Saturday, May 31, 2014

You Can't Judge a Book by It's Cover #6

- You Can't Judge a Book By It's Cover -
Which is very true. But you can like one cover version better than another...
US/Canadian cover
UK/Australian cover
I was hunting down cover art for Jacqueline Winspear's new book - The Care and Management of Lies and came across the US/Canadian cover on the left and the UK/Australian cover on the right. I actually prefer the UK cover this time. Both capture the tone of the book, but I think the UK cover does it better with the larger and more descriptive pictures. Either way - it's a good read. (my review)
What cover do you prefer? Have you read The Care and Management of Lies?
You Can't Judge A Book By It's Cover is a new regular Saturday feature on A Bookworm's World.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Summer Rental - Mary Kay Andrews

I listen to at least one audio book over the course of a week, driving back and forth to work. I had great fun listening to Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews this week. As summer is (finally) on it's way, it seemed a quite appropriate choice.

Dorie, Ellis and Julia have been best friends since their childhood days in Georgia. They've kept in touch even as their lives diverged. Now in their thirties, each is facing a significant turning point in their life. Who better to commiserate with than your best friends? And where could be more relaxing than a cottage on North Carolina's Outer Banks? But - mix in a woman on the run and a very interesting neighbour in the garage apartment - and things get a little hotter in North Carolina.

Mary Kay Andrews creates the most engaging characters. All three women were very different, but all of them were someone you'd love to have as a friend. Dorie is gentle, sweet and kind, Ellis is the organizer and practical one and  Julia is the risk taker and the most outspoken.  Each is a very different personality that brings something different to the story. (I have to say, Julia was my favourite)

The reader was Isabel Keating. She has a wonderfully rich and resonant voice. (She works as an actor as well) Keating creates a voice for each character that perfectly embodied the mental image I had imagined for each woman. Her Southern accent was lovely to listen to - and believable. She captured the tone of the book - from fun to danger...and more. Yes, there's much more to the story than women sitting on the beach in the sun! Andrews has penned a fun novel, but there are some truths hidden there as well...

Andrews' writing style is light, breezy and chock full of southern charm. She herself makes her home between Georgia and North Carolina, so her setting descriptions conjure up quite vivid mental pictures. The cottage with it's sandy floors and worn paint just called to me. And so did that beach chair, just sitting watching the tide roll out.

Great summer listening? Absolutely! Rental is an easy, entertaining listen, perfect summer escapist fare. Pop it into the player on your way to the cottage.  Listen to an excerpt of Summer Rental.

I'm looking forward to Andrews' latest release - Save the Date, out June 3/14. You can keep up with Mary Kay on Twitter.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Over the Counter #214

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? This week, it's historical characters, both fictional and real.

First up was Well-Read Women: Portraits of Fiction's Most Beloved Heroines by Samantha Hahn.

From the publisher, Chronicle Books:

"A treasure of a gift for the well-read woman, this collection brings together 50 stirring portraits, in watercolor and in word, of literature’s most well-read female characters. Anna Karenina, Clarissa Dalloway, Daisy Buchanan...each seems to live on the page through celebrated artist Samantha Hahn’s evocative portraits and hand-lettered quotations, with the pairing of art and text capturing all the spirit of the character as she was originally written. The book itself evokes vintage grace re imagined for contemporary taste, with a cloth spine silk screened in a graphic pattern, debossed cover, and pages that turn with the tactile satisfaction of watercolor paper. In the hand and in the reading, here is a new classic for the book lover’s library."

Historical Heartthrobs: 50 Timeless Crushes - from Cleopatra to Camus by Kelly Murphy with Hallie Fryd.

From the publisher, Zest Books:

"This book compiles photos and life stories of 50 of the sexiest men and women from history and asks the essential question: Would you really want to date them? Some are artists, some are scientists, and many are political or military leaders, but all have had a lasting impact on human life—and a sizable impact on their admirers as well. Each entry describes the period in which the heartthrob lived and includes essential stats, hilarious sidebars, and, of course, a “crushability” ranking: a measurement of how crush-worthy these people really are, based on their relative levels of heroism (or villainy)."

(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, May 28, 2014

The Care and Management of Lies - Jacqueline Winspear

I had no idea until I turned the first few pages that Jacqueline Winspear's newest book, The Care and Management of Lies, was not an entry in the Maisie Dobbs series. Not that it mattered - I knew I would enjoy whatever story Winspear had written.

The author's notes at the beginning of the book piqued my interest right away.

"...on weekends I worked at a friend's stall on London's Portobello Road market. It was on one of my expeditions to find more stock for the stall that I came across a book on household management...More than anything it was the inscription that made me linger, for the book had been given to a young woman on the occasion of her wedding in July 1914 - just before the outbreak of what became known as the Great War."

Kezia has known Tom since coming home to visit from boarding school with his sister Thea. Their gentle friendship has blossomed over the years, growing into a love that is sure and steady. Thea gives Kezia 'The Woman's Book' as a wedding gift. There is more than a hint of a barb in her choice of gift. Thea thinks Kezia will be bored as a farmer's wife and is disappointed that she is giving up her career and life in the city.

But Kezia is sure of her choice and settles into life as a farmer's wife. Not without some bumps though - she has never cooked before. But Tom is happy no matter what she serves. Thea is pursuing her interests as well - she is part of the suffragette movement.

But their lives all change when Britain declares war on Germany. And Tom enlists.

Oh my, the letters between the two had me in tears. The love expressed between Kezia and Tom is heart wrenching. Winspear's choice to use food and meals as part of that expression is inspired.

Just as heart wrenching is the depiction of war and it's effects. Winspear is incredibly accomplished at bringing this time period to life. Her settings and descriptions of time and place create a vivid backdrop for her plot. The social customs, manners and mores of the times are all faithfully observed in Winspear's writing.

But it is the characters that bring the story to life. I became so invested in Kezia's life - her joy and sadness, her determination, her kindness and more. She seemed so real. Tom was just as well drawn. Thea was a prickly character, more difficult to like, but provided an alternate view on war.

