big-hearted, knife-sharp, and hilariously entertaining story about the perils of love and friendship, sex and betrayal--and a thoroughly modern take on our struggle to be happy."

To be entered, leave a comment about something that makes you happy! Open to both US and Canada, no po boxes please. PLEASE make sure I have a way to contact you - either through your blog or by leaving your email. Giveaway ends July 7th, 6 pm EST. Good luck and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaway.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Scarecrow - Michael Connelly (audioformat)

Michael Connelly is one of my favourite authors. I don't even bother reading descriptions of the book, I just know I'm going to enjoy it.

The Scarecrow features not Harry Bosch, but crime reporter Jack McEvoy. McEvoy first appeared in The Poet and has appeared in minor roles in subsequent books. I was happy to see him with a book to himself.

Jack seems to have reached the end of his reporting life with the LA Times. He's being laid off in two weeks. But when a grandmother calls him out on a story he wrote involving her grandson, he decides to investigate a bit further. The boy is accused of murder, but says he didn't do it. When Jack finds evidence of a very similar murder, he realizes the boy could be innocent. He decides to end his career on a high note and pursues a lead to Las Vegas. But that lead has digitally alerted the killer and he's ready and waiting for Jack. Another familiar character, FBI agent Rachel Walling is featured as well.

Connelly writes taut, suspenseful thrillers. His plots are tight and believable. The Scarecrow is built around the demise of the daily newspaper and the increasing use of the web. As a former reporter, Connelly's descriptions and scenes ring true. With the increasing use of the web, comes a wealth of information stored online, and people like The Scarecrow.The background between Jack and Rachel also provides an interesting subplot.

It was interesting to listen to this in audio format. When you are familiar with a character, you have an idea in your head of how he should sound. Peter Giles is the reader on The Scarecrow. He is an accomplished actor, appearing on such shows as CSI, Cold Case and many more. His voice was perfect for Jack. He conveyed anger, shock, incredulity and many more emotions with his delivery. His voice was perfect to carry this suspense novel. I enjoyed experiencing this in audio format. (And I got to do two things as once!)

Read an excerpt of The Scarecrow.

Listen to an excerpt from The Scarecrow.

Here's some great Q & A's from Michael Connelly on the writing of The Scarecrow.

Harry Bosch returns in Nine Dragons, being released by the Hachette Book Group on Oct 13/09!

Want a chance to win a copy of The Scarecrow (audiobook) for yourself? Enter my giveway - ends Friday, June 19.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Winner - Giveaway - Holly's Inbox

And the very, very lucky winner (chosen by random.org) of a copy of Holly's Inbox, courtesy of Sourcebooks is:


You're going to love it! I've contacted you via email for your mailing address. Please respond within 48 hours. Congratulations and thanks to all who entered. Check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Summer is Short - Read a Story

Harper Collins Canada is running a great summer reading challenge. Hmm, can you guess what it is? Yes -it's short story reading!

Short story reading is great for when you only have a few minutes and NEED to read. My favourite choices are authors that I've already read. Short stories often let them step outside their 'normal' parameters and we get to see a completely different side of their writing. But it's a great way to sample a writer new to you as well.

The Savvy Reader has a great list of suggestions to get you started. I think I'm going to start with Neil Gaiman's Fragile Things. Let Deanna know what you've read/blogged/tweeted and be entered to win a fall book of your choice! Bloggers from the US are welcome to enter as well.

Over at the Harper Perennial Canada site you can read shorts by some of your favourite authors such as Bolero by Frances Itani or Damaged Goods by Tim Winton. New stories will be posted throughout the summer. There's a contest going on as well - leave a comment to be entered for a copy of Classic Shorts.

Anyone have some favourite collections to recommend?

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Good Mayor - Andrew Nicoll

The Good Mayor is Scottish author Andrew Nicoll's debut novel and is newly released from Random House Canada. Nicoll is a former lumberjack turned newspaper journalist who wrote The Good Mayor on his commute back and forth to work.

