Friday, September 30, 2011

Divergent - Veronica Roth

Filming has wrapped up on the movie version of Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games. This fan of YA Dystopia will be waiting to see how it compares to the book.

And there have been a lot of books in the last year being touted as the next thing to read if you've finished Collins' books. Or comparing themselves to The Hunger Games. And sadly many have fallen short. But not so in the case of Divergent by Veronica Roth - it hits the mark.

Chicago in some dystopian future. Society has divided itself into five factions: the honest, the selfless, the brave, the peaceful and the intelligent. On their birthday, sixteen year olds must pick the faction they will live with for the rest of their lives. It can be the one they were born into...or the one they feel they should belong too. One or the other, but not more than one. For most citizens, it's an easy choice. But for Beatrice, the choice is a difficult one - her test scores indicate she could easily belong to more than one faction - she is divergent and it's a dangerous thing to be.

Beatrice, now calling herself Tris, makes her unexpected choice. As she struggles to fit into her faction, she starts seeing cracks in her society's heretofore seemingly perfect world. And there are others who see it too....

Chaos, danger, friendship, betrayal, choices, loss, romance - Divergent has it all. Yes, some of it is somewhat cliched, but it's YA fiction, not a great literary work. For great escapist, entertainment reading, Divergent is perfect. Be warned - there is a fair amount of violence.

I actually listened to this one in audio format. The reader, Emma Galvin, did a great job, Her voice is slightly gravelly and rough - exactly like I thought Tris would sound. She captures the male voices equally well.

Divergent is the first in a trilogy, with the second book - Insurgent- scheduled for May 2012. I'm hooked.

Read an excerpt of Divergent. Or, listen to an excerpt of Divergent. Keep up with Veronica on her blog, Twitter and Facebook.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Over The Counter #77

Well, the latest book to catch my eye as it passed under my scanner and over my library card was Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi by Anna Hrachovec. Because of course the question arises - what the heck is a mochimochi?

From the publisher Potter Craft, a division of Crown Publishing:

"Toys, people! Who doesn't love toys? They make you smile, give you something to squeeze and hug, and can even sit on the couch and watch TV with you. But could the toy be a couch, or an old-fashioned television? Is that too weird? Not if the toy is mochimochi, the super-cute and strange knitted toys author Anna Hrachovec created after falling in love with the bizarre character designs that are popular in Japan.

A mochimochi can be anything, from fearsome baby gators to pigs with beehive hairdos, from the toe-nibbling monster slippers to an assortment of itty-bitty hamsters, micro mountains, and human beans complete with comb-overs!

And what knitter doesn't need a diversion from the usual socks, hats, and scarves? Many of these toys take less than an hour to make. Don't worry, even a beginner can learn to knit mochimochi. If your toy comes out a little lumpy, it'll only add to its personality!

Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi features more than 40 patterns for itty-bitty knitted toys to make, to share, and even to wear! From Tiny Monkeys to Tiny Computer and Tiny Forest, most of these projects take about an hour to make and are perfect for using up yarn scraps. Recommended for intermediate knitters. "

Who knew eh?

(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, September 28, 2011

American Heiress - Daisy Goodwin

When I  saw the cover of American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin, my first thought was of Grace Kelly. But Goodwin's novel takes place before that time period, set in the Gilded Age. I found Goodwin's inspiration behind the writing of American Heiress quite fascinating.

"Daisy has long been fascinated with the Gilded Age, and she decided to write about it when she was visiting Blenheim Palace and saw a portrait of Consuelo Vanderbilt looking absolutely miserable. Consuelo is the inspiration behind this book: the American heiress who went to England, married the Duke of Marlborough,  lived at Blenheim...Daisy's "aha' moment,  which precipitated her to write this novel,  revolved around wondering who these girls were, what happened to them in England, how they lived, coped, adjusted, etc."

Goodwin has created Cora Cash,  an incredibly wealthy young socialite living in Newport, Rhode Island in 1893 at the time of her 'debut'.  Cora's mother is determined that Cora will make the best match possible. And what she wants cannot be bought in the United States - a title. So they debut continues in England. And Mrs. Cash finally has her wish - Cora marries a Duke. But life is not the fairytale that Cora had imagined. Does her husband truly love her? Her mother-in-law seems determined to thwart her at every turn. The staff don't respect her. And she is alone in a strange country with no friends and really no idea of how things are done in England.

Cora  is spunky and full of life, determined to succeed at everything. I enjoyed her enthusiasm, but found her to be a bit of a spoiled brat at times. Certainly this can be explained by her upbringing, but I found her treatment of her maid Bertha discouraging. Bertha's story was for me just as interesting as Cora's.  Bertha's attempts to find happiness for herself don't even register on Cora's radar. The Duke and his mother (and Cora's mother) were somewhat cliched and almost 'over the top'. I had trouble really 'buying' the love that Cora felt for Ivo - it read like childish infatuation. I wanted to shout at her more than once to open her eyes and really 'see' things. Duke Ivo never really graduated from moneygrubber to devoted husband for me.

What I did really enjoy was the dialogue - the barbed intent behind the politest of phrase. Goodwin has done a wonderful job with this and depicting the social mores of the time. The difference between the servants and their masters was interesting and eye opening. I enjoyed the descriptions of the settings.

American Heiress was good light historical fiction and a strong debut effort, but serious historical fiction readers might be disappointed.  Read an excerpt of American Heiress or listen to an excerpt read by Katherin Kellgren. She is a fabulous narrator who effortlessly portrays the various players.