Each chapter is prefaced with an excerpt from The Woman's Book, that relates directly to the chapter. I find historical views on women's roles fascinating.

From that inscription in an old book, Winspear has brilliantly imagined a war bride and groom and their love - and losses.....have an tissue box close by. Historical fiction fans, you'll want to add The Care and Management of Lies to your summer must read list.

"Jacqueline Winspear was born and raised in the county of Kent, England. Following higher education at the University of London's Institute of Education, Jacqueline worked in academic publishing, in higher education, and in marketing communications in the UK. She emigrated to the United States in 1990, and while working in business and as a personal / professional coach, Jacqueline embarked upon a life-long dream to be a writer.

Jacqueline's first novel, Maisie Dobbs, was a National Bestseller and received an array of accolades." You can keep up with Jacqueline Winspear on Facebook.

See what others on the TLC Book Tour thought - full schedule can be found here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Bones Beneath - Mark Billingham

I couldn't wait to get my hands on the next book in Mark Billingham's Tom Thorne series - especially after the way the eleventh book, The Dying Hours, ended.

The Bones Beneath  picks up six weeks after The Dying Hours. (New readers, you certainly could certainly read this book without having read others, but I highly encourage you to start with the first book, Sleepyhead. Trust me - you'll be hooked.)

I adore prologues that immediately hook the reader. In the opening pages of The Bones Beneath, an unnamed man is kidnapped from his home.....

And then immediately the story cuts to Thorne. I wondered many times what this unnamed man had to do with the plot. There are a few short chapters that cut to his timeline, but I was still scratching my head until the final few pages. And then it was an AHA! moment. A lovely plot twist.

Back to Thorne. Fans will recognize this name - Stuart Nicklin. Psychopath Nicklin and Thorne have crossed paths before, with Tom finally putting Nicklin behind bars for good. But then Nicklin says he'll reveal where he buried the body of one of his victims - but only if Thorne is the one to escort him. Thorne reluctantly agrees, but wonders why and what Nicklin has up his sleeve. Thorne is wary - and rightly so. "He couldn't think of a single reason that didn't scare the hell out of him."

Nicklin says the body is on remote Bardsey Island, off the Welsh coast. Billingham paints a very vivid picture of the island and its history. I, of course, had to check it out online - it's quite fascinating. This isolation and lack of connection with the mainland only heightens the sense of danger, of being with a madman who seems to be directing the way things will play out, even though Thorne is in charge.

Billingham has created a chilling antagonist in Nicklin, one who reads people and manipulates them masterfully. Flashbacks to his time on the island as a young man only confirms how evil he truly is. And he's a planner.....

Familiar supporting characters are also back - Holland is one of my favourites. I always enjoy the secondary storyline of Thorne's personal life as well.

Billingham consistently comes up with dark, devious plots that hold the reader captive until the last page has been turned.  (and more than a few good twists and turns) Tom Thorne has not grown predictable or tired after twelve books. He's ornery, obstinate and driven to solve his cases at almost any cost. This lands him on a fine line between right and wrong many times. In The Bones Beneath, Thorne has this sense of right and wrong sorely tested...

Read an excerpt of The Bones Beneath.  This reader will be waiting and watching for the next book from Mark Billingham. You can find Mark Billingham on Facebook.

Who else reads Mark Billingham? “Billingham is one of the most consistently entertaining, insightful crime writers working today.” — Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl"

Monday, May 26, 2014

Giveaway - Third Rail - Rory Flynn

Rory Flynn's new novel, Third Rail, releases on June 10/14. And I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader! Crime and mystery fans, this is one you'll want to get your hands on - it's the first in Flynn's Eddy Harkness series.

What's it about? From the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt:

"At crime scenes, Eddy Harkness is a human Ouija board, a brilliant young detective with a knack for finding the hidden something—cash, drugs, guns, bodies. But Eddy’s swift rise in an elite narcotics unit is derailed by the death of a Red Sox fan in the chaos of a World Series win, a death some camera-phone-wielding witnesses believe he could have prevented. Scapegoated, Eddy is exiled to his hometown just outside Boston, where he empties parking meters and struggles to redeem his disgraced family name. 

Then one night Harkness’s police-issue Glock disappears. Unable to report the theft, Harkness starts a secret search—just as a string of fatal accidents lead him to uncover a new, dangerous smart drug, Third Rail. With only a plastic disc gun to protect him, Harkness begins a high-stakes investigation that leads him into the darkest corners of the city, where politicians and criminals intertwine to deadly effect.

With a textured sense of place, a nuanced protagonist, and a story that takes off from page one and culminates in a startling finale, Third Rail has all the elements of a breakout mystery success."

"A powerful new voice in crime fiction. A generally nice guy in Boston.
Credit: Sandy Poirier
 Rory Flynn is the pen name of acclaimed novelist Stona Fitch, author of five previous novels, including Senseless, now an independent feature film and a graphic novel. In 2008, Stona founded the Concord Free Press, a independent publishing house that publishes and distributes original novels, asking only that readers make a voluntary donation to a charity or person in need, then pass their book on. The CFP has inspired generosity throughout the world and created a new approach to publishing that has earned praise from publishing visionaries and readers. Stona lives with his family in Concord, Massachusetts." You can keep up with Rory Flynn on Twitter.

Sound like a book you'd like to read? One copy up for giveaway - simply leave a comment to be entered. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends June 14/14.

Coming Soon - All Fall Down - Jennifer Weiner

I think the warm weather is finally here to stay! And soon it will be time for the beach. I can happily sit and read a book all day by the water. So, time to plan for the summer beach bag reads! Here's one on my list....

New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Weiner's new book - All Fall Down - releases on June 17 /14.

