Thursday, April 30, 2015

Pleasantville - Attica Locke

l read and enjoyed Attica Locke's second novel, The Cutting Season, a few years ago. (my review) But, I hadn't read her first book Black Water Rising featuring attorney Jay Porter. Porter returns in Locke's newest book Pleasantville.

1996. A young girl goes missing after a night of handing out flyers in the Houston neighbourhood of Pleasantville. Two other young women have been killed on the streets in the near past, but the crimes remain unsolved. There's also a fierce electoral race running for the mayor of Houston -  and Pleasantville has put forward a candidate. When a family member of the local candidate is arrested for the murder of this last girl, Jay is brought in to defend him. But is he guilty or is the accusation a political tactic?

I enjoyed Jay as a lead character. He's not a perfect man, but he's trying his best as a single father. He's also struggling with doing the right thing for his clients in the class action suit from Black Water Rising, but is growing tired of it all.

Locke has penned a complex political/legal thriller, with the murder part of the plot taking a back seat. It's very well written.  But, I found myself having to put it down every so often as the plot has so many myriad threads and players that I started to glaze over.  I found the first part of the book slow going, but things picked up as the action moved into the courtroom. This is a personal bias though, as I find political machinations tedious. But, that being said, Locke's plotting is also excellent - and somewhat frightening. I honestly think that what she has presented in a fictional setting has its roots in reality - and corruption. Locke explores that theme, as well as family, class and race with a deft hand. Read an excerpt of Pleasantville.

It was only on reading the author's notes that I discovered that Pleasantville is an actual place in Texas. I wonder how much of Locke's story is based on fact?

Attica Locke is the author of the widely acclaimed debut novel Black Water Rising, which was nominated for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, an Edgar Award, and an NAACP Image Award, and was shortlisted for the UK's Orange Prize. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter. You connect with Attica Locke on her website, as well as on Facebook and on Twitter. (Fun fact - Attica Locke is also a writer on Fox's tv drama Empire)

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

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Over the Counter #262

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Tales of roommates and favourite clothes....

First up is Worn Stories by Emily Spivack.

From the publisher, Princeton Architectural Press:

"Everyone has a memoir in miniature in at least one piece of clothing. In Worn Stories, Emily Spivack has collected over sixty of these clothing-inspired narratives from cultural figures and talented storytellers. First-person accounts range from the everyday to the extraordinary, such as artist Marina Abramovi on the boots she wore to walk the Great Wall of China; musician Rosanne Cash on the purple shirt that belonged to her father; and fashion designer Cynthia Rowley on the Girl Scout sash that informed her business acumen. Other contributors include Greta Gerwig, Heidi Julavits, John Hodgman, Brandi Chastain, Marcus Samuelsson, Piper Kerman, Maira Kalman, Sasha Frere-Jones, Simon Doonan, Albert Maysles, Susan Orlean, Andy Spade, Paola Antonelli, David Carr, Andrew Kuo, and more. By turns funny, tragic, poignant, and celebratory, Worn Stories offers a revealing look at the clothes that protect us, serve as a uniform, assert our identity, or bring back the past, clothes that are encoded with the stories of our lives."

Next up is The Roommates by Stephanie Wu.

From the publisher, Picador Books:

"The second entry in the Picador True Tales.  The fraught relationship between roommates is a true cultural obsession. Shows like Friends, The Golden Girls, The Odd Couple, and New Girl have held us rapt for decades, simultaneously delighting and disconcerting us with their depictions of mismatched couples’ cringe-worthy awkwardness and against-all-odds friendship. Maybe it’s that uniquely unnatural experience of living with a total stranger that ignites our curiosity, or just that almost all of us, for better or worse, have had one of our own.

In Stephanie Wu's The Roommates, people of all ages reveal their disastrous, hilarious, and sometimes moving stories of making their best friend for life or lifelong nemesis. Learn what it’s like to share a room in places as unusual as a thirty-person beach house, a billionaire’s yacht, a reality show mansion, and a retirement hotel, and those as familiar as sleepaway camps, boarding schools, and college dorms. Put down your roommate’s dirty dishes and passive-aggressive Post-it’s for this eye-opening glimpse into how people live together in the modern age."

(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!)

All the Rage - Courtney Summers

All the Rage is Courtney Summer's new novel. A Bookworm's World is a quote stop on the book tour from St. Martin's Press today.

From the publisher:

"The sheriff's son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything--friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy's only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn't speak up. Nobody believed her the first time--and they certainly won't now--but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.?

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, Courtney Summers' new novel All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women in a culture that refuses to protect them." Read an excerpt of All the Rage.

