Saturday, January 31, 2015

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #41

- You can't judge a book by its cover - which is very true.
 But you can like one cover version better than another...

US cover
UK cover
I was hunting down cover art for this week's review of  Tina Seskis' new thriller One Step Too Far and came across the US cover on the left and the UK cover on the right. I'm going with the US version this week. The tag line is good and goes well with the picture of the woman. The UK cover doesn't really grab me even thought the orange is eye catching and the typeface is quite bold. Is Cold Cold Heart a book  Have you read One Step Too Far yet?
Which cover do you prefer? 
 You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular Saturday feature on 
A Bookworm's World.

Friday, January 30, 2015

The Killer Next Door - Alex Marwood

I read Alex Marwood's debut novel, The Wicked Girls, last year (my review) and immediately knew she would be on my 'must read' list. Well, her second novel, The Killer Next Door, is even better than her first book.

23 Beulah Grove is a run down London house, divided into six tiny rooms and overseen by a decidedly creepy landlord. Each of the six residents have their own stories - and their own secrets. So the house suits - cash rent, no references, no questions

You'll be hooked from the opening pages as we slowly come to know Lisa, newly moved into number 23. And as she meets the others, we know something she doesn't - one of them is a killer. An accident at the house one night pushes the residents into an uneasy alliance -and gives them all one more secret to keep.

Oh man, can Marwood write an absolutely creepy, addicting, thrill ride of a read. Each new chapter adds another clue as to who the killer might be. The killer has his own chapters - his mindset and crime(s) are suitably gruesome - and quite imaginative. (fair warning to gentle readers)

Marwood paints vivid pictures of this run down house and its occupants. I had a clear picture of the dank basement, the underlit hallways and the peeling wallpaper. Each of the players is just as vividly depicted and I often found myself holding my breath along with the characters.

The plotting is ingenious and absolutely kept me off balance - I thought I had sussed things out, but was proven wrong. There are twists, turns and herrings everywhere. Along with some darkly humourous moments as well.

I think this would actually make a great movie. Absolutely recommended - I can't wait to read what Alex Marwood writes next. Read an excerpt of The Killer Next Door. You can find Alex Marwood on Twitter.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Over the Counter #249

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

First up is Gertie Sews Vintage Casual: A Modern Guide to Sportswear Styles of the 1940s and 1950s by Gretchen Hirsch.

From the publisher, Stewart, Tabori and Chang:

"The mid-20th century was an amazing time for American women’s fashion! Following the war, women started looking to American designers rather than French couture houses for inspiration and to demand clothing they could move in, even play in. In this follow-up to Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing, Gretchen “Gertie” Hirsch celebrates the classic casual styles that icons like Katharine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, and Rosie the Riveter made famous—think wide-legged trousers, fitted capri pants, beach rompers, shorts, knit tops, jeans, and day dresses. In Part I, Hirsch introduces key techniques for sportswear construction—from working with knit fabrics to the intricacies of pant-making—and in Part II, she showcases a 30-plus-piece vintage-inspired casual wardrobe."

Next up is Vintage Ephemera by Brian Coleman.

From the publisher, Gibbs Smith:

"Cavallini is one of the best-known companies for high-quality gift and stationery products. They have been producing everything from calendars to wrapping papers for 25 years. Designs are based on ephemera from all walks of life—charming vintage post cards of the Eiffel Tower, centuries-old hand-colored engravings of birds and flowers, rare maps and prints, amusing early twentieth-century advertisements and trade materials.

From the hottest world travel destinations—Bon Voyage, San Francisco, New York, London, Italy and Paris—to popular themes such as Christmas, Flora and Fauna and Animals, this book will inspire anyone who enjoys art and design."

(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, January 28, 2015

Girl Before a Mirror - Liza Palmer

I've read three of Liza Palmer's previous books and loved them all, especially her characters.  I was eager to see what her latest book, Girl Before a Mirror, would be about and who the protagonist would be!

Anna Wyatt is has just turned forty years old. She's fairly successful in her career, but not so lucky in love. After a year's self imposed celibacy, she's hopeful and ready to dip her toes in the pool. An opportunity out of left field offers her the chance to succeed professionally - and presents the most unexpected opportunity for a romantic encounter - at a romance writer's convention.

I loved Anna. Palmer had me sold when Anna used "Marpling' as a verb in the first few pages.

"If people don't perceive you as a threat, how will they see you coming? They won't."

I liked that she was an older character. The supporting cast of characters is just as engaging - and you're either going to like them - or not. There's no doubt as to who the 'villains' in the book are. The reader can't help but become involved in the story and the outcome.

Those looking for a chick lit novel will find a bit more in Girl Before a Mirror. The romance is there, we have a plucky heroine, a great sidekick and there are many comedic moments. The romance writer's convention is priceless - from the cover models to the theme nights and some of the better lines from one of the books....

But Palmer's plots always include a more serious note. Anna's search for her own strength, direction and desires was really well written.

"Somewhere along the line - I stopped believing I was the hero of my own story. Or that my story was worthy of a hero at all. I settled because that's all I thought I deserved."

Family relations and addiction also figure into the story.  Palmer does a really great job of marrying light and serious into an easy read that was a pleasure from start to finish. Read an excerpt of Girl Before a Mirror.