From the publisher, Simon and Schuster:

"Allison Weiss got her happy ending—a handsome husband, an adorable little girl, a job she loves, and a big house in the suburbs. But when she’s in the pediatrician’s office with her daughter and a magazine flips open to a quiz about addiction, she starts to wonder whether her use of prescription pills is becoming a problem. On the one hand, it’s just prescription medication, the stuff her doctors give her. Is a Percocet at the end of a hard day really different than a glass of wine? Is it such a bad thing to pop a Vicodin after a brutal Jump & Pump class…or after your husband ignores you?

Back in the car, with her daughter safely buckled behind her, Allison opens the Altoid tin in her purse and slips a chalky white oval underneath her tongue. The pill unties her knotted muscles, erases the grime and ugliness of the city, soothes her as she frets about the truth of her looking-good life: that her husband’s becoming distant, that her daughter is acting out, that her father’s early Alzheimer’s is worsening and her mother’s barely managing to cope. She tells herself that the pills let her make it through her days…but what if her ever-increasing drug use, a habit that’s becoming expensive and hard to hide, is turning into her biggest problem of all?

All Fall Down is the story of a woman’s slide into addiction and struggle to find her way back up again. With a sparkling comedic touch and tender, true-to-life characterizations, this tale of empowerment and redemption is Jennifer Weiner’s most poignant, timely, and triumphant story yet."

Read the first chapter of All Fall Down.  You can find Jennifer Weiner on Facebook, on Twitter. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Giveaway Winners

And the three lucky winners of a copy of Sniper's Honor by Stephen Hunter, courtesy of Simon and Schuster are:

1. Carl
2. Charlotte
3. mskayz

Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing addresses. 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.

And the winner of a copy of  Waiting for the Man by Arjun Basu, courtesy of ECW Press is:

Daniel Perry

Congratulations! I've contacted you 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.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

You Can't Judge a Book by It's Cover #5

- You Can't Judge a Book By It's Cover -
Which is very true. But you can like one cover version better than another...
North American cover
UK/Australian cover
I was hunting down cover art for Jeffery Deaver's new book - The Skin Collector and came across the US/Canadian cover
 on the left
and the UK/Australian cover on the right.
The font on the NA cover ties in more with the plot line, but I prefer the colours used in the UK version.
What cover do you prefer? Have you read The Skin Collector yet?
You Can't Judge A Book By It's Cover is a new regular Saturday feature on A Bookworm's World

Friday, May 23, 2014

Giveaway - The Bookman's Tale - Charlie Lovett

The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession by Charlie Lovett releases in paperback on May 27/14. And thanks to the generosity of Penguin Books, I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader.

From the publisher:

"A mysterious portrait ignites an antiquarian bookseller’s search through time and the works of Shakespeare for his lost love.

Guaranteed to capture the hearts of everyone who truly loves books, The Bookman’s Tale is a former bookseller’s sparkling novel and a delightful exploration of one of literature’s most tantalizing mysteries with echoes of Shadow of the Wind and A.S. Byatt’s Possession.

Nine months after the death of his beloved wife Amanda left him shattered, Peter Byerly, a young antiquarian bookseller, relocates from North Carolina to the English countryside, hoping to outrun his grief and rediscover the joy he once took in collecting and restoring rare books. But upon opening an eighteenth-century study of Shakespeare forgeries, he discovers a Victorian watercolor of a woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to Amanda.

Peter becomes obsessed with learning the picture’s origins and braves a host of dangers to follow a trail of clues back across the centuries—all the way to Shakespeare’s time and a priceless literary artifact that could prove, once and for all, the truth about the Bard’s real identity."

Read an excerpt of The Bookman's Tale. Penguin has put together a great kit for book clubs as well. Charlie Lovett is a writer, a teacher, and a playwright. He and his wife split their time between Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Kingham, Oxfordshire, in England. You can find Charlie Lovett on Facebook.
Sound like a book you'd like to read? I have one copy of the upcoming paperback to giveaway. Simply leave a comment to be entered. Open to US and Canada. Ends June 7/14.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Over the Counter #213

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Well, it was books about the library this week....

First up was The Public Library: A Photographic Essay by Robert Dawson. (I have to admit - this one came home with me - it was fascinating)

From the publisher, Princeton Architectural Press:

"Many of us have vivid recollections of childhood visits to a public library: the unmistakable musty scent, the excitement of checking out a stack of newly discovered books. Today, the more than 17,000 libraries in America also function as de facto community centers offering free access to the internet, job-hunting assistance, or a warm place to take shelter. And yet, across the country, cities large and small are closing public libraries or curtailing their hours of operation.

Over the last eighteen years, photographer Robert Dawson has crisscrossed the country documenting hundreds of these endangered institutions. The Public Library presents a wide selection of Dawson's photographs, from the majestic reading room at the New York Public Library to Allensworth, California's one-room Tulare County Free Library built by former slaves. Accompanying Dawson's revealing photographs are essays, letters, and poetry by some of America's most celebrated writers. A foreword by Bill Moyers and an afterword by Ann Patchett bookend this important survey of a treasured American institution."

Next up was Biblio Craft: A Modern Crafter's Guide to Using Library Resources to Jumpstart Creative Projects by Jessica Pigza.

From the publisher, Stewart, Tabori & Chang:

"There is untold wealth in library collections, and, like every good librarian, Jessica Pigza loves to share. In BiblioCraft, Pigza hones her literary hunting-and-gathering skills to help creatives of all types, from DIY hobbyists to fine artists, develop projects based on library resources. In Part I, she explains how to take advantage of the riches libraries have to offer—both in person and online. In Part II, she presents 20+ projects inspired by library resources from a stellar designer cast, including STC Craft authors Natalie Chanin, Heather Ross, Liesl Gibson, and Gretchen Hirsch, and Design*Sponge founder Grace Bonney. Whatever the quest—historic watermarks transformed into pillows, Japanese family crests turned into coasters, or historic millinery instructions worked into floral fascinators—anyone can utilize library resources to bring their creative visions to life.
Jessica Pigza is a rare book librarian at the New York Public Library. The host of the library’s monthly DIY event series, she has been featured in Martha Stewart Living magazine, has guest-blogged on Design*Sponge, and has lectured at library conferences on design and craft inspiration."
(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, May 21, 2014

The Promise - Ann Weisgarber- Review AND Giveaway

I read Ann Weisgarber's debut novel, The Personal History of Rachel Dupree, in 2011 and was immediately captured by her storytelling. (my review)

Weisgarber's latest book, The Promise, did the same, holding me from first page to last.

