Saturday, October 30, 2010

Winners - Oogy - Larry Levin

And the two lucky winners of a copy of Oogy by Larry Levin, courtesy of The Hachette Book Group are:

1. Ceinwyn R
2. Elizabeth P

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

ShapeShifter’s Musical Hanukkah Celebration - Susan Helene Gottfried

What? Who?  Most of you know her as Susan, owner of that wonderful contest site West of Mars - Win a Book  that posts all of our giveaways. But how many of you have read her books?  No? Well -jump into the rock and roll world of Trevor and the band - ShapeShifter.

Now what's this about Musical Hannukkah?? Well it's a little something Susan's been doing since 2006... 

Quoting Susan:

"I know, I know. The first night of Hanukkah isn’t until December 1.

BUT. This year’s Musical Hanukkah Celebration is shaping up around here to be the biggest and best yet. Not only will ShapeShifter be playing, but so will some familiar faces. I’m hoping to have a really amazing t-shirt for you (hopefully designed by my good friend Lakota Phillips) and maybe, just maybe Demo Tapes: Year 3.

Since many of you are new around here, or may have merely forgotten, for the next two months, I’ll be posting flashback links for you. Whether it’s your first visit or your eighth, come join in the miracle of Hanukkah — ShapeShifter style.

Reminder: at least 50% of my royalties in November and December will be donated to charity. The more books I sell, the higher that percentage will go!

Here’s today’s flashback link. Give it up for Chelle LaFleur and the post that started this whole thing off, back in 2006.

But here’s the deal: during the months of November and December 2010, I’ll be donating AT LEAST 50% of my royalties to the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation. This is to coincide with ShapeShifter’s Musical Hanukkah Celebration, set for December 6 this year.

If you don’t want to wait, that’s fine. Buy your books now. That’ll give me enough of a cushion that I’ll be able to donate more than 50% come January 1.

I’m working on lining up raffles and whatnot for anyone who donates directly to the Foundation via the donation link I’ve set up, as well. Send me your receipt and you’ll be entered. Click here for a list of what’s being offered.

Be sure to keep an eye on The Meet and Greet at West of Mars for new fiction about this year’s Musical Hanukkah Celebration, as well as flashback links to the older stuff. Just in case you missed it, or need to be reminded of how much fun this time of year is."

Not a contest so much as some other promo offerings here that might entice you to help the cause:

Because I had to raise the price on the print edition to an ungodly $17.98 at Lulu (in order to make less than a dollar in royalties on Amazon sales!), if you order a copy of Trevor’s Song directly from me, I’ll only charge you $13, which is the price I’d been hoping to charge. I have shipping worked out for most areas around the world, so take advantage of the $5 price cut, why don’tcha?

Also, if you pick up a copy of The Demo Tapes: Year 1 via the Kindle Store, send me your reciept and I’ll send YOU a coupon code for a free download of Year 2 via Two for one! This will run until I say otherwise."

So, hey - all for a good cause - and a great read!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Too Close to the Falls - Catherine Gildiner

Too Close to the Falls by Catherine Gildiner is a title that I've had recommended to me many times (most notably by resident guest blogger Julia who also reviewed the book), but just hadn't gotten around to. Boy, I wish I'd picked it up sooner!

Too Close to the Falls is a memoir - the story of Catherine's unusual childhood growing up in Lewiston, New York - close to Niagara Falls.

When the family doctor tells her parents that "we all had metronomes inside our bodies and mine was simply ticking faster then most; I had to do more work than other to burn it off", the solution is to put Cathy to work at her father's pharmacy - at four years old.  She stocks shelves, sells newspapers, and works with the delivery driver, Roy. Roy has never learned to read, so it is Cathy who reads the addresses, maps and the magazines they both enjoy. I think I enjoyed the stories with Roy the most - he played an important role in Cathy's life.

Every meal for the McClures was eaten in a restaurant. Every last one - there was nothing in the fridge at home and Mrs. McClure did not cook or bake.
 "She simply refused to participate in what was expected." "Mother was convinced that it was important never to learn to cook or type or you'd be requested to do both against your will forever."
Her parents never argued, rarely disciplined their child, if at all, and let Cathy make her own choices and accept the consequences of her actions. And it is her actions that had me flipping pages late into the night. She is inquisitive, fearless and attacks everything with great gusto.

When her family is one of the first to get a television, young Cathy is quite enamored, not quite understanding that John Cameron Swayzee is not just talking to her alone. The Indian test pattern becomes her confidant until she has the truth pointed out.
"The Indian was like the priest in confession, the big brother, the always present Dad. Finally, he was someone who never criticized. As he faded from the screen that day and was replaced in my mind as a mere test pattern, I lost one of the few people who knew me."
The town of Lewiston seen through the eyes of Cathy is fascinating. Her memories are at times hilarious, sad and but thought provoking.
"Since I wasn't offered a clear game plan at home,I was a sponge absorbing human behaviour wherever I went.That's why the people of the town were so important to me - I studied them for clues."
An absolutely riveting read, one that had me laughing out loud, nodding my head and looking at some subjects in a different light. One of the best memoirs I've read.

 Too Close to the Falls ends when Cathy is 12. BUT there is a sequel - After the Falls. Watch for my review on Tues, Nov 2nd and your chance to win a copy on Wed. Nov 3 as Cathy stops in for a Q&A.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Over the Counter #27

The latest book to catch my eye as it passed over the counter and under my scanner was The Ciao Bella Book of Gelato & Sorbetto by F. W. Pearce and Danilo Zecchin. A Bookworm's World resident guest blogger Julia just returned from Italy (and brought me back a gorgeous pashmina!) and mentioned how much she enjoyed all the different gelato flavours she tried.

From the publisher Clarkson Potter (Random House):

When you think of the most delicious and fresh gelato and sorbetto in America, you are craving Ciao Bella. The premier gelato and sorbetto maker in the country may be known for using the world’s finest ingredients—Sicilian lemons, Valrhona chocolate, Louisiana pralines—but you don’t need to travel the globe to experience the bold flavors yourself. All you need is a handful of simple, fresh ingredients; a standard ice cream machine; and your imagination.