Liza Palmer is the author of the international bestseller, Conversations with the Fat Girl, Seeing Me Naked and A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents. She lives in Los Angeles, California, and is hard at work on her next novel in addition to several film and television projects. You can find as well as Liza Palmer on Twitter and on Facebook. See what others on the TLC book tour thought. Full schedule can be found here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Giveaway - The Price of Blood - Patricia Bracewell

Here's a great giveaway for  historical fiction readers!

Patricia Bracewell's new novel, The Price of Blood, releases February 5/15. I have a copy to giveaway AND a copy of the first book in this trilogy, Shadow on the Crown, as well!

What's it about? From the publisher, Viking Books:

"Menaced by Vikings and enemies at court, Queen Emma defends her children and her crown in a riveting medieval adventure. Readers first met Emma of Normandy in Patricia Bracewell’s gripping debut novel, Shadow on the Crown.

Unwillingly thrust into marriage to England’s King Æthelred, Emma has given the king a son and heir, but theirs has never been a happy marriage. In The Price of Blood, Bracewell returns to 1006 when a beleaguered Æthelred, still haunted by his brother’s ghost, governs with an iron fist and a royal policy that embraces murder.

As tensions escalate and enmities solidify, Emma forges alliances to protect her young son from ambitious men—even from the man she loves. In the north there is treachery brewing, and when Viking armies ravage England, loyalties are shattered and no one is safe from the sword.

Rich with intrigue, compelling personalities, and fascinating detail about a little-known period in history, The Price of Blood will captivate fans of both historical fiction and fantasy novels such as George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series."
credit: Christine Krieg

"Patricia Bracewell grew up in California where she taught literature and composition before embarking upon her writing career. She has always been fascinated by English history, which led to her studying Anglo-Saxon history at Downing College, Cambridge University. She has two grown sons and lives with her husband in Oakland, California."

You can find Patricia Bracewell on Twitter @PatBracewell. Pat will be tweeting out interesting #AngloSaxonFact throughout February. You can find Patricia Bracewell on Facebook as well.

Sound like a story you'd enjoy? Simply leave a comment to be entered. One reader will win a copy of both books. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends Feb 7/15.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Giveaway - The Book of Life Blu-ray Combo!

Did you see The Book of Life in theatres? No? Well, here's your chance to own it and watch at home! The Book of Life releases January 27/15 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment - and I have a copy to giveaway!

"Join Manola, Maria and Chuy as they embark on a magical journey that takes them on an adventure of a lifetime in THE BOOK OF LIFE available on Blu-ray™ 3D, Blu-ray™ and DVD January 27. Written and directed by Jorge R. Gutierrez and produced by Guillermo del Toro, the characters venture to the Land of the Remembered and embrace the rich culture and family history brought to life by the all-star voice cast of Channing Tatum, Zoe Saldana, Diego Luna, Ron Perlman, Kate del Castillo, Christina Applegate and Ice Cube

THE BOOK OF LIFE is a breathtaking animated comedy with a dazzling visual style unlike anything you’ve seen before. Torn between thRe expectations of his family and the desires of his heart, a young man named Manolo sets off on an epic quest that spans three spectacular worlds in order to reunite with his one true love and defend his village. Not your ordinary fairy tale, THE BOOK OF LIFE is a wondrous fantasy-adventure filled with magic, music and fun!

THE BOOK OF LIFE Blu-ray™ brings culture and comedy into your home with unforgettable special features for parents and kids alike. Continue the fun with an all-new bonus short “The Adventures of Chuy”, highlighting the film’s lovable scene-stealing pet pig. Additionally, relive the musical hits from the film with the “Music Machine” featuring Latin-inspired versions of popular songs by Mumford and Sons, Radiohead, Elvis Presley, Rod Stewart and more."There's loads of extras included in this combo as well!

Sound like one you'd love to own and watch!? Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends Feb 14/15.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #40

- You can't judge a book by its cover - which is very true. 
 But you can like one cover version better than another...

US/Canadian cover
UK cover
Here's a thriller I've just finished (review next week, but darn it's really good!) The Killer Next Door by Alex Marwood. The US/Canadian cover is on the left and the UK cover on the right. So, both covers let you know that there's a house involved, but I'm going with the UK cover this week. That partially opened door is quite ominous and captures the story. The tag line is good too. Is The Killer Next Door a book you've read? Which cover do you prefer? 
 You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular Saturday feature on
 A Bookworm's World.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Start Fresh with DK Canada

Did you make resolutions at the beginning of the New Year? I've decided to think of changes I'd like to make as goals instead of resolutions - sounds a little less negative! DK Canada has a few suggestions for books that might help you 'tackle a craft project, master a new skill or enrich an existing talent' in their Start Fresh Boutique.

Last year, I just never managed to get a vegetable garden planted for the first time in a great many years. And I really missed it. So one of my goals for 2015 is to get some veggies planted this year.

Grow All You Can Eat in 3 Square Feet is newly released from DK. And it caught my eye because of that '3 square feet'. My household is smaller and I am older, so a smaller garden definitely appeals. And I was looking to get away from planting directly in the ground as all that rototilling and weeds are getting to be too much. There are tons of ways and methods of putting in a garden. I think I'm going to go with raised beds. We have tons of scrap lumber and metal around that I could easily build small beds. (Because buying new material just seems to defeat the purpose!) But I think I might also try some fun ideas - growing strawberries in colanders suspended from a fence. There are some great re purposing ideas too - stand a pallet on it's end and use that as a vertical garden!

