Monday, May 31, 2010

The Author Effect (and their Kindle giveaway!)

I read Catherine McKenzie's debut novel Spin earlier this year. When I heard about her new initiative "The Author Effect", I knew I wanted to be part of it. She has started a new Facebook group called 'I bet we can make these books bestsellers".

In Catherine's words;

"I'm calling it the AUTHOR EFFECT, because, well, if I called it the OPRAH EFFECT I'd probably get sued. Every three months or so we (I probably just mean I, but I am open to suggestions!) will pick a book or books that I think should be read by the masses but just aren't because, well, that just seems to be the book business these days. Why do I think I know anything about picking books others will enjoy? Hubris, probably. But more seriously, haven't you usually found that when someone is really enthusiastic about something, it's usually worth taking a look at? I sure have. Now, while I am an author, this is NOT about promoting my own books (I swear). I'm just trying to pay the incredible luck and good fortune I've had forward. Do a good deed. Maybe change someone's life for the better. And who says Oprah's the only one who can get people reading. Are you with me?"

You can catch Catherine in this Focus Montreal video talking about The Author Effect. (about 17:37)

The current selections are: Jessica Z. and Two Years, No Rain by Shawn Klomparens

Facebook group: I bet we can make these books bestsellers
Goodreads group: Make a book a bestseller
Catherine’s Twitter handle: @CEMcKenzie1
Shawn’s Twitter handle: @sklompar

Oh did I mention the great incentive Catherine is offering.....a Kindle. Here's the fine print:

We will be giving away a Kindle. Draw will be August 15th. Open to US and Canada.

You can enter as follows:
1. For each purchase of the book(s) you will get five entries - proof of purchase will be photo of book in hand emailed to or photo/email of receipt
2. For joining Facebook group or group on Goodreads you will get one entry
3. For tweeting about project you will get one entry
4. For blogging about project you will get two entries
5. For each friend you get to join Facebook group or purchase the books you will get one entry - they can email me at or message me on FB or Twitter to tell me who they have gotten to join or purchase books.

Giveaway - The 9th Judgment - James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

Thanks to the generosity of The Hachette Book Group, I have 3 audio book copies of The 9th Judgment by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro to giveaway.

From the publisher:

"During an intimate dinner party, a cat burglar breaks into the home of A-list actor Marcus Dowling. When his wife walks in on the thief, the situation quickly teeters out of control, leaving an empty safe and a lifeless body.

The same night, a woman and her infant child are ruthlessly gunned down in an abandoned garage. The killer hasn't left a shred of evidence, except for a foreboding and cryptic message: WCF, the letters written in blood-red letters.

With two elusive criminals on the loose, Detective Lindsay Boxer calls on the Women's Murder Club to help her stop them before they continue their spree. But before they can break either case, the Lipstick Killer changes his act and demands a ransom--not for a single victim, but for all of San Francisco. Lindsay puts her own life on the line--but will it be enough to save the city from this deranged killer?"

Listen to an excerpt of The 9th Judgement. View a videoclip.

Open to both US and Canada, no po boxes please. Simply comment to be entered. Ends Wed June 30th at 6 pm EST.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Winners - The Host - Stephenie Meyer

And the three lucky winners (chosen by of a copy of The Host by Stephenie Meyer, courtesy of The Hachette Book Group are:

1. Katrina
2. alyxandsimon
3. Keitra

I've contacted you by email for your mailing addresses. Please respond within 72 hours. Congratulations and thanks to all who entered! Check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Icing on the Cupcake - Jennifer Ross

I definitely have a 'thing' for covers and The Icing on the Cupcake by Jenifer Ross decidedly caught my eye. Yummmmm - cupcakes.

Ansley Waller is a Southern belle. Newly graduated, she has accomplished what she has been aiming for her entire life - she's engaged. With that goal achieved, she lets her hair down and relaxes the perfect girl facade she has created. Her fiance Parish finally sees what he suspected and dumps her. To escape that humiliation, Ansley heads to New York City to live with the grandmother she's never met.

Baking cupcakes has always been Ansley's way of coping. That coping skill takes her farther than she could have imagined in New York. Ansley's imaginative, innovative cupcake recipes are scattered throughout the book. (I didn't count-but there must be close to twenty) Cleverly titled, they include such offerings as Black Bottom Heartache, First Blush of Crush and many more.

Ross paints a clear picture of a nasty, unlikeable Ansley. It was appealing to watch her change and grow as the book progresses. There is an unexplained event that accounts for Vivian being absent from Ansley and her mother Hattie's lives. The truth is tantalizingly revealed - much of it through the family recipe book that has been handed down over generations.

The characters are engaging, but I never really felt connected to any of them. Ansley does grow and change. In the beginning, it all seems to be to prove something to everyone else, not for herself. The whole idea of moving was to 'save face' and "show those sons of bitches that you have something better in store", not to be a better person. Parish seems a decent person in the beginning, calling Ansley out for her behaviour, but accepting it from someone else later on. Ansley's mother Hattie, although hurting from not having her mother in her life, doesn't come off as a sympathetic character to this reader. Vivian was interesting - I liked her no nonsense approach, but wondered about her accepting her 'fate.' Mother daughter relationships between the three women are explored in this light hearted coming of age (at any age) tale.

I found the storyline appealing and the overall premise a fun ride. Ross has found the perfect vehicle for many of her metaphors and images - the act of baking and the cupcakes themselves. Her descriptions of the processes and results were very enjoyable. Ross is an avid baker herself and it shows in her writing. (And really inspires you to go start a batch of cupcakes!)

If you're looking for a light, entertaining and dare I say it - sweet - read, then this is one to pop in your summer beach read bag!

Read an excerpt of The Icing on the Cake.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Over the Counter #9

Catching my eye this week as it passed over my library counter and under my scanner was re-bound by Jeannine Stein. Well of course it caught my eye - it's a book about making books! Some really, really clever ideas inside this one.

