Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Snatched - Karin Slaughter

Karin Slaughter is one of my favourite crime authors. I've read every last title she's written.

Slaughter moves her characters along in real time, so start with The Grant County books and then the Will Trent series. You can read them as stand alones, but you'd be robbing yourself of a fantastic series.

The last book, Criminal (my review) finally answered some long held questions about Will's background. I cannot wait to see where the next book - Unseen - takes us. (It's next up on my nightstand)

Snatched was a great little listen before I started in on Unseen.  Georgia Bureau of Investigation  agent Trent has been posted to airport duty - the washrooms specifically. While hiding out in a stall in the men's, he hears a little girl in the next stall say 'I want to go home.' Is the man with her her father? Nothing untoward was said or done, but Will's radar is tingling. He decides to follow the pair, but loses them in the large airport. But he's sure something's not right - and the airport is shut down on Will's intuition. The race is on to find the girl before she is spirited away.....or worse.

Kathleen Early has read the last few of Slaughter's books and I hope they use her for future books. Her voice is clear, with short, crisp tones that mirror the lead character's way of thinking and speaking. The tone is no nonsense and easily conveys the escalating tension of the hunt for the missing girl. She provides believable voices for other characters as well.

As, I said, this is a favourite series and character and the wrong narrator would ruin the image I have of these familiar players. Early hits the right note. An enjoyable listen of an excellent story!
Listen to an excerpt of Snatched.  (From AudioGo - 2 hrs. and 11 mins.)

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Wicked Girls - Alex Marwood

We've read the stories in the papers - children killing children. We're horrified, wondering how it could happen, what is wrong with them, where were their parents and more.

Alex Marwood has taken that premise and penned a riveting debut novel.

In 1986 England, eleven year old Bel and Jade meet for the first time. At the end of that one day of friendship, a four year old will be dead. And they will be convicted of murder. " I don't understand why they hate me so much. We didn't mean it. We never meant it to happen.'

Twenty five years later, each has been released and made a life for themselves. But the paths they've taken are very different from each other. It is another set of murders in a seaside resort town  that sets the stage for their paths crossing again. 'Kirsty' is a reporter covering the murders and 'Amber' is a cleaner at the carnival where the latest victim was found.

Ohh, what a page turner!! The present day search for the murderer is alternated with chapters from the past that detail bit by bit what led up to that fateful day in 1986. The present day story is no less riveting, full of tension and questions. Each woman has so much to lose if anyone discovers who they really are. What lengths will they go to, to keep their identities hidden? Who is murdering young women?

Each woman was well drawn - I felt like they were 'real'. Their home lives and thoughts were compelling. I did find myself drawn to one more than the other. The supporting characters were just as fleshed out and had their own secrets. Especially creepy were the thought processes of Martin - a man who doesn't see his behaviour as stalking.

This was an excellent thriller, complete with a 'didn't see that coming' ending. Alex Marwood is a pseudonym for a London journalist - the crimes and the prose have a gritty, authentic feel to them. Read an excerpt of The Wicked Girls.

Marwood is working on a second novel - one I'll be watching for. You can find Alex Marwood on Twitter.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Winner - The Execution of Noa P. Singleton

And the lucky winner of a copy of The Execution of Noa P. Singleton by Elizabeth L. Silver, courtesy of Crown Publishing is:


Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing address. Please respond within 72 hours. After that time, a new winner will be chosen. Thanks to all who entered - check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Winner- Meet Me At The Cupcake Cafe

And the lucky winner of a copy of Meet Me At The Cupcake Café by Jenny Colgan, courtesy of Sourcebooks is:

Helen L!

Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing address. Please respond within 72 hours. After that time, a new winner will be chosen. Thanks to all who entered - check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Death of Yesterday - M. C. Beaton

I'm not much of a cozy mystery reader, but there are a few series I quite enjoy and follow faithfully.

M.C. Beaton writes a number of series, but it is the Hamish MacBeth mysteries that have me hooked. Lately, I've chosen to only listen to them. The latest, Death of Yesterday, is the 29th in the series.

Sergeant Hamish MacBeth lives and works in the small Scottish village of Lochdubh. When Morag, a secretary at a local clothing factory reports that she was drugged and her sketchbook stolen when she was at the local pub, Hamish does, of course,  interview her. But, Morag is distinctly unlikable and he isn't looking forward to following up with her. Until she's found murdered.....

Not much changes in the village or in Beaton's stories, but I find great comfort in listening to familiar characters. Inspector Blair is still determined to best Hamish, but continues to fail miserably. The quirky Currie sisters sisters, local shopkeepers and other familiar inhabitants of the village are all comforting to revisit. And of course Hamish's love life - will he ever choose between Elspeth and Priscilla? The addition of Dick Fraser as a live in copper at the station was fun - there's more to Dick than meets the eye.

The Morag plot line becomes quite involved with numerous threads. The addition of other small cases along the way were an added bonus. Hamish is quick to let others take credit for his crime solving - he doesn't want to leave the quiet and comfort of Lochdubh.

And why do I only listen to the Hamish books? Well, one of my favourite readers is the narrator. Graeme Malcolm has personified the character for me over the years. He is Scottish himself, so the accent is spot on, but easy to understand.  His voice is full and sonorous and quite expressive.

Those looking for a quirky, cosy little series would find it here. Read an excerpt of Death of Yesterday. Or listen to an excerpt. You can find M.C. Beaton on Facebook.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Over the Counter #173

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under the scanner?

Well, it was the cover of Nine Lives by Brandon Baltzley that first caught my eye. The subtitle: A Chef's Journey from Chaos to Control. Not what I expected with my first glance at the cover.