New to vegetable gardening? This would be an excellent reference guide for someone starting out - what and how to grow, garden plans, pest and weed control and tons more. I found lots of great ideas, despite my years of gardening.

What makes this book (and really any DK book) so good are the full colour pictures. Every tip, idea and project is fully illustrated with clear, concise and easy to follow instructions. And I always think, well, I can do that! I've got many, many pages bookmarked, just waiting for this snow to be on it's way. Have a look inside Grow All You Can Eat in 3 Square Feet.

I Love DK contest

I love DK books! Quite frankly, they're my choice for any reference book I need. The range of topics, the colour pictures and the clear text make them hands down winners in my opinion.

Now if you're a DK fan too, there's a great promotion coming up.....

DK Canada  wants readers (and lovers) of DK books to send a short review or just a one or two sentence shout out about their favourite DK book of all time and why you love it. On Valentine's Day they'll select one of those reviews as a winner and that person will win a$250.00 shopping spree to chose $250 worth of DK books!

Share your favourite I Love DK pick with others - on Twitter with @DKCanada and the hashtag #ILoveDK. Or post to DK Canada's Facebook page. Get your pick in between January 19 - February 4/15 to be entered.

My pick? Ahh!! It's so hard to pick just one! Right now, it's the new release Grow All You Can Eat in 3 Square Feet. Chock full of great ideas. So.....what' your pick?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Over the Counter #248

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? A pair of memoirs this week...

First up is Life by the Cup: Ingredients for a Purpose-Filled Life of Bottomless Happiness and Limitless Success by Zhena Muzyka.

From the publisher, Simon and Schuster:

"Drawing on lessons she’s learned throughout her amazing and sometimes difficult life journey, the social entrepreneur and founder of Zhena’s Gypsy Tea shares seventeen soulful lessons to help you overcome obstacles, clarify your purpose, and bring awareness to each moment of your life. An inspiring roadmap for discovering the secrets of happiness and success for yourself at any stage in life, Life By the Cup’s message is that, no matter where you are, you can change your circumstances and live your dreams.

As a twenty-four-year-old single mom, Zhena had an infant in need of life-saving surgery and only six dollars in her wallet. She also had two other powerful motivators: hope and a passion to share her unique tea blends with the world. Combining her kitchen hobby of blending tea, her knowledge of herbs and aromatherapy, and her gypsy grandmother’s wisdom, Zhena started selling custom teas from a cart on California street corners. Now, over a decade later, her son is healthy and Zhena’s Gypsy Tea is a multimillion-dollar brand.

Zhena’s insights and gentle guidance will inspire you to increase your compassion toward others as well as yourself. You’ll also gain wisdom on how to hone your intuition, ask for help, and live out your true purpose without drastically changing the way you live. Discover your calling, bolster your courage, develop your own flavor of success, and you’ll see your own passion make a meaningful difference in the world."

Next up is Almost Amish by Nancy Sleeth.

From the publisher, Tyndale House:

"Have you ever stopped to think, Maybe the Amish are on to something? Look around. We tweet while we drive, we talk while we text, and we surf the Internet until we fall asleep. We are essentially plugged in and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Rather than mastering technology, we have allowed technology to master us. We are an exhausted nation. No one has enough time, everyone feels stressed out, and our kids spend more hours staring at a screen each week than they do playing outside.

It’s time to simplify our lives, make faith and family the focal point, and recapture the lost art of simple living. Building on the basic principles of Amish life, Nancy Sleeth shows readers how making conscious choices to limit (and in some cases eliminate) technology’s hold on our lives and getting back to basics can help us lead calmer, more focused, less harried lives that result in stronger, deeper relationships with our families, friends, and God."

(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, January 21, 2015

Unbecoming - Rebecca Scherm - Review AND Giveaway

Unbecoming is Rebecca Scherm's debut novel.

Unbecoming opens in Paris with our protagonist Grace (known as Julie now) living under the radar, afraid that her past will catch up with her. Her past is her husband Riley and his friend Alls. They committed a robbery back in hometown Garland,Tennessee  that Grace planned - and got caught. They're about to be paroled.

Scherm's prose are detailed. Grace's feeling and thoughts are seemingly explored in depth - but are they really? Grace is a work in progress, much like the antiques she lovingly repairs. She changes who she is and how she acts according to her current situation, what she wants or needs. As such, she is a distinctly unreliable narrator.

Schrerm tells her story in past and present narratives from Grace. In the past, we slowly learn about Grace's life up until the moment the time of the robbery. In the present we wait with Grace to see if her past catches up with her.

In addition to being an unreliable narrator, I found Grace to be distinctly unlikable. Is that because I know what has happened and what's underneath the veneer? Perhaps. Her life with Riley and the love they have seems like it should be enough, but again - is it real on Grace's part?

Scherm is also quite detailed about the work Grace does repairing antiques and collectibles. I quite liked the descriptions and specifics as I love to haunt antique shops and flea markets. Grace has a keen eye for valuable things versus forgeries in objects, but does that include hereself?

The 'heist' part of the plot was not as prominent as the publisher's blurb would lead you to believe, but for me, it wasn't the main focus of the book - instead it's more of a character study. I was intrigued by Grace (Julie).

"Grace hated lying, got no joy from it, and this was how she knew she wasn't pathological."