The magic of this book is that once you learn how to make just one easy custard or simple syrup base, you can dream up an infinite number of flavors. In addition to being able to re-create Ciao Bella’s award-winning favorites, like Key Lime with Graham Cracker Gelato or Hazelnut Biscotti Gelato, you’ll be able to invent your own combina­tions and mix and match more than 100 unbeliev­ably indulgent frozen desserts.

Now with the help of co-owner F. W. Pearce and chef Danilo Zecchin, making gelato and sorbetto in your own kitchen couldn’t be easier."

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

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Q&A and giveaway - Julie Metz - author of Perfection

A Bookworm's World is very happy to have Julie Metz, author of Perfection, stop in to answer a few questions. (If you missed yesterday's post, you can find my review here.) Make sure you enter to win a copy of this engrossing memoir by commenting on this post.

Q: What made you decide to go “public” with your loss and betrayal? What did you gain by sharing this with the world? Any negatives to baring all? Did you hear from other betrayed spouses after they read Perfection?

A: After Henry’s death I began keeping a journal and I wrote letters to friends. After the revelations of his betrayals, several friends suggested that I consider writing a book. At first I dismissed this idea, but I began to think about what resources there were for women in my situation. I wanted to write the book I wished had existed for me to read. I also saw my story as a cautionary tale for younger women. The response to my book has been controversial at times, but the letters I receive are overwhelmingly positive and supportive. They are from women (and some men too!), who have lived through a similar experience.

Q: How did this change your parenting style? What will you now impart to your daughter that you may not have before Henry’s death?

A: After my husband’s death I was a single mom for a time. My daughter and I had always been close, but with just the two of us we grew closer. When I met my boyfriend, we created a new family, one where each member has a different last name. I think the big lesson I would like to share with my daughter and other young women is the importance of valuing themselves as individuals and not losing themselves in a relationship.

Q: Why do you think it’s mostly men who are unfaithful in a relationship?

A: It may seem like that but I am not sure that it is mostly men. It takes two, right? From statistics I have read, nearly equal numbers of men and women report having been unfaithful. I think it’s possible that women might feel more hesitant about admitting this behavior. It’s also possible that some married men seek out unattached women with whom to have an affair.

Thanks so much for stopping in Julie! I have a copy of Perfection to giveaway - open to US and Canada, ends Sunday, November 21 at 6 pm EST. Simply leave a comment to be entered.

You can find Julie on Facebook or on Twitter. Read an excerpt of Perfection. Julie is also available for book club discussions!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Perfection - Julie Metz

Julie Metz has a seemingly perfect life. She's a successful graphic designer, has a beautiful daughter with her husband Henry and a new home in a charming small town. What more could anyone want? Sure, there have been ups and downs with Henry - but what marriage doesn't weather a few storms?

But the unthinkable happens one day - 44 yr old Henry dies....

The grief of losing a husband and your child's father unexpectedly and at such a young age is unimaginable. But what Julie discovers after Henry's death is even more gut wrenching. Henry was not the husband and lover she believed him to be. He had been cheating on her for most of their time together. And the one affair that went on the longest was with a woman she called a friend.

Perfection is an intimate look into a private sorrow. Metz leaves nothing out - I felt as if I were reading her private journal. We are privy to her pain and anguish over losing Henry and her anger and pain as she discovers the lies. She painstakingly pieces together the details of his betrayals - first through emails and then by contacting the women themselves. Remarkably, relationships are created with a few of these women - they too were subject to Henry's deceptions. The last third of the book chronicles Metz's attempts to rebuild and go forward in life. And her success in finally putting the past to bed.

I applaud Julie Metz's  honesty and openness in sharing such a difficult time in her life. I don't agree with everything she did and found some of her decisions questionable - my choices would not have been the same. But it's very easy to judge from the outside looking in. There is no blanket policy for handling grief and anger. I think the writing of Perfection was a catharsis and a way for Julie to put an end to this time of her life. Perfection was a compelling, emotional and addicting read, although at times, I felt a little like a voyeur. But a book I couldn't put down.

Make sure you stop by tomorrow for a Q&A with Julie and a chance to win a copy of Perfection for yourself. Read an excerpt of Perfection. You can find Julie on Facebook  and on Twitter as well.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Giveaway - Don't Blink - James Patterson & Howard Roughan

Thanks to the generosity of The Hachette Book Group, I have three audio book copies of Don't Blink by James Patterson & Howard Roughan to giveaway.

From the publisher:

"New York's Lombardo's Steak House is famous for three reasons--the menu, the clientele, and now, the gruesome murder of an infamous mob lawyer. Effortlessly, the assassin slips through the police's fingers, and his absence sparks a blaze of accusations about who ordered the hit.

Seated at a nearby table, reporter Nick Daniels is conducting a once-in-a-lifetime interview with a legendary baseball bad-boy. Shocked and shaken, he doesn't realize that he's accidentally captured a key piece of evidence. Ensnared in the city's most sensational crime in years, Nick investigates for a story of his own. Back off--or die--is the clear message as he closes in on the facts. Heedless, and perhaps in love, Nick endures humiliation, threats, violence, and worse in a thriller that overturns every expectation and finishes with the kind of flourish only James Patterson knows."

Listen to an excerpt of Don't Blink.                                    Read an excerpt of Don't Blink.

Simply comment to be entered. Open to US and Canada, no po boxes please, one title per mailing address. Ends Sat. Nov. 20 at 6 pm. EST.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Winners - Simply Irresistible - Jill Shalvis

And the five lucky winners of a copy of Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis, courtesy of The Hachette Book Group are:

1.Hendy let me know she had already won a copy, so Zesty Wonderland you're next!
2. K. Johnson
3. arceli
4. Patti V
5. May 1927

I've contacted you by email for your mailing addresses. Please respond within 72 hours.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Rules of Betrayal - Christopher Reich

Rules of Betrayal by Christopher Reich is the third book in his Dr. Jonathan Ransom series. This was the first book I'd read by this author.