From Gotham Books:

"A rising young chef lays bare his gripping story of culinary triumphs, consuming drug additions, and his continuing quest to stay on top while staying sober.

At twenty-six years old, Brandon Baltzley was poised for his star turn as the opening chef at Chicago’s hotspot Tribute. People called him a prodigy—the Salvador Dali of cooking—and foodie blogs followed his every move. Instead, Brandon walked away from it all and entered rehab to deal with the alcohol and cocaine addiction that had enslaved him most of his adult life.

Brandon grew up in the South with no father and an addict mother. At eight, he was prepping vegetables in the back of a gay bar. From there, he went on to deep-frying with Paula Deen to cooking in an array of Michelin-starred restaurants, including Grant Achatz’s world-renowned Alinea. In between, he was touring the country with his heavy metal band, Kylesa—and doing his first stint in rehab.

Like Gabrielle Hamilton’s Blood, Butter and Bones, Brandon’s Nine Lives is about blazing a way out from a rough childhood through talent and an unbridled passion for the craft of cooking. A story that’s still being written as Brandon begins work at Crux Restaurant in Chicago, Nine Lives serves up a raw and riveting memoir about food, rock-and-roll, and redemption."

And the title of Kelly Oxford's book caught my attention - Everything is Perfect When You're a Liar. "A Twitter sensation and popular writer uses her trademark blend of biting wit and self-deprecation to find hilarity in everyday life."

From Harper Collins:

"Kelly Oxford is …

A wunderkind producer of pirated stage productions for six-year-olds
Not the queen of the world
An underage schnitzel-house dishwasher
The kid who stood up to a bully and almost passed out from the resulting adrenaline rush
A born salesman
Capable of willing her eyesight to be 20/20
That girl who peed her pants in the gas station that one time
Totally an expert on strep throat
Incapable of making Leonardo DiCaprio her boyfriend
A writer
A certified therapy assistant who heals with Metallica mixtapes
“Not fat enough to be super snuggly.” —Bea, age 4
Not above using raspberry-studded sh*t to get out of a speeding ticket
“Bitingly funny. But everybody knows that.” —Roger Ebert
Sad that David Copperfield doesn’t own a falcon
A terrible liar"

(Over the Counter is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. I've sadly come to 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, July 24, 2013

And The Mountains Echoed - Khaled Hosseini

I think I am one of the few readers on the planet who has not read Khaled Hosseini's previous works - The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. With the release of his third novel, And The Mountains Echoed, I thought it was time to sample this best selling author.

And the Mountains Echoed opens in 1952 with an Afghani father telling his son and daughter a fable -  the story of a parent's love for his child, fighting off a div (ogre) who claims children from their village. The father loses one of his children to the div, but cannot stop thinking about him. After many years, the father goes to the div's palace to reclaim his son, but the child is now living a life of privilege and happiness. The div offers the father the chance to reclaim his child, but does he really want to take him back to a life of poverty and hardship?

"You are a cruel beast, Baba Ayub said. When you have lived as long as I have, the div replied, you find that cruelty and benevolence are but shades of the same color."

And that fable sets the stage for the rest of the book. In the next chapter, the storytelling father sells his daughter to a wealthy family, separating his son and daughter. They have shared an incredible bond in their short lives. Is that bond every truly broken? Can the echoes of their love follow them and stay with them?

Hosseini takes us on a wide, sweeping, encompassing journey touching on all who play a part or touch the lives of the two children - from childhood to old age. As it's base the story is about the two children, but Hosseini builds wonderfully rich tales around many of the other characters. In that sense, the book has many lead characters, spanning countries and time lines. (I have to say, one of my personal favourites was Odelia, one character's Greek mother. Her sense of right and purpose was inspiring.) At least one character in And The Mountains Echoed will touch or stand out for every reader.  Not every character is sympathetic, but all elicit a reaction.

The narrative often skips from one character to another and from one time period to another. I did find myself having to reestablish who was who and the connections a few times. Some threads are left unfinished and I was left wondering what might have happened to some players. Although, that certainly may have been Hosseini's intent. Each story leaves an impression or an echo on the next, stringing a thread of connectedness between all.

As I said, this is my first introduction to Hosseini. I loved his language and the pictures, images and stories he creates with his words. Very powerful. Penguin Canada also thinks his prose elicit pictures and to that end, they've created something pretty neat - The Echo Project.

"Experience And the Mountains Echoed through the eyes of Khaled's editors; his biggest fans; visual artists; poets; photographers; and even a few notable Canadians you know well. One of the 402 pages could even be created by you. We're collecting these unique interpretations, page-by-page, and sharing them in one digital experience, unlike any other." Canadians -  Submit your own own entry.

Read an excerpt of And The Mountains Echoed. You can find Khaled Hosseini on Facebook and on Twitter.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Curiosity - Stephen P. Kiernan

I'm always been fascinated by discoveries of the past such as Franklin's Expedition or Shackleton and the Endurance. My curiousity is piqued - what can we glean from artifacts found? Can we tell what happened on these ill fated journeys?

Curiosity- definition: A strong desire to know or learn something. A strange or unusual object or fact.

Stephen P. Kiernan's  explores both of those definitions in his debut fiction novel The Curiosity.

The Lazarus Project is working on 'reanimation' of life forms frozen and trapped in hard ice. They have so far managed to bring small creatures, such as krill and plankton, back to life. While on their latest search in the Arctic, Dr. Kate Philo and her team come across a fully frozen man - dressed in a suit. This is a staggering find - this reanimation will be the company's biggest triumph. (Much of this is based on fact - read the idea behind the book.)