"Grace could only have one friend at a time. Any more and it became harder to keep track of how they knew her, what she had told the, which pieces went where."

I thought the title was very clever. Unbecoming can be taken a number of ways - both as unflattering but also as a change of persona- becoming someone else. Viking has put together a great book club kit  with some great 'behind the scenes' articles from Scherm that will give you more insight into this book. You can find Rebecca Scherm on Facebook and on Twitter.

Sound like one you'd like to read? I have a copy of this new release to give away to one lucky reader, courtesy of Viking Books. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends Feb 7/15. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Giveaway - Plus One by Christopher Noxon

Plus One by Christopher Noxon is newly released and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

From the publisher, Prospect Park Books:

"A Tale of a Modern Man in a Modern Marriage Alex Sherman-Zicklin is a midlevel marketing executive in L.A. whose wife Figgy’s fourteenth TV pilot attempt becomes a huge Emmy-winning hit. Overnight, she’s sucked into a mad show-business vortex, and Alex quits his job to become the family’s domestic first responder. He falls in with a posse of plus ones, men who are married to women whose recognition, income, and fame far eclipse their own.
This wickedly honest comedy follows Alex as he struggles to regain his mojo while remaining a loving and responsible husband and father. Plus One is a hilarious story about modern family life and the fast-changing roles of parents and partners, told from the perspective of one wonderfully quirky family that hits the Hollywood jackpot." Read an excerpt of Plus One.

"Christopher Noxon is an author, journalist, and illustrator. His debut novel PLUS ONE grew out of his experience raising three children and managing a household after his wife, TV producer Jenji Kohan, created the programs Weeds and Orange Is the New Black. He's also the author of the nonfiction book Rejuvenile: Kickball, Cartoons, Cupcakes and the Reinvention of the American Grown Up. As a journalist, he has written for the New Yorker, Details, New York Times Magazine, Los Angeles Magazine, and Salon. He has also covered the Democratic National Convention for Reuters; lived as a patient with recovering addicts for a Playboy feature about troubles with drug rehab; and was the first journalist to report on actor Mel Gibson's ties to an ultraconservative Catholic splinter group in a feature for the New York Times Magazine. He lives in Los Angeles." You can find Christopher Noxon on Twitter as well as on Facebook.

One copy up for grabs, open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends February 1/15. Simply leave a comment to be entered.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Jaguar's Children - John Vaillant

You've read the newspaper stories, seen accounts and shows on the news and television - the desperate attempts of those from other countries attempting to cross the border into the United States - illegally. John Vaillant's new book (and his first work of fiction), The Jaguar's Children, starts with that as the premise, but then goes in a direction I hadn't expected.

Hector, his friend Cesar and some others leave Mexico sealed into the tank of a water truck. But when the truck breaks down, the 'coyotes' promise they'll return soon with a mechanic and leave the group sealed inside.....

Hector finds an American number on Cesar's phone and texts it, but there is no reply. When the signal dies, he instead begins to record a series of  messages - perhaps to send if the signal comes back.....or if the coyotes don't return, someone will know their story.

Oh boy, it was disturbing to imagine being trapped in a metal tank, somewhere in the sun, with limited food and water - and a load of desperate people. And this is what I thought Vaillant's story would be about - but it was so much more.

Vaillant takes the novel beyond the confines of the tanker. The Jaguar's Children is amazing storytelling on so many levels - the nail biting tension of those trapped in the truck, the story of the Hector's life and his people - both immediate and on a larger scale as the vibrant history and legacy of the Zapotec are woven into his recordings. There's much food for thought as GMOs also figure into another plot thread.

It's impossible to read this book without examining and questioning the relationship between cultures, countries and politics. The Jaguar's Children is all the more compelling and intimate told in Hector's single narrative.

And throughout it all, the reader wonders if they will be rescued......A compelling, thought provoking, richly written read. Recommended. Read an excerpt of The Jaguar's Children.  You can find John Vaillant on Facebook and on Twitter.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #39

- You can't judge a book by its cover - which is very true.
 But you can like one cover version better than another...

US/Canadian cover
UK cover
Here's a new thriller that I'm looking forward to - Cold Cold Heart by Tami Hoag. The US/Canadian cover is on the left and the UK cover on the right. So, both covers certainly illustrate that things are cold, but I like the UK cover this week - the tag line sold me. Is Cold Cold Heart a book you'll be reading? Which cover do you prefer? 
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular Saturday feature 
on A Bookworm's World.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Harvest - Rob Pobi

I love that feeling I get in the first few pages of a new book when I realize that a) I'm in for a really good read and b)I've found a new author to follow.

Such is the case with Rob Pobi  and his new novel Harvest.

A heat wave has blanketed New York City and a vicious killer is dismembering wealthy young white boys.

Alexandra Hemingway - 'Hemi' is a NYC Homicide Detective. Pobi quickly immerses us in this character's life. Hemi is a tough as nails, take no prisoners, kick butt character that I loved right from the start. Her partner Phelps is also a character that I was immediately drawn to. He's the calmer, rational side of the duo. The depiction of their partnership and the dialogue between the two is easy and believable. Pobi includes a secondary personal storyline for Hemi that gives her character more depth.

