Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Crazy Love You - Lisa Unger

Crazy Love You is the latest book from Lisa Unger.

I've read and enjoyed many other books by Unger, so I just picked this one up with no idea what it was about. Crazy Love You is a bit of a departure from Unger's previous works.

I was intrigued by the premise...

Ian was the kid picked on in his small town - fat boy was a favorite slur thrown at him.  His only friend was another outsider - the troubled Priss.

Ian and Priss grew up and made their way to New York City. Ian has found success as a graphic novelist. His Fatboy and Priss series is a phenomenal success. But when Ian meets Meghan, Priss feels pushed aside - and angry. After all she's stood by Ian from the beginning, hasn't she?

As Ian continues to draw and write his series, time lines become blurred. Are events drawn in the panels happening in real life? Is he imagining things - or truly making them happen? Or is it Priss manipulating his life?

Unger keeps the reader off kilter - we're never really sure what's real and what's imagined. Is Ian crazy? Priss is elusive - we're never really sure about her and what her intentions are.

Unger's writing flows easily and I became completely engrossed in following Ian down the rabbit hole. (He was still a difficult character to like though) But, where the book fell down for me was the ending. It was just a bit  too 'been there, done that' for me. And it seemed to go on for too long with much of Ian's feelings and experiences recapped over and over again.

I think Unger is a great writer and will be absolutely picking up her next book. For me though, Crazy Love You just wasn't a stand out.

Read an excerpt of Crazy Love You. You can connect with Lisa Unger on Twitter.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Kind Worth Killing - Peter Swanson

I adore psychological suspense novels - they're probably my favourite genre. So, if you too enjoy them, Peter Swanson's new novel, The Kind Worth Killing, is one you'll want to pick up!

Ted Severenson is on a flight home to Boston when he strikes up a conversation with his pretty seatmate Lily. He's had a few drinks in the lounge before boarding and the conversation takes an odd turn along the way.....it becomes a little more personal...and a lot more dangerous. Ted's wife Miranda is cheating on him...

"What are you going to do about it?"
"What I'd really like to do is kill her."
"I think you should, she said."

What a deliciously devious premise! (somewhat reminiscent of Strangers on a Train.)

Swanson employs multiple narrators in The Kind Worth Killing - Ted, Lily and Miranda. Readers are privy to pieces of the plot that not every character has - and this ratchets up the reading tension. Highly effective - and tiring. I had a hard time putting this one down - I wanted to get back to each character's viewpoint, so I read far longer into the night than I should have!

The characters are unlikable, everyone has their own agenda and nothing is as it seems. I love not being able to predict the path a novel is going to take. Swanson does a fantastic job of keeping the reader off kilter with numerous twists and turns. And the ending - the ending is a brilliant last page gotcha.

Absolutely recommended! Read an excerpt of The Kind Worth Killing. You can connect with Peter Swanson on Twitter. The Kind Worth Killing would make a great movie as well - à la Gone Girl.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #49

- 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
I love Elly Griffith's Ruth Galloway mystery series. The sixth entry is due out in May - and is on my radar. The Canadian/US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. The US version does give a clue as to the plot, but I'm going to go with the UK cover this week. It's bolder in colour and tone and just appealed to me more that the other. Have you read any of this series?
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, March 27, 2015

Q and A and Giveaway with Tina Seskis!

Tina Seskis's debut novel One Step Too Far was released in January of this year in North America (Did you see my review) Tina was kind enough to stop by today to answer a few questions about her book, her writing - and herself!

 Hi Tina!  One Step Too Far is the story of a young woman who walks out on her life, which leads some readers to be critical of her choices. What do you think of your heroine, Emily?

Well, I've always known her secret, so I guess I understood her actions, even some of the more extreme ones. It means that I've always had a degree of empathy with her, and I just really willed her on in the story to get some kind of resolution. I did find that she became almost like a real person to me, and I liked her, despite her flaws (hey, who's perfect?) although I know some readers found her to be quite self-indulgent. All I would say is take a walk in her shoes before you judge...

In One Step Too Far you bring London to life in a very gritty way at times. How well do you think the book helps London tourism?

Ha, well, I think if you want to go to Finsbury Park or the Nag's Head you won't find them in any tourist books, so I've given you a flavour. I think I may have brought to life the real London, of beautiful parks and squares cheek by jowl with less aesthetic places, of smoky dives and fancy hotels. I hope I've shown that London is also a very green city (in the original sense of the word), and the magnificent Hampstead Heath in particular is one of my favourite places anywhere. So come visit!!

Like many writers, you struggled at first to get One Step Too Far published. What made you so determined to carry on?

First, that I had had enough feedback, from my family (which every writer knows doesn't count!), friends, acquaintances, literary agents, and most importantly readers to know that there was something about the book: people found that they couldn't put it down, plus it seemed to elicit some very extreme responses (love and hate spring to mind, fortunately with love in the vast majority) that made me think it was the type of book that people wanted to talk about and share. And secondly, I had run out of money and it was either get published or get another job in freelance marketing, which I didn't want to do.

What is your favourite place to write? Do you have a specific daily routine?

I write on an iPad with a wireless keyboard, so I tend to write anywhere. I follow the sun around the house (kitchen table, living room sofa, bedroom sofa, a deckchair in the summer etc), I rarely go to cafes or libraries, but nearly always edit if I'm on public transport. I get some very odd looks sometimes. And my routine is non-existent unless I'm in the writing bit, where I do 2,000 words a day, even if it's finished in the dead of night.

What's next for you?

Well, my next book (When We Were Friends) is about to come out in the UK, I am editing my third novel, writing short stories, doing quite a bit of PR activity, looking after my dog with a broken paw, and I am going to Australia to see family at Easter. So I'm pretty busy...