The Curiosity is told from four points of view - that of Dr. Kate, the frozen man - Judge Jeremiah Rice, the owner of Lazarus - Erastus Carthage and Daniel Dixon, a journalist.

This wide variety of views allows Kiernan to explore all the avenues that such an event might open. Is Rice an experiment or a man? Who gets to direct his life? Is the company playing God? Is it real or an elaborate hoax? Where and what would such an event lead to next?

The four main characters are all clearly drawn and elicited distinct reactions from this reader. Kate is the clam, cool, empathic lead who sees Rice as a man and not a lab rat. Her - I liked. Carthage is a caricature of a power hungry egomaniac who sees himself as brilliant and untouchable. He refers to himself in the third person. Him - didn't like. Dixon seems to be written in a foil for both camps - he rides the middle line, but is a distinctly unlikable character. Which brings us to Judge Jeremiah. I was quite interested in his reawakening and his views on the world 100 years later. Kiernan provides many well-thought observations, but this is not the main thrust of the book.

There are many ideas and stories running through the novel. Ethical and moral considerations are presented, but the main storyline is the relationship between Dr. Kate and the Judge. Although we are aware of the outcome from the opening chapters, I was captured by 'what would happen next'. Indeed, you might say curious. "With this man's curiosity at my side, life possessed a newness, a richness. Jeremiah Rice gave me back the world."

There were a few threads that I wish had been taken further - notably descendants of Jeremiah. This is touched on, but not explored as fully as I would have liked.

Although The Curiosity raises some qood food for thought (there is a reading guide available), at it's heart, it is satisfying entertainment reading for the summer deck. Science fiction with a healthy dose of romance. Read an excerpt of The Curiosity.

"Over two-plus decades as a journalist Stephen Kiernan  has won 40 awards, including the Brechner Institute’s Freedom of Information Award, the Gerald Loeb Award for financial journalism (two time commentary finalist) and the George Polk Award. He has taught at Middlebury College and the New England Young Writers Conference, and has worked on the staff of the Breadloaf School of English and the Breadloaf Writers Conference. He chairs the board of the Young Writers Project, served on the Vermont Legislative Committee on Pain and Palliative Care, and joined the advisory board of the New Hampshire Palliative Care Initiative. Stephen travels the country speaking to a wide variety of audiences about improving life’s last chapters, restoring America through volunteerism and philanthropy, and using the power of creativity to transform lives." You can find Kiernan on his blog and on Facebook.

See what others on the TLC Book tour thought. Full schedule can be found here.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Giveaway Winner - The Lemon Orchard

And the lucky winner of a copy of The Lemon Orchard by Luanne Rice, courtesy of Pamela Dorman Books is:

Mary Jo Burke!

Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing address. Please respond within 72 hours. After that time, a new winner will be chosen. Thanks to all who entered - check the sidebar for other great giveaways!

Giveaway winners - The Last Camellia

And the five (!) lucky winners of a copy of The Last Camellia by Sarah Jio, courtesy of Penguin Books are:
1. Sue Farrell
2. Tamye
3. Tara
4. BermudaOnion
5. BookFriend44
 Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing addresses. Please respond within 72 hours - after that time another winner will be chosen. Thanks to all who entered - check the sidebar for more great  giveaways!

Giveaway winner - A Royal Pain

And the lucky winner of:

A Royal Pain by Megan Mulry,

courtesy of Sourcebooks is:


Congratulations! I've sent you an email - please respond within 72 hours. Thanks to all who entered - check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Film on Friday #1 - Arcadia

Welcome to a new feature that will appear sporadically on A Bookworm's World - Film on Friday. Why not Movie on Monday you ask? A good question - aside from the fact that I like alliteration.

Although the words film and movie are interchangeable... "Most major, commercial motion pictures aimed at a broad viewing audience (in the hopes of making a profit) are usually referred to as "movies". The term "film" is commonly applied to movies of an artistic or educational nature not expected to have broad, commercial appeal."

There you have it - I'll be focusing on acclaimed, award winning film from festivals around the world.

And the first entry is Arcadia . This film premiered at Sundance and was a Crystal Bear Winner at the Berlin International Film Festival, as well as the winner of  Best Children's Film at the Oulu International Film Festival.

This is director Olivia Silver's debut feature film. Silver produced a short film for her thesis based on a memory from her own childhood - pulling into her family driveway after a cross country road trip.

In Arcadia, Tom wakes his three children very early and piles them into the family station wagon, to start their journey from New England to California. Tom has accepted a new job after being jobless for over six months. They seem ill prepared as they head out, with packing still being thrown together in the last few minutes. Twelve year old Greta grabs her stuffed bunny Harrison and her memory box. Nine year old Nat is doted upon and very attached to Greta. Caroline is older and sits up front with Dad, navigating and talking on the phone. What's missing? Mom. But, Tom promises, Mom will be joining them soon.

Right from the beginning, we get a sense that something is 'off'. As the journey progresses, Greta continues to question where their mother is and why they can't reach her. Tom keeps deflecting the questions and tries to jolly the kids along, telling stories, making promises and talking about their new house. But the more he tries to pretend nothing is wrong, the worse things get.

Academy Award nominee John Hawkes's portrayal of  Tom was excellent. Despite his upbeat mood, there is an underlying sense of danger and the feeling that Tom is only barely holding things together. There are several disturbing scenes where he 'loses' it. What is lost is innocence - that of Greta. This trip is a coming of age for her as childhood is left behind and she is forced to confront many truths about her family. Ryan Simpkins was phenomenal and stole the show for me. Nat was played by her brother Ty Simpkins, making the ties between them even more believable.