From the publisher Quarry Books:

"Re-Bound is a beautiful book on bookbinding with a fun green twist-all the projects use recycled and upcycled materials. This book shows you how to take everyday materials from around the house, flea markets, thrift stores, and hardware stores and turn them into clever and eye-catching hand-made books.

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

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Penguin Book of Crime Stories Vol.2 Selected by Peter Robinson

Well, if Peter Robinson's name is on the cover, then I'm reading it! He is one of my favourite authors. His Inspector Banks series is well written, intelligent and addicting.

The Penguin Book of Crime Stories Volume II is unique in that Robinson approached each of the contributors and asked them to submit a story for consideration that they were proud of, but 'felt it had been neglected.' The result is a compilation of 15 stories from well known authors and a few who were new to me. (Short story collections are a great way to sample and discover new authors.)

I tucked this one into my purse last week when I had to attend a series of workshops. Short stories are perfect for sneaking in a read during a break. It's also a lot easier to tear yourself away from reading when you can finish a story!

Reginald Hill contributes a story featuring Inspector Pascoe. He's enjoying leisure time in the pub, enjoying a pint with other dog lovers and playing an idle verbal game of 'what would you rescue in a fire?' Has the game become reality when a fire does break out in one of the player's home? An excellent ending!

Lee Child also contributes, but it's not a Reacher story. Wolfe, born and bred in the city, is forced to take a job in the suburbs. He finds he quite likes it and tries to figure out a way to stay.... Not Reacher, but an interesting character from an author I enjoy.

Kinsey Milhone makes an appearance, agreeing to give up two hours to pacify a woman who comes to her office. What seems to be nothing is something. Again, another excellent ending I didn't see coming.

There are several historical stories included as well that I enjoyed from Canadian Maureen Jennings and new to me Canadian author Barbara Fradkin. She's captured the early days of Ottawa and I think Dr. Browne would make an excellent recurring character.

What a treat to have a story by Richard Dennis Murphy included. He passed away before he saw his book Darkness Before Noon published.

I was somewhat disappointed by Catamount, Ruth Rendell's entry. Nora, from England, visits her friend Carrie in Colorado regularly over the years. She hopes to see a cougar. For me there really was no crime involved, just a tragic inevitability. Well written, but I didn't think it fit.

I'm always fascinated with how an author can take a few pages, construct a beginning, middle and end and leave the reader feeling satisfied. And I was happy with Volume II (I also enjoyed volume 1) My only complaint - it ended too soon.....

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Giveaway - Men and Dogs: A Novel - Katie Crouch

Thanks to the generosity of The Hachette Book Group, I have 3 audio book copies of Men and Dogs: A Novel by Katie Crouch to giveaway.

From the publisher:

"In April of 1985, Buzz Legare went fishing. The next day all that was found was his boat and his waiting, faithful dog.

Twenty years later, his daughter Hannah still finds hope in believing, alone among her family, that he's still alive somewhere. She has a smart husband, a thriving business, a beautiful home in San Francisco-and a huge hole in her troubled heart. True to her trademark talent for self-sabotage, she finds herself one starry night climbing up the fire escape in a desperate (and drunken) attempt to win back her own husband--and failing disastrously.

Slightly worse for the wear, Hannah returns to Charleston to salve her wounds. There, old loves, unrepentant crimes, and family legends are stirred up from the dust. Hannah's brother Palmer, the stoic with a secret of his own, cannot dissuade her from a manic search to uncover clues to the past, and they will both face shocking discoveries that lead them to reconcile their very different notions of loyalty and blind faith.

As she did so memorably in her bestselling debut, Girls in Trucks, Katie Crouch has created another great voice--spiky, tender, and hilarious--in the screwball heroine Hannah Legare. Much like Julia Roberts in My Best Friend's Wedding, Hannah follows the misguided impulses of a heart that's in the right place.

Listen to an excerpt of Men and Dogs. You can find Katie on Facebook.

Sounds good doesn't it? Leave a comment to be entered. Open to both US and Canada, no po boxes please. (Please make sure you either leave an email address or have it in your blogger profile. I've had winners the last couple of draws and no way to contact them...)

Ends Sunday June 27 at 6 pm EST. Check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Winners - The Swimming Pool - Holly LeCraw

And the two lucky winners (chosen by of a copy of Holly LeCraw's The Swimming Pool, courtesy of Doubleday Publishing are:

1. Princess Golden Hair
2. A Real Librarian

I've contacted you by email for your mailing addresses. Please respond within 72 hours. Thanks to all who entered and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Jill Mansell - Interview & Giveaway

If you stopped by yesterday, you know how much I enjoyed Rumor Has It by Jill Mansell. I am thrilled to welcome Jill to A Bookworm's World today. She was gracious enough to answer my questions!

Luanne - Tilly is yet again a character I just loved. Your main characters are always quirky but lovable and the situations they find themselves in are great fun. Do you use any of your own (or your friends) experiences as ideas or settings?
Jill: Hi Luanne, and firstly can I say it’s great to be back on your wonderful blog! I’m so glad you liked Tilly too. My daughter says my characters always sound and act like me, but these days I’m afraid I’m a bit older than my heroines – although I still feel that age in my head. I definitely use other people’s experiences in my books, and settings too. Roxborough is based on Tetbury, which is where I went to school. (Prince Charles and his sons live there now – it’s a beautiful little town.) I may be going back in September for a school reunion, which will be fun, and could spark off a couple of ideas for the next book…

Luanne - Where did the idea for Rumor Has It spring from?
Jill: many years ago I saw an ad in a magazine that said Girl Friday needed, fun job, country house. Just that, no other details, but I’ve never forgotten it – I was so intrigued and my imagination was caught. I’d love to know what that job was like!

Luanne - Have you ever found yourself playing matchmaker with friends or family?
Jill: I don’t know if I have! I know I always WANT to, because (as in my books) I like to be in control and tell everyone what to do. The trouble is, in real life people won’t always do as they’re told. It’s really annoying – don’t they understand I know best?!