Thanks so much for stopping by Tina! You can connect with Tina on Twitter as well as on Facebook.

If you haven't had a chance to read One Step Too Far - well, here's your chance! I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader, courtesy of Harper Collins. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends April 18/15.  Get a sneak peek - here's an excerpt of One Step Too Far.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Over the Counter #257

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Well,Spring cleaning has been in the back of my mind lately....

First up is Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight: The 6-Week Total-Life Slim Down by Peter Walsh.

From the publisher, Rodale Books:

"A houseful of clutter may not be the only reason people pack on extra pounds, but research proves that it plays a big role. A recent study showed that people with supercluttered homes were 77 percent more likely to be overweight or obese! Why? Author Peter Walsh thinks it’s because people can’t make their best choices—their healthiest choices—in a cluttered, messy, disorganized home.

In Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight, organizing guru Walsh comes to the rescue with a simple 6-week plan to help readers: Clear their homes of excess “stuff” as they discover their vision for their personal space Clear their bodies of excess pounds as they follow a healthy, supersimple eating and exercise plan Clear their minds and spirits of the excess weight of too many possessions.

All the pieces are connected—and Walsh weaves them together for a 6-week program that leads readers step-by-step through decluttering their homes, their bodies, and their lives. Rodale took the program for a testdrive with two dozen volunteers who followed his plan. All reported great results—from significant weight loss to calmer minds and more organized, happier, and more efficient lives. With a room-by room organizing guide, plus supersimple recipes and an easy exercise plan, Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight is the only book to help readers clear the clutter while they zap the pounds all at the same time."

Next up is Buried in Treasures: Help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving, and Hoarding by David Tolin, Randy O. Frost, and Gail Steketee.

From the publisher, Oxford Press:

"While most people find it relatively easy to manage their possessions, some find it extremely difficult. If you have a problem resisting the urge to acquire and you find your home cluttered and filled to capacity with items many people would find useless and unnecessary, you may suffer from a condition known as hoarding disorder.

Hoarding is a behavioral problem consisting of clutter, difficulty discarding items, and excessive buying or acquiring. Hoarding is often associated with significant reduction in quality of life, and in extreme cases, it can pose serious health risks. If you or a loved one has hoarding disorder, this book can help.

Discover the reasons for your problems with acquiring, saving, and hoarding, and learn new ways of thinking about your possessions so you can decide what you really need and what you can do without. Learn to identify the "bad guys" that cause and maintain your hoarding behavior and meet the "good guys" who can help motivate you and put you on the path to change. Useful self-assessments will help you determine the severity of your problem. Training exercises, case examples, organizing tips, and motivation boosters help change the way you think and behave toward your possessions. This book provides easy-to-understand strategies and techniques that anyone can use."

(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, March 25, 2015

Food and Drink with DK Canada!

So, here's the thing. I can cook. And sometimes I really enjoy it. And other times? Well, now and then, there are other things I'd rather be doing. But you have to eat right? And I still want to eat well - I'm not a fast food fan.

So, The No Time to Cook! Book: 100 Modern Simple Recipes in 20 Minutes or Less by Elena Rosemond-Hoerr definitely caught my eye. It's one of the suggested books in DK Canada's Food and Drink Boutique.20 minutes or less?! Oh yeah!

I loved the title of the first chapter - The Quick Kitchen - which had a great list of grocery items to have on hand in the pantry for those quick meals. I was happily surprised to find that I did have most of them already. Speedy you say? Quick ways to chop/slice and other tips included too.

The actual recipes are broken down into Breakfast, Lunch, Dinners, Food with Friends and Short and Sweet (Desserts). Breakfast isn't usually a problem for me but the wheel of smoothies looks like a fun way to vary a morning shake. And I am going to try the overnight oats in a jar and making my own granola.

I am getting tired of the same old, same old for lunch. Rosemond-Hoerr has some new ideas for stuffing pita pockets and another jar idea I've been meaning to try - Salads in a jar.(And a wheel of salad dressing to make your own as well)

But it is dinner where I just think -oh, what am I going to make tonight? Rosemond-Hoerr has come up with some fresh ideas for those quick standbys - pastas, stir fries and one pot meals. There are some more great 'speedy' charts here as well - salsa and stir fry.

The Food for Friends chapter has such great finger food ideas that I think I will actually use for our dinner a few nights. Bruschetta bar anyone? How about pot sticker dumplings? Yum!

The desserts look just as appealing, but many rely on butter, cream and chocolate. Those looking to count calories will have to do the figuring themselves - nutritional information is not included. 

There are colour photographs of the finished dish for each recipe. The instructions for each recipe are easily read and numbered for simplicity. The ingredients list is drawn out for each as well.

Curious? Here's an excerpt of The No Time to Cook! Book - a simple easy cookbook that I will be using for those rushed days. 

The Other Joseph - Skip Horack

Every so often I need to take a step back from my usual genres and pick up something completely different. Skip Horack's new book, The Other Joseph, offered up a great opportunity to do just that.

Roy Joseph has lost most of his life - his beloved older brother Tommy died in the Gulf War, his parents are both dead and he lives within the narrow confines of a life constricted by a felony conviction. He's chosen to live in a remote area with only a dog for company and he works an isolated job on the oil rigs. Roy has exiled himself from life.

When a young woman contacts him and say that his brother Tommy was her father, he sees a chance - a chance to reconnect with life again, to redeem himself, to perhaps be happy.

Roy's journey physically takes him from Louisiana to San Francisco. He visits locales from their childhood and calls on those who knew his brother along the way. Broken and wounded characters litter the road between Louisiana and San Francisco.