Catherine Wainwright is a talented pianist, making her own way in 1899 Ohio. But she makes the mistake of believing a man's interest in her is true. She is marked as a fallen woman and shunned by her family, friends and acquaintances. The man has no intention of leaving his wife. With no one willing to hire or work with her and her debts mounting, Catherine's plight grows increasingly desperate. She casts about for a man that has not heard of her background, sending out letters to renew ties. One man replies - Oscar Williams. Oscar left Ohio as a young man and eventually landed in Galveston, Texas where he makes his living as a farmer. His wife Bernadette has just died, leaving him to raise their four year old son Andre. A local girl, Nan Ogden made Bernadette a promise - to look after Andre. But when Oscar brings home Catherine as his new wife, worlds, emotions and more collide.

Weisgarber has again created very strong, but different, female characters in Catherine and Nan. Both are well drawn, but I found myself drawn more to Nan. Her down to earth, practical attitude belies a caring heart. She is astute enough to sense the attraction between Catherine and Oscar and realize what is inevitable. I had a harder time with Catherine. Although her character transforms as the relationships between the three main characters evolve, I still had a difficult time accepting her.

"Oscar ate with the neighbour men and danced with the women, rural unrefined people, but that hadn't mattered to him. He enjoyed their company. He was without pretense and this, I realized, was what drew me to him."

She, however, is pretending, hiding her past and the desperate need to flee circumstances of her own making.

The narrative is alternated between Catherine and Nan, giving us an insider's view of each woman's thoughts. Interestingly, Oscar is never given a voice of his own. Rather, we learn of and about him from each woman's point of view.

Weisgarber again draws on historical events to set the backdrop for her novel. I was unaware of the geography and history of Galveston Island. (I did, of course, have to Google it after I finished the book.) 1900 Galveston was home to one of the US's greatest natural disasters. A hurricane inundated the island and city, killing 6,000 people in the span of a few hours. This event is pivotal to Weisgarber's story.

The setting is a character in the book as well, the heat and the storm almost tangible in Weisgarber's beautifully descriptive passages. Weisgarber has written a story rich with emotion, detail and history - definitely a recommended read. Read an excerpt of The Promise.

The Promise has been shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction. The winner will be announced June 13, 2014. The other authors on the shortlist are Kate Atkinson, Eleanor Catton, Jim Crace, Andrew Greig, and Robert Harris. The Personal History of Rachel Dupree was long listed for the Orange Prize and short listed for the Orange Award for New Writers.

I have a copy of The Promise to give away to one lucky reader. Simply leave a comment (and a contact method) to be entered. Open to US and Canada. No PO boxes please. Ends June 7/14.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Skin Collector - Jeffery Deaver

Jeffery Deaver's last book featuring Lincoln Rhyme, Kill Room, left me slightly underwhelmed. There was a lot of political comment in the book that I found myself glossing over. Deaver also took quadriplegic Rhyme away from his New York City townhouse to a crime scene in the Bahamas, but it just didn't work for me. It seemed forced and almost gimmicky. It was an okay read, but not a standout in the series for me.

However, Deaver's latest book, The Skin Collector (#11) takes us back to what Lincoln Rhyme does best - and the type of story I like best - solving cases based on the evidence and minutiae gathered at a crime scene by his team. And Lincoln's superlative powers of deduction.

The Skin Collector opens with a wonderfully creepy scene that introduces us to the perpetrator, Billy. It's one of those chilling prologues that promises a great read. And it delivered. Billy is a tattoo artist who delights in finding pristine skin for inking his cryptic messages. And his choice of ink is deadly. Billy Haven is clever - he's studied Rhyme's methods and leaves little if anything behind at his scenes. Yes, plural - Billy has a plan and it looks like he's taking inspiration from Lincoln's first case  - The Bone Collector.

Deaver employs the history of New York and it's tunnel and underground passages to great effect in The Skin Collector. I ended up checking out many of his references online - it's pretty fascinating history.

I thought I had predicted where the plot was going to go about three quarters of the way through the book.  But I was pleasantly proven wrong! Deaver inserts a twist, then a turn, then another twist - and I think there may have been another turn. There was one plot element that I found tawdry and icky and somewhat unnecessary involving Billy's aunt. But on the whole, it was an inventive storyline. Part of it is taken from current new stories, making it plausible and relative. The ending finished on a nice little aha, leaving the door open for further entries in a parallel story line. (Yes, I'm being deliberately obtuse)

Familiar characters return - I'm growing quite fond of Ron Pulaski - and some interesting supporting players were introduced. I hope we see more of tattoo artist TT Gordon. 'Foster' daughter Pam can move away though. I find her attitude tiresome. Amelia is still razor sharp, but seems to have mellowed since solidifying her relationship with Linc.

The Skin Collector was a return to the Lincoln Rhyme I enjoy. It's a good crime read, one to tuck in the beach bag this summer. Read an excerpt of The Skin Collector. You can find Jeffery Deaver on Facebook and on Twitter.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Giveaway - Sniper's Honor - Stephen Hunter

Bob Lee Swagger returns in Stephen Hunter's brand new book, Sniper's Honor. (#9) (releases May 20/14) And thanks to the great folks at Simon and Schuster, I have not one, but three copies to giveaway!

From the publisher:

"In this tour de force—part historical thriller, part modern adventure—from the New York Times bestselling author of I, Sniper, Bob Lee Swagger uncovers why WWII’s greatest sniper was erased from history…and why her disappearance still matters today.

Ludmilla “Mili” Petrova was once the most hunted woman on earth, having raised the fury of two of the most powerful leaders on either side of World War II: Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler.