Courtney Summers is the author of young adult novels including Fall for Anything, Some Girls Are, and Cracked Up to Be. She lives and writes in Canada, where she divides her time between a piano, a camera, and a word-processing program when she’s not planning for the impending zombie apocalypse. You can connect with Courtney Summers on her website, as well as Twitter and on Facebook.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Find Momo Coast to Coast - Andrew Knapp

You might remember me reviewing Find Momo last year - I adored it! (my review). Well, Momo is on the move again with his BFF Andrew Knapp. This time it's Find Momo Coast to Coast!

Who is Momo you ask? Well Momo is Andrew's border collie. And he just happens to like to hide. And he sits really still while Andrew takes a picture of him. Lots of pictures. Andrew started sharing them with his Instagram friends.....who shared them with their friends.... who shared it with.... and they now have over 250,000 followers!

Andrew and Momo are on the road again as...."adventure occurs when we embrace change. This book is a game of hide-and-seek, a record of our exploration and a review of the journey...which was, of course, the destination."

Coast to Coast takes the duo on a 15,000 mile journey through Canada and the US. And at 100 of their stops, Knapp takes a photo of Momo - hiding. The trick is, of course, to find Momo - although it's not as easy as you would think in some photos! There is an answer key in the back if you get stumped.

Knapp is a talented photographer. His shots range from landmarks to off the beaten path areas and attractions. It was those off the main track photos that I enjoyed the most. My only suggestion would have been to have the photos captioned with locations, although these can be found in the answer key as well.

And, as I did with Knapp's first book - I adored this one as well. There's great photography, the fun of playing hide and see with a border collie - but also the idea of packing up in yellow VW van and heading out to whatever adventure awaits - with a faithful dog.

Find Momo Coast to Coast is just one of those quirky books you can't help but flip through and enjoy. If you liked finding Waldo, you'll love finding Momo. Knapp posts a new photo everyday on or you can follow along on andrewknapp on Instagram as well. Take a peek inside Find Momo Coast to Coast.

Now, I must admit I have a bias.....I too have a border collie. Abby's getting on in years - she's over twelve years old now. But, she is still light on her feet, appearing where you least expect her to. She's the best listener in the world and her big brown eyes are so expressive.  So what would this post be without a shot of Abby?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Tides of Honour - Genevieve Graham

Ahh, historical fiction in times of war - a favourite of mine. The tagline on the cover of Genevieve Graham's new book Tides of Honour made this a must read for me - "Halifax 1917 - Love in a Time of War. Canadian historical fiction!

Tides of Honour opens in 1916 with Danny Baker returning home from WWI to the small fishing outport of East Jeddore, Nova Scotia - minus a leg. While in France, Danny had met a young woman named Audrey. Both smitten, they had struck up a written correspondence that sustained them both through troubled times. They plan to marry when the war is over, but with the loss of his leg, Danny tries to end it. Tides of Honour is told from both Danny and Audrey's perspective, with both protagonists having their own chapters.

Graham has woven a lovely historical piece around war, the aftermath and it's effect on individuals, communities and society. The Halifax Explosion is part of history every Canadian should know about and Graham depicts it very well.  But, it is romance that is at the heart of this novel. Graham hits all the right notes for a love story - love found, love lost, barriers (social, mental, physical and there's a well drawn antagonist it's impossible not to dislike) and a rocky path to resolution. I became caught up in Danny and Audrey's story - hoping for a happy ending. I did find that there were perhaps one too many 'push me, pull me, yes or no moments' near the end of the novel. And, I question a plot point involving Audrey, given her interest and support of the Suffragette movement. But that aside, I was caught up in their story from start to finish.

I loved the setting - I've traveled to Nova Scotia and visited both Halifax and the area around Jeddore. Graham did a wonderful job bringing these locations to life - I was able to easily envision them. The easy community, friendliness and perseverance of the Nova Scotians is just as well portrayed through the supporting players.  Graham herself makes her home on the island - her first hand view shows in her work.

Tides of Honour is an easy, enjoyable read perfect for the back porch after dinner. Read an excerpt of Tides of Honour.

Readers can keep up with Genevieve Graham on Twitter as well as on Facebook.

Canadian readers, you can join Susanna Kearsley and Genevieve Graham on the "Timeless Tour" from May 9 - May 13th. More information can be found here.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Books for Mom with DK Canada

No worries - you've still got a few weeks until Mother's Day! (Sunday May 10) Still not sure what to pick up for Mom?

Well, DK Canada has put together some great suggestions in their Mother's Day Boutique - from beauty to gardening, food, wine and more.