Horack's prose are rich and powerful. They are stark and spare, underlining Roy's solitude. I was overwhelmed by Roy's life - his broken, isolated existence. It was just so very, very sad. I wasn't able to read the book straight through - I simply had to read in small doses. I wanted so badly for the the trip to be Roy's redemption. And of course you're asking - was it? It's hard to say - the ending is not what I wanted at all - Horack did surprise me. I'll have to go with an ambiguous yes and no answer.

The Other Joseph was a moving, eloquent read - one that will leave echoes with you after the last page is turned.  Read an excerpt of The Other Joseph.

You can connect with Skip Horack on Twitter as well as on his website.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Giveaway - One Plus One - Jojo Moyes

Have you had a chance to read One Plus One by Jojo Moyes yet? I absolutely adored it! (my review - and it was a five star book for me!)

The paperback releases next week and I have a copy to giveaway, courtesy of Penguin Books.

From the publisher:

"One single mom. One chaotic family. One quirky stranger. One irresistible love story from the New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You

American audiences have fallen in love with Jojo Moyes. Ever since she debuted Stateside she has captivated readers and reviewers alike, and hit the New York Times bestseller list with the word-of-mouth sensation Me Before You. Now, with One Plus One, she’s written another contemporary opposites-attract love story.

Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied, and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight in shining armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages . . . maybe ever.

 credit: Charlotte Murphy
One Plus One is Jojo Moyes at her astounding best. You’ll laugh, you’ll weep, and when you flip the last page, you’ll want to start all over again."

Get a sneak peek - read an excerpt of One Plus One. Or you might want to listen to an excerpt.

There's also a great book club kit with recipes, cocktails and a playlist and interview with Jojo.

"Jojo Moyes is the New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You, One Plus One, The Girl You Left Behind, The Last Letter from Your Lover, Silver Bay, The Ship of Brides and Honeymoon in Paris. She lives with her husband and three children on a farm in Essex, England." You can connect with Jojo Moyes on Twitter as well as on Facebook.

Sound great, doesn't it? It is! Enter to win a paperback copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends April 11/15.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Fiercombe Manor - Kate Riordan

I love old houses and forgotten corners - there are so many stories to be told and remembered.  Kate Riordan's latest book, Fiercombe Manor has one of those stories....

1933 England. Young (and naive) Alice Eveleigh has gotten herself into 'trouble' with a married man. Her mother calls upon an old friend to take Alice in until the baby is born. That friend, Mrs. Jelphs, is the housekeeper of a old manor in a forgotten corner of the Gloucestershire countryside. Mrs Jelphs and old gardener Ruck are the only two staff (and residents) of the Stanton estate.

All the elements are there for the perfect Gothic mystery - young, curious woman, old retainers, crumbling house with closed off rooms, secrets alluded to, and clues to the past. Riordan seals the deal with a delicious piece of foreshadowing.....

"When I think back to the memory, that first glimpse of Fiercombe Manor and the valley it seemed almost entombed in, I cannot recall any sense of unease......It seems amazing in light of what happened, but I can't say I felt any foreboding about the valley at all." " I could never have imagined all that would happen in those few short months and how, by the end of them, my life would be irrevocably altered forever."

Riordan's novel is told in a past and present narrative. The past is from thirty years early and is Lady Elizabeth Stanton's story. Old letters that Alice uncovers begin to fill in the past for her, but the reader is privy to more through Elizabeth's voice. I found myself reacting more to Elizabeth's timeline, caught up in the past.

"There's an atmosphere, though, as if something of what's gone before is still here, like an echo or a reflection in a dark pool."

Cue delicious tingle.....are there ghosts? Can the past reach out to the present? Is the sad history of Fiercombe Manor going to be repeated?

Riordan's setting is wonderfully drawn - I could easily imagine the uneven stone floors, the crumbling outbuildings, the gardens and the dusty rooms. Time is also well done, with the social graces and mores of both time periods captured. Riordan also explores an issue that has a foot firmly in the present. (Sorry, I'm being deliberately oblique so as not to spoil the book for future readers)

This novel is fairly lengthy at 400+ plus pages, but I enjoyed the slow unfurling of this novel. Riordan keeps the reader in the dark until the final chapters - and only then reveals the end of Elizabeth's story. Alice's story has a fairytale ending, perfect for this tale. (I have a 'thing' for covers. I loved this one - I wanted to go exploring myself!)

Fiercombe Manor is best read in a comfy armchair within a lamp's circle of light with the wind whistling outside at night. Oh, and a pot of tea. Read an excerpt of Fiercombe Manor. Fans of Kate Morton would enjoy this book.

"Kate Riordan is a British writer and journalist who worked for the Guardian and Time Out London. She is also the author of Birdcage Walk and is already at work on her third novel. Born in London, she now lives in the Gloucestershire countryside." You can find Kate Riordan on her website and connect with her on Twitter.

See what others on the TLC tour thought - full schedule here.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Giveaway winners

The winner of copy of Inside A Silver Box by Walter Mosley, courtesy of  Tor Books is:


The winner of a copy ofAs White As Snow by Salla Simukka's, courtesy of  Skyscape Publishing is


And last but not least, the winner of Cynthia Swanson's debut novel, The Bookseller , courtesy of  Harper Collins is:


Congratulations everyone! I've emailed you for your mailing addressess. Please respond within 48 hours. Keep your eye on the sidebar for other great giveaways!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #48

- 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
Michael Christie's new book If I Fall, I Die is another book on my teetering TBR pile that I'm looking forward to. The US/Canadian cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Both covers illustrate the premise of the book...."Will has never been outside, at least not since he can remember." The US cover seems a little more ominous, but I like the UK birdcage image. Hmm.....US this week, but by a slim margin! 
Is If I Fall, I Die a book you've read or plan to 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, March 20, 2015

Giveaway - A Small Indiscretion - Jan Ellison

A Small Indiscretion is Jan Ellison's debut novel. And I've got a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader, courtesy of Random House!