It's an absolutely quirky, offbeat, enchanting, magical love story.

This tale is narrated by St. Walpurnia, a bearded nun, who has watched over the small town of Dot, in a forgotten corner of the Baltic, for many, many years. Tibo Krovic is the mayor of Dot. He is known as Good Mayor Krovic as he always says and does the right thing. The good mayor has harboured a secret for many years. He is in love with his lonely, married secretary - Mrs. Agathe Stopak. But he worships from afar, or at least peeking under the crack in his office door, afraid to let her know of his feelings. One day fate, or St. Walpurnia, steps in and it seems like the good mayor and Mrs. Stopak may have a chance at true love. But the path of love is almost always crooked....

Now it sounds like a mushy love story but it's anything but. We have Strega Mamma Cesare (an Italian witch) who sees and knows much more about Dot and its' inhabitants than anyone realizes.

" Small and brown, Mamma Cesare waddled in front of them like a magic toadstool leading two lost children through a fairy story."

And that is the feel of The Good Mayor - a fairy tale for adults. Anyone who loved the film The Princess Bride will be enchanted by this story.

There is a circus troupe that only some can hear and see, but they seem to appear at the most opportune moments. And an enigmatic, very overweight lawyer who seems to also know a bit more than he should.

"...nothing in Dot is ever just quite what it seems. Nothing."

The story itself is charming but it is Nicoll's language and telling of the story that make it so wonderful. The thoughts, the feelings, the descriptions -all of it captured and held me until I reluctantly turned the last page.

As St. Walpurnia says "Anyway, this story is much more about the telling than the things that happen in it..."

Tender, funny, charming and beguiling - this one will stay with you and make you wish for a little bit of magic in your life...

Read an excerpt of The Good Mayor.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Thank you!

Thank you to Avis over at She Reads and Reads for giving me not one, but two awards!Thank you Avis for thinking of me - I'm quite honoured!

A belated thank you to Karen over at Bookin' With Bingo for passing on this award to me! You made my day!

Winners - Giveaway - Becoming Beauty

And the three lucky winners (chosen by random.org) of a copy of Dimitri James' new book Becoming Beauty, courtesy of Skinn Cosmetics are:

1. Sharon
2. Meredith
3. Sharonjo

Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing addresses. Please respond within 48 hours.Thanks to all who entered and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways!

Friday, June 5, 2009

The G-Free Diet - Elisabeth Hasselbeck

Most likely you've seen Elisabeth Hasselbeck as one of the co hosts on the television show The View. She was also on the reality TV show Survivor. And that's where things clicked for her. For years she had suffered debilitating stomach, digestive and bowel problems. With only rice to eat on the show, she felt great. Coming back to 'civilization' and resuming eating bread, she finally made the connection.

The G-Free Diet is an all encompassing handbook, for those with celiac disease, with gluten intolerance, for those who live with them and for those who want to 'clean up' their diet.

Gluten intolerance/celiac disease has an astonishing amount of symptoms and is associated with a wide ranging number of conditions. Among them are osteoporosis, reproductive issues, malnutrition, autoimmune diseases such as fibromyalgia, and many many more.

Elisabeth's book is subtitled a gluten free survival guide and it is just that. Covering everything from diagnosis, definitions, to living with this condition and many tips she has learned in her own journey.

I was surprised to find that gluten is found in many health and beauty products such as shampoos and lip gloss.

The G-Free Diet covers social aspects - dining out at restaurants, with friends and family and travelling. Did you know that IPhone has a gluten free restaurant application? What if you have a child with this condition? Keeping a gluten free kitchen, reading labels and shopping.

There are fantastic resource lists included. Definitions of all the ways and places gluten can be found and listed. Lists of 'safe' foods, online resources and information and other books for further reading.

After reading this I have a new respect for someone living with this condition. And I think I might just investigate some of the other grains listed that are gluten free. Many people are choosing to eat this way for an energy boost, weight loss and feeling healthier. Something to consider....