Friday, July 31, 2009

How Not to Look Old - Charla Krupp

Charla Krupp is a former beauty editor at Glamour magazine. And yes - she does look amazing!

Her take on things is little bit different than Bobbi Brown's. (see Wednesday's review) Brown seems to embrace and celebrate aging whereas to quote Krupp: "Aging sucks. " "We're going to fight aging - and we're going to look great doing it."

We are asked to define our maintenance level at the beginning of the book - how much time, effort and money are we willing to put in? Each subsequent chapter has suggestions for each level. Topics covered include hair - cuts and colour, eyebrows, glasses, teeth and nails. Lots and lots of make up tips and guides. (Who knew there was such a thing as lip exfoliater?) Clothing takes up many chapters, including jeans, undergarments, jewellery and shoes. Each chapter finishes with 'Brilliant Buys' - specific product recommendations that Krupp has tested. (Interestingly Bobbi Brown's line pops up often) We are treated to the 'old way' vs 'new' (Y&H) way of doing things. Y&H is used throughout the book and stands for Young and Hot.

A little more from Krupp's intro:

"We want fast fixes. That's why there's also no mention of the fact that diet and exercise are essential to looking younger and staying healthy over the long haul. There isn't a woman alive who doesn't already know this. Eating salmon and doing yoga are good things to do for sure, but they won't give the instant results the to-do's in this book will."

How Not to Look Old was a New York Times bestseller. It is certainly commericial in nature, with additonal appendices listing the 'best' salons, spas etc. to go to city by city. There are definitely tips and ideas that everyone could take advantage of and if that's what you're looking for, this is a great book. Personally the celebrating of aging rather than fighting it appeals to me more.

Thanks to The Hachette Book Group I had a giveaway for this title as well. If any of the winners would like to send me their thoughts, I would be happy to include them!

Here's what Jodee from AZ thought:

"After the no-nonsense title claimed my attention, the promise of immediate results sealed my interest. I have purchased many magazines that promised to detail how I could “get gorgeous, now!” This book is like such an article that has been pumped and plumped, then presented with a gorgeous, glossy glow. First, I noted that the author established credibility, so I felt confident that her observations are those of a well-trained eye to issues of appearance (she was even a beauty editor). Then, I found the familiar glossy photos, and magazine styling and organization attractive. It is clear that the author is very familiar with magazine writing and layout. Overall, it was an enjoyable read that avoided self-promoting (as I find true in too many self-help books), and was often self-deprecating (there are some endearing stories in there). I especially loved that advice was broken down by budget, or “level of commitment,” because some fixes are affordable to all. All the given advice had value, even though I find myself outside the primary target audience. The only drawback I could find was that this is not a book I could give as a gift, even to someone I know well. Given as a gift, the title would scream, “You’re looking old and you need professional help.”

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Divorce Party - Laura Dave - Review AND Giveaway

Summer's not done yet - here's another hot read for you!

Nate and Maggie are newly engaged. Nate's parents Gwyn and Thomas have been married for thirty five years. But their marriage has come to an end. Gwyn is throwing a divorce party with Thomas "to celebrate a peaceful end to a valued union." And this is the day when Maggie will meet her future in-laws for the first time....

This novel is told in alternating chapters from Maggie and Gwyn's viewpoint, all happening in one day. Both women have discovered things they didn't know about their significant other - albeit at a different stages of their relationships - the beginning and the end.

Dave has created charming, warm, wonderful characters that are believable. The female roles are the strongest. Gwyn is a self assured woman who is coming to grips with finding her own path after so many years as a couple. Maggie is an engaging young woman who is finding her footing as well. Supporting characters, notably Nate's sister Georgia, are also searching.

I had a hard time with Thomas. Although he is being true to what he believes to be the best path for himself, I disliked his dishonesty - I found it weak. Nate too has his secrets, but his reasons to be had less to do with selfishness, than his love for Maggie. I was more sympathetic to his cause, but still not thrilled with his duplicity.

When I picked up Laura Dave's second novel, I thought it would be a chick lit read based on the cover. I hesitate to label it as there was so much more to it. it was by turns funny, sad, poignant and hopeful. A fairy tale - no, but a definite page turner. You'll find yourself re reading some of the passages on relationships and thinking about your own.

Fans of Jennifer Weiner and Emily Giffin would enjoy this book. (They both did as they've provided cover blurbs!)

As as a neat aside, Jennifer Aniston's film company has bought the rights to The Divorce Party.

You can read an excerpt of The Divorce Party.

This would be a good choice for a book club as well. There is an excellent reading group guide included in the book.

Or.....thanks to Penquin US, you can enter to win one of five (!) copies being given away. Open to both the US and Canada. Simply comment to be entered. Ends Saturday Aug 26/09 at 6 pm EST.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Living Beauty - Bobbi Brown

It's only really as I've started noticing that I'm getting older - when did that happen?!- that I've thought about taking some action. Better late than never right?

Bobbi Brown is an internationally renowned make up artist and beauty editor. What attracted me to Living Beauty was Brown's approach to aging. She encourages and celebrates women over forty.

"Aging (or getting older) should be seen as a process through which a woman can gain more vitality, strength, wisdom, and a new sense of her beauty."