Luanne - Missed cues and misunderstandings plague Tilly and Jack. Any dating misadventures you'd care to share?
Jill: Oh gosh, millions. Thankfully I’ve been with my partner for 24 years now, so all the misadventures have faded from my mind. But I do remember chatting to one boyfriend’s mother and saying cheerfully ‘What kind of sad person would iron their pantyhose?’ She gave me a frosty look and said, ‘Well I ALWAYS do.’ Funnily enough, I split up with that boyfriend shortly after that…

Luanne - Your writing always makes me laugh. What makes you laugh out loud?
Jill: Again, all sorts. When we watch Friends at home, we always laugh. And my son is very witty – he cracks me up all the time.

Luanne - Which of your books would you like to see made into a movie? Who do you see playing the roles?
Jill: I find it quite weird to imagine actors and actresses playing my characters – to me, it would be like looking in the mirror and suddenly seeing that your own face has completely changed. I would love Rumor Has It to be made into a film though. I’d flit around in the background doing cameo appearances like Alfred Hitchcock!

Luanne - Is the idea for your next book always there or do you ever suffer from writer's block?
Jill: I try not to think of the next idea too early, otherwise I’d want to get cracking on it before the current book was finished. I wait until I’ve written The End, then start frantically scouring magazines/TV shows/friends for brilliant ideas!

Luanne - How much of a plan do you have when writing? Does it change as the story progresses?
Jill: The plan is always very vague – trying to write it all down in detail at the beginning is doomed to failure because a better plot-twist is guaranteed to come along and knock the rest of it off track at a later stage. Far easier to just make it up as I go along.

Luanne - Do you ever re read your own books?
Jill: I never re-read my own books – or anyone else’s nowadays. Can’t do it any more, which is a shame. I used to love re-reading old favourites!

Luanne - Author signings are a treat for me. Any tales from the other side of the table?
Jill: It’s fun when the fans are enthusiastic. Sometimes people bring flowers and chocolates, which is wonderful, but it’s also lovely when they bring old well-worn and much-loved copies of my books for me to sign. It means the world to me that they’ve enjoyed them so much!

Luanne- And everyone always wants to know what an author is reading!
Jill: I’m just about to start The Help by Kathryn Stockett, which I’m hearing great things about. And I really loved Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall – an amazing book.

Luanne - Anything else you'd like to share with us?
Jill: Just thank you again for your wonderful enthusiasm, Luanne. And if anyone want to catch up with me on Twitter, which I love, I’m there as @JillMansell

Thank you so much for stopping by Jill! Can't wait for your next North American release. And thanks to Sourcebooks, I have two copies of Rumor Has It to giveaway! Simply comment to be entered, open to Canada and the US, no po boxes please. Ends Sat. June 26 at 6 pm EST.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Rumor Has it - Jill Mansell

Oh, I just know when I sit down with a Jill Mansell book, that without a doubt I'm going to love it!

In Rumor Has It, Tilly Cole arrives home from work one night to the apartment she shares with her boyfriend Gavin. Even before she turns on the light switch she can feel something is different. There is - Gavin has taken what belonged to him, left a note on the mantelpiece and moved out.

Tilly runs to visit her best friend Erin in the little town of Roxborough, England to cry on her shoulder. Well, not really cry - she's kind of okay with Gavin leaving. She spies an advertisement in the local paper for a "Girl Friday, fun job, country house". With nothing left for her to go back to in London, she impulsively applies for the job - and gets it! She'll be working for Max and his daughter Lou. Max works with Jack Lucas as well - as rumor has it, he has quite the reputation with the ladies. Or is there more to Jack than meets the eye? Rumors abound in Roxborough.....

Jill Mansell has yet again crafted a novel I want to live in. I would love to be friends with Tilly and Erin. They're warm, lovable, quirky characters. The secondary characters are just as appealing. Max is funny and charming, as is his ex wife Kaye. The sub plots involving these characters and Erin are just as captivating as Tilly's storyline. Jack was very appealing! I was getting a little annoyed with Tilly when she rejected him yet again! Mansell also introduces a bit of a serious note as she explores the impact of Max's sexuality and the death of another character. Both scenarios are handled with candor and humour.

The dialogue is quick, witty and always entertaining. The predicaments that Tilly gets herself into have me laughing out loud. Yes, you know everything will turn out the way you want it to in the end, but that never detracts from my enjoying each and every page.

I really think the Brits do chick lit the best and Jill Mansell is one of the best!

Want a sneak peek? Read an excerpt of Rumor Has It.

Make sure you stop back tomorrow for an interview and giveaway with Jill Mansell!!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Winners - Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

And the three lucky winners (chosen by of an audio book copy of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith, courtesy of The Hachette Book Group are:

1. Debi
2. WilburBellson
3. Christine H

I've contacted you by email for your mailing addresses. Please respond within 72 hrs. Thanks to all who entered and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Doing Dangerously Well - Carole Enahoro

Doing Dangerously Well is Carole Enahoro's debut. And it's one of Random House Canada's picks for their New Faces of Fiction.

Hey Random - good picking!

The unthinkable happens to the majestic Kainji Dam in Nigeria - it collapses - killing hundreds of thousands. This tragedy is met with great glee by the Nigerian Minister of Natural Resources, Ogbe Kolo. Now, he thinks, is the perfect time to make a run for the presidency and cut some deals with the Americans. Mary Glass of the US company TransAqua sees lots of opportunities as well and is more than willing to work with Kolo. First up - privatizing the Niger River and selling the water back to the Nigerians. This should earn her a promotion. Mary's sister Barbara has a problem with this and joins Femi - a Nigerian activist determined to stop Kolo. There are lots of others with an eye to the water rights and their own agendas.

Enahoro has an incredibly witty sense of humour. There is nothing sacred as she joyfully skewers every faction that comes under her pen. Politics, race, religion, sexuality, nationality, family, body image and more. Her satirical sense is sharply honed. I found myself laughing out loud on more than one occasion.

The dialogue is incredibly adroit, but the characters are what I really enjoyed. Barbara is the quintessential tree hugging, new age activist. She lives on her own terms and just barrels through any situation, dispensing her brand of wisdom as she passes through. Barbara's reactions to Canada and its people are priceless.