But Kathy Reilly of The Washington Post doesn’t know any of that when she encounters a brief mention of Mili in an old Russian propaganda magazine, and becomes interested in the story of a legendary, beautiful female sniper who seems to have vanished from history.

Reilly enlists former marine sniper Bob Lee Swagger to parse out the scarce details of Mili’s military service. The more Swagger learns about Mili’s last mission, the more he’s convinced her disappearance was no accident—but why would the Russian government go to such lengths to erase the existence of one of their own decorated soldiers? And why, when Swagger joins Kathy Reilly on a research trip to the Carpathian Mountains, is someone trying to kill them before they can find out?

As Bob Lee Swagger, “one of the finest series characters ever to grace the thriller genre, now and forever” (Providence Journal-Bulletin), races to put the pieces together, Sniper's Honor takes readers across oceans and time in an action-packed, compulsive read." Read an excerpt of Sniper's Honor.

Photo credit: Kelly Campbell

"Stephen Hunter has written seventeen novels. The retired chief film critic for The Washington Post, where he won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Criticism, he has also published two collections of film criticism and a nonfiction work, American Gunfight. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland."

Sound like a book you'd like to own? Simply leave a comment to be entered. Three copies - one week. Ends May 25/14. US only, no PO boxes.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Winner - Ladies Night Goody Bag

And the randomly chosen lucky winner of the Mary Kay Andrews Ladies' Night Goody Bag is:



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 - keep your eye on the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

You Can't Judge a Book By It's Cover #4

- You Can't Judge a Book By It's Cover -
Which is very true. But you can like one cover version better than another...

North American cover
United Kingdom cover

I was hunting down the cover art for this week's post of Jo Nesbo's latest book, The Son, and came across the US/Canadian cover on the left and the UK cover on the right. Myself, I prefer the NA cover - it just seems darker and more ominous. The UK cover seems like one I've seen before. I've read the book and loved it, and think that the NA cover captures the story better as well.

Which cover do you prefer? Have you read The Son?
You Can't Judge A Book By It's Cover is a new regular Saturday feature on A Bookworm's World

Friday, May 16, 2014

Film on Friday #14 - Tanta Agua

Tanta Agua is the first feature film of writing and directing duo Ana Guevara and Leticia Jorge. It was a winner at the Miami and Guadalajara Film Festivals.

Divorced father Alberto (Nestor Guzzini) takes his children Lucia (Malú Chouza)and Federico (Joaquín Castiglioni)to Salto, the spring water capital of Uruguay, for a vacation together. They leave in the pouring rain, arrive in the pouring rain and it continues for the first few days of their trip. (Tanta Agua translates as too much water)

Tanta Agua is in Spanish with English subtitles, but even without the subtitles, you would be able to read Lucia's unhappiness a mile away. She doesn't want to be there. Her father's attempts to engage, to have fun and to spend time together are either tolerated or rebuffed. She seems determined not to enjoy herself. Federico seems to go along with his sister's mood much of the time. The rain does eventually let up and every member of the family finds someone outside of their family to spend time with.

Guevara and Jorge give us a poignant look at father/child relationships that rings so true. The dedication of the film is to the director's fathers, leading me to wonder if Lucia's character had a bit of their own lives mixed in. It was interesting to watch this film as a parent. Alberto never stops trying to reach Lucia and the most moving moments of the film are when they finally share something. And Lucia laughs and smiles. It is a marked difference from the countenance she presents most of the film. Alberto's demeanor changes as well with that small offering.

The sound of the rain constantly falling was used effectively and underscored the damper the weather and the children's attitude has brought to this vacation. I though all three actors were wonderful, natural and realistic, Tanta Agua is a sweet little film about family and relationships. The pacing is slower and that may frustrate some viewers. I actually thought it mirrored real life very well.

The bonus film that is always included with Film Movement releases was a great tie in. Home Road Movie follows an English father's joy in taking his young family on road trip vacations. As one of his children remembers, the view changes as the child reaches adulthood and realizes what the car and trips meant to his father. Excellent short, very moving.

2013 Uruguay 102 minutes. Spanish with English subtitles.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Over the Counter #212

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? It's all about history this week.....

First up is Chasing Shackleton: Recreating the World's Greatest Journey of Survival by Tim Jarvis.

From the publisher, William Morrow:

"In this extraordinary adventure memoir and tie-in to the PBS documentary, Tim Jarvis, one of the world's leading explorers, describes his modern-day journey to retrace, for the first time ever—and in period clothing and gear—the legendary 1914 expedition of Sir Ernest Shackleton.

In early 1914, British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton and his team sailed for Antarctica, attempting to be the first to reach the South Pole. Instead of glory, Shackleton and his crew found themselves in an epic struggle for survival: a three-year odyssey on the ice and oceans of the Antarctic that endures as one of the world’s most famous tales of adventure, endurance, and leadership ever recorded.
In the winter of 2013, celebrated explorer Tim Jarvis, a veteran of multiple polar expeditions, set out to recreate Sir Ernest Shackleton’s treacherous voyage over sea and mountain, outfitted solely with authentic equipment—clothing, boots, food, and tools—from Shackleton’s time, a feat that has never been successfully accomplished.

Shackleton's Epic is the remarkable record of Jarvis and his team’s epic journey. Beautifully designed and illustrated with dozens of photographs from the original voyage and its modern reenactment, it is a visual feast for readers and historians alike, and an essential new chapter in the story that has inspired adventurers across every continent for a century."

And here's one for all the Downton Abbey fans out there - Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth Century to Modern Times by Lucy Lethbridge.

From the publisher, W.W. Norton:

"From the immense staff running a lavish Edwardian estate and the lonely maid-of-all-work cooking in a cramped middle-class house to the poor child doing chores in a slightly less poor household, servants were essential to the British way of life. They were hired not only for their skills but also to demonstrate the social standing of their employers—even as they were required to tread softly and blend into the background. More than simply the laboring class serving the upper crust—as popular culture would have us believe—they were a diverse group that shaped and witnessed major changes in the modern home, family, and social order.  Spanning over a hundred years, Lucy Lethbridge in this "best type of history" brings to life through letters and diaries the voices of countless men and women who have been largely ignored by the historical record. She also interviews former and current servants for their recollections of this waning profession.