Brown advocates an entire way of living, not simply make up. Eating and living right with a positive attitude is the foundation of her philosophy. What she then offers are suggestions of ways to enhance what you already have. Make up tips with step by step colour photos on glossy stock. I enjoyed the before and after pictures. Hair cut and colour is also covered. Clothes, including foundation garments and what flatters every shape is also covered as is fitness and nutrition. I did find the chapter on BHRT - Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy interesting. BHRT differs from traditional HRT in that it is formulated from naturally occurring plant sources and individualized.

I did enjoy this book and will be incorporating some suggestions into my life.

Read an excerpt of Living Beauty.

Thanks to The Hachette Book Group, I had a giveaway for this book and invited winners to send in their thoughts once they had a chance to read it.

Here's what Sarah M from PA had to say:

"I finished it! I thought it was fantastic that along with the variety of makeup and fashion tips she stressed again and again the importance of what we put in our bodies. Bobbi Brown believes that eating, sleeping and managing stress well, along with other natural methods, are the core of the secret of timeless beauty. I loved that a makeup artist with such a successful cosmetic line of her own would write a book that doesn't push her products but encourages women to feel good to look good."

Any other winners, send along your thoughts and I'll add them to the review!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Giveaway - Just Food - James E. McWilliams

I've been making some concious food choices lately and James E. McWilliam's book looks like an interesting read on the subject:

From the publisher:

We suffer today from food anxiety, bombarded as we are with confusing messages about how to eat an ethical diet. Should we eat locally? Is organic really better for the environment? Can genetically modified foods be good for you? JUST FOOD does for fresh food what Fast Food Nation (Houghton Mifflin, 2001) did for fast food, challenging conventional views, and cutting through layers of myth and misinformation. For instance, an imported tomato is more energy-efficient than a local greenhouse-grown tomato. And farm-raised freshwater fish may soon be the most sustainable source of protein. Informative and surprising, JUST FOOD tells us how to decide what to eat, and how our choices can help save the planet and feed the world."

Want to read it? Thanks to The Hachette Book Group I have 3 copies to giveaway. Open to both US and Canada, no po boxes please. Simply comment to be entered. Giveaway ends Wed Aug 26th, 6 pm EST. Check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Price of Love and Other Stories - Peter Robinson

Peter Robinson is one of my favourite mystery authors. His Inspector Banks series now numbers 19!

The Price of Love is a collection of short stories released by McClelland and Stewart. When I started to read, I planned to read one or two, put the book down and come back to it -that's the beauty of a short story collection. Unfortunately, this book was like a bag of chips for me - I couldn't read just one or two, but had to finish it off . And it was done too quickly and I wanted more!

There are two Banks stories and a novella included. One is a great Christmas tale originally published in a small run of 350 as a gift to a publisher's friends. The novella fills in the Bank's jump from London to Eastvale. As always, the crimes are interesting and well plotted. But it is the character development that makes this series such an addicting read. Banks is human, fallible and it has been fascinating over the years to watch his life unfold.

It was intriguing to read stories told in a different voice than Banks. Many were originally published in anthologies Robinson has participated in . There are afternotes at the end explaining the origins of each tale. They range from a WWII soldier falsely accused of murder and the investigator powerless to stop the wheels of justice. Shadows on the Water has a WWII soldiers telling childhood stories while hiding in their trenches. The ending caught me completely unawares. Robinson always includes many references to music in his writing. (Check out the playlists he has compiled for the Banks books) The Magic of Your Touch is a chilling little tale dealing with the songwriting process. One of my favourites was Walking the Dog - a wronged spouse and the revenge they take. All in all, there wasn't one I didn't enjoy!

Robinson currently lives in Toronto, Canada and it's always a thrill to read of locales you've visited yourself. College Ave, Danforth and The Beaches provide some of the settings for stories.

Robinson is a consummate storyteller. Fans new and old will want to add this one to their collection.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Winners - Giveaway - Off Season

And the five lucky winners (chosen by of a copy of Off Season, courtesy of The Hachette Book Group are:

1. Joyce
2. Kelly F
3. Sharon54220
4. blueviolet
5. cherio1

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

*Linda let me know she had already won a copy, went to the next on the list*

Friday, July 24, 2009

First Family - David Baldacci

I've been a fan of David Baldacci from the beginning and have read all of his novels. This was the first time I've listened to one. First Family did not disappoint!

Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, Secret Service Agents turned private eyes, are contacted by the First Lady - Jane Cox. Her neice has been kidnapped. The FBI is heading up the investigation, but Cox has dealt with King in the past and trusts him. She wants an extra set of eyes looking that report to her alone.

This was an excellent story, told from both the viewpoint of the kidnapper and those looking for him. The reasons behind the kidnapping are slowly and deliciously eked out, keeping my interest piqued. The character development is excellent as is the secondary plot line involving Michelle.

Ron McClarty was the reader and he did a phenomal job of bringing the characters to life. His voice is rich and pleasant to listen to. Each character was easily defined with a different voice. His inflections conveyed the emotions and nuances of the plot extremely well.

I knew I would enjoy the story as I knew the author, but honestly I think I just might listen to the next one as well.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Blind Eye - Stuart MacBride

I'd heard of Scottish author Stuart MacBride, but had not sat down with one of his books till now. Wish I'd sat down sooner.....

Newly released from Harper Collins Canada, Blind Eye is set in Abderdeen, Scotland and focused around the Grampian Police Department. The main character is DS Logan McRae his partner DI Steel.