"Barbara was getting worried about these Canadians. They had a pathological cheeriness that certainly had no place in the world of international intrigue."

"They speak like Americans. They act American. They look American, but they're a separate country ? How stupid is that?

She seems to be the only one with a conscience as well. The relationship between Barbara, Mary and their parents is comical and tragic at the same time. The machinations at TransAqua are epic, making you question what really does go on behind closed doors.

"We're gonna be the ones controlling it and how much money we get for it. So we're making sure that national trade agreements define water as a commodity, not a human right as some tie- dyed Y-front wearing hippies are demanding."

But also within the novel are sad truths. Water rights are a story ripped from the headlines. Within the book are sobering pockets of reality that make you stop and think as you take a sip of water and look around your home.

Enahoro has skillfully blended sardonic prose with sobering reality to produce a dangerously good read.

Carol Enahoro grew up in Nigeria, Britain and Canada. She is working on a PhD reseaching satire and Nigerian urbanism.

Read an excerp of Doig Dangerously Well .

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Black Hills - Dan Simmons

I really enjoyed reading Drood by Dan Simmons last year.I chose to listen to his latest book, Black Hills, in audio format.

Black Hills is the name of the Lakota protagonist as well as the area in South Dakota where much of the story is based. In 1876, Paha Sapa (Lakota for Black Hills) is an 11 year old boy. It is also the time of the Battle of Little Big Horn. Paha Sapa counts coup for the first time. The wasichu (white man) he chooses to touch just happens to be General Custer. Custer's ghost or spirit jumps to Paha Sapa where he stays for over 60 years.

Paha Sapa is able to see the future. What he sees is the construction of Mount Rushmore - a feat that will desecrate the sacred Black Hills. In 1936 Paha Sapa is a dynamite man on the construction site of Rushmore. He has devoted his life to reclaiming the Hills and intends to destroy the carvings on the day that Roosevelt visits the site.

Simmons' research skills are exceptional. His attention to detail is remarkable. When I was reading Drood, I went to the computer many times to look up a detailed event or scene. With an audio book, it's much harder to do that. I learned quite a bit of the history surrounding Crazy Horse, Custer and this time period through listening to Black Hills. On the flip side, sometimes the amount of detail bogged the story down for me. I found the main reader Erik Davies did an amazing job of relaying the Lakota/Sioux words. But again, I found myself not listening when the same word had been used repeatedly in a chapter. Davies did an excellent job of portraying an adult Paha Sapa with his voice. I found the child voice annoying, but that's just a small picky point.

Michael McConnohie provided the voice for Custer. McConnohie has a rich, full, expressive voice, really a great reader's voice. So I enjoyed his narration, but wow - I really didn't like Custer at all. Simmons' bias towards Custer is quite plain. Our initial introduction to him is quite awkward. His story is told as a series of letters to his wife Libby. They all being with 'Do you remember.." The main thrust of Custer's letters are of a sexual nature as he remembers times with Libby. Quite frankly I found them incredibly tawdry and indeed fast forwarded through them after listening to two.

Somewhat disconcerting was the timeline. The story would switch from the 1870's and then to the 1930's in the next chapters. Many details are revealed, such as Paha Sapa's wife's death, before he has even met her.

Black Hills is classic Simmons length at twenty one hours of listening. Mid way I found my interest flagging. The last quarter picked up for me, but what I expected to be the ending was not the ending. He finishes up with a thought provoking finish, Simmons style.

Good but not great for me.

Listen to an excerpt of Black Hills. Watch a video of Simmons discussing Black Hills.

Read an excerpt of Black Hills. You can find Simmons on Facebooks as well.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Giveaway - Street Boners - Gavin McInnes

I love books like this - collections of postcards, pictures or peccadilloes. In this case it's fashion faux pas.

Subtitled: 1,764 Hipster Fashion Jokes

From the publisher:

"Fifteen years after founding Vice, Gavin McInnes has poured his creative juices into a new endeavor: Growing in size and influence at an alarming rate, the site's main feature is the new and improved version of Gavin's "DOs and DON'Ts," now tantalizingly called Street Boners.

These Boners have been polished and compounded into a book that takes the best of the site and adds hundreds more gems! With 1,312 photos, hilarious captions, and a harsh new rating system-from one to 10 kitten faces-STREET BONERS makes sure no glorious fashion statement goes unnoticed. Innocent citizens are either damned to hell or relentlessly exalted into heaven. Chloe Sevigny, Debbie Harry, Fred Armisen, and Tim & Eric also contribute their scathing wit to the book, and the end result is a New York fashion bible no bathroom should be without. "

Thanks to The Hachette Book Group, I have 3 copies of Street Boners to giveaway. Entrants beware - "This isn't wholesome comedy. Not at all. There will be photos (that's the whole point) and it ain't gonna be pretty (well, most of the time. Sometimes it is, to be honest). And the author uses straight up language, with four-letter words, even."

Open to US and Canada, no po boxes please. Simply comment to be entered. Ends Sat. June 19th at 6 pm EST.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Swimming Pool - Holly LeCraw

Cape Cod is the setting for Holly LeCraw's debut novel, The Swimming Pool.

In the first chapter we are introduced to Anthony Atkinson. He has called his ex-wife Marcella to let her know that their daughter, Toni, has taken a summer job babysitting for Callie McClatchey. Callie's brother Jed will be at the cottage as well. When Jed finds a bathing suit at the cottage that he remembers Marcella wearing at one of his parent's parties, he inexplicably seeks her out. The past and the present collide as Jed and Marcella begin an affair. Marcella's affair with Jed's father Cecil was the reason for her divorce. Cecil's wife Betsy was murdered on the night that he ended the affair. The past is slowly and tantalizingly revealed to us through the memories of Marcella, Callie and Jed. The present is inevitably affected by secrets, recriminations and confessions revealed.