What caught this Mom's eye? I've become more concerned with the chemicals found in many soaps, shampoos, makeup products etc, so Natural Beauty was definitely a book I wanted to explore.

And I liked what I found - from the philosophy of the book - "Concern for what we put in our bodies and a recent trend for natural and wholesome foods, extends into concern for what we are applying to our bodies."

The chart detailing what ingredients are harmful (ie:Sodium Lauryl) was eye opening - and quite frightening. "On average we each use nine different products with a total of 126 unique chemical ingredients, daily. Yet 90 percent of these chemicals have never been fully evaluated for safety."

Okay, so what can be done differently and with less harmful ingredients? There are wonderful suggestions and ideas presented - use natural ingredients from oils, seeds, fruits and plants. How? Recipes are included for cleansers, creams, masks, lip balms, hair products as well as hands and feet. There's lots or great info to take in and try out. Here's a recipe for Honey and Oat Scrub. I was surprised by the extra chapters on make-up, food and nutrition.

But, this Mom isn't just a pretty face. ;)  I'm fascinated by history, so I absolutely had to see the inside of Smithsonian's History of the World in 1,000 Objects. I was curious - what objects could define history and what time periods? Well, from 20,000 BC to present day. From flint blades to space travel. From around the world. And soooo much in between! Each object is presented as a full colour photo with an explanation of what it is, what it did or how it worked. This fantastic coffee table book is a gift that would be read a bit at a time and enjoyed over many, many months! Truly fascinating! Here's a great excerpt to get you started.

You can check out the other suggestions from DK Canada in the Mother's Day Boutique.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Winner - The Perfume Garden

And the lucky winner of a copy of The Perfume Garden by Kate Lord Brown, courtesy of  Thomas Dunne 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!

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #51

- 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
It's time to start thinking about beach bag books for this summer. Jane Green is always a good bet. Her new book Summer Secrets releases in June. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. This week I'm going with the US cover. I love the colour and picture of the hydrangeas. (and that broken stem is a good hint) The UK cover is cute and beachy, but I don't like the line drawing. Are you planning on reading Summer Secrets? Which cover do you prefer? 
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular Saturday feature at 
A Bookworm's World

Friday, April 24, 2015

Blood on Snow - Jo Nesbo

I've read and enjoyed every adult book Jo Nesbo has written. His Harry Hole novels are a favourite. But I've also enjoyed the stand alones - including his newest book - Blood on Snow.

1976 Oslo, Norway. Olav has worked for crime syndicate boss Daniel Hoffmann for a number of years. But, it took him a bit to find the right job within the organization. He turned out to be no good as a pimp, a getaway driver, a robber or a drug dealer. But....he found his niche as a fixer. Olav doesn't fix things - he to fixes people. Permanently.

All seems to be going well, until Daniel Hoffmann gives Olav his latest assignment - Daniel wants his wife fixed. This time the job doesn't go quite as  it should....

"When  exactly do you reach the point where you know so much about your boss that he starts to get worried? And when you do you know he's beginning to wonder if he ought to fix the fixer?"

Now, after that cold blooded description, what you wouldn't expect is to feel sympathy for Olav - but I did. There's more to Olav than meets the eye. Nesbo has created a wonderful anti-hero - one I was actually rooting for.

All the elements of Nesbo's writing that I enjoy are packed into just over 200 pages. Short sharp dialogue, brutal situations and an intensity throughout it all - but always with an undertone and a conscience lurking beneath the violence. Astute readers will capture and appreciate the nods to Hugo's Les Misérables as Olav's tale unfolds.

Blood on Snow is easily devoured in a night's sitting and is a treat for those fans missing Harry. (me included!)  Read an excerpt of Blood on Snow.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Over the Counter #261

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Well, it was weeding week at the library - no, not flowerbeds, but bookshelves. It's time to cull the stacks for low circulating items. These two items are now on the way to the Friends of the Library book sale.......but I'm sure you could order them online if you needed a copy.

How about The Second-hand Parrot by by Mattie Sue Athan and Dianalee Deter?

"Two expert parrot owners point out the pros and cons of adopting a bird that has had a previous owner. All Complete Pet Owner's Manuals are heavily illustrated with color photos and line art, and are filled with reliable, easy-to-understand information on pet care. The many titles in this series show and tell pet owners how to care for dogs, cats, birds, fish, reptiles, gerbils, hamsters, and virtually every other animal that is kept as a pet. The books give advice on purchasing and otherwise acquiring a pet, maintaining health care, housing, proper feeding, and where applicable, grooming and training. Clear, straightforward text comes with high-quality, full-color photos and anatomically accurate line art, as well as helpful tables and charts."