Pobi grabs the reader by the throat right from the get go - and never lets up. His plotting is excellent and really quite inventive. The ending twist was a nice little gotcha. The pacing is good as the chapters are short - perfect for reading just one more before turning off the lights.  But you might want to leave the night light on....Harvest is not for the faint of heart - the crimes are disturbing and graphic.

Harvest is the first book featuring Hemi and Phelps - and I really hope it's only the first of many. This is a duo I really liked. And one heck of a good read. Absolutely recommended for thriller fans.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Over the Counter #247

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? This week, it's all about our feline friends...

First up is Catification: Designing a Happy and Stylish Home for Your Cat (and You!) by Jackson Galaxy and Kate Benjamin.

From the publisher, Tarcher Books:

"Cat lovers everywhere know the struggles of creating living spaces that are both functional and stylish for cat guardian and cat. In Catification, Jackson Galaxy, the star of Animal Planet’s My Cat from Hell, and Kate Benjamin, of the popular cat design website Hauspanther, walk readers through a step-by-step process of designing an attractive home that is also an optimal environment for cats. Don’t just grab an unattractive cat tower or kitty bed from your local pet store and call it a day—this book will help you create an environment for you and your pet that is cat friendly and chic.

This gorgeously designed, full-color book includes more than 400 color photos and lots of fun DIY projects, from cat towers and kitty hammocks to catios (cat patios) and “cat superhighways” that are sure to make readers—and their cats—purr in approval."

Next up is For the Love of Bob by James Bowen.

From the publisher, Hodder and Stoughton:

"The sequel to Bob: No Ordinary Cat. A special edition for children aged 11 and above of the number one bestseller The World According to Bob. Best friends James Bowen and street cat Bob have been on a remarkable journey together. In the years since their story ended in Bob: No Ordinary Cat. James, with Bob's help, has begun to find his way in the world.

Along with the adventures and the fun there have been tough times too, but through moments of real danger and sometimes illness Bob has always been there as James' protector and guardian angel. For the Love of Bob is the is the incredible story of James and Bob's life-saving friendship, and the lessons James has learnt from his street-wise cat."

(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, January 14, 2015

Descent - Tim Johnston

Let's just start with wow.... Tim Johnston's new novel Descent is a gripping, gut-wrenching, stay up until your eyes burn you absolutely have to get your hands on.

The Courtlands decide to take one last family vacation before their daughter Caitlin starts college in the fall. One morning Caitlin and her brother Ben go for a run/bike ride up the trails while parents Grant and Angela sleep in.

And that sleep in becomes Grant and Angela's what if.... because Caitlin is gone and Ben is badly injured...and the Courtlands are thrown into one of those stories you only read about on the front page. They are living the nightmare.

Descent is an exploration of the aftermath of that fateful day, told from the viewpoint of all the family members (including Caitlin) - the recriminations, the slow eroding of relationships and ties in the face of such tragedy. But it's also a story of faith, friendship, hope and fortitude. All slowly laid bare by Johnston's prose - raw and moving, yet elegant in their simplicity.

I had to put the book down and walk away a few times - some of the situations and emotions were overwhelming. Johnston is a powerful writer. And I admit to doing the unthinkable - peeking ahead a few pages just to calm myself down before continuing on. Descent again reaffirms why I love to read - to be moved and transported by the power of words is simply amazing.

The label literary thriller is on the cover blurb of Descent and I think it's totally spot on. Absolutely recommended. Read an excerpt of Descent. You can find Tim Johnston on Twitter .

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train is Paula Hawkin's debut novel. And oh, what a debut!!

Rachel rides the train to London every day, keeping up the pretense that she she still has a job and a place to be. In fact she doesn't - her alcoholism has cost much - her husband, her job and her home. Adding salt to her wounds is the fact that the train makes at the station by her old neighbourhood. Twice a day, Rachel passes by this row of houses by the station. She often sees a couple she has named Jess and Jason in their garden and has created a fairy tale life for them - one she imagines she might have had. Then one day she sees Jess kissing someone else. And then she sees on the news that the woman she calls Jess is missing. Rachel takes her information to the police - but can't leave it be and she slowly insinuates herself into the investigation.....

The Girl on the Train is told from three different viewpoints - that of Rachel, the missing woman and Rachel's ex-husband's new wife.

But it is Rachel driving the story - and she is a deliciously unreliable narrator. She drinks to blackout and often cannot remember where she has been or what she has done. But the flashes of clarity she does have frighten her...

"Something happened, I know it did. I can't picture it, but I can feel it. I'm frightened, but I'm not sure what I'm afraid of, which just exacerbates the fear."

The missing woman also tells her story, leading up to the day she disappears. She too is an unreliable narrator, concealing her past and lying about her present.

Hawkins keeps the reader guessing as the story twists and turns, changing with every revelation, memory and action. Who is telling the truth? What did really happen? I had my suspicions as the number of pages left to read dwindled and literally couldn't put the book down until I finished. (Pick a nice lazy day to start The Girl on the Train - you won't want to do anything else)

Hawkins' depiction of alcoholism is troubling but highly effective as a plot device. I've also traveled by rail and was easily able to put myself in a seat looking out - wondering about someone else's life.

The Girl on the Train is a great psychological thriller and is absolutely recommended Read an excerpt. Dreamworks Studio has also optioned the movie rights. You can find Paula Hawkins on her website and on Twitter as well as on Facebook.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Giveaway - Gone Girl Blu-ray/Book Bundle!!