Although the mystery of Betsy's unsolved murder is the strongest plot line, it is the interactions of the characters, their feelings, needs and fears that are the real story. LeCraw has an incredibly deft hand with description. The affairs of Marcella are described in sensual terms and never denigrate into tawdriness. However, I just never really warmed up to Marcella. I found her to be a weak woman, and somewhat pitiable, despite her magnetic attraction for men. She seemed to adapt herself to what the men in her life needed. Her acceptance of an criminal act perpetrated by her husband really galled me.

LeCraw has done a superb job in drawing her characters and provoking a reaction from this reader. I honestly didn't like most of them. Callie's storyline was the one that had me holding my breath. A new mother for the second time, she is suffering from undiagnosed severe post partum depression. Her thoughts on harming her newborn are truly frightening.

The Swimming Pool is definitely not plot driven, despite the description given at the beginning of this review, and the mystery surrounding Betsy's death is easily answered midway. What stands out are the prose - they really are beautiful. I found myself rereading many passages just to savour the words. A strong debut from a talented new author.

Read an excerpt of The Swimming Pool.

And you've got till Sun. May 23rd at 6 pm EST to enter to win one of two copies of The Swimming Pool.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Days of Prey Tour and Giveaway - John Sandford

I've been an ardent fan of John Sandford's 'Prey' series and his recurring character - Lucas Davenport - for almost 20 years. When I was asked to take part in a unique tour leading up to the May 18th release of the twentieth book in the series, I jumped at the chance. This tour is unique in that 20 bloggers have been each asked to read one book from the series and answer the same set of questions about Lucas. It's been great to follow the evolution of this character. has the entire tour list on one page for you - check it out and follow the tour.

Title and series number of the book you read:
Wicked Prey is the 19th book in the series.

Year published: 2009

Tell us about Lucas Davenport:What is Lucas doing when he first appears in the book? Set up the scene.

Lucas's name appears before he does in Wicked Prey. A nasty local pimp is cursing Davenport - he blames Lucas for his being wheelchair bound. But Lucas isn't the one who pulled the trigger.

When we first meet Lucas in Wicked Prey, he is driving back to the Twin Cities after spending the weekend at his lake cabin with his wife. En route he receives a call about a possible problem - a sharpshooter with extremist ideas from out of state has been seen target shooting, practicing a specific distance over and over again.

Give us a sense of time and place.

It is late August 2008 in St. Paul, Minnesota. The Republican National Convention is to run September 1-4 in St. Paul, making the sharpshooter a prime concern as McCain and Palin will be there.

Lucas’s occupation or professional role?

Lucas is the Chief Investigator for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA). He also handles special 'requests' and sensitive issues for the Governor's office.

Lucas’s personal status (single, dating, married)

Lucas is married to Weather Karkinnen, a surgeon. They have a 2 year old son named Sam. They are also guardians to 14 year old Letty and are hoping to adopt her. Letty came into Davenport's life in Naked Prey, in which she was the sole witness to a double hanging in her small town.

Lucas Davenport is a known clothes-horse; did you notice any special fashion references?

"He was, in fact, a clotheshorse, this morning wearing a light checked sport coat over an icy-blue long-sleeved dress shirt, black summer weight woolen slacks hand-knit by an Italian virgin, and square-toed English-made loafers."

When trying to dress down to go undercover, his jeans are rejected by the other cops.
"You're way too neat. What do you do? Do you dry-clean your jeans?
The housekeeper irons them, sometimes, Lucas admitted."

Let’s talk about the mystery:
Avoiding spoilers, what was the crime/case being solved?

There are two story lines running simultaneously in Wicked Prey that collide into each other. The Republican convention is in town. The afore mentioned sniper is a worry, but so are reports of lobbyists and their 'expense' money being targeted by a well informed gang. The pimp with a grudge against Davenport decides to get back at Lucas - through young Letty.

Does the title of your book relate to the crime?

Wicked. The pimp and the leader of the gang are indeed wicked - acting and killing without thought, except for their own well being and gratification.

Who was your favorite supporting character, good or evil?

I have a fondness for the supporting characters in the BCA. Del Capstock is one of my perennial favourites. He's quick witted but a bit of a slob. His undercover assignments are always fun. He's awaiting the birth of his child in this book. But my favourite supporting character (who actually has 3 books of his own) is Virgil Flowers. Or as he is known - that f****n' Flowers. He garners only one mention this time - he's too far away to make it back in time for a bust.

I'm torn on Letty. I have enjoyed her pluckiness and self sufficiency in past novels. This time out, she's darker and a little too manipulative for me. We'll see what she's like in Storm Prey.

What was your favorite scene or quote?

Okay, as a Canadian, this was my favourite quote! It had me laughing out loud.
"The way I see it, they were ready for us, they had a whole exit plan all figured out. She's probably in Canada by now. Why Canada? Well, Canada's full of criminals, so it's a good place to hide out, Lucas explained."

Finally, how do you envision Lucas Davenport? If he were to be portrayed in a movie, what celebrity would play him?

"Lucas Davenport was a tall, tough, dark-haired man,, heavily tanned at the end of the Minnesota summer. The tan emphasized his blue eyes, his hawkish nose, and his facial scars: a long thin one down through his eyebrow, like a piece of white fishing line, another circular one on his throat with a vertical line though it." Hugh Jackman all the way!

Read an excerpt of Wicked Prey.

Sandford is one of my favourite authors. The writing is always crisp, the characters appealing and the cases intriguing. I've enjoyed every one of his books and cannot wait for Storm Prey! So if you'd like to get in on the action, have I got a deal for you. You have the chance to win a copy of Wicked Prey AND an advance reading copy of Storm Prey! Yes, one winner will win both!! Open to both US and Canada, no po boxes please. You must be a follower to enter this special giveaway! Ends Friday June 18th at 6 pm EST.