Ransom is a physician with Doctors Without Borders and is married to Emma, who just happens to be an international spy. Emma has disappeared and no one, not even her handlers are sure what side she's on anymore - America's or Russia's.

Jonathan is brought in by the head of 'Division' - they want to send him to try and find Emma and the arms dealer she may be with. The dealer is looking to use a weapon of mass destruction against the US.

Lots of crosses, double crosses, espionage, intrigue and plot lines taken straight from current headlines. The story moves along quickly and there's no lack of action. Although this book could certainly be read as a stand alone, I did feel a little out of the picture as I didn't have a firm grasp on what had gone on before. Emma is a shadow figure until 3/4 through the book. Ransom is an interesting character and it would be worth going back to start at the beginning to know him better. And there's definitely a fourth book in the works.

I can see this series being made into a movie a la Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Fans of Brad Thor and Vince Flynn would enjoy this series.

Read an excerpt of Rules of Betrayal.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Over the Counter #26

The latest books to catch my eye this week as they passed over the counter and under my scanner are both quilt related - my second favourite thing - after books!

The first one is The Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt by Laurie Aaron Hird.

From the publisher Krause Publications:

"In 1922, the very popular The Farmer's Wife magazine held a contest asking a simple question: "Would you want your daughter to marry a farmer?" Author Laurie Hird has excerpted 55 of the top letters and using these letters as inspiration, she created 111 traditional 6" quilt blocks and created a tribute quilt. Each block is fully illustrated and comes with complete cutting templates on the bonus CD. In addition, she provides complete quiltmaking instructions for the queen-sized sampler quilt with all 111 blocks, as well as instruction on converting the quilt to lap, twin, double and king sizes."

And the second one is The Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns by Jinny Beyer.

From the publisher Breckling Press:

"This visual encyclopedia of quilt block designs provides quilters, designers, researchers and patchwork enthusiasts with a comprehensive tool for finding, identifying, and drafting more than 4050 unique block designs. World-renowned quilter Jinny Beyer has categorized the designs in a way that eliminates duplicates and allows quilters to understand exactly how each block is successfully pieced. Jinny has analyzed all designs in terms of the grid on which they are drawn, making it easy for quilters to recreate the blocks in any size or color scheme desired. Imagine-more than 4050 unique designs to choose from for your next quilt!"

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

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Giveaway - The Tower, The Zoo and The Tortoise - Julia Stuart

Thanks to the lovely folks at Doubleday Publishing, I have two copies of The Tower, The Zoo and The Tortoise by Julia Stuart to giveaway!

From the publisher:

"Brimming with charm and whimsy, this exquisite novel set in the Tower of London has the transportive qualities and delightful magic of the contemporary classics Chocolat and Amélie.
Balthazar Jones has lived in the Tower of London with his loving wife, Hebe, and his 120-year-old pet tortoise for the past eight years. That’s right, he is a Beefeater (they really do live there). It’s no easy job living and working in the tourist attraction in present-day London.

Among the eccentric characters who call the Tower’s maze of ancient buildings and spiral staircases home are the Tower’s Rack & Ruin barmaid, Ruby Dore, who just found out she’s pregnant; portly Valerie Jennings, who is falling for ticket inspector Arthur Catnip; the lifelong bachelor Reverend Septimus Drew, who secretly pens a series of principled erot­ica; and the philandering Ravenmaster, aiming to avenge the death of one of his insufferable ravens.

When Balthazar is tasked with setting up an elaborate menagerie within the Tower walls to house the many exotic animals gifted to the Queen, life at the Tower gets all the more interest­ing. Penguins escape, giraffes are stolen, and the Komodo dragon sends innocent people running for their lives. Balthazar is in charge and things are not exactly running smoothly. Then Hebe decides to leave him and his beloved tortoise “runs” away.

Filled with the humor and heart that calls to mind the delight­ful novels of Alexander McCall Smith, and the charm and beauty of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise is a magical, wholly origi­nal novel whose irresistible characters will stay with you long after you turn the stunning last page.
Read an excerpt of The Tower The Zoo and The Tortoise. A reader's guide is also available.

Open to US residents, no po boxes please. Simply comment to be entered. Ends Sunday Nov 14th at 6 pm EST.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Q&A with Anne Fortier - author of Juliet

I'm thrilled to welcome Anne Fortier, author of Juliet, to A Bookworm's World! Thanks for agreeing to anwer some of my questions Anne! (In case you missed my review - you can find it here.)

1. The inspiration you list as being behind the book - "Anne Fortier's mother, who considered Verona her second home...until she discovered Siena." Can you tell us a bit more of that story?

Anne: My mother lived in Verona when she was young, and it was only much later she started traveling to Tuscany. Once she found Siena, she was hooked. It is a very special place, beautiful and unsettling at the same time. When you walk through those narrow alleys, you almost feel as though you have stepped right into the Middle Ages. The funny thing is that Mom and I always used to visit Juliet`s Balcony in Verona, and so I grew up with a special relationship with the Romeo & Juliet-story; imagine my surprise when Mom discovered – many years later – that the earliest version of the story had been set in Siena, and not in Verona. It almost felt like a betrayal to move the story back to its “origins”, but it was impossible to resist.

2. Your studies (and I'm fascinated by the degree you have - the History of Ideas!) have taken you to many countries - did you spend time in Italy - specifically Sienna as part of your research? How much of the story is fact based?

Anne: I have lived in many different places, that is true, but have never actually been able to spend long periods of time in Italy. Not yet, anyway. And I was quite busy while I wrote JULIET, so I only had time to go to Siena for a week at a time, in fact, one trip was only five days, just to double-check my descriptions of streets and shops and the sort. Fortunately, my mother was able to do a lot of research for me, and truffle out historical facts, which I then used in the novel. The feud between the Salimbenis and the Tolomeis is based on facts, but the characters of Giulietta and Romeo are my invention. Undoubtedly, there were tragic love affairs between the members of those two feuding families, but naturally, such things would never have been allowed to find their way into the history books. That is why we have novels!