From the publisher:

"Fans of Everything I Never Told You and The Girl on the Train will devour this page-turning literary debut about a harrowing coming-of-age and a marriage under siege from O. Henry Prize winner Jan Ellison.

At nineteen, Annie Black abandons California for a London winter of drinking to oblivion and looking for love in the wrong places. Twenty years later, she is a happily married mother of three living in San Francisco. Then one morning, a photograph arrives in her mailbox, and an old obsession is awakened.

After a return trip to London, Annie’s marriage falters, her store floods, and her son, Robbie, takes a night-time ride that nearly costs him his life. Now Annie must fight to save her family by untangling the mysteries of that reckless winter in Europe that drew an invisible map of her future.

With the brilliant pacing and emotional precision that won Jan Ellison an O. Henry Prize for her first published story, A Small Indiscretion announces a major new voice in suspense fiction as it unfolds a story of denial, obsession, love, forgiveness—and one woman’s reckoning with her own fateful mistakes." Read an excerpt of A Small Indiscretion.

"Jan Ellison is a graduate of Stanford University and San Francisco State University’s MFA Program. She has published award-winning short fiction, and was the recipient of a 2007 O. Henry Prize for her first story to appear in print. Her work has also been shortlisted for Best American Short Stories and the Pushcart Prize. She lives in Northern California with her husband and their four children. A Small Indiscretion is her first book." You can keep with Jan Ellison on Facebook and on Twitter.

Sound like a book you'd like to read? One copy to giveaway - open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends April 11/15. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Over The Counter #256

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Some back to basics cookbooks this week.....

First up is Brown Eggs and Jam Jars: Family Recipes From the Kitchen of Simple Bites by Aimee Wimbush-Bourque.

From the publisher, Penguin Canada:

"Aimée’s rural homestead upbringing, years working as a professional chef and everyday life as a busy mom led to the creation of the hugely popular blog Simple Bites . Raising three young children with husband Danny, Aimée traded her tongs and chef whites for a laptop and camera, married her two passions—mothering and cooking—and has since been creating recipes with an emphasis on whole foods for the family table, sharing stories and tips and inspiring readers to make the family– food connection on the Simple Bites blog.

Brown Eggs and Jam Jars is Aimée’s long-awaited cookbook inspired by her urban homesteading through the seasons and the joyous events they bring. It embraces year-round simple food with fresh flavors. Created for the family-minded home cook, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars shares over 100 recipes that have a touch of nostalgia, feature natural ingredients and boast plenty of love.

Aimée’s heart-warming stories capture everyday life in a busy family. She also shares tips and advice on how to get the whole family involved in cooking from the ground up and enjoying homemade food. Brown Eggs and Jam Jars will inspire you to connect your family and food right where you are in life—from growing your own tomatoes to making a batch of homemade cookies. Enjoy your urban homestead.

Next up is 100 Days of Real Food: How We Did It, What We Learned and 100 Easy, Wholesome Recipes Your Family Will Love by Lisa Leake.

From the publisher, Harper Collins:

"Simple, family-friendly recipes and practical advice to help you ditch processed food and eat better every day! Thanks to Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food, Lisa Leake was given the wake-up call of her life when she realized that many of the foods she was feeding her family were actually "foodlike substances." So she, her husband, and their two young girls completely overhauled their diets by pledging to go 100 days without eating highly processed or refined foods—a challenge she opened to readers on her blog. What she thought would be a short-term experiment turned out to have a huge impact on her personally. After wading through their fair share of challenges, experiencing unexpected improvements in health, and gaining a preference for fresh, wholesome meals, the Leakes happily adopted their commitment to real food as their "new normal."

Now Lisa shares her family's story, offering insights and cost-conscious recipes everyone can use to enjoy wholesome natural food prepared with easily found ingredients such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, seafood, locally raised meats, whole-milk dairy products, nuts, natural sweeteners, and more.

Meal plans and suggestions for kid-pleasing school lunches, parties, and snacks A 10-day mini-starter program, and much more. 100 Days of Real Food offers all the support, encouragement, and guidance you'll need to make these incredibly important and timely life changes."

(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, March 18, 2015

Giveaway - Compulsion - Allison Brennan

From the publisher:

"Investigative reporter Maxine Revere has a theory: that the five New York City murders for which Adam Bachman is being tried are just part of his killing spree. In probing the disappearance of a retired couple who vanished the prior summer, Max uncovers striking similarities to Bachman's MO and develops a theory that Bachman wasn't working alone.

Max wins a coveted pre-trial interview with the killer, whose disarming composure in the face of her questions is combined with uncomfortable knowledge of Max's own past. She leaves the room convinced, but unable to prove, that Bachman knows exactly what happened to the missing couple. The D.A. wants nothing to jeopardize his case against Bachman and refuses to consider Max's theory. With no physical evidence, Max has to rely on her own wits and investigative prowess to dig deep into Bachman's past. The picture that Max puts together is far darker and more deadly than she ever imagined.

As Max gets closer to the truth, she doesn't realize that she's walking down a road that has been paved just for her. That every step she takes brings her one step closer to a brilliant, methodical sociopath who has been waiting for her to make just one small mistake. And when she does, he'll be there waiting." Read an excerpt of Compulsion.

Max Revere returns in another gripping, pulse-pounding thriller from New York Times bestseller Allison Brennan."

"Allison Brennan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling and award winning author of two dozen romantic thrillers and mysteries, and numerous short stories. Most recently, she was nominated for Best Paperback Original Thriller by International Thriller Writers and the Daphne du Maurier Award by Kiss of Death. A former consultant in the California State Legislature, Allison lives in northern California with her husband, five kids, and assorted pets. She's either writing, reading, playing video games, or attending her kids sporting events. Allison writes two series, the Lucy Kincaid/Sean Rogan romantic thrillers and the Maxine Revere mysteries." You can find Allison Brennan on Twitter and on Facebook.