You can find Goodwin on Facebook and on Twitter.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Affair - Lee Child

Well, all of you Reacher Creatures* - do you have your copy of Lee Child's latest book - The Affair - yet? It releases today!

I don't bother reading the flyleaf or any pre-pub reviews - I just want to dive in and experience the latest Jack Reacher book (#16)  without any inkling of what's going to happen. So....for those of you who feel the same, you may want to stop right here. But I'll tell you this before you leave - it's good, darn good, really darn good. You definitely won't be disappointed.

For those of you who can't resist a little peek... keep reading. Lee Child takes us back to the beginning of the end of Reacher's military career. Yes, we get to see into Reacher's past and have his back story filled in. How and why did he leave the army? Where and why did he start travelling so light?

"I remember the date, of course. It was Tuesday, the eleventh of March, 1997, and it was the last day I walked into that place as a legal employee of the people who built it."

"There was a lot more to leaving the service than getting a job. There were houses, and cars, and clothes. There were a hundred strange, unknown details, like the customs of a remote foreign tribe, glimpsed only in passing, and never fully understood."

Reacher is sent to Carter Crossing, Mississippi, to be a second pair of eyes for the Army when a local woman is found with her throat slit. Everything points to a Ranger on the elite training base just outside of town. But the deeper Reacher digs, the more dirt he turns up. There's been more than one death and everyone from the Pentagon to the Army and the local sheriff seem to have their own agenda and their own idea of who to blame....

Lee Child has created a character that appeals to all readers, men and women. He's the quintessential hard boiled hero. No backing down, his own set of morals and tough as nails. He has a firm moral compass, carefully delineated lines on what's right and wrong, but has no problem using questionable methods to get to the bottom of things. He's big, strong, smart and....well.... kinda sexy too. We get to see a much more personal side of Reacher in The Affair.

The plot is multi-layered and intricate, keeping me guessing until the end.The dialogue is short, sharp and witty. Really, all I can say is that I absolutely loved it. And, I'm a little in love with Reacher too.

"The sun was out, and the air was warm. There were miles behind me and miles ahead, and plenty of time on the clock. I had no ambitions and very few needs. I would be OK whatever came next." "I picked a road at random, and I put one foot on the curb and one in the traffic lane, and I stuck out my thumb."

And this reader cannot wait to see where Reacher lands next.

Read an excerpt of The Affair. Or listen to an excerpt. You can find Lee Child on Twitter and on Facebook.

* I'm not sure where this phrase originated, but thanks to Jess for passing it on!

***updated - Thanks to Daniel for passing on the following re: the origins of Reacher Creatures.
"Reacher Creatures” was an actual website started over a decade ago by Andrew Poole of Scotland.  It was semi-official, though the official site was run by webmaven Maggie, but Child would make appearances on the Reacher Creatures site chat room from time to time, as it was the first fan site.  However, funding and competition with a US-based official forum eventually led to the demise of Poole’s original effort, but the term ‘Reacher Creatures’, which he coined, lives on in fandom.  By the way, he runs a movie theatre there. Typing in the address sends you to Lee Child's official site as well."***

Monday, September 26, 2011

State of Wonder - Ann Patchett

I've had numerous friends and patrons tell me that I must read Ann Patchett.  There's been so much buzz around her latest book, State of Wonder, that I took advantage of an opportunity to listen to it in audio book format.

Dr. Annick Swenson has been working in the deepest jungles of Brazil for over 30 years, following in her former professor's footsteps. They have found an Amazonian tribe whose women give birth as late as their seventies. Drug company Vogel has been financing this venture for many years. Dr. Swenson rarely responds to Vogel's requests for updates. So Vogel sends down one of it's own - Dr. Eckman - to get answers. And then another - Dr. Marina Singh - to find the first.

I could go on and on about the plot - but's it's enough to get you to the Amazon and have an idea. Any more would be a spoiler. Sometimes literary fiction can become too self absorbed for me and feel like a bit of a slog. Not so in this case. I had no idea where Patchett was going to go next with the story - I found myself sitting in my driveway in the dark to finish a disc. (I'd been listening on the way back and forth from work) 

The settings came to life - the heat, the insects, the lush and overpowering jungle. Patchett's writing is lush as well. I was truly glad I listened to this book. I don't think I would have become as invested in the story in the written form. Patchett's prose are beautiful, but the reader - Hope Davis - was phenomenal and brought Patchett's words to life. Her voice suited the character of Dr. Singh, expressing her emotions and thoughts perfectly. Davis's voice is rich and well modulated, always evenly paced. She depicted all of the characters very easily with her voice. Dr. Swenson's clipped tones and the Aussie character's accents were spot on.

Lots of themes populate State of Wonder - self discovery, western vs. third world countries, hope, love and more. There will be inevitable comparsons to Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness.

I really enjoyed State of Wonder and can see why Patchett has such fervent fans. I would have given this a five star rating, but the ending left me a feeling somewhat unsatisfied and cheated. It seemed to happen in a rush after such a deliberate slow building story. I found myself wanting to know what happened 'after'. Although this could be a good thing as well - an author who leaves you wanting more.

Listen to an excerpt of State of Wonder or  Read an excerpt of State of Wonder.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Winner - Following Atticus

And the lucky winner of a copy of Following Atticus by Tom Ryan, courtesy of William Morrow Books, an imprint of Harper Collins is:


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

Friday, September 23, 2011

Essential Back Care- Dorling Kindersley Books

I have a bad back. I have a bad neck. And I'm sure half the population has had a complaint at some point. Some are genetic, but most complaints are due to wear and tear, unintentional injury or not really looking after ourselves. Well I'm at the point where my body is talking back  - a lot lately. I've been to my doctor, I know what's wrong and what I should and shouldn't be doing.
 (And that's an important point to note here - this book is a fantastic reference but "users of this book should not consider the information, advice and guidelines it contains as a substitute for the advice of medical professionals, accredited physical therapists, and other registered practitioners.