Gone Girl on Blu-ray releases tomorrow from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment! I am so excited to watch this movie! And if you are too - well, I've got a Blu-ray copy to giveaway!!

I absolutely loved the book by Gillian Flynn (my review) and can't wait to see the movie starring Ben Affleck And Rosamund Pike.

And if for some unknown reason, you haven't heard about this book or movie (where have you been!?) - here's the premise:

"GONE GIRL — directed by David Fincher and based upon the global best seller by Gillian Flynn — unearths the secrets at the heart of a modern marriage. On the occasion of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) reports that his beautiful wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has gone missing. Under pressure from the police and a growing media frenzy, Nick’s portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits and strange behavior have everyone asking the same dark question: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?" Did he? Or didn't he? Oh, this was such a delicious thriller on the printed page and the movie received fantastic reviews in theatre.

Did I mention I have a copy of the novel, Gone Girl,to give away as well? Yes, one randomly chosen lucky reader will win both a Blu-ray copy of the movie and a copy of the novel as well! Open to US and Canada, no PO Boxes please. Ends January 31/15. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Winner - Saving Grace - Jane Green

And the randomly chosen winner of a copy of Saving Grace by Jane Green, courtesy of St. Martin's Press 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. Keep your eye on the sidebar for other great giveaways!

Winner - Bred to Kill - Franck Thilliez

And the randomly chosen winner of a copy of Franck Thilliez's new thriller, Bred to Kill, courtesy of Viking Books is:


Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing address. Please respond within 48 hours. After that time a new winner will be chosen. Keep your eye on the sidebar for other great giveaways!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #38

- You can't judge a book by its cover - which is very true. 
 But you can like one cover version better than another...

Canadian cover
US cover
Here's a coming soon thriller that I'm looking forward to - The Devil You Know by Elisabeth de Mariaffi. The Canadian cover is on the left, the US cover on the right, (There's actually a third UK version as well) No spoiler - there's a stalker involved. So, both covers illustrate that, but I like the Canadian cover this week. You have to take a second look to see beyond the blinds...
Is The Devil You Know a book you'll be reading? Which cover do you prefer?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular Saturday feature on A Bookworm's World.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Film on Friday #32 - The Dark Valley

The Dark Valley is newly released from Film Movement.

Sam Riley (yes, you just saw him in Maleficent) stars as Greider, a mysterious American man who rides into an isolated mountain village in Austria. He says he's there to take photographs, but of course there's another reason. The dominant family who seem to run the village also have their own secrets and reasons for wanting him gone.

The Dark Valley is a classic Western with revenge as the impetus. The Dark Valley is based on the book of the same name by Thomas Willmann.

Sam Riley has perfected the sneer, the hundred yard stare and glare, the few words and decisive actions that cement the genre label attached to the film. (One or two scenes may have been a little over the top, but he channeled early Clint Eastwood very well) The supporting players were well cast and suitably menacing or subservient as the case may be.

The scenery was absolutely breathtaking the village, homes and costumes were very well done and absolutely believable.

What affected my rating a bit was the dubbing. It wasn't overly well done and I find the voices used never seem to match the voice the actor really has or that I expect. And it's difficult to match the pacing.  I should have switched back to the original German with subtitles earlier. Although, there wasn't a lot of dialogue - much of the film is action based (v. well done)

But that minor flaw aside, The Dark Valley was an excellent film - I quite enjoyed it.

The bonus film included, The Gunslinger' was priceless! It's set in an old-time saloon filled with familiar characters. But it is the voice over narrator controlling what happens. Quite funny and original.
2014    114 minutes

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Over the Counter #246

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Baking....or the case may be....

First up is No-Bake Baking: Easy Oven-Free Cakes and Treats by Sharon Hearne-Smith.

From the publisher, Quercus Books:

"Who says baking has to be hard work? In No-Bake Baking, Sharon Hearne-Smith shows how to create over 100 impressive sweet treats with absolutely no need for conventional baking. These easy recipes can be magicked up in your fridge, freezer, microwave or blender – or even your slow cooker, bread machine or sandwich toaster! Sharon cleverly transforms simple ingredients like rice krispies, pancakes, cookie crumbs, popcorn and marshmallows into stunning cakes, biscuits and desserts, saving you hours in the kitchen and guaranteeing gorgeous results every time.

You’ll find an array of jaw-dropping temptations, from iced lemon meringue cake, striped blueberry cheesecake and deep-pan double-chocolate mousse pie, to traybakes with a twist, such as rocky road white knuckle ride, trillionaire’s toffee tiffin and orange & hazelnut ‘brownie’ bars. Enjoy sweet mouthfuls like mini pecan pies with pretzel bases, chocolate peanut butter cups, and super-cute doughnut pops, plus inventive layered refrigerator cakes, frozen bombes, a back-to-front trifle cake and much, much more.

Wave goodbye to burnt edges and soggy bottoms: these ingenious recipes are fast, fuss-free and every bit as rewarding as anything from the oven."

Next up is Sugar Rush by Johnny Iuzzini with Wes Martin.

From the publisher, Clarkson Potter:

"Sugar Rush is a complete baking course in a book with everything a home baker needs to confidently turn out 150+ sweets with sophisticated flavors.