Sound like a book you'd like to read? I have one copy to giveaway - open to US and Canada, no po boxes please. Ends April 4/15. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Daughter - Jane Shemilt

The Daughter is Jane Shemilt's debut novel.

How's this for a 'grab your attention and keep you reading until you're going to be tired in the morning opening line'....

"If only. If only I"d been listening. If only I'd been watching. If only I could start again, exactly one year ago."

Jenny and her husband Ted are parents to teenagers Naomi and twins Theo and Ed. They're both busy physicians and there just never seems to be enough time to keep on top of everything - things get missed. In this case, it's Naomi who goes missing.

Shemilt tells the story of this family from the perspective of Jenny then - just before Naomi's disappearance - and now, one year later with Naomi still missing. I loved this dual narrative. A hint or a line from the past or a remembered nuance sparks a segue to the present and back again. With hindsight, Jenny relives the months leading up to Naomi's disappearance. Did she focus on herself too much? What did she miss? How did she not act on the changes she noticed in her daughter? How could she be blind to what was happening in her family?

Shemilt's story tells the story of a horrific loss in a seemingly idyllic family - and exposes the secrets and problems beneath that exterior gloss. But the pressing question is what happened to Naomi? Is she still alive? And Jenny comes to realize she didn't really know her daughter at all....

The publisher's blurb reads: "a compelling and clever psychological thriller". I'm not sure about the thriller label, but The Daughter kept me engrossed from start to finish. I was engaged in Jenny's self recriminations (I did found Jenny difficult to like or feel sympathy for though) and got caught up in the search for Naomi. For me, the book was a slow measured suspense novel, with the focus on the mother rather than the daughter. The ending wasn't quite what I had expected, but as I thought about it, I decided I liked it after all. The Daughter was a good debut and I would pick up the next book from this author. See what you think - read an excerpt of The Daughter.

"While working full time as a physician, Jane Shemilt received an M.A. in creative writing. She was shortlisted for the Janklow and Nesbit award and the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize for The Daughter, her first novel. She and her husband, a professor of neurosurgery, have five children and live in Bristol, England." You can find Jane Shemilt on Twitter.

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

Monday, March 16, 2015

Heartbreak Hotel - Deborah Moggach - Review AND Giveaway

Deborah Moggach...didn't she write The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel? Yes, she did indeed - I loved that book - and the movie!

Moggach's new release, Heartbreak Hotel is just as heartwarming!

Retired actor Russell 'Buffy' Buffery has lived a rich full life, but now he finds himself somewhat lonely living in London. He doesn't know his neighbours, its noisy and crowded and his children (and there are many from assorted wives and liaisons!) are busy with their own lives. When an old flame leaves him her bed and breakfast in rural Wales, he decides to move in and run the place himself.

"...a new career beckoned. Luxuriantly bearded, his cheeks ruddy with claret, Buffy could take centre stage again, welcoming guests into his charming B and B in the picturesque town of Knockton, wherever that was. Log fires, bonhomie, brass beds made for lusty couplings - adulterers welcome! His Full English Breakfast, all organic of course, would become legendary. Perhaps he could even raise his own pigs."

Uh huh. The B and B isn't quite what he pictured - it needs a little work and the whole running of a B and B might be a bit more work than Buffy had thought.....

I loved this character. He's a rascal, but a lovable one. He's got the gift of gab and folks naturally gravitate towards him, spilling their thoughts over a glass of something. Moggach introduces a number of other characters, all unhappy with their relationships - or lack thereof. And Buffy has a revelation - he could run Courses for Divorces! All the skills that newly singles might need - car maintenance, gardening and more. Brilliant! The place will be booked solid! (You can take some of these courses on Deborah's website)

Moggach fills her novel and the B and B will a wonderfully quirky cast of characters and situations. Through the ruminations and lives of  Buffy and company, Moggach dissects, explores and celebrates love - of all kinds and of all ages. There are many supporting players, but it was Buffy I enjoyed the most.

Me? I'd love to have a little cottage in Knockton and stroll down the pub for a natter. Heartbreak Hotel was a humourous, touching, fun to read novel sure to appeal to those who loved 'Marigold'. Read an excerpt of Heartbreak Hotel.

I mentioned I love the movie of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - and have just discovered The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has just been released. I would love to see Heartbreak Hotel made into a movie as well. I can totally picture Timothy Spall as Buffy.

So, if Heartbreak Hotel sounds like a book you'd like to read.....I have copy to giveaway courtesy of Overlook Press. Open to US, no PO boxes please. Ends April 4/15. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below!

A Dangerous Place - Jacqueline Winspear

A Dangerous Place is the latest (#11) entry in Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series.

The opening first pages of A Dangerous Place were quite jarring - a great tragedy has befallen Maisie. I won't spoil it for you, but this loss devastates her. (And truly this reader as well - I'm saddened  at this turn of events.) So much so,  that she has no desire to return to England - instead she only gets as far as Gibraltar. It's 1937 and the Spanish Civil War is underway.

I've always enjoyed the slow building and piecing together of clues on the road to the final reveal in Winspear's novels. The path is never a straight line from A to B which is of course what makes a great mystery. In A Dangerous Place the route to the end is quite roundabout and busy - a bit too much in my opinion. Winspear has grown the series - and Maisie - with new directions taken in the past few books.

There is of course a dead body in A Dangerous Place (every mystery needs one!) But, the ensuing investigation is a political cat and mouse game with watchers watching the watched. And sadly, I became tired of it. What I really enjoyed was what I have enjoyed in previous Maisie books - the slow coming to answers with interviews, visits and Maisie's case map. This is still present in A Dangerous Place. But what I didn't like was the political cat and mouse games and the duplicity of almost every character. It was, well, just too much. This may just be my bias - I am not a 'spy novel' fan.