Or perhaps The Ultimate Guide to Weight Training for Golf Past Forty by Rob Price?

"The Ultimate Guide to Weight Training for Golf Past 40 is the most comprehensive and up-to-date golf-specific training guide for adults over 40 in the world today. It contains descriptions and photographs of over 80 of the most effective weight training, flexibility, and abdominal exercises used by athletes who are looking to stay in shape and sharpen their game. This book features year-round golf-specific weight-training programs designed specifically to meet the needs of golfers over 40 and is guaranteed to improve your performance and get you results. No other golf book to date has been so well designed, so easy to use, and so committed to weight training. This book enables golfers past 40 of all skill levels to add extra yardage to their drives and irons without having to buy the latest technology in golf! By following this program you can develop the flexibility and strength required to eliminate fatigue and increase distance with every club in your bag. With stronger and more flexible muscles, you will not only hit the ball farther but you will have better control over all of your shots throughout the round. Most importantly, you will reduce your chances of injury and be able to play 18 holes without any problems! Both beginners and advanced athletes and weight trainers can follow this book and utilize its programs. From recreational to professional, thousands of athletes all over the world are already benefiting from this book and its techniques, and now you can too!"

(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, April 22, 2015

Giveaway - The Invention of Wings - Sue Monk Kidd

Sue Monk Kidd's novel, The Invention of Wings, was a New York Times bestseller in hardcover last year. The paperback releases on May 5/15 - and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader, courtesy of Penguin Books.

From the publisher:

"From the celebrated author of The Secret Life of Bees, a New York Times bestselling novel about two unforgettable American women. Writing at the height of her narrative and imaginative gifts, Sue Monk Kidd presents a masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to have a voice in the world.

Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.

As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.

This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved."

There's a book club kit available, complete with an interview with Sue Monk Kidd, recipes for torte, cocktails and tea as well as some words of Wisdom from The Invention of Wings. Here's a sampling:

“My body might be a slave, but not my mind. For you, it’s the other way round.”

“I was meant to do something in the world, something larger than myself. …How can I explain such a thing? I simply know it the way I know there’s an oak tree inside an acorn. I’ve been filled with a hunger to grow this seed my whole life.”

Read an excerpt of The Invention of Wings. Or listen to an excerpt. And watch for my forthcoming review! Scroll to the bottom to enter to win a copy for yourself!

"The Invention of Wings, Kidd’s third novel was published January 7, 2014 by Viking to wide critical acclaim. It debuted on the New York Times bestseller list at #1 and remained on the hardcover fiction list for over six months. It has been translated into 20 languages, thus far. The novel was chosen for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. Plans are underway to turn the book into a film. Kidd serves on the Writers Council for Poets and Writers, Inc. She lives in Southwest Florida with her husband, Sandy."
You can connect with Sue Monk Kidd on Twitter as well as on Facebook.

Enter to win a paperback copy of The Invention of Wings. Open to US mailing addresses only, no PO boxes please. Ends May 9/15. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Desperate Fortune - Susanna Kearsley

Okay, I admit it - A Desperate Fortune is the first Susanna Kearsley novel I've read. And for all the people who have recommended her books to me over the years - you were absolutely right - she's a wonderful writer!

Kearsley employs my favourite style - a past and present narrative that switches between present day Sara, and Mary in 1732.

Sara has been hired to decode a recently discovered diary dating from 1732. But the owner insists she travel to Paris to work on it. Sara is a gifted puzzle solver and she quickly discovers that the diary belonged to Mary Dundas - a Jacobite exile. As she makes more headway, she recognizes that the book has historical significance beyond Mary's personal thoughts.

I just loved the idea of a coded book finally being revealed after almost three centuries. Of the two story lines, I was more caught up in the past, eager to see where Mary's journey took her.

But that's not to say I didn't enjoy the present. Sara was an interesting protagonist - Kearsley has created a lead character with Aspberger's Syndrome. There have many books with male leads with this syndrome, but this is the first female lead I can think of. I thought Kearsley did a good job with her portrayal.

Both storylines contain a romantic element. Again, I thought Kearsley wrote Sara's story with a realistic, sensitive view of this syndrome. But it was Mary's story that captured me completely. I loved her mettle, her hopes, her determination and her 'affair of the heart'. (And I think I'm a little in love with Mr. M. as well) I loved the stories within a story - Mary is a lover and raconteur of fairy tales. And again, Mary's life mirrors some of her beloved tales.