At the fore are the experiences of young girls who slept in damp corners of basements, kitchen maids who were required to stir eggs until the yolks were perfectly centered, and cleaners who had to scrub floors on their hands and knees despite the wide availability of vacuum cleaners. We also meet a lord who solved his inability to open a window by throwing a brick through it and Winston Churchill’s butler who did not think Churchill would know how to dress on his own.

A compassionate and discerning exploration of the complex relationship between the server, the served, and the world they lived in, Servants opens a window onto British society from the Edwardian period to the present."

(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, May 14, 2014

The Book of You - Claire Kendal

The Book of You is British author Claire Kendal's debut novel.

You know that delicious tingle you get when you've read the first few pages of a book and absolutely know you're in for an addictive read? One that will consume you until you finish it? Well, The Book of You is one of those reads.

"It is you. Of course it is you. Always it is you."

A polite drink one evening. A morning with no recollection of what happened. Three months later, he's everywhere that Clarissa turns, outside her home, her work, watching, leaving notes and presents, approaching her, always polite, but never leaving her be. He hasn't truly done anything that the police can deal with. "The advice in the leaflets doesn't work in real life. I doubt anything will work with you."

But what Clarissa does do is start documenting it all - everything Rafe says, does, dates, times, places, saving everything he has left for her. "Perhaps the leaflets are not completely useless after all. They have taught me that a time will come when the story matters a lot. And I already know that every story has a true name. I wish this story's name could be different, but nothing will change it. This story is The Book of You."

Clarissa is called to serve on a jury. Although the case is a difficult one - a woman who has been held captive and abused, the courtroom is a place where Clarissa believes she can feel safe for seven weeks. But, she doesn't count on the emotional trauma that the case brings into her own life. Much of the testimony mirrors her own situation.

Rafe's stalking of Clarissa is insidious and truly, truly frightening. He manipulates and twists things about, so that Clarissa looks like she is the crazy one. His conciliatory tone, his politeness, his belief that Clarissa is his, is more chilling than overt acts of violence. But for me, it was the watching, the constant surveillance that had me creeped out.

 I don't know if I could have been as polite in some of the interactions as Clarissa was. I found myself urging her to not dismiss her own concerns, to not try to build a case against Rafe before seeking help from the authorities. To run.

Kendal does a fantastic job of slowly and deliciously building the tension. She adds in plot twists that I didn't see coming and an ending I didn't expect. There are situations and descriptions that may not be for gentle readers. For though this is an imagined tale, stalking is an all too real danger for many.

The Book of You is a fantastic debut and has put Kendal on my 'must read' authors list. Thriller and suspense fans - this one's for you. Read an excerpt of The Book of You.

"Claire Kendal was born in America and educated in England, where she has spent all of her adult life. The Book of You is her first novel. It will be translated into over twenty languages. Claire teaches English Literature and Creative Writing, and lives in the South West with her family. She is working on her next psychological thriller." You can find Claire Kendal on Facebook.

See what others on the TLC book tour thought - full schedule can be found here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Son - Jo Nesbo

I've read every book Jo Nesbo has written - I'm a big fan of his writing and his recurring character Harry Hole. When I heard he had a new book coming out I was just itching to get my hands on it. It's not a 'Harry' book, but is a stand alone title. And you'll want to get your hands on a copy of The Son.

Sonny is a junkie. He's made his home at the Oslo prison for many years. And he's fed a constant supply of heroin by his jailers. You see, Sonny keeps taking the rap for crimes he hasn't really committed. The reward for Sonny is that constant supply of drugs. The reward for those hanging crimes on Sonny is priceless - they've got a scapegoat for sale. Sonny's life went off the rails as a young man when his father committed suicide and was exposed as a dirty cop.

Sonny has a calm, preternatural air about him and he doesn't say too much. Cons have used him as a confessor for years. But one day, an old man's confession reveals that what Sonny thought about his father could all be lies. It's enough to wake Sonny up and he plans a daring escape. The other person who might know the truth is Inspector Simon Kefas, his father's best friend. And Kefas is the one hunting him down.

Jo Nesbo's plotting is simply phenomenal. It's intricate, multi-layered and just when I thought I had things all figured out, he blindsides the reader in the last few chapters. I love being unable to predict the outcome, the plot, the direction the story will take or what the characters will do. Nesbo achieves this every time. It's what makes his books so good.

Well, that and the characters. Sonny was an interesting protagonist - good and bad inextricably bound together in an almost Christ-like countenance. Despite his actions, I wanted him to prevail. Kefas was also an intriguing character study. He's made mistakes in his younger years and has made atoning for those lapses his goal in life. Again, a study in light and dark. As are most of the supporting characters as well - from the junkie under the bridge to the young boy spying on his neighbourhood, other residents of the treatment centre and more. Each is given a voice, allowing the reader to see the story form multiple viewpoints.

Nesbo's descriptions of place conjure up vivid pictures of the settings. As with most of Nesbo's books, social commentary on the state of politics, corruptions, crime and the social welfare of Norway is woven into the plot.

The Son is addicting, adrenalin fueled read that you won't be able to put down. For those who haven't read Jo Nesbo yet,(!)  this would be a fabulous introduction to this talented author. Absolutely, positively recommended. Read an excerpt of The Son.

(And Charlotte Barslund's translation was just excellent)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Keep Your Friends Close - Paula Daly

I devoured Paula Daly's debut novel, Just What Kind of Mother Are You? last year.  It was 2013's first summer hammock read for me - the done in a day, read in the sun ones. (My review)

When I saw Daly had a new book out, I jumped at the chance to read Keep Your Friends Close. Well, the warm weather is taking its time getting here, but Keep Your Friends Close was another done in a day book.

Natty and Sean married young, but have built a good life for themselves and their daughters Alice and Felicity. Life is busy and their business is thriving, so they don't always have the luxury of quality time together. But they love each other and their relationship is solid.