They're put on the "Oedipus" case. Someone is really, really unhappy with the growing Polish population in Aberdeen. Men are found beaten with their eyes removed and the sockets burned. Letters explaining the reasoning behind this appear regularly at the station. Those still alive refuse to talk. The only witness is a local pedophile and he's disappeared. While trying to work on this case, McRae and Steel are at the same time plagued with escalating gang warfare. Not to mention their personal lives.....

Blind Eye is dark and gritty. The underbelly of the streets and alleys of Aberdeen come to life under MacBride's pen. Descriptions paint vivid pictures of both locales and characters.

The strongest and the most interesting by far are that of MacRae and Steel. Both are flawed human beings but possess an innate compass for what is right. That compass may go a little off base once in a while though. I really don't want to give away much more of the details of either character. I had great fun getting to know them throught their interactions. Their dialogue is priceless and the Scottish accent translates to print very well.

The supporting characters are also well portrayed. Their personalities and conflicts come to life and provide excellent secondary story lines. The humour in Blind Eye is dark and biting.

Although this book is part of a series, I never felt lost at all. I will be adding MacBride to my list of favourite crime authors!

It also somewhat reminded me of Guy Ritchie's movie RocknRolla.

Browse inside Blind Eye.

Fans of Mark Billingham, Graham Hurley and Stieg Larsson would enjoy this book.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ravens - George Dawes Green

Ravens by George Dawes Green is the latest choice of the Early Birds Book Tour Group from the Hachette Book Group

The Boatwright family live in tiny Brunswick, Georgia. Mom Patsy, has a ritual on Wednesday nights - get soused and pray that her lottery tickets are winners. Against all odds, this time they are. The Boatwright family - father Mitch - a devout elder at the Faith Renewal Church, daughter Tara - who wants something more than life in Brunswick and little brother Jase - his mother's favourite. Tara is her grandmother Nell's favourite. Brunswick is struggling financially and so are the Boatwrights. But they won't be now - they've won $318 million dollars. They're trying to keep the win under wraps.

But you know how small towns are. When two low level grifters - Shaw and Romeo stop in to the local convenience store on their way through to Florida, they get wind of the win and who the lucky family is. Shaw decides that their ship has come in and that they will share the Boatwright's good fortune.

"Could he really do this? He had to He had to live He couldn't not-live any longer. He knew that if there were any resistance, it would have to be crushed mercilessly. If they challenged him, he'd have to kill their loved ones while they watched. An how would he withstand their looks of horror By tapping into a vein of steadfastness and wisdom. By knowing what he needed. What he needed was beauty. A life of pure beauty , nothing less. He'd pay any price for it.

Shaw visits the Boatwright family and promises that his friend Romeo will kill their family and friends if they don't go along with his plan. He only wants half of their good fortune.

When the money is received and Shaw promises publicly to give it all away, the public inexplicably falls in love with him, almost hypnotized. He begins to refer to the public as his flock. The entire situation becomes surreal. And still Romeo is out there, circling the town. As Shaw says " Always the light is guarded by darkness."

Ravens went in a completely different direction than I had first though it would. Initially I thought it would be tension filled hostage situation with the family plotting to escape etc. Instead, it's more relationship and character driven. Shaw's glib and golden tongue produces amazing, seemingly reasonable explanations for everything. He is revelling in his new found status. Romeo on the other hand is such a tragic figure. He is alone, 'on patrol' the entire time Shaw is posturing. Romeo has good in him and isn't really cut out for this caper. He craves human contact and ends up with odd relationships with the denizens of the town.

I was so sucked into this story - I kept turning page after page. Would the family rebel, would Shaw get away with it, what would Romeo do, out there in the dark.

Green has created an unexpected, engrossing tale that I thoroughly enjoyed.

And I still haven't quite figured out how to get a video on a post, so instead here's a link to the YouTube trailer for Ravens.

Or listen to an excerpt of Ravens. Read an excerpt. Facebook fans can find him here.

Or best of all - enter my giveaway to win yourself a copy of all three books by George Dawes Green!

Visit the other sites on the tour today as well.

Giveaway - 3 Books by George Dawes Green

Woo- hoo! thanks to the generosity of the great folks at The Hachette Book Group, one lucky winner is going to win a copy of each of George Dawes Green's three books.

Including Ravens - being toured today - you can see my review here.

"The Boatwrights just won 318 million dollars in the Georgia State lottery. It's going to be the worst day of their lives...'

The Juror

"Annie Laird is Juror 224. A sculptor with a career going nowhere. A single mother struggling to raise a son. A good citizen who has been summoned to what looks like a rountine tour of civic duty. But the trial she is called to serve on is no ordinary trial. It is a mob trial, whose outcome has been meticulously orchestrated by a man of insidious power and deadly precision. A man who lives by the teachings of Lao Tsu...whose magnetism is irresistible...whose mind is as brilliant as it is twisted. He is know to some as the Teacher, and he's set his sights on Annie Laird.... "

The Caveman's Valentine.