3. How do you write? At a scheduled time every day? Same place? Your first language is Danish. Do you think in Danish or English? How does that translate into your writing?

Anne: I write whenever I can. I have an eight-month old baby, so forget about scheduling! I do prefer to write in my office, but sometimes I like to snuggle up in bed with a laptop, too. I’m not actually sure what language I think in; I fear it is a nasty mix of Danish and English, a sort of Denglish. But I definitely think in English when I write, and I definitely think in Danish when I work with numbers. I just can’t do numbers in English, barely even remember a telephone number.

4. Romeo and Juliet is one of the best known romances in the world. Do you believe in love at first sight? Are you a romantic at heart? Were you worried at all at taking on such a 'staple' in the literary world and rewriting it?

Anne: Oh, I am terribly romantic all over! And yes, I do believe in love at first sight, or at least in a sort of “biological reaction” at first sight, whether negative or positive. I know that doesn’t sound terribly romantic, but I actually believe that love and biology go beautifully together. With regards to Romeo & Juliet, it never actually occurred to me that I should be worried about fiddling with Shakespeare until people started asking about it. The thing is, this is a story that has traveled through many different hands; Shakespeare was “just” one of many re-writers. Now, he happened to be a genius, and his is the version we know and love, but hey, he never owned the story, and he would completely understand our desire to re-tell it.

5. Do you have a favourite author/book/influence? What are you reading now?

Anne: Some of my favorite authors are P. G. Wodehouse, Jane Austen, and Elizabeth Gaskell. In fact, I am just now reading Gaskell’s “Wives and Daughters”, and I can re-read Austen’s work any day. In terms of more modern authors, who really ace the quest, my favorites are Katherine Neville, who wrote the classic “The Eight”, and Jane Johnson, who recently wrote “The Tenth Gift”.

Thanks so much for stopping by Anne!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Oogy - Larry Levin

When I saw the cover of Larry Levin's book Oogy - I just knew I had to read it.

If you're seeing the cover for the first time, you're probably thinking - what happened to that dog's face? Well it's a horrific story. Oogy was a bait dog - he was thrown into a ring as a training exercise for a fight dog when he was somewhere around 3 or 4 months old. Found in a police raid, he was locked in a cage and abandoned with no food or water and bleeding from severe wounds. After the raid, he was taken to an after hours clinic. A clinic that, against all odds, decided to save his life, not end it. Larry and his twin boys have come to the same clinic a few months later to put down a beloved family cat. And as Larry says  - it was fated meeting - Oogy has found a new home.

Levin's style is easy and conversational. Along with seeing Oogy grow, Levin talks about his adopted twin sons and their family life. I would have like to hear a little more about Mom Jennifer's thoughts.

The book is a tribute to an incredible animal - one whose spirit never faltered despite the horrific beginning to his life. It's a story of hope, love, acceptance and most of all - the incredible bond we have with animals we love and what they can bring to the lives of the people they touch.

A quick read that animal lovers will connect with. And you can enter to win one of two copies up for grabs in my giveaway. Ends Oct 30th.  Enter HERE.

I have my own 'Oogy' at home. Shawnee was rescued by a fantastic lady the day before she was to be euthanized. When we went to meet her, she had just come out of a month's quarantine - she had come in with  mange, fleas, worms, literally covered in ticks as she was an easy target with no fur, starving and had been beaten. Her tail never stopped wagging. And it hasn't to this day. She is the most loving, kind, happy, faithful animal and we are so lucky to have her in our lives.

Read an excerpt of Oogy.

And you have until Oct 30th to win one of two copies I'm giving away. ENTER HERE~

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Winners - The Postcard Killers

And the three lucky winners of an audio book copy of The Postcard Killers by James Patterson and Liza Marklund, courtesy of The Hachette Book Group are:

1. Donna
2. Jodi
3. L. Diane Wolfe

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

Friday, October 15, 2010

Review AND Giveaway - Bury Your Dead - Louise Penny

Oh my goodness! Why have I not read Louise Penny before now?! I loved this book and literally could not put it down! (To be entered to win a copy courtesy of The Miami Book Fair International, leave a comment on this review)

Bury Your Dead is the 6th book in the Chief Inspector Gamache series.

Detective Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec is hoping to recover from his horrific last case that left him both physically and mentally wounded. He has come to Québec City to stay with his mentor Émile Comeau and heal. It is winter in Québec and Carnaval  is on, but Gamache instead seeks out solitude in the library of the Literary and Historical Society - an English bastion in a French dominated city and  province. The Lit and His tries to maintain a low profile, but that is shattered when a well known local archaeologist, bent on finding the lost body of Quebec's founding father, is found murdered in the basement of the library. Inspector Gamache reluctantly agrees to consult.

The hidden village of Three Pines is a setting for many of the previous books in this series. Gamache has sent Olivier, a local bistro owner, to prison for the murder of a local hermit, but receives letters every day from the man's partner proclaiming that a mistake has been made. Gamache, already second guessing himself,  decides to send his deputy Jean-Guy Beauvoir, also on leave from the tragic last case, to unofficially re investigate the case.

This was my first introduction to this marvelously fascinating lead character. Gamache is wise, introspective and human. In addition to nearly losing his own life in his last investigation, he did lose members of his team. The one who lives in his head every day is Paul Morin.
Je me souviens, thought Gamache. The motto of Québec. The motto of the Québécois. I remember. That was the problem. Always the problem. I remember. Everything."
As Gamache works his way through the murder at the Lit and His, Morin's voice is always in his head. Snippets are revealed and more as Gamache moves forward, a little bit at a time.