Now, that being said - I found Essential Back Care to be a fantastic reference book. It starts off with the basics - you can put your hand on your neck and say it hurts, but what does your spine actually look like? Full colour photos and detailed information on the anatomy of your neck and back are found in the first chapters.

Next are symptom charts, with yes or no answers, pointing you to a possible diagnosis and then to a informational page about the injury. On those informational pages, you'll find causes and possible care for the early, intermediate and advanced stages of injury. Again, detail, detail, detail.

You'll be directed to further chapters that cover many types of care and rehabilitation - seeing your primary care physician, who may order further tests, medication or surgery - all fully explained - seeing a physical therapist, with the different approaches fully detailed - perhaps an osteopath,  chiropractor, massage therapist, acupuncturist or alternative therapies would help you deal with your pain.

I really found the preventative chapters a great reminder on the right way to do things - posture, work activity, sports, controlling your weight, looking after your home, driving and much, much more. (Sitting correctly at the computer setting off any bells for any of you?!)

So maybe you're stuck with chronic pain. What can you do to live easier with that pain? Essential Back Care provides lots of ideas for coping with everyday activities such as dressing and simply getting a good night's sleep as well as mental strategies.

The last, and one of the larger chapters, is Rehabilitation Exercises. I found many of them to be ones that my physio had assigned me, as well as some new ones too. Colour photos with very specific instructions.

I love the care that DK puts into their books. Pictures are detailed, the language used is clear and easy to understand. Their books are well laid out, with graphs, charts and info boxes that are easy to follow. Quite a bit of information is included, but doesn't overwhelm. The progression of the chapters follows logically, each building upon the last. And the information is actually compiled and written by health professionals.

A great reference tool for anyone concerned about their health.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Over the Counter #76

Books about comic books were what caught my eye this week as they passed over my library counter and under my scanner.

First up was Agonizing Love - The Golden Era of Romance Comics by Michael Barson. This one was a lot of fun - full colour reprints of 1950's titles.

From the publisher Harper Collins Canada:

"Agonizing Love is a rich anthology of those legendary romance comic books that once filled newsstands to overflowing during their heyday in the 1940s and '50s. "I Craved His Kisses," "With Hate in My Heart," "Kisses Came Second," "Flame of Jealousy," "Was I a Wicked Wife?": these stories are just a taste of the absolutely riveting dramas that play out in the sob-racked pages of this evocative collection. Agonizing Love—is there any other kind?—runs the narrative gamut from honeymoon to heartbreak, first love to total loss, marital bliss to marriage hell, and all the stops in between. Throughout these colorful pages you will find a diverse selection of cover art and stories enhanced by a plethora of engaging quizzes ("Are You Ready for Marriage?"), confessional letters from readers, informative articles, tips on choosing the right man (or getting rid of the wrong one!), and oh, so much more!

Compiled and with witty, informative commentary by pop-culture expert Michael Barson, Agonizing Love is an irresistible treasure trove sure to please comic-book lovers, soap-opera fans, and die-hard romantics who could use a good slap in the face. This is a heartfelt, often tear-drenched valentine to a long lost—but never to be forgotten—era."

Next up was DC Comics - The Ultimate Character Guide. I ended up borrowing this one to take up to my son.

From the publisher Dorling Kindersley Canada:

"From AQUAMAN to ZATANNA, DC Comics: The Ultimate Character Guide is you're A-Z guide to your favorite DC heroes and villains! This compact, informative guide takes you alphabetically through the heroic and villainous characters that make up the DC Universe, shedding new light on your favorite heroes such as SUPERMAN and WONDER WOMAN, but also covering lesser-known characters, including CAPTAIN BOOMERANG and THE QUESTION. Learn more fascinating details about their powers, weaknesses, enemies, and more!"

All characters, their distinctive likenesses, and related elements are trademarks of DC Comics (c)2011. All Rights Reserved."

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, September 21, 2011

Darkness, My Old Friend - Lisa Unger

I've long been a fan of Lisa Unger. When I read and reviewed Fragile last year, I said it was my favourite of her books so far. I was thrilled to find out that her latest book - Darkness, My Old Friend - reprises the town and characters from Fragile.

Jones Cooper, a former detective in the town of The Hollows, has retired and in now keeping himself busy by pet watching for vacationing homeowners, small home repairs and the like - a far cry from his former occupation.

He is visited one day by Eloise - the psychic from Fragile. She has come to tell him she has seen a vision of Jones - diving in the river after someone and that it would be too much for him. Eloise works with local PI Ray Muldane as well. Muldane has been hired by Michael Holt. Michael was born in The Hollows and has recently moved back after the death of his father. His mother had disappeared when he was young. Bethany Graves and her daughter Willow have just moved to The Hollows to help Willow start fresh. One of Willow's first encounters in The Hollows? Michael - in the woods - digging...

" She thought him the dutiful son, sitting at his father's deathbed. But he wasn't that. He was a grave robber, waiting for the night watchman to drift off once and for all. Then, and only then, could he dig his fingers into the earth and exhume the truth."

At the end of Fragile, I thought there were more stories to be told with these characters and I was right. Jones Cooper is a great protagonist, conflicted with his past and what his role should be now. His wife Maggie, a psychologist in town, still has not won me over, but her clinical take on events and emotions provide a needed element. Eloise is explored more fully in this book, letting us know her back story. I appreciated this 'fleshing out' as she is the character I enjoy the most, besides Jones. There are many other players, all with their own stories.