I'm sure if I looked closely at the cars, I could put a year on the movie. But I didn't - and I couldn't. The station wagon brought back my own memories of family road trips. Scenes shot from inside the car looking out at the scenery captured the 'real' feeling of the film. Sepia tones, washed out landscapes and tired buildings all echoed the run down, worn out sense that surrounds Tom.

Silver cleverly manipulates our emotions and then surprised me at the end with a turn I didn't see coming. An excellent story and an unforgiving look at family - and the ties that bind.

Sound like a film you'd be interested in? Film Movement is presenting a free online screening of Arcadia on July 22nd. Filmmaker Olivia Silver will be on a live Twitter chat during the screening. #arcadiafilm

Monday July 22nd at 8 pm EST at:    http://www.filmmovement.com/arcadia

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Over the Counter #172

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter under my scanner? A couple of biographies that made me curious....

First up was A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert "Believe It or Not!" Ripley by Neal Thompson.

From Penguin Random House:

"Curious Man is the marvellously compelling biography of Robert “Believe It or Not” Ripley, the enigmatic cartoonist turned globetrotting millionaire who won international fame by celebrating the world's strangest oddities, and whose outrageous showmanship taught us to believe in the unbelievable.

As portrayed by acclaimed biographer Neal Thompson, Ripley’s life is the stuff of a classic American fairy tale. Buck-toothed and cursed by shyness, Ripley turned his sense of being an outsider into an appreciation for the strangeness of the world. After selling his first cartoon to Time magazine at age eighteen, more cartooning triumphs followed, but it was his “Believe It or Not” conceit and the wildly popular radio shows it birthed that would make him one of the most successful entertainment figures of his time and spur him to search the globe’s farthest corners for bizarre facts, exotic human curiosities, and shocking phenomena.

Ripley delighted in making outrageous declarations that somehow always turned out to be true—such as that Charles Lindbergh was only the sixty-seventh man to fly across the Atlantic or that “The Star Spangled Banner” was not the national anthem. Assisted by an exotic harem of female admirers and by ex-banker Norbert Pearlroth, a devoted researcher who spoke eleven languages, Ripley simultaneously embodied the spirit of Peter Pan, the fearlessness of Marco Polo and the marketing savvy of P. T. Barnum.

In a very real sense, Ripley sought to remake the world’s aesthetic. He demanded respect for those who were labeled “eccentrics” or “freaks”—whether it be E. L. Blystone, who wrote 1,615 alphabet letters on a grain of rice, or the man who could swallow his own nose.

By the 1930s Ripley possessed a vast fortune, a private yacht, and a twenty-eight room mansion stocked with such “oddities” as shrunken heads and medieval torture devices, and his pioneering firsts in print, radio, and television were tapping into something deep in the American consciousness—a taste for the titillating and exotic, and a fascination with the fastest, biggest, dumbest and most weird. Today, that legacy continues and can be seen in reality TV, YouTube, America’s Funniest Home Videos, Jackass, MythBusters and a host of other pop-culture phenomena.

In the end Robert L. Ripley changed everything. The supreme irony of his life, which was dedicated to exalting the strange and unusual, is that he may have been the most amazing oddity of all."

Next up was A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband "Master" by Rachel Held Evans. And my curiosity was piqued because my first thought was: 'Is she the wife of the guy who lived biblically for a year?' (No, she isn't) And then I thought, hmm, where'd you get your idea from?'

From Thomas Nelson:

"Strong-willed and independent, Rachel Held Evans couldn’t sew a button on a blouse before she embarked on a radical life experiment—a year of biblical womanhood. Intrigued by the traditionalist resurgence that led many of her friends to abandon their careers to assume traditional gender roles in the home, Evans decides to try it for herself, vowing to take all of the Bible’s instructions for women as literally as possible for a year.

Pursuing a different virtue each month, Evans learns the hard way that her quest for biblical womanhood requires more than a “gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4). It means growing out her hair, making her own clothes, covering her head, obeying her husband, rising before dawn, abstaining from gossip, remaining silent in church, and even camping out in the front yard during her period.
See what happens when a thoroughly modern woman starts referring to her husband as “master” and “praises him at the city gate” with a homemade sign. Learn the insights she receives from an ongoing correspondence with an Orthodox Jewish woman, and find out what she discovers from her exchanges with a polygamist wife.  Join her as she wrestles with difficult passages of scripture that portray misogyny and violence against women.

With just the right mixture of humor and insight, compassion and incredulity, A Year of Biblical Womanhood is an exercise in scriptural exploration and spiritual contemplation. What does God truly expect of women, and is there really a prescription for biblical womanhood? Come along with Evans as she looks for answers in the rich heritage of biblical heroines, models of grace, and all-around women of valor."

(Over the Counter is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. I've sadly come to 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, July 17, 2013

Silken Prey - John Sandford

Silken Prey marks the 23rd (!) entry in John Sandford's long running series featuring Lucas Davenport.

Lucas is still working for the BCA in Minnesota, but he's the go-to-guy for many politicos. This time, its the governor himself who wants Lucas to do some quiet investigating. The current state senator has been caught with child porn on his computer. Thing is - the governor thinks he's innocent. And as Lucas digs a littler deeper, it looks like he could be right. 

We know who the culprit is from the beginning. The fun lies in following along with Lucas and his team as they try to figure it out. Shrake, Capslock, Jenkins and......yes that ****ing Flowers are all on the case. (I just wait to see when someone is going to utter that phrase!) One of Sandford's other recurring characters, computer whiz Kidd, also plays a large role in Silken Prey.