Winspear's descriptions of time and place are excellent. Maisie walks the streets of Gibraltar many times - I could vividly picture the old women mending their nets, Mr. Solomon's haberdashery and Mr. Salazar's cafe, as she visits these locations many times. (And it's always fun to see a mention of a place in Canada that I'm familiar with - however brief!)

It's always interesting to see why or when a title was chosen for a book. This one has a great quote from Albert Einstein in the epigraph....."The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."  And this completely defines Maisie - she is one of the people who 'do'. This quality is one of the main reasons I have come to enjoy this character so much - her determination, her intellect, her compassion, her curiosity and her inability to let injustice go unnoticed.

"...he taught me about duty, about doing all in our power to bring a sense of...a sense of rest and calm to those left behind. I was - I am, I suppose - an advocate for the dead."

I found the ending quite satisfying - it was a 'return to roots' for Maisie. I will be very curious to see where Winspear takes her character from here. I will definitely be picking up the next book in the series - this is a character and author that I do quite like. A Dangerous Place is a good read (here's an excerpt for you) but isn't my favourite in the series. Readers new to this author will want to start at the beginning to fully come to appreciate this character.

"Jacqueline Winspear is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Leaving Everything Most Loved, Elegy for Eddie, A Lesson in Secrets, The Mapping of Love and Death, Among the Mad, and An Incomplete Revenge, as well as four other national bestselling Maisie Dobbs novels. Her standalone novel, The Care and Management of Lies, was also a New York Times bestseller. She has won numerous awards for her work, including the Agatha, Alex, and Macavity awards for the first book in the series, Maisie Dobbs, which was also nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel and was a New York Times Notable Book." Find out more about Jacqueline at her website and find her on Facebook.

See what other on the TLC book tour thought. Full schedule can be found here.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Winner - VeggieTales Noah's Ark DVD

And the lucky winner of a DVD copy of Veggie Tales Noah's Ark, courtesy of Dreamworks Animation is:

Karin A!

Congratulations! I've contacted you 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!

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #47

- 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
Joakim Zander's debut novel The Swimmer is newly released and is on  my ever teetering TBR pile. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. The red US cover definitely catches my eye. But, I think I'm going with the UK cover this week. The tagline gives you an idea about the plot. And I like the slight head tilt of the figure on the cover - it made me curious... Is The Swimmer  a book you plan to 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, March 13, 2015

The Counterfeit Heiress - Tasha Alexander

The Counterfeit Heiress is the latest in Tasha Alexander's Lady Emily series. This is the ninth in the series, but the first for me.

The Lady Emily mysteries are set in the 1890's and take place in various European cities.

This latest entry finds Lady Emily at a masquerade ball. Another guest seems to mistake her for someone else. There is someone costumed very similarly to Emily, but this woman is passing herself off as a reclusive heiress named Estella. She is caught out by Cecile, a friend of both Estella and Emily. The impostor is later found dead on the grounds of estate. Who was she? Why was she impersonating Estella? Who was the man who approached Emily? And - where is the real Estella? Along with her husband Colin, who handles inquiries for the Queen, friends Cecile and Jeremy, the quartet begins investigating a case that takes them from London to Paris.

This was such a fun period piece! Alexander has done her research - I found the detail so interesting - from societal customs and mores, day to day living, but especially the tombs and catacombs. Bookish references (Charles Dickens) are always enjoyed by this reader.

Alexander's dialogue is quick, smart and and rapier sharp between all of the main characters. The relationship between Emily and Colin is loving, but saucy!

Historical mysteries are always lovely to sit down and savour. The action is slower and the solving of the puzzle more methodical. As readers we are privy to more information that our protagonists have in The Counterfeit Heiress. Estella's story unfolds in chapters alternating the investigation. Midway, I had an idea of what would be the outcome, but I was more than happy to enjoy the journey to the final pages.

Definitely recommended for historical fiction fans.  Read an excerpt of The Counterfeit Heiress.

You can keep up with Tasha Alexander on Facebook as well as on Twitter.

The Edge of Dreams - Rhys Bowen

I'm familiar with Rhys Bowen's name - her books have been recommended to me by patrons who know I enjoy mysteries. Bowen's latest book, The Edge of Dreams is the fourteenth entry in the Molly Murphy series - but a first for this reader - and it won't be my last!

Molly is the wife of Daniel Sullivan, a New York Police captain at the turn of the century. Even though this book is quite far along in the series, I was able to easily become familiar with the characters and their lives.

Daniel has been receiving taunting notes from a serial killer. The pressure is on the police to find him before he kills again. But when Molly is involved in a serious 'accident',  the case may be getting too close to home. Although he is reluctant to bring his work home, he does share his concerns with Molly. Molly has a wonderfully nimble mind. Before her marriage, she worked as a private detective.

Bowen captures the time periods and its mores perfectly. Historical events are woven throughout the story.  I loved the detail of time and place as well. Day to day activities, cooking and shopping and more paint a warm picture of days gone by. I quite enjoyed the polite sparring between Molly and her mother-in-law over what 'correct' behavior should entail.

Supporting characters 'Gus' and 'Sid' are wonderfully avant garde, living life according to their own rules. Gus has studied with Sigmund Freud exploring his dream theories. This study is called into play with the second plot line of The Edge of Dreams. A young woman's family has died in what initially appears to be a terrible accident. But was it? Why is she unharmed? She can't remember anything but fragments of dreams and nightmares. Can this new method unlock answers?

Molly investigates quietly and capably, without drawing attention to herself or stepping on her husband's toes, both personally and professionally. The relationship between Molly and Daniel is particularly well written - kind, loving and believable. I enjoyed the measured pace of the investigations and the 'old fashioned' methods employed to solve the mysteries.