"Romulus Ledbetter wasn't always homeless. He once was a devoted husband, father, and musician with a bright future. He now forages for food in the trash cans of the city's better neighborhoods and wages a strenuous one-man war against Cornelius Gould Stuyvesant, an evil -- and imaginary -- power broker who is responsible for society's ills, as well as the sinister Y- and Z-rays that are corrupting humankind. Then one wintry night, Rom finds a corpse at the mouth of his cave that rouses his well-defined sense of ethics and launches him on an obsessive quest for answers. Forced to reconnect with society, Rom leaves his world and journeys through a spiraling web of clues and hunches, straight into a sinister den of money, temptation, and murder--otherwise known as the "civilized" world. "

Open to both US and Canada, no po boxes please. Leave a comment with the name of a species of bird and please make sure I have a way to contact you. Closes Saturday, Aug 22 at 6 pm EST. Good luck and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Winner - Sunnyside Blues

And the lucky winner (chosen by of a copy of Mary Carter's Sunnyside Blues is:


I've contacted you by email for your mailing address. Congratulations and thanks to all who entered. Check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Just a couple of things....

Well, I've been horrible since getting back from vacation at getting around to visit everyone....and it may continue for just a little bit longer. I start a new full time job on Tuesday, so I'll be reading like crazy this weekend to try and get some posts done up ahead of time. Please bear with me!

And I also want to say thank you for some recent awards.

Thank you to Linda Ellen at Bambi Reads for the Heartfelt Award! I truly appreciate you thinking of me!!

" Do you reach for a cup of cocoa or tea when your relaxing, seeking comfort, sharing a plate of cookies with family and friends? You know the feeling you get when you drink a yummy cup of cocoa, tea, or a hot toddy? That is what the Heartfelt Award is all about, feeling warm inside. "

Thank you as well to Suzanne at Chick With Books for the Let's Be Friends award.

"Blogs that receive the Let’s Be Friends Award are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and befriends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated."

You can never have enough friends! Thanks again Suzanne!!

Now I'm supposed to pass this on to 9 others, but I suffer great angst when trying to choose just some of the great blogs out there. Instead I encourage you to visit some of my followers and discover some new blogs that way.

Library of the Dead - Glenn Cooper

Library of the Dead, newly released from Harper Collins Canada, is a debut novel for author Glenn Cooper.

The book opens to a flashback from the year 777. It is the 7th day of the 7th month, and a village fearfully awaits the birth of a 7th son is born to a 7th son.

Fast forward to 1947. An discovery so unprecedented and considered a danger to the civilized world is secreted away in Nevada - in Area 51.

Fast forward again to present day New York City. FBI Agent Will Piper, once renowned with the agency for his success in profiling and capturing serial killers, has fallen from favour and is now counting down the months to retirement. But circumstances get him called in to deal with what the press is calling the Doomsday Killer. Victims are receiving plain white postcards with a date. That date is the day they die - and it's happened seven times so far.

How could these three scenarios be connected?

Cooper has created an intriguing plot, plausibly combining past and present. The flashbacks from 777 are especially gripping, feeding us snippets that may explain who or what Will is chasing. The premise is good and the action totally captured me from the first to last page.

Will as a personality blew a little hot and cold for me. I did like him as a character, but he seemed a little inconsistent sometimes, as did his partner Nancy. I think Cooper's character development will improve. He has already written the sequel, called Book of Souls, and I will definitely be picking it up.

Read an excerpt of The Library of the Dead.

Fans of James Rollins, Dan Brown and Brad Thor would enjoy this book.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The 8th Confession - James Patterson

I've read the previous 7 novels in Patterson's Women's Murder Club serious, but this is the first one I've listened to. Co-written with Maxine Paetro, it is read by Carolyn McCormick. When you read a book, you picture what the characters will look and sound like. There was a short lived television show based on this series as well so I was almost expecting Angie Harmon's voice. But McCormick has read the entire series for the Hachette Book Group and I did enjoy her reading. Although she doesn't overly differentiate, each of the four main characters is easily identified vocally. There are sound effects and music used to heighten key parts of the plot.

There are two cases in this book. Reporter Cindy Thomas is on the story of Bagman Jesus, a homeless man whose death rates more attention than it's getting Cindy decides. But is he really the saint everyone says he was?

Wealthy socialites are dying and no one can find a cause of death or a reason to tie the cases together. Detective Lindsay Boxer is on the case.

The other two members of the Club - Assistant District Attorney Yukio Castellano and Coroner Claire Washburn play secondary roles in this novel.

The two cases are never connected and it somewhat feels like you are listening to two different books. However the meetings between the friends are used to connect the two story lines.

You always know what you're getting with a Patterson novel. A quick, easy, breezy read (or listen) as the case may be. I listened to this one on the way back and forth to work. The short chapters make it easy to stop and start and the plot is not overly involved - easy to pick up and put down. (or turn off and on!)

Patterson and Paetro have crafted yet another easily enjoyed best seller.

Listen to an excerpt of The 8th Confession.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Sinful Life of Lucy Burns - Elizabeth Leiknes

And now for something completely different! The Sinful Life of Lucy Burns is Elizabeth Leiknes's debut novel.

Now when they were young, who didn't promise something (to be good forever, to do your homework, to ....) in exchange for something you really really needed or wanted. Young Lucy Burns writes a letter to Whom it May Concern promising she'll never ask for anything ever again if her sister wakes up from her coma. And Ellen does wake up.

Fast forward... Whom it May Concern came collecting. Lucy is now a Facilitator - expediting the passage to hell for certain sinners.

Lucy is growing a little tired of her vocation and wishing for something more than perfect beauty, unlimited funds and everlasting life. She wants to be part of a family again. When she falls for her creative writing instructor, she is determined to resign her post. Can she redeem herself?