Every school age child in Canada has studied Samuel de Champlain, known as the founding father of New France - Québec.  But, Champlain's final resting place and some details about his life have never been firmly established. Penny has brought the mystery of Champlain into the mystery of Bury Your Dead, weaving intriguing historical detail into her fictional tale. The political atmosphere of Québec is captured with much discussion surrounding the Separatist movement for Sovereignty. I enjoyed reading the descriptions of Québec City very much, as I have visited many of the places described.

Penny has written an incredibly detailed, thoroughly engrossing mystery that successfully includes historical and political subplots. The odd little village of Three Pines is filled with quirky characters that I look forward to knowing better. But it is the characters, their thoughts, feelings and emotions that made the book for me. Just superb.

Bury Your Dead is a fitting title on so many levels. Gamache must put the past to rest before he can move, as do many of the characters in the book.

Louise Penny has joined the list of my favourite mystery authors. Fans of Peter Robinson would enjoy this author.

Louise Penny will be appearing at The Miami Book Fair International
on Sunday November 21, 2010. I wish I could be there to see her!

"The books are coming.

And the readers and writers will follow, as they do by the hundreds of thousands every year for the Miami Book Fair International, an eight-day literary party in November.
Among the noted authors who have already confirmed are Margaret Atwood, Al Gore, Barbara Kingsolver and Ralph Nader.

The Fair, in its 26th year, will open Sunday November 8th with the popular Evenings With… series, featuring six nights of readings and discussions with noted authors from the United States and around the world.

On Friday, the Street Fair gets under way. The highlight of the Street Fair is the Festival of Authors, with more than 350 authors reading and discussing their work, including the Latin American and Spanish authors who participate in the IberoAmerican Authors Program. Thousands of South Florida schoolchildren will help kick off the Street Fair, making the trip downtown Friday to hear authors and participate in Children’s Alley activities, including theater, arts-and-crafts, storytelling and readings by children’s book authors. Comix Galaxy is back this year, with a school of comics on Friday and a new section just for kids and teens, as well as presentations over the weekend by renowned graphic novelists and illustrators.

During Street Fair weekend, more than 250 publishers and booksellers exhibit and sell books, with special features like the antiquarians, who showcase of signed first editions, original manuscripts and other collectibles.

The first Miami Book Fair International, founded by Miami Dade College and community partners, took place in 1984. Since then it has been recognized as the nation’s finest literary festival. In 2001, the Fair became part of the Florida Center for the Literary Arts at Miami Dade College, a cultural and academic initiative that promotes the advancement and appreciation of literature throughout the year."

And it is with thanks to The Miami Book Fair, that I have a copy of Bury Your Dead to giveaway. Open to US and Canada, no po boxes please. Ends Sat. Nov 13 at 6 pm EST. Simply comment to be entered.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Over the Counter #25

What I Eat by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio was the latest book to catch my eye as it passed over my counter and under my scanner this week.

I loved this one! And must admit - I did spend some extra time at the counter browsing....

From the publisher Ten Speed Press:

Eighty people, 30 countries, one day’s food, and another extraordinary book.  In vivid photographs and thought-provoking text, this remarkable book chronicles a three-year around-the-world journey and delivers a fascinating portrait of what individuals eat over the course of one day.

With camera and notebooks in hand, Peter and Faith visited thirty countries and a dozen U.S. states to interview, shop, cook, and eat with a wide variety of individuals—from a bike messenger in Japan and a Maasai herdswoman in Kenya to a traditional baker in Iran, a model in the U.S., and a bullfighter in Spain. They even traveled out of this world to interview a former NFL player turned astronaut, who was photographed while orbiting the Earth with his daily meal floating around him.

“You are what you eat” has never been as fully visualized as it is in What I Eat’s eighty photographic portraits, which feature the food and beverages (including vitamins, supplements, and cigarettes) that each person consumes in a day, plus demographic particulars such as age, occupation, activity level, height, and weight. The food is the focal point of each profile, which details every item consumed and the total resulting calorie count. The numbers are at times expected, at other times surprising, and always fascinating.

From Australia to Ecuador, Greenland to Israel, and Kenya to Yemen, Peter and Faith have literally traveled to the ends of the earth to amass this collection of beautiful photography and sensitive reportage. What I Eat offers a look at the compelling implications of the modern diet on our health and planet while expanding our understanding of the complex relationships among individuals, culture, and food.

Adding controversy and context to the profiles are compelling essays that approach food politics and our endless obsession with diet from fresh new angles. The comparative nature of this project reveals the similarities as well as the extreme differences in the ways in which people approach and consume food around the world."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mini-Shopaholic - Sophie Kinsella

Mini Shopaholic is the latest addition to this best selling chick lit series by Brit Sophie Kinsella.

Becky is still a confirmed shopaholic. And it seems that her two year daughter Minnie is going to follow in her shoes (or buy her own!)  She knows the words shop, Visa, Starbucks, how to hail a cab and most of all - the word MINE! With the economy drying up and in a effort to teach Minnie some fiscal responsibility, Becky is determined to cut back. And she'll throw Luke a surprise party - on the cheap. It all can't be that hard can it?

Kinsella continues the delightful tale of Becky - who seems to be able to justify and explain every purchase and slip up 'til it actually seems to make sense! She  gets herself into the most unusual predicaments and her explanations and efforts to extradite herself always leave me chuckling out loud. But, her heart is in the right place and her outlook is invariably optimistic. Kinsella has created a wonderful character that I never tire of following. I adore the inserted letters that Becky writes to various institutions - they are wickedly droll.

Kinsella is at the top of the chick lit heap on both sides of the pond. Those looking for a great fun escapist read will find it here. And Mini Shopaholic ends with the next installment neatly set up.

Read an excerpt of Mini Shopaholic. You can find Sophie Kinsella on Facebook as well.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Giveaway - Dewey - Vicki Myron & Bret Witter

You've heard about him and here's your chance to win one of three copies of Dewey - The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, by Vicki Myron and Bret Witter, courtesy of The Hachette Book Group.