I enjoyed the political machinations in Silken Prey. The ending has left the door open for a further confrontation with one of the senators. The secondary plotline with Kidd and his wife was excellent. I thought the way the two came together was great fun.

I chose to listen to this latest book on the way back and forth to work (a disc each way works out pretty good!) The reader was Richard Ferrone. He's got a wonderfully gravelly, raspy voice that works so well for the image I have of Davenport. He comes up with different and believable  voices for the rest of the players as well. I was able to easily know who was 'talking'. By listening to the book, I really 'heard' the snappy dialogue Sandford has written. Some of the best scenes are between Lucas and his team.

I have read every last entry in this series, and the others Sandford writes, as well. There have been some I've liked better than others, (I quite liked this one) but even after twenty three entries, I still really enjoy this character. I'll be waiting for number twenty four. Listen to an excerpt of Silken Prey. Or read the same excerpt.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Silent Wife - A.S.A. Harrison - Review and Giveaway

The Silent Wife marks A.S.A.Harrison's fiction debut.

I love psychological thrillers and Harrison has written a doozy. (Don't you love that word!?)

Jodi and Todd are one of 'those' couples. Successful, well to do and leading a seemingly perfect life together. Oh, there are a few little bumps, but this is the life Jodi has created and she likes things just so. And yes, Todd wanted children, but over their twenty year relationship, it's been accepted that there won't be any. Well, yes he might cheat once in a while, and Jodi is somewhat aware of it. Todd knows she knows, but it's not spoken of and life goes on.

"At forty-five, Jodi still sees herself as a young woman. She does not have her eye on the future but lives very much in the moment, keeping her focus on the everyday. She assumes, without having thought about it, that things will go on indefinitely in their imperfect yet entirely acceptable way. In other words, she is deeply unaware that her life is now peaking, that her youthful resilience - which her twenty-year marriage to Todd Gilbert has been slowly eroding - is approaching a final stage of disintegration, that her notions about who she is and how she ought to conduct herself are far less stable that she supposes, give that a few short months are all it will take to make a killer out of her."

That's the second paragraph in the book - and I was hooked. Harrison explores this marriage in alternating chapters - Her and Him.

Harrison is a talented wordsmith who skilfully depicts the disintegration of not just a union, but of the individuals as well. Jodi's chapters are eerie and disturbing as she maintains a perfect, cool, calm exterior, keeping to her routines in her spotless home. Just as disturbing is the self centred, pleasure seeking Todd, who can explain away and justify any of his behaviors and actions.

It is one of those actions that starts the beginning of the end......

There is no overt gore or violence in The Silent Wife. Rather there is the slow, building journey to a conclusion I couldn't predict. Along the way, we learn more about Jodi and Todd's childhoods.The Silent Wife is a fascinating exploration of both a damaged relationship and its affected inhabitants. I really enjoyed the building tension as the chapters alternate and the layers and the civility are peeled away. Its impossible not to read just one more chapter...

Read an excerpt of The Silent Wife. Sadly, A.S.A. Harrison passed away earlier this year in Toronto, Canada and did not live to see her book release last month.

Thanks to the generous folks at Penguin Books, I have a copy to giveaway. Open to US only, no p.o. boxes please. Simply leave a comment to be entered. Ends August 3/13.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Loyalty - Ingrid Thoft

Loyalty is Ingrid Thoft's debut novel.

Fina Ludlow lives and works in Boston for the family firm. Law firm that is. Her father and three brothers are all attorneys but Fina bucked tradition and became the firm's private investigator.

When Fina's sister-in-law Melanie goes missing, patriarch Carl Ludlow sets Fina on the case. The police department's prime suspect is her brother Rand - Melanie's husband. But there's no way Rand would have killed Melanie. Right? As Fina digs into Melanie's life, someone else is just as determined that she drop the investigation.

But that's just like a red flag to a bull for our protagonist. Thoft has created a mentally and physical strong, tough, wise-cracking character who seems to thrive on antagonism. But, she has some soft spots underneath that tough exterior. Thoft mixes in healthy doses of family dynamics of all shades - hence the 'loyalty' title.

Thoft starts things off with a bang, with lots of characters rapidly introduced in the first few chapters. I did find myself backtracking a bit, until I got who was who straightened out. I'm thinking this is the first in a new series, so it seems like Thoft was simply setting the stage.

Fina is a strong personality. I immediately liked her  and appreciated her personality, determination and fearlessness. But by the last third of the book I thought this had been firmly established with the reader and found it a bit tiresome to be reminded of this again and again through comments from supporting characters.

Loyalty was well plotted, with lots of action, (how many times can Fina get attacked!?) some humour and yet some serious moments as well. The end result can be seen from several chapters away, but that didn't detract from enjoying the journey there.

I chose to listen to Loyalty. The reader was Rebecca Soler. I must admit, I wasn't sold on her as a narrator at first. Her voice seemed very young - almost teenaged. When I looked up other books she had narrated, I found she has read several young adult titles - it was Cinder I was remembering. But once I started forming a picture of the character, the voice worked. Soler has a very expressive voice and her interpretation of Fina's snappy dialogue was excellent and suited this sassy, shoot from the hip P.I. As I mentioned, there are many players - Soler gave each a distinctive voice and/or accent so I was able to easily know who was talking. (The southern madam was particularly good) She has a clear voice that made it easy to catch every word. (Gentle listeners be warned - there is a fair amount of swearing sprinkled throughout)

Fina is a great new personality on the female P.I. front - a cross between V.I. Warshawski and Stephanie Plum. I'm sure there will be more cases for this intrepid investigator. This was a great summer read for this listener - many a pint of raspberries was picked during the 12 hours of running time! Listen to an excerpt of Loyalty. Also available in hardcover - Read an excerpt.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Death of the Demon - Anne Holt

I've gone backwards with Norwegian author Anne Holt. I read the last book featuring Detective Hanne Wilhelmsen first. (my review of 1222) And then going against my usual inclination, I did decide to read her back list, as I quite enjoyed the character.