There is a secondary plot line that eventually intersected with the primary case Jones is working on.  I was able to foresee what was coming and the outcome of the mystery fairly easily. But, the real strength of Unger's writing seems to be  the exploration of relationships, problems and emotions of her characters. Unger skillfully weaves together all the threads she's created into one compelling read.

"If you're looking, you can find trouble anywhere. It's waiting - not just on city street corners, in subways, in nightclubs, but on quiet country roads, in a peaceful stand of trees."

Those looking for a hardcore murder mystery won't find it here. But if you enjoy a good story, this one's for you. Read an excerpt of Darkness, My Old Friend.  You can find Lisa Unger on Twitter and on Facebook.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Giveaway - Iron House - John Hart

Thanks to the lovely folks at Macmillan Audio, I have an audio book copy of Iron House by John Hart to giveaway. In case you missed my hardcover review last week, you can see it here. Or here's what the publisher has to say:

"An old man is dying. When the old man is dead they will come for him. And they will come for her, to make him hurt.

John Hart has written three New York Times bestsellers and won an unprecedented two back-to-back Edgar Awards. His books have been called “masterful” (Jeffery Deaver) and “gripping” (People) with “Grisham-style intrigue and Turow-style brooding” (The New York Times). Now he delivers his fourth novel—a gut-wrenching, heart-stopping thriller no reader will soon forget. Read by Scott Sowers.

At the Iron Mountain Home for Boys, there was nothing but time. Time to burn and time to kill, time for two young orphans to learn that life isn’t won without a fight. Julian survives only because his older brother, Michael, is fearless and fiercely protective. When tensions boil over and a boy is brutally killed, there is only one sacrifice left for Michael to make: He flees the orphanage and takes the blame with him.

For two decades, Michael has been an enforcer in New York’s world of organized crime, a prince of the streets so widely feared he rarely has to kill anymore. But the life he’s fought to build unravels when he meets Elena, a beautiful innocent who teaches him the meaning and power of love. He wants a fresh start with her, the chance to start a family like the one he and Julian never had. But someone else is holding the strings. And escape is not that easy. . . .
The mob boss who gave Michael his blessing to begin anew is dying, and his son is intent on making Michael pay for his betrayal. Determined to protect the ones he loves, Michael spirits Elena—who knows nothing of his past crimes, or the peril he’s laid at her door— back to North Carolina, to the place he was born and the brother he lost so long ago. There, he will encounter a whole new level of danger, a thicket of deceit and violence that leads inexorably to the one place he’s been running from his whole life: Iron House."

Sound like something you'd like to listen to? Simply comment to be entered. Open to US only, closes Sat. Oct 8th at 6 pm. EST.

Monday, September 19, 2011

To the Moon and Back - Jill Mansell

I would say that Jill Mansell is my favourite chick lit author. I've read every North American release of her books and just finished the latest - To the Moon and Back.

Ellie Kendall's husband Jamie was killed in an auto accident. They were desperately in love and Ellie still has not come to grips with his being gone. In fact she 'sees' Jamie almost every day and talks to him. When her father in law insists she move to a decent apartment in Primrose Hill, she reluctantly agrees. Maybe with a change - new home, new job and new friends,  she can start to believe Jamie is really gone and move on.

As always, it's impossible not to love the lead character in Mansell's novels. Ellie is warm, loving, completely guileless and just a little bit quirky -someone you would love to have as a friend. Her new friend Roo has been searching for love in all the wrong places. And Ellie's new boss Zack, isn't looking for love, but it finds him when be meets Ellie. The supporting cast of To The Moon And Back are no less engaging. I especially enjoy how Mansell includes an older couple into her stories, often grappling with the same issues as her younger characters.

Mansell's writing is always entertaining, filled with lots of humour, but she also works a serious theme into the story. This time it's dealing with the loss of a spouse. It's handled with both candor and thoughtfulness, never detracting, but only adding to a great book.

There are no great surprises in Mansell's books. Lots of missed cues and misunderstandings and many times I want to give the characters a bit of a shove in the right direction. But I can't and I wouldn't - because Mansell has the direction already planned - a happy ending. And a happy reader.

Read an excerpt of To The Moon And Back. You can find Jill Mansell on Twitter.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Headhunters - Jo Nesbo

What a great cover eh? Take a second look at it....creepy and clever. And so is the author Jo Nesbo. I picked up Headhunters thinking that it would feature Nesbo's recurring series character Detective Harry Hole. I started reading, realized that it wasn't and felt slightly disappointed. But I lost that feeling about 10 pages in. Nesbo has written an ingenious, intricately plotted stand alone thriller that had me hooked from start to finish.

Roger Brown is a professional recruiter, a 'headhunter' if you will. He's not just one of the best, he is the best, as he'll tell you. And Roger likes having the best of everything. Sadly his salary does not quite match the lifestyle he's created for his wife and himself. So Roger art theft. Conveniently during his many recruitment interviews, he steers the discussion to art. His latest applicant, Clas Greve, has a piece of art that would leave Roger sitting pretty for the rest of his life. Roger breaks into Greve's home in search of the painting and finds much more than he bargained for......

Nesbo's characterization of Roger is perfect - he comes across as a cocky, superior know-it-all, confident in his abilities to out think and out maneuver anyone and everyone. When Clas Greve begins to challenge Roger's abilities, a delicious game of cat and mouse is the result. The dialogue is quick, witty and darkly humourous. The plotting is very inventive and had me guessing until the very end.