From the publisher:

"How much of an impact can an animal have? How many lives can one cat touch? How is it possible for an abandoned kitten to transform a small library, save a classic American town, and eventually become famous around the world? You can't even begin to answer those questions until you hear the charming story of Dewey Readmore Books, the beloved library cat of Spencer, Iowa.

Dewey's story starts in the worst possible way. Only a few weeks old, on the coldest night of the year, he was stuffed into the returned book slot at the Spencer Public Library. He was found the next morning by library director Vicki Myron, a single mother who had survived the loss of her family farm, a breast cancer scare, and an alcoholic husband. Dewey won her heart, and the hearts of the staff, by pulling himself up and hobbling on frostbitten feet to nudge each of them in a gesture of thanks and love. For the next nineteen years, he never stopped charming the people of Spencer with his enthusiasm, warmth, humility (for a cat), and, above all, his sixth sense about who needed him most.

As his fame grew from town to town, then state to state, and finally, amazingly, worldwide, Dewey became more than just a friend; he became a source of pride for an extraordinary Heartland farming town pulling its way slowly back from the greatest crisis in its long history."

Read an excerpt of Dewey.You can find Dewey on Facebook and enter the new Holiday Lookalike contest.

Open to residents of the U.S. or Canada. No P.O. Boxes, please.  Winners will be subject to the one copy per household rule. Ends Sat. Nov 6th at 6pm EST.Simply comment to be entered.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving Canada!

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians! And for my American readers - wondering why we celebrate in October?

"In Canada Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday in October. Unlike the American tradition of remembering Pilgrims and settling in the New World, Canadians give thanks for a successful harvest. The harvest season falls earlier in Canada compared to the United States due to the simple fact that Canada is further north.

The history of Thanksgiving in Canada goes back to an English explorer, Martin Frobisher, who had been trying to find a northern passage to the Orient. He did not succeed but he did establish a settlement in Northern America. In the year 1578, he held a formal ceremony, in what is now called Newfoundland, to give thanks for surviving the long journey. This is considered the first Canadian Thanksgiving. Other settlers arrived and continued these ceremonies. He was later knighted and had an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean in northern Canada named after him - Frobisher Bay.

At the same time, French settlers, having crossed the ocean and arrived in Canada with explorer Samuel de Champlain, also held huge feasts of thanks. They even formed 'The Order of Good Cheer' and gladly shared their food with their Indian neighbours.After the Seven Year's War ended in 1763, the citizens of Halifax held a special day of Thanksgiving.During the American Revolution, Americans who remained loyal to England moved to Canada where they brought the customs and practices of the American Thanksgiving to Canada. There are many similarities between the two Thanksgivings such as the cornucopia and the pumpkin pie.

Eventually in 1879, Parliament declared November 6th a day of Thanksgiving and a national holiday. Over the years many dates were used for Thanksgiving, the most popular was the 3rd Monday in October. After World War I, both Armistice Day and Thanksgiving were celebrated on the Monday of the week in which November 11th occurred. Ten years later, in 1931, the two days became separate holidays and Armistice Day was renamed Remembrance Day.Finally, on January 31st, 1957, Parliament proclaimed..."A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed ... to be observed on the 2nd Monday in October."

And to my American readers - Happy Columbus Day!

"The anniversary of Columbus's 1492 landing in the Americas is usually observed as Columbus Day on 12 October in Spain and throughout the Americas, except Canada. In the United States it is observed annually on the second Monday in October."

Whatever you're celebrating - have a wonderful day!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Winners - The Unnamed - Joshua Ferris

And the three lucky winners of a copy of The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris, courtesy of The Hachette Book Group are:

1. Moridin
2. Elaine R
3. lknott

Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for you mailing addresses. Please respond within 72 hours.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Juliet - Anne Fortier

When Harper Collins Canada asked if  I'd like to participate in a blog tour for Anne Fortier's novel Juliet I was definitely on bard. No, not a typo - just a really bad pun (on board...)  For Juliet is a literary re imagining of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet - both past and present.

Julie Jacobs and her sister Janice are devasted when their beloved Aunt Rose passes away. She has raised the twins since they were two years old, after both their mother and father died in tragic accidents in Italy.

What Julie inherits is a key to a safety deposit box in Siena, Italy and the promise that it will lead her to a family treasure. When she arrives in Italy and locates the box, she is startled to discover that the treasure is research that her late mother Diane was working on....that shows she is descended from a young woman named Giulietta Tolomei. And that her own birth name is....Giulietta Tolomei.

Fortier cleverly retells the original story of Romeo and Juliet. Most of us have studied Shakespeare's version in high school.  As Julie discovers, he was not the original author of this story. The facts used in Diane's research had me heading for the Internet. I was fascinated by the historical details used and woven in to the novel. Fortier's research was impeccable.

The book tells the story of Giulietta in Siena (not Verona!) in 1340. We are privy to the origins of the lover's initial meeting, the family feuds and the intrigue. At the same time, in juxtaposing chapters, we follow the modern day Julie as she traces the life of her historical ancestor. But it seems that history may be repeating itself.  The past has not been forgotten by the families and residents of Siena. For them, Julie is Giulietta and the past must be set right. Wherefore art thou Romeo?

Of the two stories, I enjoyed the 1340's more. I really appreciated the historical detail and the language and atmosphere painted clear pictures. Giulietta is the star of this storyline, but the secondary characters are just as appealing - especially Father Lorenzo who again is based on historical fact. I think I did enjoy this tale the most as it is a treasured favourite and it just flowed better for me.

The modern Julie is an engaging character, but at times I found her actions, exploits and dialogue to be a bit choppy and over the top. The course of the book takes place over the course of a short time and I found everything moving a bit too quickly for believability.

However, if you look at the second storyline as a combination of  light Dan Brown historical mystery/adventure, Princess Bride fairy tale, My Big Fat Greek Wedding romantic misunderstandings, it absolutely works.