Or so Natty thought. Natty's old friend Eve unexpectedly appears on their doorstep for a visit one day. The day before Natty has to rush to France as Felicity has fallen ill on a school trip. And best friend Eve offers to stay with Sean and Alice at the house to help. When Natty returns home to England, she finds that Eve has helped alright. Apparently she and Sean have fallen in love. Eve has taken her husband, her home and her life. Natty is stunned and has no idea what to do next. Until she gets an anonymous note....."Eve has done this before, more than once. Don’t let her take what’s yours."

Oh, what a deliciously devious read this was! We know what a conniving so-and-so Eve is as Daly gives us chilling glimpses into her thoughts. We can only helplessly watch as Natty's life falls apart, piece by piece. Every act that Eve perpetrates can be explained away, leaving Natty looking like the crazy one. If it was a movie I'd be shouting at the screen. With a book, it's so very tempting to just peek ahead a few chapters....just to see. I managed to restrain myself - barely.

Detective Constable Joanne Aspinall and her aunt Mad Jackie (my favourite - I love her no nonsense attitude) from Daly's first book return. I'm quite taken with both and hope that they appear in future novels. It's impossible not to root for Natty and hope that Eve gets her just desserts. (although I'm not too sure I myself would want Sean back.)

 Daly has concocted a twisting, turning psychological thriller that will have you up till the wee hours. (And tucks in a nice little gotcha in the final pages of the book as well) I love this kind of thriller - an ordinary person thrust into extraordinary circumstances. What will they do? What would you do?

Absolutely put Keep Your Friends Close on your summer reading thrills list! Read an excerpt of Keep Your Friends Close. You can keep up with Paula Daly on Twitter. I'll be waiting for Daly's third book - The Day Before You Came.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

You Can't Judge a Book By It's Cover #3

- You Can't Judge a Book By It's Cover -
Which is very true. But you can like one cover version better than another...
Harlan Coben's newest book, Missing You, is on my teetering TBR pile.
I'm really looking forward to another of his suspense filled
For me, the North American cover on the left
seems to hint at that better than the Australian cover on the right.

Which cover do you prefer? Have you read Missing You?
You Can't Judge A Book By It's Cover is a new regular Saturday feature on A Bookworm's World

Friday, May 9, 2014

Waiting For The Man - Arjun Basu - Review AND Giveaway

Waiting for the Man is Arjun Basu's debut novel.

Joe is a New York copywriter. He's good at his job, fairly happy and his success has brought him material wealth. Until he starts daydreaming in meetings, floating away from the boardroom and watching himself from above. And then he starts dreaming at night as well. Dreaming of the Man. The Man who tells him to wait. To wait for him. "He had created a need I didn't know I had."

And Joe does just that. He sits on the stoop of his building day and night - waiting for further instructions. Others of course worry and wonder about him. Who is the Man? What has he said to Joe?  And without trying or wanting, Joe becomes news. Small at first, then growing exponentially.

Basu easily conveys Joe's sense of dissatisfaction and disillusionment. When I started Waiting For The Man, I could only read a few chapters at a time. Basu provides much food for thought through Joe's ruminations on society, life, familial relationships, the media, religion and much more. It's impossible to read some passages without stopping and looking at them in relation to your own life and circumstances.

But as I continued to read, I became caught up in Joe's waiting. I felt like one of the public, hooked on Joe's story, just waiting for the latest reports form the media crew following his every move.

I was initially confused when the book's narrative abruptly switched time and place in the first few chapters. And then I realized that we learn Joe's story from the beginning and the end in alternating chapters until all is revealed. Or is it? Do we ever find the answers or do we create them ourselves?

Interestingly, I found myself more caught up in the ideas that Joe presented, rather than Joe himself. I ended up feeling quite middle of the road about Joe, neither here nor there. For me, he was simply a vehicle for Basu's exploration of the search for meaning in our lives.

Basu has crafted an unsettling, thought provoking first novel, one sure to leave you taking a second look at many aspects of our society and our own lives. Read an excerpt of Waiting for the Man.

See what other bloggers on the ECW blog tour thought at: Words of Mystery, Buried in Print, A New Day,and bookgaga. And if you'd like to read Waiting For The Man, I have a copy to giveaway, courtesy of ECW Press. Simply leave a comment to be entered. US and Canada. Ends May 24/14.

"Arjun Basu is a writer and editor. In 2008, he published Squishy, a collection of short stories that was shortlisted for the ReLit Prize. His stories have been published in many literary journals, including Matrix and Joyland. He also writes 140-character short stories he calls Twisters on Twitter (@ArjunBasu), which have won him a Shorty Award, lots of press, and a worldwide following. Arjun lives in Montreal with his wife, son, and dog. You can find Arjun Basu on Facebook as well."

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Over the Counter #211

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? It's food fun this week!

First up was Simply Sweet Color Cakes: Wow-Worthy Desserts Anyone Can Make.

From the publisher, Oxmoor House:

"Get stunning rainbow looks for your favorite desserts--amazing tie-dye, ombre, layered, and hidden "surprise inside" color effects for cakes, cupcakes, and more, made easy.

With Simply Sweet ColorCakes, you can tie-dye, layer, and sprinkle your way to baking bliss! From Polka-Dot Layer Cake to Rainbow Cake Pops, this complete guide offers over 100 recipes and incredible photos for creating adorable, bakery-style desserts at home.

ColorCakes includes tantalizing treats--cupcakes, cakes, and cake pops, plus cookie bars, ice cream treats, and more. Readers will find inspiration on every page, with a dramatic, beautiful photo of every recipe, step-by-step instructions for creating cool designs and cutouts, and techniques for customizing your color. Simply Sweet ColorCakes is chock-full of desserts to wow your family and friends. Everyone will be saying, "How did you make that?!"

Next up was Cooking Comically: Recipes so easy you'll actually make them by Tyler Capps.