Leiknes has a wonderfully warped sense of humour. The Devil's facilitator hosting a kitchen ware party and being recruited for the Klan are some of my favourite scenes. The Sinful Life of Lucy Burns should not be taken as a morality read, but rather as a quick, quirky (167 pages) read.

You can read the first chapter of The Sinful Life of Lucy Burns.

Leiknes has a wonderfully creative mind. I have to include her author bio here as that's what sold me on reading the book.

"Elizabeth Leiknes grew up in rural Iowa and can make thirty-seven different dishes featuring corn. She attended The University of Iowa as an undergrad, and The University of Nevada, Reno for her Masters. Lucy Burns was “born” somewhere between a third and fourth helping of Captain Crunch in Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy with her first child, but the majority of Lucy’s story was written during her maternity leave somewhere between debilitating bouts of new-mother panic attacks, and squirting milk in various inappropriate locations about town. Elizabeth has a love/hate relationship with great white sharks, and a slight penchant for speaking in hyperbole, which she says she never does. She now lives and teaches English near Lake Tahoe with her husband, two sons, and mentally ill cat."

Thanks to Bancroft Press for the review copy.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Guest Post and Giveaway - David Liss - The Devil's Company

A Bookworm's World is thrilled to have author David Liss guest posting today. If you've not read Liss before you're missing a fantastic historical author. (Hint - there might be a chance to win yourself a copy at the end of this post!)

David Liss:

"Have you ever noticed that in suspense novels writers almost never depict protagonists who read, or even like, books? Yes, I am sure there are lots of exceptions out there, but these are exceptions that prove the rule. If a detective or a spy or an attorney has some down time in the novel, he or she will turn on the television, practice the harpsichord, brush up their Tagalog or indulge whatever obscure, character-developing hobbies they may have developed over the course of their unusual life. They rarely read.

Why is that? Why do writers seem so reluctant to make their heroic protagonists readers? I think part of it is the anti-intellectual stigma we have in American life that posits reading as somehow the opposite of doing. Readers are not doing anything of value, after all. If Secret Agent Jones is not busy uncovering terrorist plots, then he can working on his vintage Ferrari, because that gives him depth and makes him cool. If, on the other hand, we see him relaxing after a hard day by losing himself in Middlemarch, we can pretty much assume that it’s only a matter of time before the terrorists get the drop on him.

Several years ago I was on a panel of thriller writers, and the moderator asked us all to talk about how we researched our books. Everyone else had much to say about their exciting lives: This one spent weeks living with real smoke-jumpers; that one joined a daring smuggling venture across the heavily-guarded Freedonian border. Me? I spent a lot of time in the library. I could tell from the response of the audience that this was a let down. And sure, the library doesn’t make for great anecdotes – though there were some scary paper cuts – I think it’s a perfectly reasonable way to go. Historical novelists, of course, often have no choice but to rely on library work. Until we get that time machine working properly, and I get over the urge to go back in time and kill my own ancestors just for the fun of creating a paradox, the library is the best thing going. But somehow, many readers find this vaguely disappointing.
Books, even works of fiction, are supposed to contain some kind of authenticity. Readers expect information to be truthful. You can go to a historical film and see Vikings riding around on Segues and somehow that’s okay, because it is only a movie. If a novelist puts the wrong color sandals on Jules Cesar’s feet, there is going to be hell to pay.

I also hear this kind of thing from my readers. Just this morning received a very kind email from a man who read a galley of my new novel, which is set in England during the 1720s and, like much of what I write, focuses on a pivotal moment in financial history. “I don’t see anything about it in your biography,” he writes, “but I am sure you must have worked in business yourself, or maybe someone in your family did. I find it hard to believe that you could understand the inner workings of a corporation so well without some kind of personal experience.” Thank you, sir, for your very kind praise, but other than some office temp jobs. I’ve learned many things from my family, but not much of it is useful when writing about economic history. On the other hand, as Henry James wisely observes in “The Art of Fiction,” a mere glimpse of something, when combined with the writers experience, can be synthesized to produce the illusion of reality.

And that’s pretty much what I try to do. My research provides me with the details that cannot be obtained otherwise, and combined with the experience of the world that most human beings acquire through being alive, I can reasonably hypothesize how a particular kind of person would respond under particular circumstances. A lifetime in business would be one way to get that information, but personally I think research is better because when I’m done with one novel, I can go learn about something else and writer a different one. In any case this system has worked for me and enabled me to write about the kinds of characters I want to write about. Who often read, by the way."

David Liss is the author of five novels, with more on the way. His debut novel, A Conspiracy of Paper (2000) with its hero, the pugilist turned private investigator Benjamin Weaver, was named a New York Times Notable Book and won him the 2001 Barry, MacAvity and Edgar awards for Best First Novel. David's second novel, The Coffee Trader (2003) was also named a New York Times Notable Book and was selected by the New York Public Library as one of the year's 25 Books to Remember. His third novel A Spectacle of Corruption (2004) the sequel to A Conspiracy of Paper, became a national bestseller. David's fourth novel, The Ethical Assassin (2006) is his first full-length work that is not historical fiction. David's most recent novel, The Whiskey Rebels, is set in 1790's Philadelphia and New York. The third Benjamin Weaver novel, The Devil's Company, will be in stores in late 2009.
Born in New Jersey and raised in Florida, David is, in fact, a one-time encylopedia salesman. He received his B.A. from Syracuse University, an M.A. from Georgia State Universty and his M.Phil from Columbia University, where he left his dissertation unfinished to pursue his writing career.
David lives in San Antonio with his wife and children. You can visit his website at"

Thank you so much David for stopping by! And readers, here's your chance to win and read a copy of The Devil's Company.