The author has a strong sense of time and place. Kearsley brings to life a time frame I truly did not know much about, in an interesting and engaging fashion. (The author's notes at the end are fascinating - they detail her historical research for the book.)

Turning the last page left me feeling satisfied - but also sad that the book had ended. This definitely won't be my last Susanna Kearsley book. You can connect with Susanna Kearsley on Twitter, on Facebook and on her website.  Read an excerpt of A Desperate Fortune.

Canadian readers, you can join Susanna Kearsley and Genevieve Graham on the "Timeless Tour" from May 9 - May 13th. More information can be found here.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Down Don't Bother Me - Jason Miller

Now in addition to having an eBook and a physical book always on the go, I also have an audio book queued up as well - sometimes to help me fall asleep.

Well, there was no way I was falling asleep listening to Jason Miller's debut novel Down Don't Bother Me. In fact - I stayed up much later than I had planned!

Miller's protagonist is Slim, an Illinois coal miner with a propensity for finding people. It's not a job for Slim, but he's helped out folks before. But this time, he doesn't have much of a choice. A reporter is found dead in the mine - and the photographer working with him is missing. Luster, the mine owner, wants to run his own search for the photographer - who just happens to be his son-in-law. Well, Slim is a single father, so when Luster dangles a pension as a carrot, Slim takes the job.

Now, I'm sure the written book will Miller many fans. But - the audio version was fantastic! The reader was Johnny Heller - one of my favourites.  He has a low, gravely, worn voice that completely embodied the mental image I had of Slim. Heller's interpretation of Miller's story was perfect rhythm, cadence and tone.

The setting is just as great. Slim makes his home in Little Eygpt - one of the last colliery towns in Illinois. Its down and dirty, populated by a wild variety of characters - methheads, environmental activists, gangs and everyday folks just trying to make a go of it.

I'm going to applaud the supporting cast as well. Slim's daughter Anci is a firecracker - smart and wise to the ugliness of the world even at twelve. I enjoyed the relationship between Slim and his girlfriend Peggy - the give and take, the yes or no. Every protagonist needs a sidekick and Slim has a good one with Jeep - a big, strong guy who is like a brother to Slim.  But, the standout of course, is Slim - he's rough around the edges, but smart, caring and a guy you'd want to have in your corner. He's a lead character you can't help but get behind and cheer for.

What sets off these relationships, and indeed the whole book, is Miller's dialogue and descriptions. Miller's prose are folksy, real, gritty, and so addictive to listen to. I don't think I would have enjoyed the written book as well. The audio just brought the novel to life. The descriptions of the mines and the men who work them were atmospheric (and for this reader claustrophobic!) I could taste the coal dust as the men emerged into the light.

Now, I need to mention the mystery as well - which was wonderfully plotted. I couldn't predict where the story was going to go and happily went along for the ride through the back roads of Little Egypt, eager to join the search for the photographer.

This is the first in a planned series and I will absolutely be listening to the next entry. Highly recommended. Down Don't Bother Me is a great entry in the 'grit lit' genre. Fans of Elmore Leonard's Justified will enjoy this novel. You can connect with Jason Miller on Twitter.

Listen to an excerpt of Down Dont' Bother Me.  Read an excerpt of Down Don't Bother Me.

Sunday, April 19, 2015


And the lucky winner of a copy of  One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis's, courtesy of courtesy of Harper Collins is:

Kara S!
And the winner of Natale Ghent's latest book, Dark Company courtesy of  Doubleday Canada is:

Debbie K!

Congratulations! I've contacted you both by email for your mailing addresses. 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, April 18, 2015

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #52

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

UK cover
US cover
Here's another book I'm really looking forward to - A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson. This is a companion novel to the brilliant Life After Life (my review) The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. I'm going with UK this week - it definitely grabs your attention. I find the US cover too plain. Are you planning on reading A God in Ruins? Which cover do you prefer? 
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover 
is a regular Saturday feature at A Bookworm's World.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Over the Counter #260

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

First up is 101 Two-Letter Words by Stephin Merritt.

From the publisher, W.W. Norton:

" A one-of-a-kind celebration of the 101 two-letter words allowed in Scrabble.

Rolling Stone has called singer-songwriter Stephin Merritt of the Magnetic Fields “the Cole Porter of his generation”; O, The Oprah Magazine has hailed cartoonist Roz Chast as “the wryest pen since Dorothy Parker’s.” Together they have crafted a wonderfully witty book that is sure to prove useful to Scrabble players and Words With Friends addicts—and to delight anyone in thrall to the weirder corners of the English language.