From the publisher, Penguin:

"This is not your grandma’s cookbook. Cooking should be as much fun as reading a comic book. Recipes should be cheap and easy. And the food has to taste good. That’s where Cooking Comically comes in. Tyler Capps, the creator of recipes like 2 a.m. Chili that took the Internet by storm, offers up simple, tasty meals in a unique illustrated style that will engage all your senses. These dishes are as scrumptious to eat as they are easy to make. This collection includes all-time favorites and original recipes from Cooking Comically, including Sexy Pancakes, Bolognese for Days, Mash-Tatoes, Pulled Pork (aka Operation Man-Kitchen), and Damn Dirty Ape Bread. Perfect for those who can barely boil water but are tired of ramen and fast food. Stop slaving. Start cooking."

(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, May 7, 2014

Notorious - Allison Brennan

Allison Brennan is a prolific author and her books get taken out quite often at the library. But Notorious, is the first book I've read by this best selling author.

Notorious is the first book in the Max Revere series. Max is an investigative reporter with her own cold case television show. She'll head anywhere in the country to tackle those unsolved murders. One case she's never been able to solve is the death of her childhood friend Lindy. Max heads back to her hometown to attend a funeral. While at the airport she is approached by a couple who beg her to look into their son's death as well. Max agrees and also starts re-looking at Lindy's case as well.

Brennan has come up with two good whodunits that had me interested. But here's the problem - I didn't like the investigator. At all. Brennan has written Max as a very tough, strong personality, which, on paper would seem to work for a reporter. But for this reader, it just didn't make the leap.  I just found her obnoxious, pushy, rude and self absorbed with an 'anything you can do I can do better' chip on her shoulder. The annoying dialogue and sanctimonious attitude only increased as the book progressed and had me gritting my teeth by the end.

The main plotting of Notorious was just fine and I did read to the end to see the final reveal. But I was glad to turn the final page on Max Revere. Established fans of Allison Brennan will most likely enjoy this book. Read an excerpt of Notorious. You can find Allison Brennan on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Lost Lake - Sarah Addison Allen

I love Sarah Addison Allen's storytelling. The Sugar Queen is a favourite of mine. Although, Addison Allen's newest release, Lost Lake, may just supplant it!

Kate Pheris has just 'woken up' after a year. Her husband has passed away and she's going through the motions of living for her daughter Devin's sake. Her mother-in-law has been helping her for the past year, but that help has crossed over a line. She's now dictating the direction of Kate and Devin's lives.

When Devin comes across an old postcard from Kate's Aunt Eby, Kate makes a snap decision to visit Eby at Lost Lake. Kate's happiest summer as a child was spent there.

But, Kate and Devin's arrival may be too late. Eby has agreed to sell the small resort to a local developer. But perhaps Lost Lake does not want to be sold......

Lost Lake is filled with rich characters, all with their own back story, all searching for 'something.'Each one held my interest, but I had a special fondness for Bulahdeen, a woman who has been coming to Lost Lake for thirty years. I must admit, Addison Allen's descriptions of Lost Lake had me wanting to visit, to sit on the dock, to stay in one of the quaint cabins, to get to know Eby and to be part of the circle of Lost Lake.

Addison Allen weaves together wonderfully warm tales with quirky characters and then slips in a bit of magic when you're not looking. And once you notice the magic, you realize it's quite right that it's in the story. And then you begin to think 'what if'...

Lost Lake had me hoping 'what if' could truly happen. Lost Lake was another enchanting read from Sarah Addison Allen. Read an excerpt of Lost Lake. I had a quick listen to the audio version as well - I think Janet Metzger does an excellent job bring the characters and story to life. Listen to an excerpt. You can keep up with Sarah on Facebook and on Twitter.

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Big Tiny - Dee Williams

I first heard about the whole 'Tiny House' movement/community a few years ago. Since then, I've been following blogs and sites, reading and day dreaming of a cosy little house of my own. Dreaming -  as I think I would have a hard time downsizing.

At forty one, Dee Williams had a life altering health scare. She stopped and took inventory of her life. And made choices. She did downsize - radically. Gone were the possessions and the 'big' house she had redone.  Instead, Williams now lives in an 84 sq.ft. home she built herself. What she gained is priceless.

The Big Tiny is Williams' memoir. I was caught up from the opening pages, eager to vicariously share her adventure and hear about her life. (And stop to dream a little bit myself.) We know that Williams is happy with where she landed, but she allows us to share her feelings and thoughts as she divests herself of a life's worth of stuff. ("It took me a long time to sort through the bookshelves.") Her writing is thoughtful, introspective and honest. She articulates what many of us have perhaps thought. How much is enough? We're with Williams as she builds and moves into her new home and changes her life, from ups and downs. I stopped many times to reread certain passages. Williams voices some excellent food for thought.

"If more people understood how nice it is to have a sense of home that extends past our locked doors, past our neighbor's padlocks, to the local food co-op and library, the sidewalks busted up by old trees - if we all held home with longer arms - we'd live in a very different place."

Dee Williams just seems like someone I would love to sit and talk to. Her sense of adventure, joy and 'why the heck not' attitude radiates from the pages of The Big Tiny.

"I stumbled into a new sort of 'happiness", one that didn't hinge on always getting what I want but rather, on wanting what I have. It's the kind of happiness that isn't tied so tightly to being comfortable(or having money and property), but instead is linked to a deeper sense of satisfaction - to a sense of humility and gratitude, and a better understanding of who I am in my heart. I found a certain bigness in my little house - a sense of largeness, freedom, and happiness that comes when you see there's no place else you'd rather be."

The Big Tiny was just an excellent read - check out an excerpt.

And me? I'm going to keep dreaming and poring over floor plans. You never know.....

"Dee Williams is a teacher, designer, woodworker, and sustainability advocate. She is the owner of two business, Portland Alternative Dwellings (PAD) and Boxcar Woodcraft, where she designs and builds tiny houses. She conducts green-building workshops across the country with Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, and is the author of Go House Go, a manual for building small homes. Williams lives in Olympia, Washington."