 James Beard–award-winning pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini returns to basics, sharing his expert tips on fundamentals such as making caramel and mixing butter cakes, with accompanying step-by-step photographs, before moving on to recipes for Salted Caramels and Sticky Caramel Date Cake. After mastering the simple method for making light-as-air meringues, anyone can make ethereal espresso marshmallows, mile-high soufflés, and chewy French macaron sandwich cookies. Readers can finally expand their cake and ice cream horizons to embrace flavors as thrilling as those in Brown Sugar-Molasses Layer Cake and Bitter Orange Ice Cream. The 250 photographs include both instructive technique shots to reassure bakers at every turn as well as stunning photographs of the ready-to-eat treats. With Sugar Rush, baking at home has never been easier—or more inviting."

(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, January 7, 2015

Die Again - Tess Gerritsen

Tess Gerritsen's latest release, Die Again, is the eleventh entry in her successful Rizzoli and Isles series.

Jane Rizzoli is a Boston homicide detective and Maura Isles is the medical examiner. They're are an engaging duo that are the perfect vehicle for Gerritsen's well imagined crimes.

Die Again is told in two narratives - one past and one present. The past tells the story of a group of tourists being picked off one by one on a safari vacation in Botswana. Present day finds Rizzoli and Isles with a murder on their hands that might have connections to that ill fated trip...

The dual narrative was intriguing - I almost think the Botswana story would have made a great book on its own. The narrator of the trip - Millie - was a strong character that I really enjoyed.

Gerritsen is a retired physician, which gives the medical and physical aspects of her plots that added dose of reality - as well as vivid descriptions.The wild game aspect of the book was well researched and I learned quite a bit about predators. Although predators aren't always four footed! I did find I had guessed the 'whodunit' before the end of book, but this didn't detract from my enjoyment at all.

The personal lives of Rizzoli and Isles continues to evolve, providing an excellent and believable ongoing secondary storyline.

When this series came out, I was quickly hooked on it and await each new entry. Rizzoli and Isles is also a successful television show. I watched it once - and that was enough for me. It was just too 'entertainment' for me. I prefer this pair on the written page with my own mental images of the characters.

Die Again could be read as a stand alone, but this is a series worth starting at the beginning. Here's an excerpt of Die Again. You can keep up with Tess Gerritsen on Facebook and on Twitter.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A few changes...

Yep, it's still me, Luanne at A Bookworm's World!

 I just thought it was time for a facelift  and a bit of change to chase away the winter blahs. Let me know what you think - colours, layout - any thoughts? Suggestions?

Thank you to my talented friend Hailey for all the changes!

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust - Alan Bradley

From the opening pages of the very first book, I have been a fervent fan of Alan Bradley's absolutely wonderful series that features one of the most captivating, intrepid sleuths I've ever encountered -  twelve year old Flavia de Luce. ("The first syllable rhymes with 'brave' and 'grave'.") As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust is the seventh book.

Faithful readers have been eagerly waiting for this book - after several revelations in the last book, Flavia is on her way from England to Canada to attend Miss Bodycote's Female Academy - "where I was to be trained to assume some ancient and hereditary role of which I was still kept mostly in ignorance." (Canadians take note - it's located just off the Danforth)

But Flavia being Flavia....yes, there's a dead body involved (okay, more than one). But along with that body, there's a whole new cast of characters to meet, a new setting and Flavia's mysterious legacy to unravel. There are numerous storylines running concurrently and the reader is kept busy alongside Flavia.

Flavia's descriptions and dialogue are a constant source of delight...

"The hours trudged by with chains on their ankles."

"I must state here that I have no fear whatsoever of being in a room in the dark with a corpse. In fact, quite the contrary. The little shiver I experience is one of excitement, not of fear."

"The hands are the canaries in one's own personal coal-mine: They need to be watched carefully and obeyed. A fidget demands attention, and a full-blown not-knowing-what-to-do-with-them means 'Vamoose'!"

Flavia's curiosity, her keen observations and her disarming view of life utterly enchant me. I so wanted to be Nancy Drew growing up -  having discovered Flavia, it's still great fun to imagine being a girl gumshoe.

Despite her exceptional powers of deduction, her skill with poisons and her insatiable curiosity, she is still a young girl far from home. Will she ever see her beloved bicycle Gladys again? Her chemistry lab? Her dratted sisters, taciturn father, the enigmatic Dogger and the other assorted residents of the village of Bishop's Lacey? (I too, missed them!)

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust was great read for me (but devoured too quickly).  Read an excerpt of As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust.  I'll will be eagerly waiting for the eighth book! Flavia has a fan club as well.

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Dress Shop of Dreams - Menna Van Praag

I saved Menna Van Praag's newest novel, The Dress Shop of Dreams, to read on the Christmas week holiday. It's the time of the year when I crave feel good reads - and this was a perfect choice.

Cora Sparks is a no nonsense scientist. Orphaned at a young age, she was raised by her grandmother Etta. Now, Etta is a dressmaker, but her shop is unlike any other you've ever visited....there's more than cloth and thread woven into her creations....

"Wear this dress and you'll find what you're missing: confidence, courage, power, love, beauty, magnificence....I promise. Wear this dress and it will transform your life."

But up until now, the two lives Etta hasn't been able to change are Cora's and Walt's. Walt owns the bookstore across the way from the dress shop - and has been in love with Cora since they were both children.

All the elements are here for a magical read - including the magic. I loved the descriptions of Etta's shop and the dresses. How wonderful would it be if a few stitches could change things! And wonderful to lose yourself for a few hours between the pages of that possibility.