( Join Bermudaonion on Tuesday May 18th for the last stop on the tour. She's reviewing the new book Storm Prey)

Also linked up at Cym's Wednesday Book Review Link-Up.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Winners - Admission - Jean Hanff Korelitz

And the three lucky winners (chosen by of a copy of Admission by Jean Hanff Korelitz, courtesy of The Hachette Book Group are:

1. ryleesgran - never heard back from her so Mystica - you're next
2. Rachel (N)
3. Yvonne - never heard back from her so Jo - you're up

Congratulations and thanks to all who entered. I've contacted you by email for your mailing addresses. Please respond within 72 hours. Check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Giveaway - A Change in Altitude - Anita Shreve

Thanks to the generosity of the Hachette Book Group, I have three copies of A Change in Altitude by Anita Shreve to giveaway. This would make a great selection for your book club - and there's a reading group guide.

What's it about? From the publisher:

"Margaret and Patrick have been married just a few months when they set off on what they hope will be a great adventure-a year living in Kenya. Margaret quickly realizes there is a great deal she doesn't know about the complex mores of her new home, and about her own husband.

A British couple invites the newlyweds to join on a climbing expedition to Mount Kenya, and they eagerly agree. But during their harrowing ascent, a horrific accident occurs. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Margaret struggles to understand what happened on the mountain and how these events have transformed her and her marriage, perhaps forever.

A Change in Altitude illuminates the inner landscape of a couple, the irrevocable impact of tragedy, and the elusive nature of forgiveness. With stunning language and striking emotional intensity, Anita Shreve transports us to the exotic panoramas of Africa and into the core of our most intimate relationships. "

You can find Anita Shreve on Facebook. Get a head start - read an excerpt of A Change in Altitude.

Simplty comment to be entered. Open to both US and Canada, no po boxes please. Ends Saturday June 12 at 6 pm EST.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Pocket Therapist - Therese J. Borchard

I've had Therese Borchard's new book The Pocket Therapist for about 3 weeks now. It's not the kind of book you pick up and plow through, rather it's a thoughtful read, to be enjoyed a page at a time.

The behind the scene story on this book is compelling. Therese suffered (s) from depression and anxiety. The Pocket Therapist is a compilation of techniques and thoughts garnered from her own experiences, including hospitalizations, medication tribulations and sessions with different psychiatrists. Much of it was pulled from twelve years of journaling..

The result is a thought provoking collection of 142 short essays that will leave you feeling refreshed, encouraged and ready to face whatever has slowed you down. Interspersed with philosophy references and lots of personal experiences, this little volume is chock full of good advice and coping strategies that everyone could take advantage of.

Be quiet, take baby steps, begin again, befriend yourself and keep showing up are just a few of the headings. I'll be keeping this book in a handy place to just pick up and read at random. Lots of great food for thought!

Therese Borchard is the author of a very popular blog called Beyond Blue on and The Huffington Post. You can also follow Therese on Twitter.

Read an excerpt of The Pocket Therapist.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Over the Counter #8

Today's Over the Counter offering is How to Sew a Button (and other nifty things your grandmother knew) by Erin Bried.

From the publisher Random House:

"Waste not, want not” with this guide to saving money, taking heart, and enjoying the simple pleasures of life.

Nowadays, many of us “outsource” basic tasks. Food is instant, ready-made, and processed with unhealthy additives. Dry cleaners press shirts, delivery guys bring pizza, gardeners tend flowers, and, yes, tailors sew on those pesky buttons. But life can be much simpler, sweeter, and richer–and a lot more fun, too! As your grandmother might say, now is not the time to be careless with your money, and it actually pays to learn how to do things yourself!

Practical and empowering, How to Sew a Button collects the treasured wisdom of nanas, bubbies, and grandmas from all across the country–as well as modern-day experts–and shares more than one hundred step-by-step essential tips for cooking, cleaning, gardening, and entertaining, including how to

• polish your image by shining your own shoes
• grow your own vegetables (and stash your bounty for the winter)
• sweeten your day by making your own jam
• use baking soda and vinegar to clean your house without toxic chemicals
• feel beautiful by perfecting your posture
• roll your own piecrust and find a slice of heaven
• fold a fitted sheet to crisp perfection
• waltz without stepping on any toes

Complete with helpful illustrations and brimming with nostalgic charm, How to Sew a Button provides calm and comfort in uncertain times. By doing things yourself, with care and attention, you and your loved ones will feel the pleasing rewards of a job well done."

Erin has a whole series of videos on You Tube demonstrating various skills.

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

Monday, May 10, 2010

Giveaway - The Secret Speech - Tom Rob Smith

Looking for an interesting choice for your book club? Consider The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith. (And the reading guide is already done for you!)

And thanks to the generosity of The Hachette Book Group I have three copies to giveaway.

From the publisher:

" Soviet Union, 1956. Stalin is dead, and a violent regime is beginning to fracture-leaving behind a society where the police are the criminals, and the criminals are innocent. A secret speech composed by Stalin's successor Khrushchev is distributed to the entire nation. Its message: Stalin was a tyrant. Its promise: The Soviet Union will change.
Facing his own personal turmoil, former state security officer Leo Demidov is also struggling to change. The two young girls he and his wife Raisa adopted have yet to forgive him for his part in the death of their parents. They are not alone. Now that the truth is out, Leo, Raisa, and their family are in grave danger from someone consumed by the dark legacy of Leo's past career. Someone transformed beyond recognition into the perfect model of vengeance.
From the streets of Moscow in the throes of political upheaval, to the Siberian gulags, and to the center of the Hungarian uprising in Budapest, THE SECRET SPEECH is a breathtaking, epic novel that confirms Tom Rob Smith as one of the most exciting new authors writing today."

Tom Rob Smith--the author whose debut, Child 44, has been called "brilliant" (Chicago Tribune), "remarkable" (Newsweek) and "sensational" (Entertainment Weekly)--returns with an intense, suspenseful new novel: a story where the sins of the past threaten to destroy the present, where families must overcome unimaginable obstacles to save their loved ones, and where hope for a better tomorrow is found in the most unlikely of circumstances .