Headhunters has been made into a film in Nesbo's native Norway. The publisher's blurb on the back of the book.." Nesbo has crafted a funny, dark and twisted caper worthy of Quentin Tarantino and the Coen brothers" is spot on. 

Highly recommended. Read an excerpt of Headhunters. You can find Nesbo on Facebook.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Over the Counter #75

Kids bored with bagged lunches already? Well, the latest book to catch my eye this week as it passed over my library counter and under my scanner might be the cure - Insanewiches by Adrian Fiorino.  There are some truly inspired and utterly original entries! I kinda wish someone was packing my lunch...

From the publisher St. Martin's Press:

"With its scrumptuous sammies shown on Today and in Woman’s Day, was chosen by Newsweek as one of “America’s Favorite Photo Blogs.” Now, blogger Adrian Fiorino goes beyond photos and for the first time serves up 101 wildly original recipes for whipping up your own insanewiches in a snap. Designed with a cool, hip feel and written so you’ll LOL, the book contains ‘wiches for every meal (from Sunrisewiches to Dessertwiches), every holiday and occasion (Eventwiches), every pastime (Gamewiches), every personality (Tough Guywiches to ‘Wichy Woman), and every culinary inclination (Supersizewiches, Shapewiches, even OMGwiches). Plus, there’s sandwich-engineering tips, recipe variations, utensils to have on hand, serving suggestions, a resource list, and more! Get ready to kick run-of-the-mill meals to the curb with:
-The Rubix Cubewich---the sandwich that started it all
-The Pancake Popwich---an irresistible breakfast on a stick
-The Sumo Sandwich---a heavyweight that’s overstuffed with steak, chicken, salmon, and assorted mushrooms, radish and scallions
-The Pumpkin Cheeseburger and Along Came a Spider---kooky concoctions the kids will love,
-Cosmo Martini Sandwich---made with a cranberry muffin and orange slices, just for the girls.

Overflowing with an array of sandwich varieties---hot, cold, ethnic, vegetarian---Insanewiches is sure to stimulate all senses and taste buds and inspire you to top even the author’s craziest creations. So whether you're just bored with lunch or in need of entertaining ideas for the next Super Bowl, Girls’ Night In, birthday, or Halloween party, there's a sandwich for every occasion, pastime, or obsession!

(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, September 14, 2011

Iron House - John Hart

John Hart is an author whose books have crossed my counter many times, but up until now I had not read. His latest release is Iron House.

Orphaned brothers Michael and Julian landed at the Iron Mountain Home for Boys. It's a brutal place, where the strong survive. Michael is strong and tries to protect his younger and weaker brother Julian. But Julian is preyed upon ceaselessly. Until the day Julian is adopted - and Michael is on the run for murder. Their lives are complete opposites. Michael ends up on the streets and finally under the wing of a ruthless gangster, acquiring the skill sets of a killer. Julian is adopted by Abigail, the wife of a senator, and lives a life of privilege. Neither thought they would see each other again. Until it all starts to unravel....

Hart has crafted a thriller with more than a touch of 'saga' as well - a tale of love and loss, of damnation and redemption, treachery and loyalty and so much more.  The plot is well thought out but it is the exploration of relationships that takes precedence. I'm torn as to how I feel about the characters. Most of them are tortured souls - the book exudes a heavy Southern Gothic feel. I'm not sure if I really ever felt any of them were 'redeemed'.

That being said, it was a fast paced read with lots of action. If you're looking for entertainment without raising too many questions, you'll be satisfied.

Read an excerpt of Iron House. You can find John Hart on Twitter and on Facebook.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Yankee Doodle Dixie - Lisa Patton - Q&A AND Giveaway

I just finished reading Yankee Doodle Dixie by Lisa Patton, the second book featuring Southern gal Leelee Satterfield. Leelee has just moved back home to Tennessee, following the loss of her husband, her Vermont inn and maybe the new love of her life, detailed in the first book Whistlin`Dixie in a Nor'easter.

Although I hadn't read the first book, I was able to easily catch up and enjoy Leelee's attempts to rebuild her life her life in Tennessee with a new home, new job and new man - all with the assistance of her ever helpful girlfriends. Patton has written an enjoyable sit on the front porch on a sunny day with a mint julep read. One that might have you calling for a girl's night out!

A Bookworm's World was lucky enough to have author Lisa Patton stop by for a few Q&A's. And I have three copies of Yankee Doodle Dixie to giveaway as well!

Are the characters in your book based on anyone from your past ( or present)?

Why yes, what ever in the world gave you that idea! Leelee's three best friends are an amalgamation of several of my own childhood best friends. We all met in kindergarten and spent the next 13 years together. I even went all the way through college with one of them. After spending that much time together, we became family. We watched our childhoods fly into adolescence and we spent our teenage years trying to stay out of trouble! We did everything together from ballroom dancing-school to driver's ed to celebrating our first kisses. We know each other so well. I could even pick their feet out of a line-up! And we're still best friends. While writing I'll call them periodically to reminisce about certain things we did as kids and inevitably I'll come up with something for a new scene.  Like the girls in the book, we've been to a thousand concerts together over the years starting with The Monkeys.  I'm leaving on Saturday to join them in Florida for a girl's trip and I have no doubt that I'll come back with plenty of good material for the next book. My website,, has a short video of three of us together reminiscing about old times. Kissie is based on a black lady who was my second mother. The real Kissie's name is Christine and she passed away in 2000 at the age of 88. It was one of the saddest events of my entire life. I'm still not over it.