I must admit I did put the book down halfway through. At that point the two story lines were mirroring each other and I felt I was just reading the same thing twice. Once I picked it up again, things started moving faster, with more time spent in the modern world and the plot racing to it's conclusion.

Those looking for a read with history, mystery, adventure and romance will find it here with Anne Fortier's Juliet. I can see this being made into a movie.  Read an excerpt of Juliet.

Follow Harper Collins Canada on Facebook or on Twitter or check out their blog The Savvy Reader.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Over the Counter # 24

Memoirs were what caught my eye as they passed over my counter and under the scanner this week.

First up was Breakfast at the Exit Cafe: Travels Through America by Wayne Grady and Merilyn Simonds.

From the publisher Greystone Books:

"Part travelogue, part exploration—a road trip into the reality behind the cultural myth that is America.

Breakfast at the Exit Cafe begins as a personal story—told in alternating voices by two travellers and writers—of a journey by car from British Columbia around the rim of the United States. It soon becomes a journey of exploration. For Grady, whose forebears were slaves who came to Canada in the 1880s, this is a journey through fear, racism, and violence into his own family roots. For Simonds, who grew up a lonely Canadian in the American School of Campinas, Brazil, it is a journey into the heart of the ex-pat promised land, the nation of the American Dream.

As Grady and Simonds travel back through American history, they encounter the splendours of the Mojave Desert, the Grand Canyon, the Mississippi River, and the bayous of Louisiana and the Outer Banks, and they experience the impact of geography on culture and of culture on the landscape. Although they are observing America from the outside, they also strangely feel at home. The Americans they meet illuminate a country dissolving in the grip of the Bush administration’s final years and inspire them to reassess their—and our—assumptions about that powerful and complex country."

And continuing with a different take on culture is

My Fair Lazy by Jen Lancaster
(subtitled One Reality Televison Addict's Attempt to Discover if Not Being a Dumb Ass is the New Black, or a Culture-Up Manifesto)

From the publisher Penguin Books:

"It's a JENaissance! The New York Times bestselling author of Pretty in Plaid gets her culture on.

Readers have followed Jen Lancaster through job loss, sucky city living, weight loss attempts, and 1980s nostalgia. Now Jen chronicles her efforts to achieve cultural enlightenment, with some hilarious missteps and genuine moments of inspiration along the way. And she does so by any means necessary: reading canonical literature, viewing classic films, attending the opera, researching artisan cheeses, and even enrolling in etiquette classes to improve her social graces.

In Jen's corner is a crack team of experts, including Page Six socialites, gourmet chefs, an opera aficionado, and a master sommelier. She may discover that well-regarded, high-priced stinky cheese tastes exactly as bad as it smells, and that her love for Kraft American Singles is forever. But one thing's for certain: Eliza Doolittle's got nothing on Jen Lancaster-and failure is an option."

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

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Coppermine - Keith Ross Leckie

What an absolutely intriguing read Coppermine was! It's a period piece, set in 1917 Canada. Jack Creed of the Royal North West Mounted Police (RNWMP) has just returned from patrol in the far north to boom town Edmonton. Having barely arrived, he volunteers for what will be at the least, a year long assignment even farther north, up to the area known as Coppermine. Two priests hoping to convert the Eskimos haven't been heard from in two years. Creed is to find them or find out what happened to them. If it's foul play, he is to bring the perpetrators back to Edmonton to face charges.
 "It's never been charted. No police posts. No credible maps at all beyond the mouth of the Dease River, except for a few sketches from Franklin. He's the last white man we know of to get up there."
Accompanied by Angituk, a young Inuit interpreter, he strikes out. Discovering the bodies of the priests, he apprehends two Copper Inuit and strikes out back to Edmonton. It is over a year later when he and his prisoners finally arrive.

Keith Ross Leckie has lots of experience in writing historical screenplays and it shows in Coppermine. He's done a phenomenal job of bringing this time period and setting to life. I found myself looking up early references to the Coppermine River and it's bloody history and discovering they were all fact based. I then discovered that the entire book is based on actual events in Canadian history.

They mystery of the death of the priests is slowly revealed once the foursome returns to Edmonton and the two Inuit are put on trial. I was keen to know the reasons for the priest's death and the outcome of the trial, but it was the interaction between all the different players that really drew me in. Jack and his relationship to the north - the passages describing the peace he feels travelling in the wilderness are affecting. Angituk is of mixed race - half white, half Inuit.  I found the burgeoning relationship between the two especially well drawn.

But it is the two Inuit - Uluksuk and Sinnisiak who completely captured me. Their beliefs and approach to life was engrossing. Again - lots of facts woven in. Leckie has vividly depicted the union between man and nature. Seeing Edmonton and 'civilization' from Uluksuk and Sinnisiak's view  and Edmonton society's perception of them was no less eye opening.

I found the following discourse by one of the Mounties worth quoting here. It's long, but says a lot.

"You see, the Eskimo is a nomadic hunting society while ours is a stationary accumulative society. They are polar opposites, no pun intended. In our society is it the accumulation of material goods and land and currency which is the measure of a man's success. And then this system then requires government and taxes and banks, the creation of class structures, competition, suppression of the poor and of women. But in Eskimo society, success comes from a productive hunt and to do that they require mobility, adaptability, skill and planning, and an intuitive understanding of land and sea conditions, animal behaviour and weather patterns.  And it has always been the case that settled culture seeks to change nomadic hunting cultures, to make them stop and stay in one place and embrace their brand of civilization, but it is the very egalitarian nature of the nomadic society that defends against that. They have no real leaders as such. No organizations! Each Eskimo makes his own decisions. The best hunter leads by example. Others watch. No questions are asked. No one tells anyone else what to do. If anyone tried to give orders, it would be considered rude and improper. And you see, this individualism is an effective barricade against organized domination by one man, one class, or by an outside civilization like....ourselves."

Leckie has successfully combined history, mystery, adventure and yes, romance along with some thought provoking ideas to produce a memorable read. Very much recommended.