With the mordant wit and clever wordplay of Edward Gorey or Shel Silverstein, Stephin Merritt has written an original four-line rhyming poem for each of the 101 two-letter words included in The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary. Here are poems about familiar words (such as at, go, hi, no, and up) as well as obscure ones (such as aa, ka, oe, qi, xu). And every one of the 101 poems is accompanied by a full-color illustration by the incomparable cartoonist Roz Chast.

101 Two-Letter Words is perfect for any language lover or Scrabble player (it may even improve your score!)."

Next up is AsapSCIENCE: Answers to the World’s Weirdest Questions, Most Persistent Rumors, and Unexplained Phenomena by Mitchell Moffit and Greg Brown.

From the publisher, Scribner:

"From the creators of the wildly popular and seriously scientific YouTube channel, AsapSCIENCE, comes entertaining, irreverent, and totally accessible answers to the questions you never got to ask in science class.

Why do we get hung over? What would happen if you stopped sleeping? Is binge-watching TV actually bad for you? Why should I take a power nap? In their first-ever book, Mitchell Moffit and Greg Brown, the geniuses behind YouTube channel AsapSCIENCE, explain the true science of how things work in their trademark hilarious and fascinating fashion.

Applying the fun, illustrated format of their addictive videos to topics ranging from brain freeze to hiccups to the science of the snooze button, AsapSCIENCE takes the underpinnings of biology, chemistry, physics, and other hard sciences and applies them to everyday life through quirky and relatable examples that will appeal to both science nerds and those who didn’t ace chemistry. This is the science that people actually want to learn, shared in a friendly, engaging style. And in the spirit of science, no subject is taboo. Amid the humor is great information and cocktail conversation fodder, all thoughtfully presented. Whether you’re a total newbie or the next Albert Einstein, this guide is sure to educate and entertain...ASAP."

(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!)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Dead Key - D.M. Pulley - Review AND Giveaway

I collect old keys and I often wonder about what they unlocked and who used them.

D.M. Pulley's debut novel The Dead Key starts with keys and goes from there....

The Dead Key is told in two narratives - the past is 1978 and the present is 1998. And everything revolves around The First Bank of Cleveland. Twenty years ago there were allegations of fraud, staff had disappeared at the bank and more. One night, with no warning to the remaining staff or customers, the bank is shuttered. It has remained locked up and seemingly forgotten for the last twenty years. Except for the security guard who has been on site for all of that time.

1998 - Engineer Iris Latch goes in to map out the building for a possible buyer - and comes across the lost keys to the still locked safety deposit boxes. 1978 - young Beatrice Davies is a new employee of First Bank who stumbles upon some goings on that aren't quite right.  The two women are investigating the same mystery, but I found it was Beatrice I was drawn to. I found myself quite annoyed with Iris's actions, choices and attitude.

But it is the forgotten building untouched for twenty years that had me intrigued. Vending machines still plugged in and working? Family photos on desks? I would love to be an urban explorer in this building. I really enjoyed Pulley's slow revealing of the physical bank and its secrets.

What has lead to the closing of the bank is revealed through the two women's investigations. Corruption,greed and larceny figure heavily into the story line. I did find that some of the plot points in the story needed to be taken with a grain of salt, but overall I thought the The Dead Key was a good debut novel. Recommended for the beach bag or plane ride.

It was only after finishing the book, that I discovered The Dead Key was based on fact - D.M. Pulley did indeed come across a basement full of unclaimed safety deposit boxes!

Read an excerpt of The Dead Key.

"D. M. Pulley’s first novel, The Dead Key, was inspired by her work as a structural engineer in Cleveland, Ohio. During a survey of an abandoned building, she discovered a basement vault full of unclaimed safe deposit boxes. The mystery behind the vault haunted her for years, until she put down her calculator and started writing. The Dead Key was the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award grand prize winner. Pulley continues to work as a private consultant and forensic engineer, investigating building failures and designing renovations. She lives in northeast Ohio with her husband and two children, and she is currently at work on her second novel." You can connect with D.M. Pulley on Twitter as well as on Facebook.

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

And if this sounds like a book you'd like to read, I have a copy to giveaway, courtesy of Thomas and Mercer. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends May 2/15. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Orient - Christopher Bollen

I love book covers - imagining what the story might be from the image(s) chosen before I even turn a page. The cover of Christopher Bollen's new book, Orient, grabbed me from the first glance - the colors, that stormy sky, the ominous looking lighthouse - and a great opening prologue....

"When people try to picture me, they undoubtedly recall only the last time they saw me, just before I went missing. There's been a lot of speculation about the night I left the Far North Fork of Long Island - how a nineteen-year old wanted for questioning in a string of murders managed to elude police and vigilant local drivers..."