Are you a Southern gal yourself? Are the southern accents and attitudes 'real'.

Oh yes, I'm one of the "GRITS" as we say down here - a Girl Raised In The South. I think our attitudes, if nothing else, certainly reflect a southern allegiance. We love living here. We're a quirky bunch, that's for sure,  but we freely admit it! I wrote the accents in the book as I hear them in my head.  It's funny, though, because I've been thinking quite a bit lately about how the the southern accent should be placed on the endangered species list. I raised two children just south of Nashville, Tennessee and you'd never know they were Southern. They don't even have a trace of an accent. When compared to the total population of the state, there are fewer and fewer born and bred Tennesseans in this area. Nashville has become a huge melting pot.

The Help has garnered lots of attention for it's focus on 'black women raisin' white babies'. Kissie plays an important part in your novel. Was there a "Kissie" in your life? What are your thoughts on this subject?

I was raised in the 60s and 70s in Memphis, Tennessee. Many white families, even those living in a less-than-affluent socioeconomic bracket, had a black woman working in the home. She always wore a uniform and usually took the bus to work. I don't remember my family ever treating any of the housekeepers we employed over the years like the way the ladies in THE HELP were treated. We did have a maid's bathroom off the kitchen but I don't remember thinking much about it. My father made the decision to pay off Christine's mortgage when my grandmother died. After all, she had taken impeccable care of his mother and his children. I must say Christine was often more of a mother to me than my own. I loved her with all my heart and because of her I have raised my own children to be color-blind. We don't tolerate racial prejudice in our home - ever.

You've worked in the entertainment industry for over 20 years. Are the scenes from the book drawn from real life situations?

No, the characters and events are fictitious but I was a promotion director for a Top-40 radio station for several years. It was one of the best, most fun jobs I've ever had. Setting part of the novel inside a radio station, given the "write-what-you-know" adage, seemed like a perfect idea. Deejays are a crazy lot and writing about their daily pranks and the monkey business they create was irresistible. I was able to relive those glory days of working in radio.

I love the covers for your books. Do you have any input into final selection?

Thank you, Luanne, I love my covers, too. I'll never forget when I first saw the cover for WHISTLIN' DIXIE IN A NOR'EASTER. My literary agent, Holly Root, called me while I was at work and asked if I'd seen my email. When I told her that I had not she asked me to look at it with her on the phone. At first I couldn't open the file but when I finally saw the cover for the first time, I burst out crying. It had taken me 13 years to get to that point and it was absolutely perfect. I had no input at all, other than the publisher asking if I liked it. Michael Storrings at St. Martin's is the genius behind both beautiful covers.

What does your writing day look like? Same place/same time?

My writing day is never the same but mornings are my best time. Sometimes I go to the library and other days I'll stay home with my little dog Rosie.  I'll write 18 hours a day when I'm closing in on the end of a book but when I'm eking out the first draft I'm lucky to get in three hours per day. That part makes me crazy!

Is there going to be another chapter in the Leelee Satterfield story?

Oh my goodness, yes. Leelee and her friends are so much fun. I don't think I could leave them at this point. I'm writing the third book in the series now.

Thanks so much for stopping by Lisa - we'll be watching for the next chapter in Leelee's life!

You can find Lisa Patton on Facebook and on Twitter. In the meantime readers, if you think this would be a peach of a read for you, enter to win one of three copies of Yankee Doodle Dixie up for grabs. Open to US and Canada, no po boxes please. Simply leave a comment to be entered, ends Sat. Oct 1st at 6 pm EST. Read an excerpt of Yankee Doodle Dixie.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Keeper of Lost Causes - Jussi Adler-Olsen

Yes, there is a plethora (I love that word) of Nordic and Scandinavian authors making their names known in North America lately, but here's one you want to take note of and write down - Jussi Adler-Olsen. Adler-Olsen is the author of the "Department Q" series featuring Carl Morck. The Keeper of Lost Causes is the first in the series and newly released in North America.

"Twenty-five years on the police force and ten in the homicide division has hardened him. That's how things had gone until the day when a murder case pierced his armour." Both figuratively and literally.

Carl has just returned to the force since a situation gone terribly wrong leaves his partner paralyzed and Carl seriously wounded. His usual inability to get along with others gets even worse as he attempts to come to terms with his guilt. His superior, under pressure to deal with cold cases, see a win-win situation. Assign Carl to head up what will be the new 'Department Q'. And the department consists of only Carl until he demands an administrative assistant. Assad is assigned to work in the basement with Carl. Assad is a bit of a mystery as we come to discover.

The interplay between these two characters is fantastic.  Carl's skills as a detective really are unparalleled in the department. Assad's myriad set of skills are revealed as the two work together reopening the case of a missing politician, gone for five years and presumed drowned.

The politician's fate is slowly revealed in flashback chapters as Carl and Assad uncover more and more that indicates the case was never properly investigated the first time.

"She was going to look after herself. For them she was the woman in the cage, but she was the one who decide how far apart the bars would be. She would think thought that opened out on to the world and kept madness at bay. They would never break her. that's what she decided as she lay there on the floor...."

This was just a fantastic read for me. Adler-Olsen's dialogue runs the gamut from comic to compassionate. The plot is frightening and well thought out. The manner in which the case is slowly revealed was absolutely addicting, keeping me reading until late in the night. Carl's personal life is a mess, providing a secondary plot line that was also entertaining. But it is the flawed characters of Carl and Assad that are the real draw for me.

A five star read for me - highly recommended. Adler-Olsen has released the fourth book of the Department Q series in Denmark. This reader will be eagerly awaiting the next North American release.