Read an excerpt of The Secret Speech. Download a podcast of The Secret Speech. Or find out a bit more from a Q& A with Tom Rob Smith, or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

Simply leave a comment to be entered. Open to both the US and Canada, no po boxes please. Ends Saturday June 12 at 6 pm EST.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Winners - Presumed Innocent - Scott Turow

And the three lucky winners ( chosen by of a copy of Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow, courtesy of The Hachette Book Group are:

1. Gianna
2. Francine
3. LAMusing

I've contacted you by email for you mailing addresses. Thanks to all who entered - check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Over the Counter #7

Catching my eye this week as it passed over my library counter and under my scanner was Blogging for Bliss by Tara Frey. Well of course it caught my eye - it had the word 'blogging' in the title!

It's more than just a how to blog book though. (although even that was done quite creatively!) The subtitle is A Guide for Crafters, Artists & Creatives of All Kinds. There are some truly beautiful and creative blogs showcased.

From the publisher, Lark Books:

"Today’s crafting community is online, connected, and blissfully blogging about their work and ideas. Blogging is hot in this highly creative world—and here is the only how-to book aimed directly at them. Everyone from knitters and beaders to scrapbookers and altered artists will find the practical information and visual inspiration they need to create an artful online journal.

Thanks to hundreds of gorgeous screen grabs from the very best blogs, a thorough introduction to the tools of the trade, and instructions that virtually take you by the hand, even beginners will swiftly go from blank screen to colorful, enticing pages. Those who already have a blog, but want to enhance their presence on the Web, will learn how to add banners and graphics, take the perfect shots, crop and size photos, establish links, and attract an audience of eager readers.

Best of all, readers will meet some of the Web’s most popular creative bloggers, including Alicia Paulson (Posie Gets Cozy), Gabreial Wyatt (Vintage Indie), Emily Martin (Inside A Black Apple), Lidy Baars (Little French Garden House), Heather Bullard (Vintage Inspired Living), and Serena Thompson and Teri Edwards (The Farm Chicks). "

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

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Guest Post & Giveaway - Mary Sharratt - Daughters of the Witching Hill

I'm thrilled to have author Mary Sharratt stopping by to guest post today. I thoroughly enjoyed her new novel Daughters of the Witching Hill.

"Magic vs. Witchcraft in Early Modern Britain
by Mary Sharratt

Mother Demdike, the heroine of my novel, Daughters of the Witching Hill, was a cunning woman of long standing reputation. When interrogated by the authorities, she made no attempt to deny her perceived powers. So who were these cunning folk?

Belief in magic and the spirit world was absolutely mainstream in Elizabethan and Jacobean Britain, indeed the whole of Europe in this era. Not only the poor and ignorant believed in spells and witchcraft—rich and educated people believed in magic just as strongly. Dr. John Dee, conjurer to Elizabeth I, was a brilliant mathematician and cartographer and also an alchemist and ceremonial magician. In Dee’s England, more people relied on cunning folk for healing than on physicians. As Owen Davies explains in his book, Popular Magic: Cunning-folk in English History, cunning men and women used charms to heal, foretell the future, and find the location of stolen property. What they did was technically illegal—sorcery was a hanging offence—but few were arrested for it as the demand for their services was so great. Doctors were so expensive that only the very rich could afford them and the “physick” of this era involved bleeding patients with lancets and using dangerous medicines such as mercury—your local village healer with her herbs and charms was far less likely to kill you.

In this period there were magical practitioners in every community. Those who used their magic for good were called cunning folk or charmers or blessers or wisemen and wisewomen. Those who were perceived by others as using their magic to curse and harm were called witches. But here it gets complicated. A cunning woman who performs a spell to discover the location of stolen goods would say that she is working for good. However, the person who claims to have been falsely accused of harbouring those stolen goods can turn around and accuse her of sorcery and slander. Ultimately the difference between cunning folk and witches lay in the eye of the beholder. If your neighbours turned against you and decided you were a witch, you were doomed.

Although King James I, author of the witch-hunting handbook Daemonologie, believed that witches had made a pact with the devil, there’s no actual evidence to suggest that witches or cunning folk took part in any diabolical cult. So what did cunning folk like Mother Demdike believe in?

Some of Mother Demdike’s family charms and spells were recorded in the trial transcripts and they reveal absolutely no evidence of devil worship, but instead use the ecclesiastical language of the Roman Catholic Church, the old religion driven underground by the English Reformation. Her charm to cure a bewitched person, cited by the prosecution as evidence of diabolical sorcery, is, in fact, a moving and poetic depiction of the passion of Christ, as witnessed by the Virgin Mary. The text, in places, is very similar to the White Pater Noster, an Elizabethan prayer charm which Eamon Duffy discusses in his landmark book, The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England 1400-1580.

It appears that Mother Demdike was a practitioner of the kind of quasi-Catholic folk magic that would have been commonplace before the Reformation. The pre-Reformation Church embraced many practises that seemed magical and mystical. People used holy water and communion bread for healing. They went on pilgrimages, left offerings at holy wells, and prayed to the saints for intercession. Some practises, such as the blessing of the wells and fields, may indeed have Pagan origins. Indeed, looking at pre-Reformation folk magic, it is very hard to untangle the strands of Catholicism from the remnants of Pagan belief, which had become so tightly interwoven.

Unfortunately Mother Demdike had the misfortune to live in a place and time when Catholicism was conflated with witchcraft. Even Reginald Scot, one of the most enlightened men of his age, believed the act of transubstantiation, the point in the Catholic mass where it is believed that the host becomes the body and blood of Christ, was an act of sorcery. In a 1645 pamphlet by Edward Fleetwood entitled A Declaration of a Strange and Wonderfull Monster, describing how a royalist woman in Lancashire supposedly gave birth to a headless baby, Lancashire is described thusly: ‘No part of England hath so many witches, none fuller of Papists.’ Keith Thomas’s social history Religion and the Decline of Magic is an excellent study on how the Reformation literally took the magic out of Christianity."

Read an excerpt of Daughters of the Witching Hill.

Thank you so much for stopping by Mary!

And one lucky reader will win a copy of Daughters of the Witching Hill for their bookshelf. Simply comment to be entered. Open to US and Canada, ends Saturday June 5th at 6 pm EST.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Daughters of the Witching Hill - Mary Sharratt

Author Mary Sharrat moved to the Pendle region in England seven years ago. On learning the history of the area, she began to research the infamous 1612 Pendle Witch trials. Based on actual court transcripts from that time, Daughters of the Witching Hill was born.