Although happy endings are expected (and achieved) with this genre, the road there is not without bumps and turns. Van Praag puts her own unique twist on this story, as there's a mystery to go along with the romance and magic. The character I was most taken with was Walt. I think I wanted to visit his bookstore - or work there. And the descriptions of his late night reading also drew me to him. Although I quite liked Etta as well, but her backstory was quite sad.

This was a delightful little read perfect for my pajamas and comfy chair on a snowy day!

Fans of Sarah Addison Allen (another favourite writer of mine in this genre) will enjoy The Dress Shop of Dreams - read an excerpt. You can keep up with Menna Van Praag on Facebook and on Twitter.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Winner - Deep Secret - Diana Wynne Jones

The randomly chosen winner of a copy of Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones, courtesy of Tor Books is:


Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing address. Please respond within 48 hours. After that time, a new winner will be chosen. Keep your eye on the sidebar for other great giveaways!

Winner - The Maze Runner on Blu-ray

And the randomly chosen lucky winner of a copy of The Maze Runner on Blu-ray, courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment AND a copy of the novel by James Dashner is:


Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing address. Please respond within 48 hours. After that time, a new winner will be chosen. Keep your eye on the sidebar for other great giveaways!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

You Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover #37

- You can't judge a book by its cover - which is very true. 
 But you can like one cover version better than another...

US cover
UK cover
I was hunting down the cover art for this week's review of Jane Green's new release, Saving Grace and came across the US cover on the left and the UK cover on the right.  Both use 'perfect' tag lines to give you an idea of what the story might be about. The UK is a little more definite. But for some reason, I like the scarves on the US cover. Their fragility and movement are more appealing. I'm not keen on the colours used on the UK cover either. So US cover for me this week. Which cover do you prefer? Have you read or will you be reading Saving Grace. I have a copy to giveaway! Enter here.
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular Saturday feature on A Bookworm's World.

Friday, January 2, 2015

The World of PostSecret - Frank Warren

Frank Warren started PostSecret as a community art project ten years ago - asking people to send him 'artful secrets'. He hoped to receive 365. To date, he's received over a million, with more on the way every day.

I remember being fascinated by this idea when it first came out. I became a devotee of the site, looking for 'new releases' on the PostSecret website on Sundays and reading all the book compilations. And somehow I fell away from it. But, the latest book release (the first in five years), The World of PostSecret, has again piqued my interest.

What is about secrets that captures our attention? To see if others might have the same doubts, hopes, wishes, fears and dreams as ourselves? This latest book is close to 300 pages - and there are many and varied secrets portrayed. Honestly, I'm sure everyone will find one close to home somewhere in the book.

The way the sender chooses to display/announce/portray their secret on a simple postcard is fascinating as well - truly artistic and imaginative. Interspersed throughout the book are some short missives from Warren - and the original postal worker who handled delivery.

I found it hard to just read straight through from first page to last. Although here are many happy secrets, the sad seem to far outweigh them and many are truly heartbreaking. Happy or sad, they will have you thinking, perhaps remembering or planning....

I think this is still a fascinating project and the spins off Warren has pursued are laudable - the PostSecret community has raised over a million dollars suicide prevention programs.

And really, there's no other way to rate this than five stars. Fascinating, thought provoking and addictive. And kind of appropriate at this time of the year as everyone is making resolutions. See for yourself - here's a peek inside The World of PostSecret.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Over the Counter #245

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Well, yes I have sworn off sweets for a while after overeating.... but these colourful cake books grabbed my attention. I would never be able to make them - but I like looking!

First up was Using Cutters on Cakes by Sandra Monger.

From the publisher, Search Press:

"Using Cutters on Cakes is an inspirational guide to cake decorating using cutters. Cutters are a fun and easy way to create fabulous cake decorations. Here, Sandra Monger shows you how just a few basic cutters can be used to great effect to make a huge range of decorated cakes, from a stunning yet simple wedding cake to a magical fairy castle cake. There are 13 gorgeous designs to choose from in a variety of contemporary styles, each accompanied by step-by-step instructions, a comprehensive materials lists, and a fabulous photograph of the finished cake. The book also includes a useful guide to the various cake coverings and edibles used, including handy recipes for making your own; information on the materials and tools you need; and a basic techniques section on how to cover a cake, using different types of cutter, and creating a textured finish. This is a must-have resource for beginners as well as more accomplished sugarcrafters looking for ideas and inspiration for decorating cakes using cutters in fun and imaginative ways.
 • 13 gorgeous designs in a range of styles to suit every occasion • Provides step-by-step guidance on the basic techniques used, as well as information on materials, tools and various types of cake covering • A source of inspiration and ideas for beginners as well as more experienced sugarcrafters."

Next up was Planet Cake: Clever Creations for Kids by Paris Cutler.

From the publisher, Thunder Bay Press:

"Create professional-looking fondant cakes in hundreds of mix-and-match themes such as video games, scary graveyards, at the beach, and martial arts. Top off your cake creations with whimsical characters such as the Fat Rats, Video Nuts, Ninja Rabbits, and the Superhero Family. Kids love to create the toppers from fondant icing while adults help bake the cake and supervise the use of kitchen tools. Step-by-step instructions and full-color photos help you create amazing cakes your friends and family will love!"

(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!)