Read an excerpt of The Keeper of Lost Causes.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Winner - The Thirteen

And the lucky winner of a copy of The Thirteen by Susie Moloney, courtesy of Random House Canada is


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

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Winner - The Rules of the Tunnel

And the lucky winner of a copy of The Rules of the Tunnel by Ned Zeman, courtesy of Gotham Books, a division of Penguin Books is:


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

Friday, September 9, 2011

Killer Move - Michael Marshall

Michael Marshall's latest book Killer Move opens with a newly released con named Hunter seeking payback for a crime he says he didn't commit.

We then meet realtor Bill Moore, a man with a five year plan - increasing his  condo sales numbers in the Florida keys, opening up his own realty office, rubbing shoulders with the movers and shakers in his corner of the world. Problem is - it's year six. But Bill is nothing if not upbeat. It will happen.. he just has to work a little harder at it.

Small things start to happen - a card with nothing but a single word - Modified -  is left on his desk. A book from Amazon that he can't remember ordering, a prime table at a restaurant he doesn't recall making a reservation for. Then it starts to escalate - he discovers compromising photos on his computer, conveniently stored in a folder labelled Modified. And suddenly that very simple word takes on ominous overtones. Because someone is playing a game with Bill's life....

What a great premise - an everyday guy with no idea who or why someone would mess with him. Bill's desperate attempts to stop his life spiralling out of control are alternated with Hunter's steps to exact retaliation.

Bill tells his story from a first person narrative, which I have to admit I found increasingly annoying in the first few chapters. It took quite a few chapters beyond the prologue for me to become invested in the book. Bill's thoughts on his father and his philosophy on selling were tiresome. The plot is inventive and plausible, but some of the 'moves' were a bit over the top. The ending was somewhat disappointing, referencing a previous book by Marshall as an explanation for what has gone on.

That being said, I think Marshall has come up with a great idea. How much of our lives are controlled by passwords and online access? How secure are they? How much would it take someone to start games with our lives? A good read, but not great for me. Linwood Barclay does it better.

Read an excerpt of Killer Move. Or listen to an excerpt of Killer Move. You can find Marshall on Twitter.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Over the Counter #74

The latest book to catch my eye as it passed over my library counter and under my scanner this week was Found Free & Flea by Tereasa Surratt. I love hunting for 'treasures', so I have to admit, I did more than glance at this book - I took it home for a good look and some new ideas.

From Clarkson Potter Publishers:

"Grandma’s rusty teakettle, old fishing lures, a broken antique camera from the attic—these are your foundation pieces for building authentic collections on the cheap.

When Tereasa Surratt’s husband convinced her that they should buy a derelict summer camp in Wisconsin, they had no idea the treasure trove they’d inherit with the property. While renovating the decrepit cabins at Camp Wandawega, they kept stumbling upon curious objects, some dating back ninety years or more: a Boy Scout patch, an old sled, a pristine set of Fiesta Ware, dozens of midcentury aprons, an untouched box of board games in their original packaging.

Tereasa knew the power that one mundane object has when grouped with its siblings. So rather than discard everything, she set out on a five-year expedition to turn the more than 150 found items into full-fledged collections. Relying on her own thriftiness, she only acquired pieces for free or at a bargain price: items that she found, negotiated for free, or unearthed at a flea market.

Found, Free & Flea explores Tereasa’s passion for collecting while encouraging you to tap into your own with ideas on where to look to see collectibles. Throughout the book, she shares her secrets and historical tidbits behind these prized antiques, now used to create innovative displays and for entertaining guests at her renovated lakeside retreat. From vintage wine taster cups turned into a wind chime to cheese boxes reinvented as drawer organizers, to a chicken feeder that houses old tea cups for impromptu coffee bar setups, everything at Camp Wandawega earns its keep.

Learn how to navigate flea markets and how to best negotiate, why “localvore” collecting should matter to the thrifty shopper (and what finds to expect on your travels), which vintage collections are easiest to start and the quickest to fill out, and what tips you should employ for turning even the most simple items into stunning displays. The beautiful photography and Tereasa’s clever DIY projects and sharp eye for design will inspire anyone to add charm and personality to interiors with a few well-worn objects.

A celebration of Americana and ingenuity, Found, Free & Flea is a must-have for knowing how to spot treasures, complete collections, and display them artfully."

(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, September 7, 2011

Bad Intentions - Karin Fossum

Karin Fossum is new to me author and another Nordic author who has made her name known in North America.

Bad Intentions is the ninth offering in her Inspector Konrad Sejer series.  The book opens with three friends spending a weekend at a cabin. Their interactions seem odd and tainted by an alluded to event in the past. The weekend ends with one of them dead. Inspector Sejer and his partner Inspector Jakob Skarre are called in. The victim Jon Moreno had been hospitalized for depression and was out on a weekend pass with his friends. The friends insist he must have been suicidal, but Jon's new girlfriend doesn't agree.

I found Fossum's writing to be very stark, spare  and almost bleak. Not in a bad way though. It was just a very different take on a crime novel. There weren't long graphic descriptions of the crime. Instead Fossum focuses on the characters, their inner thoughts and psyches,  and she does it very, very well. The thought processes of the two friends left alive are the quite frightening part of this book. The event in the past that has affected the lives of these three young men is slowly revealed - I was eager to see what it was.

I appreciated the banter between Sejer and Skarre, but felt I didn't really come to know them in this slim novel. They are protagonists I would like to know better - I would pick up another book by Karin Fossum without hesitation.