Scotiabank's Guess the Giller Contest

Hey Canadian readers! There's been lots of buzz around the Scotiabank Giller prize this year. The shortlist of five finalists was announced yesterday:

Alexander MacLeod - LIGHT LIFTING
Kathleen Winter - ANNABEL
Who do you think should win? Stop by the Scotiabank Giller website, pick your winner and be entered to win a fabulous prize pack!

ROUND 2 – Scotiabank Guess The 2010 Giller Prize Winner

The Ultimate Literary Fan Prize Pack

Choose your 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize winner and you’re automatically entered in a draw for a chance to WIN the Grand Prize of:

•Transportation including return airfare for two
•Two invitations to the 2011 Giller Prize Gala event
•Two nights accommodation at the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto including meals
•$1000 in spending money
•Autographed set of the shortlisted books
•Amazon Kindle™ eReader
•$50 Kindle™ store gift card

Secondary Prizes

In addition to the Grand Prize, you’re also entered in a draw for a chance to WIN 1 of 10 Runner Up prizes including an Amazon Kindle™, a $50 Kindle™ store gift card and an autographed set of this year’s shortlisted books.

Good luck!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Giveaway - Oogy - Larry Levin

Yes, that dog does look a little "off". Want to know the story behing that loveable face? Thanks to the folks at The Hachette Book Group, I have two copies of Oogy by Larry Levin to giveway.

Both of my dogs are rescues - I'm really looking forward to reading this one.

"In 2002, Larry Levin and his twin sons, Dan and Noah, took their terminally ill cat to the Ardmore Animal Hospital outside Philadelphia to have the beloved pet put to sleep. What would begin as a terrible day suddenly got brighter as the ugliest dog they had ever seen--one who was missing an ear and had half his face covered in scar tissue--ran up to them and captured their hearts. The dog had been used as bait for fighting dogs when he was just a few months old. He had been thrown in a cage and left to die until the police rescued him and the staff at Ardmore Animal Hospital saved his life. The Levins, whose sons are themselves adopted, were unable to resist Oogy's charms, and decided to take him home.

Heartwarming and redemptive, OOGY is the story of the people who were determined to rescue this dog against all odds, and of the family who took him home, named him "Oogy" (an affectionate derivative of ugly), and made him one of their own."

Open to US and Canada, no po boxes please. One winner per household. Ends Saturday Oct 30th at 6 pm EST.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Postcard Killers - James Patterson & Liza Marklund

In his latest offering - The Postcard Killers - James Patterson has teamed up with a new coauthor. Patterson has taken advantage of the surge of interest in Nordic authors and brought Swede Liza Marklund on board. Marklund is a best selling author in Europe and her talent is evident in this collaboration.

NYPD Detective Jacob Kanon is on the trail of a pair of killers on a spree in Europe. The man and woman are befriending young newlyweds, killing them and then mailing a postcard to a local reporter. Definitely out of Jacob's jurisdiction but this time it's personal. One of the couples was his daughter Kimmy.

In Sweden he teams up with reporter Dessie Larson, who has received a postcard from the pair. The two unlikely allies join forces to track the killers before they strike again.

I really enjoyed this one due in great part to the skill of the narrators. The plot line was good, although the ending came a bit abruptly for me. The locale added a great deal as well. There is of course some graphic violence and some sexual references, but that seems to be part of every Patterson novel.

I listened to this in audio format. This unabridged version featured three readers. Katherine Kellgren was an excellent choice for Dessie. Her accent was excellent, her tones soft and modulated, definitely portraying the image I had created for Dessie in my mind. This is a character I would like to see more of.

The two male readers were Eric Singer and Reg Rogers. I'm not sure which reader did the part of the killers and which did Jacob. The voice of the killers was quite evil in it's nonchalance and was very expressive. I found the narrator of Jacob's voice to be a bit flat and non expressive. Perhaps this was the intention given his circumstances?

Definitely an entertaining 'read' - have a listen to The Postcard Killers yourself. Like what you hear?

** You have until Saturday Oct 16th to enter to win one of three audio book copies of The Postcard Killers up for grabs!**

Friday, October 1, 2010

Take a Chance on Me - Jill Mansell

The problem - a cold wet rainy day and no urge to do chores...

The solution - a pot of tea, a warm quilt, a comfy couch and....the latest North American release by Jill Mansell - Take a Chance on Me!

Cleo has lived in the small town of Channings Hill her entire life. She works as a chauffeur for a local limo company, spends her spare time with her friends and family and hangs out in her local - The Hollybush Inn. She hopes she's found the love of her life in Will - he just seems to be everything she has ever wished for.

Or is he? And what about Johnny - a now well known sculptor who teased Cleo mercilessly when they were youngsters in school. He's back in town and has charm galore and every woman in town seems to be drawn towards it, except Cleo - or is she?

Yet again, Jill Mansell has created a fantastic fictional world populated with lovable, quirky characters. Cleo is incredibly good hearted and fun, but has no confidence that true love will come her way. The supporting cast is just as fun - her neighbour Ash is incredibly suave when he's doing his radio programme, but tongue tied when in the same room with Fia - the woman of his dreams, but Cleo's nightmare. The subplot involving Cleo's sister Abbie, her husband Tom and their past intruding on their present goes a little deeper. I'm sure it's a situation that has played out in many marriages and Mansell handles it with both pathos and humour.

Why do I enjoy Mansell's books so much? Well, I love chick lit - especially Brit chick lit and Jill is one of the best! I always feel like I come to know her characters so well. They're people you'd like to have in your circle (okay - except for Will) and I could see myself happily sitting in the pub on karaoke night eating a hot pot. The plots are fun, lots of wrong turns and miscommunications. Her writing style is clever, humourous, breezy and addictive.

You're not taking a chance if you pick up Jill Mansell's latest. You're guaranteed a warm, witty good time read!

Read an excerpt of Take a Chance on Me.