Death of the Demon is the third in the series and newly released by Scribner.

Agnes Vestavik runs a group foster home just outside of Oslo. A new boy named Olav has just moved in. He's a difficult case, hard to like and hard to get along with. He's large and strong and mercurial........and he doesn't want to be there.

When Agnes is found stabbed to death at her desk, newly promoted Detective Inspector Hanne Wilhelmson is called to the case along with lead investigator Billy T. Olav has gone missing. But is he the killer? Has he run away? Or been taken? There are a number of other children at the home also capable of violence. There are a large number of staff as well, each with their own secrets. And what about her husband?

Interspersed between Hanne's investigative chapters are the thoughts of Olav's mother. These are quite sad and provide a telling social commentary. Olav's thoughts also trigger an emotional response from the reader.

Holt continues to grow the character of Hanne with more details about her private life being revealed and explored. She is struggling in both her personal and professional lives. Hanne is not always likable, but she is a fascinating protagonist.  Billy T remains a favourite character with this reader - he's larger than life both in stature and personality.

I enjoyed the investigative process, but found one of the crucial deciding clues not as strong as Hanne believed it to be. I could see an alternative explanation. As the investigation marches to the endgame, I was able to suss out the whodunit, but Holt still managed to catch me off guard with an unexpected ending - one I'm not sure I'm entirely happy with.

Death of the Demon isn't my favourite Hanne book, (1222 still is) but was still a darn good read. Read an excerpt of Death of the Demon.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Over the Counter #171

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Our summer student at the library was doing origami with her kids the other day, so Paper Pups by Hiroshi Hayakawa leapt up at me. (Although they may not quite be ready for these ideas!)

From the publisher, Lark Books:

"Cute crafts and adorable dogs—what could be more irresistible? From a Golden Retriever and French Bulldog to the beloved mutt, these 35 paper pups are appealing and fun to create. They're made using kirigami, an art similar to origami: just photocopy the full-size templates and follow the simple steps to transform a flat shape into a dimensional animal! In addition to the dogs, accessories include a fire hydrant, doghouse, and a collection of collars to adorn your paper pet."

And then I found one of his older books - Kirigami Menagerie. Incredible!

"In origami, a flat piece of paper is folded to create a dimensional object. Similarly, in traditional Japanese kirigami, paper is folded, cut, and unfolded to reveal complex patterns. Here, author Hiroshi Hayakawa has ingeniously combined these two techniques to create a charming menagerie of 40 animals, from flocks of sheep and swirling dragons to stampeding ostriches and pandas in a bamboo grove."

(Over the Counter is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. I've sadly come to 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 catchy your eye as well. See if your local library has them on their shelves!)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Viral Nation - Shaunta Grimes

Well, you may have been wondering where A Bookworm's World resident teen blogger Ella has been hiding. She had to take care of some pesky schoolwork and university applications, so we haven't seen her in a while. But the summer is here and she's been accepted to Uni, so she has some free reading and reviewing time for us!

Ella has just finished reading the newly released Viral Nation by Shaunta Grimes.

Here's Ella's review.....

"I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Shaunta Grimes’newest novel, Viral Nation, to review. It turned out to be the perfect book for a start-of-summer road trip! It’s a YA dystopia, with several unique twists.

The story starts out with an amalgamation of every bad thing that might happen at some point to the US: a civil war, several natural disasters, an energy crisis, and finally, at the point where the narrative begins, a horrific virus that causes most of the population to rot to death. It initially requires a bit of suspension of disbelief, but I quickly became invested in the fate of the characters, in particular because of a heart-wrenching introduction. Luckily, the breakdown of society isn’t really the focus of the book. Instead, it focuses on the way the world is reshaped: 16 years after a cure is found, the Company, which provides the suppressants to the virus, as good as controls the 50 walled cities that the few survivors call home. As well, it has virtually eliminated violent crime by being able to travel 2 years into the future and back through a portal at the bottom of a lake (just go with it), letting the Company catch criminals before they have the chance to break the law. Unexpectedly scifi for the average YA dystopia, and very cool.