Bowen has crafted a pair of good whodunits that were somewhat easy to solve, but it was fun to solve them along with Molly and Daniel. But, for this reader, it is the characters that will have me returning to this historical mystery series. Read an excerpt of The Edge of Dreams.

You can keep up with Rhys Bowen on Facebook, as well as on Twitter.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Over the Counter #255

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

First up is Empire by Martin Hyers and Will Mebane.

From the publisher, Daylight Books:

"Between 2004 and 2007, American photographers Martin Hyers and Will Mebane made a series of road trips through the American South, West and East to create a photographic archive of objects. The project, titled Empire, yielded more than 9,000 photographs captured in 25 states. Using two hand-held 4 x 5 view cameras, Hyers and Mebane ventured out into public places, met strangers and accompanied them back to their homes, offices and factories to photograph. Working in a deliberately forensic fashion, they photographed the objects they encountered - stoves, family photographs, computers, trophies and the like. Many of the objects included in their project are discomfiting because of their impending obsolescence: an overhead projector rests on a table, a typewriter sits on a desk, a set of encyclopedias waits well-organized on a yellow bookshelf."

Next up is Retronaut: The Photographic Time Machine by Chris Wild.

From the publisher, National Geographic Books:

"Based on the widely popular blog that started as a side project in a basement, Retronaut reveals strange yet enlightening photographs from the past that somehow seem to depict another version of now. Martha Stewart as a fashion model, Kim Jong II in a bumper car, and Ronald Reagan modeling for a sculpture class—this quirky page-turner enriched with author Chris Wild’s unique wit and oddball knowledge is a must-have for collectors of the unusual.

Wild, a former museum archivist, has revolutionized the way we think of dusty photos, turning them into a sensation that has taken the Internet by surprise. He has selected over 300 of the best photographs from the site's most visited eras and themes, mashing up Victoriana with vintage advertising from the ’60s and ’70s and unearthing rare snapshots of evil dictators taking vacations. Page by page, this unconventional, thought-provoking photographic time machine will change what you think you know about history."

(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, March 11, 2015

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

I absolutely love the Night at the Museum films! Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment has just released the third movie - Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb on Blu-ray.

Secret of the Tomb brings back all our favourite characters (the late Robin Williams, Owen Williams, Steve Coogan and more) in their magical roles. But, the magic that brings the museum to life at night is fading....and it's up to Larry (Ben Stiller - I love his deadpan delivery) to save it. And to do that, he has to travel to the British Museum in England. Brits Rebel Wilson, Ricky Gervais and Dan Stevens (a scene stealer as Sir Lancelot) join the cast. Cameos from Mickey Rooney and Dick Van Dyke were touching.

Secret of the Tomb is perfect for all viewers - families and adults. I fall into that latter category. My husband and I watched it on the weekend and absolutely enjoyed it. It's just plain fun and totally entertaining. There are some sly jokes that only adults will get, but the fun is for everyone. This cast full of comedians guarantees hilarity. I'm always blown away by the animation. Director Shawn Levy takes things a step further this time and shoots a scene using M.C. Escher's Relativity print that was simply amazing.

There's tons of other extras as well - 90 minutes more including:

**Five More Deleted and Extended Scenes**The Theory of Relativity
**Becoming Laaa(Larry's alter ego) **A Day in the Afterlife
**The Home of History: Behind the Scenes of The British Museum
**Fight at the Museum **Creating Visual Effects**Audio Commentary by Shawn Levy.

We had just as much fun watching how the film was made and the behind the scenes magic! Sadly this is the last entry in this franchise. I was pleasantly surprised when I found a code to download the digital HD version of either the first or second movie free.  Lots of action, adventure and laughs included! I kinda wish there was a magical museum.....until then, I'll happily rewatch these movies.Absolutely recommended to own! (as are the first two)

98 minutes PG

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Hush Hush - Laura Lippman

Oh, did I do a happy dance when I heard there was a new Tess Monoghan book coming from Laura Lippman! Hush Hush is newly released - and was quickly devoured by this Lippman fan.

Lippman has written several stand alones in the last few years, but her iconic private investigator Tess is back in the 12th entry in this series - the first since 2008's Girl in the Green Raincoat. Lippman has given us tantalizing glimpses into Tess's life through that last book and a cameo or two in her recent standalones. I was eager to catch up with what's been going on in Tess's life - and follow along with another great mystery.

She and partner Crow are the now the parents of three year old Carla Scout. The trials and tribulations of being working parents and the day to day life of a young family are detailed in the personal storyline of Hush Hush. But motherhood and parenthood are also at the heart of the crime of Hush Hush. (And fact mirrors truth in Hush Hush - Lippman is also parent to a young daughter, giving her narrative added depth and insight).

Ten years ago, Melisandre was found not guilty by reason of insanity after she let her two month old daughter die in a hot car - as she sat under a shade tree nearby. Having now been pronounced 'fit', she has returned to Baltimore to reconnect with her two older daughters. But she has chosen to make a documentary of her 'return' - ostensibly to help others recognize the dangers of postpartum depression. Although her premise is noble, her intentions may not be. Tess is hired by her lawyer to provide security analysis and support for this venture.

Favourite characters return (Crow and Kitty) and new ones are added - I remember wishing Sandy would make further appearances and he has - as Tess's new work partner. Carla Scout's personality and dialogue had me chuckling out loud. Tess's view of the world has changed with the arrival of her child - I very much enjoyed and appreciated Lippman's portrayal of parenthood. All sides are explored - good and bad. "What a thin line separates good parents from bad parents."The antagonist of Hush Hush is just as well drawn - but she is so unlikable that it's hard to feel sympathy for her in spite of her past.