Sharrat has chosen Bess, also known as Mother Demdike as the main character. She lives with her daughter, son and granddaughters in the Pendle Forest. They are impoverished, but as Bess begins to discover her powers to heal sick animals and humans alike, to predict the future, their lot in life improves. Bess focuses only on helping and healing. Her grand-daughter Alizon also seems to have the gift. Mother Demdike's childhood friend Anne begs her to teach her the 'cunning' ways. But Anne is not honourable as Mother Demdike. She begins to use dark magic to take revenge on others. Situations escalate until Mother Demdike and 11 others stand accused of witchcraft by a man determined to make his name as a witch finder.

Sharratt paints a detailed picture of the landscape and society at the time. The hand to mouth existence of the less fortunate and the obligation of those better off to help - as they see fit. Everyday details of homes and chores bring the locale to life. But it is the relationships between the women themselves that are the focal point. Mother Demdike is an incredibly strong woman. Her fortitude, her beliefs, her desire to do the right thing make her a strong and sympathetic protagonist. Althoughtthe bond between Mother Demdike and Anne has existed from childhood, I disliked Anne from the very beginning. The second half of the book is told from the viewpoint of Alizon. She does not yet have the control that her grandmother does and this contributes to their downfall. The suspicion that is directed towards Mary and her family is inevitable, but I felt a real sense of sadness, having become quite invested in Mother Demdike and knowing that this had really occurred.

I found the differences between 'cunning' and healing and the mental idea we have of 'witches'and magic to be quite interesting. Join A Bookworm's World tomorrow as author Mary Sharratt guest posts on just that subject. And I'll have a copy of Daughters of the Witching Hill to giveaway as well!

Sharrat has blended fact with fiction to create an absolutely a fascinating, bewitching read, one I couldn't put it down. The end is inevitable, but the journey there is a highly enjoyable one.If you enjoyed The Heretic's Daughter or The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, you'll want to read Daughters of the Witching Hill.

Read an excerpt of Daughters of the Witching Hill.

Check out the book trailer on You Tube video . Or Mary discussing her book on this video.

Enter the giveaway to win a copy for yourself!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Skin - Mo Hayder

Mo Hayder has a deliciously dark and devious imagination.

I've been a die hard fan of hers since I plucked Birdman, the first of the Jack Caffery books, off the shelf. Skin is the fourth in the series.

Jack is now a Detective Inspector with the Bristol Major Crimes Investigation Unit. Young women, apparent suicides, are turning up throughout the city. Jack begins to question the suicide verdict when he discovers they all have a connection to a set of quarries, known to attract the desperate. Flea Marley is the police diver charged with hunting for clues or bodies in the depths. But Flea is over her head in more ways than one. The story line involving her brother is a train wreck just waiting to happen.

That's just a very, very bare bones summary of the plot. Hayder's plotting is much more layered and complex. There's no way to predict which way the story is going to turn. I appreciate being Fans of Thomas Harris and John Sandford would enjoy this series. There's a cover blurb from another favourite author of mine - Karin Slaughter. I'll be watching for the 5th in the series - Gone - to hit the North American shelves.kept on my toes. Skin is a murder mystery but so much more. Hayder injects her trademark creepiness into the story, turning up the thriller dial yet another notch.

Caffery is a complex character. He has a strong moral compass, but it doesn't always point north. His sense of justice does not always follow what the law says. Throughout the series, I've changed my opinion about him a few times, but he is always a mesmerizing protagonist. Caffery is a tortured soul, trying to rid himself of the past. Skin lets us explore the character of Flea in more depth. She too is a damaged soul.

A definite creepy, chilling page turner. I would suggest starting with the beginning of this series, to really get to know the character. Skin opens just after the previous book Ritual ends. The case from Ritual is referenced and there is some carry over of plot.

Fans of Thomas Harris and John Sandford would enjoy this series. There's also a cover blurb from another favourite author of mine - Karin Slaughter. I'll be waiting for the 5th in this series - Gone - to hit the North American shelves.

Read an excerpt of Skin.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Giveaway - The Host - Stephenie Meyer

Okay, Stephanie Meyer is definitely a household name. We're all familiar with the Twilight series, but did you know that The Host is her first adult novel? It would make an interesting selection for a book club - and the reading group guide will be included in this new trade edition.

From the publisher:

"Now available in the trade paperback edition: New Bonus Chapter and Reading Group Guide, including Stephenie Meyer's Annotated Playlist for the book.

Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, didn't expect to find its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

As Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of Jared, a human who still lives in hiding, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she's never met. Reluctant allies, Wanderer and Melanie set off to search for the man they both love.

Featuring one of the most unusual love triangles in literature, THE HOST is a riveting and unforgettable novel about the persistence of love and the essence of what it means to be human."

Get a head start - read an excerpt of The Host. And here's a sneak peek at the new bonus chapter!

THE HOST debuted at #1 on The New York Times hardcover fiction bestseller list and remained there for more than a year. Meyer’s first adult novel was not only a huge commercial success with more than 2 million copies sold, it also brought a whole new audience of readers to Stephenie Meyer. Featuring one of the most unusual love triangles in literature, THE HOST, appeals to rabid Twilight Saga fans and readers of classic literary suspense alike.

Movie rights to THE HOST have been optioned by Nick Wechsler and Steve and Paula Mae Schwartz, the team that produced the film of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Andrew Niccol of Gattaca and The Truman Show will write the script and direct.

Thanks to the generosity of The Hachette Book Group, I have three copies of The Host to giveaway. Open to both the US and Canada, no po boxes please. To be entered - have you seen any of the Twilithg movies or read any/all of the books? Ends Saturday May 29th at 6pm EST.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Winners - A Week in December - Sebastian Faulks

And the two lucky winners (chosen by of a copy of A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks, courtesy of Doubleday Publishing are:

1. Sarah E

2. Cindy W

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