Clover, the book’s heroine, is 16 years old, brilliant and autistic. Her life-long dream of attending the Academy, the only place any sort of higher education is possible, is crushed when her service-dog is not allowed to go with her - a deal-breaker for Clover. She is then drafted to become a Time Mariner, one of the select few allowed to travel through the portal. Things start to fall apart when (Minority Reportstyle), her beloved brother and life-long guardian, West, is identified as a future murderer.
I loved Clover, and I found her autism to be interesting and respectfully written. It was an important plot point, and it definitely affected her life, but it wasn’t her defining characteristic. Her blunt and pragmatic personality made for a refreshing break from the “Sickeningly Perfect Except for a Few Endearing Flaws” stock heroine that can be all too common in YA books. A main character with actual new ground to cover was a fabulous treat. Her brother West was also great, as was the cast of other supporting characters. Half of them were introduced suddenly halfway through the novel, which was a little confusing, but otherwise it was smooth sailing, character-wise. The urgency of needing a daily dose of virus suppressant was a very fun way to make every risky thing they did even more exciting and kind of tense. Everything is more dramatic when there’s a danger someone could start turning into a living corpse if they don’t get the medicine in time.
With its unique collection of bits and pieces from other types of scifi, Viral Nation is not your standard take on YA dystopia. I sincerely hope there will be a sequel, because there was too much going on in this story to stop after only one novel. With Viral Nation, Shaunta Grimes is not pulling any punches, and the sky is the limit when it comes to unexpected plot twists. Danger! Excitement! Lots of surprises! A dash of non-stifling romance! People actually talking about and dealing with time travel paradoxes! Viral Nation has all of these and more for the scifi/fantasy fan. Thanks Shaunta!" Read an excerpt of Viral Nation.
Ella - your reviews are always wonderful! Thank you! Hopefully you'll be able to fit a few more in before school starts! And check out Shaunta's guest post as well - about her path to becoming an author.

Guest Post - Shaunta Grimes - Viral Nation

Resident teen blogger Ella has just reviewed Shaunta Grimes' new young adult novel Viral Nation. (Check out her review)

She also asked Shaunta about her path to becoming a published author.....

"I've known forever that I wanted to be a writer. It took a while for me to take the leap between wanting to be a writer and doing something about it. In between, I had several interesting jobs that could have become careers if my heart had been in it.

 My first real grown-up job was as a newspaper reporter. I was 24-years-old, suddenly a single mom with two tiny kids, and I answered a job-wanted ad looking for a reporter in a tiny Northern Nevada town called Battle Mountain. My first day on the job, I was sent to the court house to start covering a the trial of two teenage boys who murdered one of their entire families. Later I worked at both major newspapers in Las Vegas. I loved being a journalist, but it was too hard for me to do any other kind of writing after a full day writing news.
I've worked as a substitute teacher, and for a long time thought I wanted to teach high school English. I've tutored kids in reading and writing, taught creative writing through my local community college. I love teaching, and I hope that I always find ways to do it. In the end, though, my heart wasn't in being a classroom teacher.

I've also worked as a drug court counselor. That was the hardest, most stressful job I've ever had. I learned a lot at that job though. I learned that I don't have the fortitude to be a social worker. I learned important lessons about people and compassion that have definitely informed my writing.

I think the one big take away from my wide variety of jobs is this: follow your heart, but be open to learning from where ever you find yourself at the moment."

Thanks for stopping by Shaunta! You can find Shaunta on Facebook, on Twitter and at her website.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Miss Montreal - Howard Shrier

Miss Montreal is the fourth book in Howard Shrier's series featuring Private Investigator Jonah Geller.

I only discovered this wonderful series with the last book Boston Cream (my review) but I loved it and have been eagerly awaiting Jonah's next case.

Now persona non grata in the US, Jonah takes on a new case in Montreal. His childhood friend Sammy has been brutally murdered - and after many weeks, the police seem no closer to finding the killer. Sammy's grandfather is dying and he wants to see justice done. He hires Jonah to investigate. And with his regular partner Jenn Raudsepp sidelined, Jonah brings along reformed hit man Dante. Reformed, but still lethal.

Sammy was a respected English speaking, Jewish journalist living and working in Montreal. His body was beaten, mutilated  and left in a Muslim neighbourhood of the city. Was he working on a story that got him killed? Was it someone he knew or someone from his past? Or was it just a random hate crime?

What Jonah and Dante find is much more insidious than even they could imagine.......

Howard Shrier has done a fantastic job with the setting. Descriptions of Montreal, the inhabitants and the current atmosphere are all detailed and ring true. (Shrier has lived in the city himself) The plotting was excellent and frighteningly believable. Simmering racial and cultural tensions on many fronts, the separatist movement, political machinations, terrorism and more populate this fast-paced novel.

The play between the two main characters is excellent - Jonah usually thinks before acting. Dante - well, not so much. They are polar opposites with a focus on the same goal. Shrier also gives each a personal storyline that brings depth to the character and is a nice continuance from novel to novel. They play off each other nicely and bring Spenser and Hawk to mind.

Fans of the crime genre, I encourage you to discover this award winning Canadian series. (Also being developed as a television show by a producer of Law & Order) I'll definitely be watching for number five. Read an excerpt of Miss Montreal. You can find Howard Shrier on Facebook and on Twitter.

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Conspiracy of Faith - Jussi Adler-Olsen

You many remember me raving about the first two books in this wonderful series. (The Keeper of Lost Causes  and The Absent One) The third book in Jussi Adler-Olsen's series has just released in North America - A Conspiracy of Faith.

Detective Carl Morck works for Department Q - housed in the basement of the Denmark Police Department. Department Q deals with old and cold cases. The department isn't very large - it's Carl and Assad - an enigmatic Syrian who started off as the cleaner, but has proven to be invaluable to Carl. They have been joined by Rose - and her sister Ursa this time 'round - both decidedly 'different'.

Adler-Olsen hooked me right from the start. A pair of boys is being held captive in a remote boathouse. The older brother knows they are going to die, but ingeniously manages to put together a message in a bottle and toss it through a crack into the ocean. Years later the bottle finally makes it's way to Carl's desk. And the hunt begins for a killer.

Now, we as readers, know who the killer is - and that he is still operating. His chapters are especially chilling. Adler- Olsen paints a particularly frightening picture of a sociopath. The hunt is on and we can only urge Carl and team to hurry - another pair of children are being held in the same old boathouse.