"From the acclaimed author of The Whiskey Rebels and A Conspiracy of Paper comes a superb new historical thriller set in the splendor and squalor of eighteenth-century London. In Benjamin Weaver, David Liss has created one of fiction’s most enthralling characters.
The year is 1722. Thief-taker, ex-boxer, “ruffian for hire,” and master of disguise, Weaver finds himself caught in a deadly game of cat and mouse, pitted against Jerome Cobb, a wealthy and mysterious schemer who needs Weaver’s strength and guile for his own dark purposes.
Weaver is blackmailed into stealing documents from England’s most heavily guarded estate, the headquarters of the ruthless British East India Company, but the theft of corporate secrets is only the first move in a daring conspiracy within the 18th century’s most powerful corporation. To save his friends and family from Cobb’s reach, Weaver must infiltrate the Company, navigate its warring factions, and uncover a secret plot of corporate rivals, foreign spies and government operatives. With millions of pounds and the security of the nation in the balance, Weaver will find himself in a labyrinth of hidden agendas, daring enemies and unexpected allies. With the explosive action and scrupulous period research that are David Liss’s trademarks, The Devil’s Company depicts the birth of the modern corporation, and is the most impressive achievement yet from an author who continues to set ever higher standards for historical suspense."

Leave a comment to be entered. Open to both US and Canada. Winner will be chosen by closes Sat Aug 15, 6 pm EST.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Neighbor - Lisa Gardner

I took Lisa Gardner's latest book The Neighbor with me on vacation. Well, rather I took it to kill time during the inevitable airport wait times. And I have to say, this new release from Random House Canada made the time pass pretty quickly!

The Joneses are the perfect family. Young, pretty school teacher mom, bright precocious little girl, handsome, hardworking reporter father.

Jason Jones comes home after a night shift, finds his four year old daughter alone and his wife Sandra gone. He does report it to the police. But when Sergeant D.D. Warren (featured in a previous book Hide) begins to investigate, the perfect picture starts to fade. Jason is less than forthcoming. In fact he seems to be hindering the search, rather than helping. And as D.D. digs further, she can't help but think that Jason is guilty. But their neighbor Aidan is a person of interest as well.

D.D. Warren is an excellent female protagonist. She's quick, tough, with a smart mouth, but has a vulnerable side too.

The story is told from different viewpoints - D.D.'s, Jason's, Aidan's and Sandra's - although her story is told in flashbacks to her past, so we are never sure if she is alive or dead. As a reader, we know far more of what is happening than the police do.

Gardner keeps us on our toes. This is a fantastic psychological thriller that kept me guessing until the very end with a really, really good twist.

Lisa Gardner started out as a romance writer, but has really come into her own as a suspense author. Guaranteed to keep you reading 'just one more page....'

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Canadian Book Challenge 3

Well, although it's the third time, it's a first for me. I've decided to participate in the Canadian Book Challenge hosted by John of The Book Mine Set.

The rules are pretty simple:

Starting July 1st, 2009 and ending July 1st, 2010,from Canada Day to Canada Day, read and review at least 13 Canadian books.

Now you don't have to be a Canadian to participate. As John says " I challenge Canadians and non-Canadians to read 13 or more Canadian books. Pick fiction, pick nonfiction, pick poetry, graphic novels, picture books, plays, etc-- if it's Canadian and if it's a book, it's in."

John is looking to read a book from every provice (hence the 13). Others are theming their reads. I think I'll just read whatever grabs my attention. Although I am waiting for that new Lori Lansens...

1. The Price of Love and Other Stories - Peter Robinson
2. Fear the Worst - Linwood Barclay
3. The Wife's Tale - Lori Lansens
4. Galore - Michael Crummey
5. It Can Happen to You - Lynn Crymble
6. Waiting for Columbus - Thomas Trofimuk
7. Trauma Farm - Brian Brett
8. The Taken - Inger Ash Wolfe
9. Red Snow - Michael Slade
10. 24 Hours - London - Marsha Moore
11. Yellowknife - Steve Zipp
12. Spin - Catherine McKenzie
13. Deloume Road - Matthew Hooten
14. The Sea Captain's Wife - Beth Powning
15. Motorcycles & Sweetgrass - Drew Hayden Taylor
16.The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag
17. The Last River Child - Lori Ann Bloomfield
18. Never Look Away - Linwood Barclay
19. The One-Week Job Project - Sean Aiken
20. Bitten - Kelley Armstrong
21. Cool Water - Dianne Warren
22. Doing Dangerously Well - Carol Enahoro
23. The Penguin Book of Crime Stories - Peter Robinson
24. The Kitchen House - Kathleen Grissom

Some overdue thank you's...

Well I came back from holidays to some lovely surprises!

The first was A Bookworm's Award for Bookfriends from Vicki at Reading at the Beach. Thanks Vicki for thinking of me! (And I want to be reading at the beach with you!)

And the Kreativ Blogger award from both Sassy Brit and Cindy at Cindy's Love of Books! Thank you both so much! For this one, you're supposed to list 7 favourite things. So here goes, in no particular order! ( And there are certainly more than 7......)