The small town of Orient is separated from the mainland by geography, but also by the desire of the inhabitants to just 'leave things be'. Change is not necessary. But it's a beautiful place to live - and a number of 'outsiders' have discovered Orient. One of those native sons brings home Mills, a 'stray' to help him with some home cleanup. And the first body turns up not long after that. That idyllic veneer is paper thin - the town is seething with secrets, recriminations and personal agendas. And then there's that secret government facility on a neighboring island.

As I read, I was continually kept off balance - I had no idea what to expect and could not predict where Bollen's tale was going to go. The characters, their actions and their thoughts had me feeling distinctly unsettled - quite frankly I found most of the players to be unlikable, including Mills, who seems to be at the center of things, even though he is a newcomer.

But, I couldn't put the book down - I wanted to know who the killer was and what the motive was. I really appreciate an author that can keep me engaged and off kilter. The final whodunit was not what (or who) I expected at all. Bollen's mystery is well plotted, but it is the smoldering tensions and the duplicitous and self-oriented characters that were the stand out for me.

"Fear was viral, airborne, contagious. It opened doors for him. It allowed him to touch things that weren't his." Delicious. Orient is a chunkster, coming in at over 600 pages - and this reader enjoyed every one.

"Christopher Bollen is an editor at large for Interview magazine. He is the author of the novel Lightning People, and his work has appeared in GQ, the New York Times, the Believer, and Artforum, among other publications. He lives in New York."
You can connect with Christopher Bollen on his website as well as on Twitter.

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

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Giveaway - Night Life - David C. Taylor

Looking for a new crime series? Here's your chance to win Night Life -  the first book of a new historical crime fiction series from from David C. Taylor.

"New York City in 1954. The Cold War is heating up. Senator Joe McCarthy is running a witch hunt for Communists in America. The newly formed CIA is fighting a turf battle with the FBI to see who will be the primary US intelligence agency. And the bodies of murdered young men are turning up in the city. Michael Cassidy has an unusual background for a New York cop. His father, a refugee from Eastern Europe, is a successful Broadway producer. His godfather is Frank Costello, a Mafia boss. Cassidy also has an unusual way of going about the business of being a cop--maybe that's why he threw a fellow officer out a third story window of the Cortland Hotel.

Cassidy is assigned to the case of Alexander Ingram, a Broadway chorus dancer found tortured and dead in his apartment in Hell's Kitchen. Complications grow as other young men are murdered one after the other. And why are the FBI, the CIA, and the Mafia interested in the death of a Broadway gypsy? Meanwhile, a mysterious, beautiful woman moves into Cassidy's building in Greenwich Village. Is Dylan McCue a lover or an enemy? Cassidy is plagued by nightmares--dreams that sometimes become reality. And he has been dreaming that someone is coming to kill him. ?"

Read an excerpt of Night Life.

"David C. Taylor was born and raised in New York City. He spent twenty years in Los Angeles writing for television and the movies. He has published short stories and magazine articles, and has had an Off-Broadway musical produced in New York. He now divides his time between Boston and the coast of Maine."

I have THREE! copies to giveaway, courtesy of Forge Books. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends May 2/15. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Giveaway - Losing Faith - Adam Mitzner

Who writes great legal thrillers? Lawyers do! Adam Mitzner's third book, Losing Faith, releases tomorrow - and I have a copy to giveaway, courtesy of Gallery Books.

From the publisher:

"Aaron Littman is the premier lawyer of his generation and the chairman of Cromwell Altman, the most powerful law firm in New York City, when a high-profile new client threatens all that he’s achieved—and more. Nicolai Garkov is currently the most reviled figure in America, accused of laundering funds for the Russian Mafia and financing a terrorist bombing in Red Square that killed twenty-six people, including three American students.

Garkov is completely unrepentant, admitting his guilt to Aaron, but with a plan for exoneration that includes blackmailing the presiding judge, the Honorable Faith Nichols. If the judge won’t do his bidding, Garkov promises to go public with irrefutable evidence of an affair between Aaron and Faith—the consequences of which would not only destroy their reputations but quite possibly end their careers.

Garkov has made his move. Now it’s Aaron and Faith’s turn. And in an ever-shocking psychological game of power, ethics, lies, and justice, they could never have predicted where those moves will take them—or what they are prepared to do to protect the truth." Read an excerpt of Losing Faith.

Or you might want to have a listen to the audio verson. 