"The rage she felt at that moment- it was like nothing she had ever known. It wasn't madness, which was the term Melisandre had always preferred for her illness. Unfashionable and imprecise as it was, madness seemed right to her. There had been something vicious inside her, something apart from her, all those years ago."

Hush Hush is told from more than one viewpoint - Tess, Melisandre, her daughters, the transcripts of the film maker and others-  giving the reader much more information than Tess is working with. I had my suspicions nearing the end, but Lippman kept me guessing most of the way.

Lippman is a Baltimore native - her descriptions of time and place are so very real.

Hush Hush is another fantastic novel from Laura Lippman - again reminding me why she is one of my favourite crime novelists. Haven't read Lippman yet? (Seriously?!) There's a great new interactive website called Tess is Back that will let you see the settings, meet the characters, listen to excerpts and enter to win e-books and audiobooks! You can start now - read an excerpt of Hush Hush.

Laura Lippman has been awarded every major prize in crime fiction. The recipient of the first Mayor’s Prize, she lives in Baltimore, Maryland, and New Orleans, Louisiana, with her husband, David Simon, and their family. Connect with Laura on her website, Facebook, or on Twitter.

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

Monday, March 9, 2015

Giveaway - Going Gypsy - David and Veronica James

What are you going to do when the last kid leaves the nest? Well, today's giveaway is what one one couple decided to do - Going Gypsy: One Couple's Adventure From Empty Nest to No Nest At All by David and Veronica James.

From Skyhorse Publishing:

"Almost every couple faces a “now what?” moment as their last kid moves out of the house. There’s a big empty nest looming over this new and uncertain stage in their lives.

David and Veronica James chose to look at this next phase of life as a beginning instead of an ending. Rather than staying put and facing the constant reminders of empty bedrooms and backseats, a plan began to develop to sell the nest and hit the highway. But could a homebody helicopter mom learn to let go of her heartstrings and house keys all at once?

Filled with a sense of adventure and humor, Going Gypsy is the story of a life after raising kids that is a celebration of new experiences. Pulling the rip cord on the daily grind, David and Veronica throw caution to the wind, quit their jobs, sell their house, put on their vagabond shoes, and go gypsy in a beat-up old RV found on eBay.

On a journey of over ten thousand miles along the back roads of America (and a hysterical, error-infused side trip into Italy), they conquer old fears, see new sights, reestablish bonds with family and friends, and transform their relationships with their three grown children from parent-child to adult-to-adult. Most importantly, they rediscover in themselves the fun-loving youngsters who fell in love three decades prior." Read an excerpt of Going Gypsy.

Here's a quick Q and A with David and Veronica....

"Most people become empty nesters when their kids leave home, but you left home too. How did that come about?

David: We were living in the Virgin Islands and were a bit separated from all of our family and friends in the US. Once our youngest went off to college in the states, like his sisters before him, there was nothing keeping us in the Caribbean. So we decided to sell the house and take what we called a “victory lap,” celebrating a job well done—getting our kids raised and successfully out on their own.Veronica: One of the reasons I had to resort to drastic measures was that I worked at the kids’ school. I was the quintessential “helicopter mom,” hovering over everything my kids did. The idea of going back to the school without the kids there was heartbreaking. So we whittled our belongings down to sixteen boxes and took off in a beat-up old RV we bought on eBay.

What was the process like from when you decided to take off to when you started your adventure?

David: That’s what Going Gypsy is all about. We cover the year when our son left for college and we hit the road. We did not have this big plan in our heads at the start to live a gypsy lifestyle. It organically grew as we went along. Initially, we got the motor home as a way to take some time to visit with family and friends and see the country without going broke. Once we were out on the road a while, we realized how much we liked it and wanted to figure out how we could keep going. It’s been over six years now. Veronica: A big thing that jolted us into thinking about a new approach to our lives was when we Googled “empty nest” and a big ad for an Alzheimer’s patch popped up. We thought, “holy cr-moley!” We have a good third of our lives left and that’s too long a time to be sitting around doing nothing. We see our book as a kick in the butt to get folks going and hopefully think outside the box.

How did you dispense with a lifetime’s worth of belongings?

Veronica: The stress of a big move is huge no matter what the circumstances. We gave away or sold a lot of stuff, keeping only the things we knew we couldn’t live without (like photo albums and family heirlooms). Those we managed to fit into sixteen boxes that we put in storage. Now I find I’m more organized the less I have with me. If I have too many things and too much space to spread out in, I get really scattered and disorganized.

How did you adjust to having “no nest at all?

David: We replaced our nest with one on wheels. The RV became our new home. It’s remarkable how homey it became and how quickly. It’s obviously very condensed, and we do travel light, but when you think about what you really need, we have the basics—a bed, a bathroom, a kitchen, and a table to sit at to eat and write. Veronica: And the view out the window is different every day, which is fantastic!"

"David James was born in Wichita, Kansas, and grew up on the prairie and in the mountains of Colorado. He made his way in the music business as a performer, recording artist, songwriter, and radio personality in Nashville, Tennessee, and St. Croix, US Virgin Islands. After parenting and sending three kids out into the big wide world, he currently lives with his bride of thirty years, Veronica, in a state of perpetual motion. The couple writes about their travels since becoming empty nesters on their popular website, GypsyNester.com. Veronica James was born and raised in Southern California and was like, totally, a Valley Girl. Against any sane person's better judgment, she ran off with a musician at age eighteen. After procreating, she became Earth Mama, then Helicopter Mom, hovering over every detail of her children's lives. Veronica has held approximately thirty-three different jobs including writer. She is never bored." You can keep up with David and Veronica on Facebook, as well as on Twitter.

Sound like a fun read to you? Well, I have a copy to giveaway to one randomly chosen winner. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends March 28. Enter using the rafflecopter form below.