1. My porch on a summer night.
2. My two dogs
3. My family and friends
4. Fabric, fabric and more fabric ( hmm is quilting something close to my heart?
5. Gardening
6. Books
7. A good cuppa tea

Thanks again for thinking of me!

Winner - Best Intentions - Emily Listfield

And the winner ( chosen by of a copy of Best Intentions by Emily Listfield is......


Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing address. Thanks to all who entered and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways!

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield

Well, I'm very glad that my resident guest blogger has been reading while I've been on vacation. Julia is back with her review of The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. A really great read. If you read The Little Stranger, you would enjoy this one as well.

"It is funny that I have put off reading this book for so long. It has been recommended by many, and in fact, I have a strange connection to the book. My grandparents’ names were Ethel Violet and Ambrose Charles Setterfield; this book is dedicated to Corina Ethel and Ambrose Charles Setterfield. My mother contacted Diane Setterfield some time ago and they decided that they are somehow related, but not sure how.

I tell you this story, because it relates perfectly to this “Thirteenth Tale”. This book is all about families and relationships and the ways that people are related, both by blood and by shared experience.

The book is about Margaret Lea, a book seller who, with her father, runs a book store specializing in classics and antique books. Margaret receives a letter from Vida Winter, a popular and prolific, modern-day author, known for never telling the truth about her life, inviting Margaret to write her biography. Vida promises to tell the truth, much as she finds comfort in the “soothing, rocking safety of a lie”.

The story, the truth, is one about children abandoned and neglected. About a mother unable to cope and eventually institutionalized. About an uncle who retreats to his rooms to deal with his own demons. This book has all the elements of a good mystery: children living unsupervised in a mansion, adults who are unable to gain control of forces seemingly unexplainable, and haunting images of England in the cold and bleak winter months. Throughout the book the reader works through the puzzles presented to try to make sense of the story. From the beginning, Vida makes Margaret promise not to ask questions to jump ahead in the story, so as the reader, one must be patient and wait for the whole tale to unfold.

Ms. Setterfield writes with beautifully descriptive language for both large landscape descriptions, and to help the reader visualize the tiniest details. I could picture Angelfield (where the girls lived) both in its glory, and in its current state of ruin. The descriptions of the weather made me want to grab for a quilt to guard from the winter cold. And this: “… her frame was marked by only the smallest rise and fall in the bedclothes. Warily she stole each breath…” What a compelling and precise picture she paints!

Although this book was published in 2007, it would be a good one to pick up for summer reading this year. I look forward to the next novel by Diane Setterfield."

What a great review! Thanks Julia!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Giveaway - Far North - Marcel Theroux

Faithful readers will know that Far North by Marcel Theroux was a five star read for me. Thanks to the generosity of Harper Collins Canada, I have two copies to giveaway!!

If you didn't get a chance to read my review, here's the publisher's blurb:

"Out on the far northern border of a failed state, a lone survivor, Makepeace, patrols the ruins of a dying city. Into this cold, isolated world walks the evidence that life is flourishing elsewhere—a refugee from the vast emptiness of forest, an individual whose very existence inspires Makepeace to take to the road to reconnect with human society.

What Makepeace finds is a world that is unravelling—stockaded villages enforcing a rough and uncertain justice, mysterious slave camps labouring to harness the little understood technologies of a vanished civilization. But Makepeace’s journey also leads to unexpected human contact, tenderness and the dark secrets behind this frozen world. Far North is a quest through an unforgettable Arctic landscape, from humanity’s origins to its likely end. Bleak, haunting, spare—and yet ultimately hopeful—the novel is suffused with an ecstatic awareness of the world’s fragility and beauty, and its unexpected ability to recover from our worst trespasses."

This giveway is open to CANADA only. Simply leave a comment to be entered. Winners will be chosen by Closes August 7/09 at 6 pm EST. Good luck and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Castaways - Elin Hilderbrand

The Castaways by Elin Hildebrand is the latest selection of the Hachette Group Early Birds Blog Tour. What a perfect choice for a summer read! I'd love to be laying on the beach watching the waves too.

The Castaways is the story of four couples, all very close knit friends who live on the island of Nantucket. For twenty years, they've shared their lives with each other. When the unthinkable happens and one of the couples - Tess and Greg - drowns, things start to unravel. Was it really accidental? Could it have been murder? Although this is a pivotal question, the book is much more about the interpersonal relationships of all eight individuals. It seems that everyone has a secret or parts of themselves that they've chosen not to share with the others. The story is told in a non linear fashion as each tries to come to terms with their grief over the loss of Tess and Greg.

Each chapter is written from the viewpoint of a different character. Each character seems to know just a little bit more about Greg and Tess. We are teased as we learn more and more about the lives of these eight friends. Although the mystery of what happened is intriguing, it is the character development that captured my attention. I found I took a strong dislike to some of them. Andrea is Tess's cousin and as she is older she has always been protective of Tess. However I found her protectiveness and grief almost overdone. Her husband is the stoic Chief of Police trying to uncover the true story. Addison and Phoebe are the wealthiest couple. Phoebe has been self medicating for grief for years, but really comes into her own by the end of the book. Addison I didn't like either. The couple I did enjoy was farmer Jeffery and his wife Delilah. Jeffery is solid, Delilah is still finding her footing but loves life.

This is Hildebrand's sixth novel, but she was an author new to me. As she lives on Nantucket herself, her books have an added sense of authenticity. I definitely enjoyed it!