Adler-Olsen's plotting is excellent and the action and sense of urgency translated into late night reading for me. But what makes this series really shine are the protagonists. Carl is a brilliant investigator but is a man with a complicated personal life. The secondary storyline gives him more depth as a character, rather than just confining him to the police station. Assad is still a mystery, but Adler-Olsen has let a few more details slip about this intriguing character's background. The interplay and dialogue between the two pulls the reader in.

I've read the first two books, but chose to listen to this third entry. I didn't realize who the reader was until the opening lines of the first disc - then realized it was one of my favourites - Graeme Malcolm. He has such a rich, full sonorous voice. He has a Scottish accent, but bends it to fit Carl's personality. The voice he chose for Assad also worked well. Malcolm uses his voice very effectively - the killer's mind set was all the more chilling with the dispassionate tones employed. His voice was easy to listen to, extremely expressive and really brought the book to life.

A five star read and series for this reader.  I can't wait to read the next Department Q book! See for yourself  - read the prologue of A Conspiracy of Faith.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Over the Counter #170

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Well, I love a good memoir and these two look really interesting.

First up was The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story by Lily Koppel.

From the publisher, Grand Central:

"As America's Mercury Seven astronauts were launched on death-defying missions, television cameras focused on the brave smiles of their young wives. Overnight, these women were transformed from military spouses into American royalty. They had tea with Jackie Kennedy, appeared on the cover of Life magazine, and quickly grew into fashion icons.Annie Glenn, with her picture-perfect marriage, was the envy of the other wives; platinum-blonde Rene Carpenter was proclaimed JFK's favorite; and licensed pilot Trudy Cooper arrived on base with a secret. Together with the other wives they formed the Astronaut Wives Club, meeting regularly to provide support and friendship. Many became next-door neighbors and helped to raise each other's children by day, while going to glam parties at night as the country raced to land a man on the Moon.As their celebrity rose-and as divorce and tragic death began to touch their lives-they continued to rally together, and the wives have now been friends for more than fifty years. The Astronaut Wives Club tells the real story of the women who stood beside some of the biggest heroes in American history."

Next up was Dwarf: A Memoir by Tiffanie DiDonato with Rennie Dyball.

From the publisher Penguin/Plume:

"It's okay with me if you picked up this book because you're curious about what it's like to live with dwarfism. But I hope that you'll take away much more—about adapting to the world when it won't adapt to you.”—from Dwarf

A memoir of grit and transformation for anyone who has been told something was impossible and then went on to do it anyway.

Tiffanie DiDonato was born with dwarfism. Her limbs were so short that she was not able to reach her own ears. She was also born with a serious case of optimism. She decided to undergo a series of painful bone-lengthening surgeries that gave her an unprecedented 14 inches of height—and the independence she never thought she’d have.

After her surgeries, Tiffanie was able to learn to drive, to live in the dorms during college, and to lead a normal life. She even made time to volunteer, writing to troops stationed abroad, and one of those Marine pen pals ultimately became her husband.

Dwarf is a moving and, at times, funny testament to the power of sheer determination, and has been compared to Andrew Solomon's Far From the Tree."

Over the Counter is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. I've sadly come to 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 catchy your eye as well. See if your local library has them on their shelves!)     

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Giveaway - Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe

The Meet Me at the Cupcake Café Sugary Sweet Spotlight 

"It is no wonder that the flirty and frothy food-themed novel, Meet Me at the Cupcake Café by Jenny Colgan is an international success: with relatable characters and scrumptious recipes at the start of each chapter, Meet Me at the Cupcake Café is pure delight to women’s fiction readers everywhere. This summer, Colgan is bringing her hilarious and heartfelt stories—with a dash of deliciousness—to the United States! To celebrate, Sourcebooks is giving away copies of this book ALL MONTH LONG!
Each day this month, look for opportunities to win a print copy of Meet Me at the Cupcake Café with bloggers all over the book blogging community. Additionally, there will be a few guest blogs and interviews with Jenny sprinkled throughout—a great way to get to know a new author! "

Meet Me at the Cupcake Café by Jenny Colgan - July 2013

Baking is in Issy Randall’s blood. Growing up above her grandfather’s bakery taught Issy that a delicious pastry could make any day better. So when she’s laid off from her desk job—by the man she thought was her boyfriend, no less—Issy knows now is the time to start her own little café.

Armed with her grandfather’s tried and true recipes, as well as her own new dishes, Issy’s new dream job should be a piece-of-cake, right? But managing a café, delivering products on time and trying to have a new love life aren’t exactly going as Issy planned. And when her ex comes back into the picture, perhaps with his own motives, Issy’s search for the perfect pastry and a groundbreaking idea to save her café are much more than she bargained for…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jenny Colgan was a fussy eater as a child and didn’t even begin to learn to cook until she was 21, when her then boyfriend tried to teach her a few basics purely out of exasperation. While she is now able to make a variety of good, wholesome food for her family, she still can’t make scones. A former columnist for The Guardian, Jenny contributes regularly to national BBC radio and is the bestselling author of more than eleven novels, including The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris (coming out in the US in early 2014). She is married with three children and lives in London and France. For more information, please visit http://www.jennycolgan.com/ and follow her on Twitter, @JennyColgan.
Follow along all month long for a chance to win a copy of this highly-anticipated and deliciously delightful new novel! To be entered, simply leave a comment with the name of your favourite sweet treat! Open to US and Canada. A randomly chosen winner will be selected July 28/13.

7/1 Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell
7/3 Chick Lit Central INTERVIEW
7/17 Cocktails and Books INTERVIEW
7/18 Fresh Fiction GUEST BLOG