Adam Mitzner, a lawyer by day, is also the author of A Case of Redemption and A Conflict of Interest. He lives in New York City, with his wife and children." "Adam Mitzner’s critically acclaimed legal thrillers have “more loops and flips than Coney Island’s Cyclone” (Kirkus Reviews) and “more twists than a California cloverleaf interchange” (Bookreporter). His latest, a captivating examination of justice and ethics, will leave you guessing until the last page."

Sound like a book you'd like to read? I have one copy to giveaway away. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Ends May 2/15.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Giveaway winners!

And the lucky winner of  copy of A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison courtesy of Random House is:


And the winner of a copy of One Plus One by Jojo Moyes, courtesy of Penguin Books is:


Congratulations! I've contacted you both by email for your mailing addresses. 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 #51

- 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
Here's another entry from my ever teetering TBR pile! I'm looking forward to The Orient by Christopher Bollen. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. I'm going with US this week -  it's less busy than the UK cover and just seems mysterious. I want to know about that house and light. Although, the UK tagline does give you a better idea of the story inside. Have you or are you planning on reading Orient? Which cover do you prefer?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular Saturday feature at
 A Bookworm's World.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Perfume Garden - Kate Lord Brown - Guest Post AND Giveaway

I'm thrilled to welcome Kate Lord Brown to A Bookworm's World today. Her latest book, The Perfume Garden has just released. I asked Kate about the Canadian connection in The Perfume Garden, as well as some background behind the story.

"Thank you for inviting me to visit 'A Bookworm's World', Luanne. I'm really delighted to hear that 'The Perfume Garden' is being released in Canada and the US. My husband's from Vancouver, so I'd always wanted to write a Canadian hero, and with this story I had my chance. There's a line in the story: 'your home is within you, you carry your place in the world', which seems to resonate with people, and it's something I really believe in as an expat. My husband grew up in Canada, Africa, Russia, and we've both traveled and lived all over the world (currently in the Middle East), but we both have a strong sense of our roots.

The novel was inspired by the years we lived in Valencia, Spain. I wanted to understand why there was a ‘pact of forgetting’ about the Civil War, which was fought in the lead up to WW2. Researching the book was heartbreaking, learning how such a beautiful country literally tore itself apart. It’s recent, painful, history. I was moved by the way that ordinary men and women, and many writers and artists from across the world including Canada joined the International Brigades to fight for democracy, which is why I chose to focus on them. We went back to Valencia last year, for me to do some final research, and we showed our daughter where she was born, which was wonderful.

The story weaves together fact and fiction, so my invented hero, a Canadian doctor named Tom, works alongside Doctor Norman Bethune who pioneered mobile blood transfusion units on the front line, saving many, many lives. Bethune is a Canadian Person of National Historic Significance, and I believe he's been honoured with a statue in Montreal.

'The Perfume Garden' brings together a lot of my interests - history, photography, and the theme of fragrance is a sensuous counterpoint to the war story. In nature I love cut grass, the smell of a bonfire on an autumn day, the smell of orange blossom, gardenia … I could go on forever. At the moment in our desert garden here, the oleander is blooming and smells like honey, and the jasmine is in full flower. I fed all of these wonderful natural scents into the story of the garden. In terms of perfume, I love fragrances like Annick Goutal’s ‘Eau de Sud’, and Diptyque’s ‘Philosykos’. Jo Malone’s ‘Orange Blossom’ candle was lit every evening writing this story and as you can see from the photo, my desk always has a few bottles of cologne around.

I gave Emma, the young perfumer at the heart of the contemporary storyline, my dream house in a village near us in Valencia. It had faded blue walls, and a wonderful Moorish belltower you could just see from the street. I'm hoping that one day I'll get to plant my own permanent perfume garden when our family finally puts down roots, but for now I enjoyed giving Emma her chance at happy ever after."

Thank you so much for stopping by Kate! The Perfume Garden sounds like a wonderful read! Read an excerpt of The Perfume Garden.

"Kate Lord Brown grew up in a wild and beautiful part of Devon, England, and was first published while at school. After studying philosophy at Durham University and art history at the Courtauld Institute, she worked as an art consultant, curating collections for palaces and embassies in Europe and the Middle East. Kate won the BBC International Radio Playwriting Competition, Middle East region, in 2014; was a finalist in ITV's The People's Author competition 2009; and has an MA in creative writing. The Perfume Garden was shortlisted for the UK Romantic Novel of the Year 2014. She lives in the Middle East with her family, and is working on her next novel." You can connect with Kate Lord Brown on her website, her blog, on Facebook as well as on Twitter.

And if you think this is a book you'd like to read, I have a copy to giveaway, courtesy of Thomas Dunne Books. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please.Ends April 25/15. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below.