Check out Elin Hildebrand's Nantucket page.

Read an excerpt of The Castaways.

Check out the other stops on today's tour.

Debbie's World of Books
Review From Here
Marta's Meanderings
Chick With Books
Radiant Light
Booksie's Blog
Drey's Library
Cindy's Love of Books
Books Movies and Chinese Food

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Winner - Secrets to Happiness

And the lucky winner (chosen by of a copy of Sarah Dunn's Secrets to Happiness, courtesy of the ever fabulous Hachette Book Group is:

Okay no reply from Oceanrena so on to the next on the list and that person is:


Congratulations. I've contacted you by email for your mailing address. Thanks to all who entered and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Back home again...

Well I'm back in Canada from my week long stay in the US with my daughter and son in law and their family down there. I had such a fantastic time!! Saw the sights, did the tourist thing and had a great time with C's family as well. The fireworks and musical accompaniment were first rate guys!

It's always so hard to leave. But there is a giant quilt exhibit later this year.... Hmm have to see if I can forget how much I hate flying.

Love you and miss you Bubber!

Now - gotta catch up on the reading and reviewing!

Monday, July 6, 2009

A Worthy Legacy - Tomi Akinyanmi

Tomi Akinyanmi has taken inspiration from her real life events and created a wonderfully inspiring fictionalized tale - A Worthy Legacy.

She writes from the point of a granddaughter who has returned to her Nigerian village to await the death of her beloved grandfather. With the family gathered around him, her grandfather says that he has no worldly goods to pass on, but wishes to share the wisdom of a lifetime with them.

Self respect, solitude, pride, doing what you know is right, learning from the past, using your destiny and living a good life are just a few of the pearls of wisdom shared.

It's a slim volume, but packs much food for thought into 100 pages. It's not a book you want to race through at all, instead take your time to savour and think about the ideas and thoughts presented.

Tomi writes with a lyrical beauty. Her prose are calm, gentle and thoughtful, interspersed with beautiful poetry.

The ending quote struck a chord with me,

"As for me, I have no doubt within my heart that if every physical property the dear old man bequeathed were to be lost today, the words and knowledge I've received from him cannot be taken from me. This is the greatest treasure I have received, the very best inheritance of all, an inheritance with not equal: a worthy legacy to bequeath."

I think Tomi's work will strike a chord with many readers, prompting us to ask, what is our legacy?

A Worthy Legacy won the 2009 Reviewer's Choice Award from Reader Views.

Tomi's tour stops tomorrow at Lost in Books with Rebecca.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The 4th of July


Happy 4th of July to all my American Friends. I am still on vacation and will be celebrating this holiday in the U.S. I've been told I'm in for a heck of a fireworks display, complete with soundtrack and a great day!

Have a safe and happy day everyone!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Giveaway - The Juror - George Dawes Green ( audio book)

Thanks to the generosity of The Hachette Book Group, I have three audio book copies of The Juror by George Dawes Green to giveaway. It sounds like a great listen!

From the publisher:

"Annie Laird is Juror 224. A good citizen who has been summoned to what looks like a routine tour of civic duty. But the trial she is called to serve on is a mob trial, whose outcome has been meticulously orchestrated by a man of insidious power and deadly precision. THE JUROR is a tour de force of crime and obsession, evil and innocence -- a story that taps into fears so primal they linger long after the last page has been read."

Listen to an excerpt of The Juror.

Open to both US and Canada, no po boxes please. Leave a comment to be entered. Please make sure I have a way to contact you, either by leaving you email or through your blog. Closes July 31 at 6pm EST. Good luck and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Giveaway - Swimsuit - James Patterson (audio book)

Thanks to the generosity of The Hachette Book Group, here's your chance to win an audio book copy of James Patterson's latest - Swimsuit. (Hey you could listen to it at the beach!)

From the publisher:

"Syd, a breathtakingly beautiful supermodel on a photo shoot in Hawaii, disappears. Fearing the worst, her parents travel to Hawaii to investigate for themselves, never expecting the horror that awaits them.LA Times reporter Ben Hawkins is conducting his own research into the case, hoping to help the victim and get an idea for his next bestseller. With no leads and no closer to uncovering the kidnapper's identity than when he stepped off the plane, Ben gets a shocking visit that pushes him into an impossible-to-resist deal with the devil.A heart-pounding story of fear and desire, SWIMSUIT transports listeners to a chilling new territory where the collision of beauty and murder transforms paradise into a hell of unspeakable horrors."

You can listen to an excerpt of Swimsuit.

Three copies to giveaway. Open to both US and Canada, no po boxes please. Leave a comment to be entered. Please make sure I have a way to contact you, either by leaving you email or through your blog. Closes July 31 at 6pm EST. Good luck and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Happy Canada Day!!

Happy Canada Day!!!!

On July 1, 2009 Canada will celebrate it's 142nd year since Confederation.

Before 1982 Canada Day had been known as Dominion Day or Confederation Day. Canada Day celebrates the events that occurred on July 1, 1867, when the British North America Act created the Canadian federal government. The BNA Act proclaimed "one Dominion under the name of Canada," hence the original title of the holiday, "Dominion Day." Dominion Day was officially renamed "Canada Day" by an Act of Parliament on October 27, 1982. This change reflected the policy of successive governments to down play Canada's colonial origins.Canada's national celebration is always observed on July 1, unless that date falls on a Sunday, in which case it is observed the following day."