Read an excerpt of Bad Intentions.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ready Player One - Ernest Cline

Ernest Cline's debut novel Ready Player One is an unusual, unique and utterly addicting read.  Kind of like a computer game that you can't shut down until you...

It's 2045 and the Earth is in pretty bad shape. Most of the fossil fuel is gone and food and land are in short supply. To escape, most citizens check into The Oasis - a virtual world created by James Halliday. In the Oasis you can do or find anything you would ever need or want. When Halliday dies, he leaves the world with his last bequest - a baffling puzzle known as an Easter Egg is hidden somewhere in the Oasis. (Think Second Life) Solve it and you'll have all the money and power you ever dreamed of.

Young Wade Watts has spent most of his young life plugged in and joins the millions of Egg Hunters or 'gunters, as they come to be known, in the search. He spends years learning about Halliday's favourite games, televison shows and obsessions - most of them based in the 1980's.

When the first clue is found after many years, the stakes couldn't be higher for Wade and his on line friends - for Innovative Online Industries, the world's largest internet provider, want to win the prize themselves - and take over the Oasis.

Ready Player One is completely outside of my normal tastes, but I really, really enjoyed it. I was initially intrigued as it seemed to fit into my recent obsession for YA dystopian fiction. But I found myself really enjoying all the '80's references - Pac Man, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Commodore 64's, song lyrics and a whole lot more -for these are the clues used to solve the puzzle.

There's lots of adventure with epic good versus evil battles throughout. But Cline has also thrown in some thoughtful explorations of friendship, coming of age and yes, romance. Lots of fun for a variety of readers. Read an excerpt of Ready Player One or listen to an excerpt. You can find Cline on Facebook and on Twitter.

I can see Ready Player One easily being made into a movie. And it's jumped on to Maclean's Canadian bestseller list at #9.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy Labour Day!

 Where has summer gone already!? When I was young it seemed summer lasted forever and you were kind of glad when school was around the corner. Now? It just speeds by, faster with every year. Enjoy your day off everyone. Me? I'll be spending it in a hammock under the trees. With a book of course.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Winner - The Journey - Wanda Brunstetter

And the winner of a copy of The Journey - the first book in Wanda Brunstetter's new series -  Kentucky Brothers is:

Britt T

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

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Devil Colony - James Rollins

James Rollins is back with another chapter in his successful Sigma Force series The Devil Colony.

The book opens with a great catch your attention scene. A cave of long buried undiscovered mummified bodies in found in the Rocky Mountains. Various factions are laying claim to the find - The Native American Heritage Commission and a radical group of Native Americans. The discovery of solid gold artifacts with mysterious writing on them only heightens the mystery and the stakes.

Painter Crowe, a member of Sigma Force, is drawn into the controversy. It is his neice who steals a valuable artifact and leaves a dead body behind.

From there the plot thickens - throw in the founding fathers Jefferson and Franklin, the Mormons, nanotubes, lost Hebrew tribes and a whole lot more.

This is where Rollins shines - his plots are intricate and raise a lot of what if questions with the reader and the action is non stop. The personal lives of the members of Sigma Force continue to evolve as well, adding a personal touch to the book and a continum.

When my son was a teen, he was a reluctant reader. I tried many authors to see if I could capture his interest and get him reading again. Rollins was the key. He just finished The Devil Colony as well. I asked him why he enjoyed Rollins as an author..."I like how he takes facts and blends them into a fictional story. Lots of times I go and look up some of the history or subjects he's writing about. He's created a great group of characters - I can picture them all every time I read one of his books. The action is great, there's lots of detail clearly written,  I'm not bored and he always grabs my attention in the first chapter." Read an excerpt of The Devil Colony.

I listened to the audio version of The Devil Colony. The reader was Peter Jay Fernandez. His voice is rich and very expressive, conveying the action and suspense of the book easily. His diction is clear and he is very easy to listen to. Listen to an excerpt of The Devil Colony.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Over the Counter #73

Two related books caught my eye this week as they passed over my library counter and under my scanner. Honestly, both had me kind of shaking my head thinking WTHeck - but I must point out that I am a dog person.

First up was Fashion Cats by Takako Iwasa from Vice Books.

"In the bestselling tradition of Stuff On My Cat and I Can Has Cheezburger, comes a truly pioneering title in Haute Cature, in which two supermodel cats don the latest in Japanese cat fashion.

Prin and Koutaro are two cats who don’t get out of bed for less than the best catnip and 10,000 American dollars. They aren’t just cute, they are extraordinarily cute and know how to make Haute Cature look as good as it should. Here they don the latest Japanese Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter collections, featuring gorgeous, flowered paw bracelets, lace veils, tuxedo fronts, wool capes with matching caps, and much more. The perfect gift for any cat or fashion lover!"

But wait! There's more! Teh Itteh Bitteh Book of Kittehs by Professor Happycat and

From the publisher Gotham Books:

"The authors of I Can Has Cheezburger? return with an awww- inspiring threequel in their blockbuster LOLcat series.

The Web site, the Internet's depot for LOLcat pictures, has already spawned two New York Times bestsellers: I Can Has Cheezburger? and How to Take Over teh Wurld. Now the mad geniuses behind the site have pored over their copious archive of cat photos with misspelled captions to bring fans a collection that raises the bar for cuteness.

While the first book explained the LOLcat philosophy, the second helped readers live these tenets themselves. With Teh Itteh Bitteh Book of Kittehs, the focus is now on the cutest cat of all: tiny, heartwarming, adorable kittens. The result is page after page of uber- cuteness that will charm anyone who loves kitties (and those who just love to laugh at these frisky bundles of fur)."

(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!)