Monday, August 31, 2015

A Pattern of Lies - Charles Todd

Charles Todd returns with the latest (#7) in the Bess Crawford series - A Pattern of Lies.

Bess is a Sister with England's Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. She has served her country since the beginning of the war in both France and England. It's 1918 and the hope is that the War will soon be over.

A chance encounter on a leave plunges Bess into another mystery. (For in addition to being a stellar nurse, she's just as adept at solving mysteries) Mark Ashton, an officer and former patient invites Bess to his family home to visit with his mother. The family owns the Ashton Powder Mill in Kent - the scene of a horrific tragedy that killed over a hundred men. Ruled an accident by the Army, the villagers think differently. Bess is stunned by the hostility shown to the family. As the rancor - and the danger - rises, Bess agrees to see if she can help. There's a possible witness to the event that can clear patriarch Phillip Ashton's name - he's a tankman in France.

Oh, I just love this series! I think it's the slow, meticulous building of clues, the measured connecting together of pieces of information, observations and snippets of conversation. It's such a change from my usual fast paced murder and mayhem mysteries. The thoughtful, careful pacing of the book lets the reader settle in to relax, enjoy and travel back in time. Todd does a fantastic job of bringing the war and the time period to life. Descriptions of time and place generate vivid mental images. I really enjoy the glimpses into the war nurses' everyday lives. A sense of honour, duty, and loyalty is infused in the character and the plot, again underscoring the time period.
I like Bess - she's strong minded, strong willed, clever, caring and tenacious. Familiar supporting characters return - Bess's father, Colonel Sahib (I have such a strong mental image of this British officer who served in India with the Gurkha's), Simon and Sergeant Lassiter, a cheeky Australian officer who seems quite fond of Bess. There is attraction between Bess and the two men - I often speculate which one will be her choice. (The Aussie would be mine!)

As the war is drawing to an end, I wonder where Todd will take this series in peacetime. This reader will be eagerly awaiting the next book! Read an excerpt of A Pattern of Lies. Fans of Maisie Dobbs would absolutely enjoy this series as well.

Charles Todd is the author of the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries, the Bess Crawford mysteries, and two stand-alone novels. A mother and son writing team, they live in Delaware and North Carolina. Visit their website at and like CharlesToddNovels on Facebook. See what others on the TLC book tour thought. Full schedule can be found here.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

You Can't Judge A Book By It's Cover #68

- 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

Ruth Ware's debut novel In A Dark, Dark Wood has been generating some buzz. So naturally I have added it to my TBR pile! The US cover is on the left and the UK/Canadian cover is on the right. Wow, there's a real difference this week between the two covers! I'm going to go with the US cover - it seems to promise a darker read. The UK pink type, tagline and shot of the girl seems fluffier. Gimme scary.....Which cover do you prefer?
Do you plan to read In A Dark Dark Wood?

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover
is a regular Saturday feature at A Bookworm's World.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Giveaway - The Girl Without A Name - Sandra Block

Good morning mystery fans! I've got a great giveaway for you today! The Girl Without a Name is the second book in Sandra Block's series featuring Dr. Zoe Goldman. And I have three copies to giveaway!

From Grand Central Publishing:

"In what passes for an ordinary day in a psych ward, Dr. Zoe Goldman is stumped when a highly unusual case arrives. A young African American girl, found wandering the streets of Buffalo in a catatonic state, is brought in by police. No one has come forward to claim her, and all leads have been exhausted, so Zoe's treatment is the last hope to discover the girl's identity.

When drugs prove ineffective and medical science seems to be failing, Zoe takes matters into her own hands to track down Jane Doe's family and piece together their checkered history. As she unearths their secrets, she finds that monsters hide where they are least expected. And now she must solve the mystery before it is too late. Because someone wants to make sure this young girl never remembers.

"The Girl Without a Name is a powerful novel of memory and forgetting, of unexpected friendship and understanding...and of the secrets we protect no matter the consequences."

Sandra A. Block graduated from college at Harvard, then returned to her native land of Buffalo, New York for medical training and never left. She is a practicing neurologist and proud Sabres fan, and lives at home with her husband, two children, and impetuous yellow lab Delilah. She has been published in both medical and poetry journals. "Little Black Lies" is her debut, and "The Girl Without a Name" is the next novel in the series. You can connect with Sandra Block on her website, as well as on Twitter and on Facebook.

Sound like a book you'd like to read? You can read the first six chapters here. And I have three copies to give away, courtesy of Grand Central Publishing. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends Sept 12/15. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Over the Counter #278

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner. Sigh... my sweet tooth strikes again......

First up is No-Churn Ice Cream: Over 100 Simply Delicious No-Machine Frozen Treats by Leslie Bilderback.

From the publisher, St. Martin's Griffin:

"In every country you'll find people eating ice cream on street corners, in markets, and in fancy restaurants. But the number of people who make it at home is much smaller. The reason? Making this sweet treat yourself is kind of a pain. Ice cream machines can be expensive, bulky and hard to store, or cheap and inefficient. But what if you could make your own ice cream at home without all of the fuss, for a fraction of the cost of buying it, and without any special equipment? No-Churn Ice Cream is a mouthwatering collection of shortcuts and classic culinary techniques that help you achieve delicious, artisanal results.

All you need to make your quick and easy no-churn ice cream are the following simple tools: - A freezer - A whisk or electric mixer - A can opener - A bowl and a freezable container, such as a loaf pan - A sweet tooth!

Inside you'll find recipes for all the basic flavors, plus more complex and exciting flavors such as Pineapple-Peppercorn and Sweet Potato Marshmallow Swirl. Treat yourself with a decadent Stracciatella gelato or Bananas Foster sorbet, or cool off with some Lavender-Almond sherbet. Your flavor variations are limited only by your imagination. Why not add some bacon to that batch of chocolate-caramel ice cream? Leslie Bilderback, author of Mug Cakes, is here to show you how."

And how about a little pie to go with that ice cream? You might find a recipe you like in Pocket Pies: Mini Empanadas, Pasties, Turnovers and More by Pamela Clark.

From the publisher, Sterling:

"This cookbook does for pies what cupcakes did for cake: shrink the size so they're easy to cook, freeze, serve, or pack for lunch while keeping ALL the flavor of the original. Featuring 116 recipes both savory and sweet, the delicious choices range from Gooey Chicken Pies, Argentinean Empanadas, and Spiced Apple Parcels to White Chocolate and Ginger Mousse Tarts."

(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, August 26, 2015

The Hesitation Cut - Giles Blunt

I am a big fan of Giles Blunt's John Cardinal mystery series. But I've also enjoyed his stand alone novels that cover a broader range of style and themes.

Blunt's latest novel, The Hesitation Cut, is another stand alone novel that is dark, unsettling and so very hard to put down.

Brother William has lived in the Our Lady of Peace Monastery for the last ten years. He's outwardly happy with his life and his work in the library. But when Lauren, a young female poet comes to the monastery's library to do some research, life changes - for both Brother William and Lauren.

Brother William can't stop thinking about her - her looks, her voice, and that scar on her wrist. She just seems so sad......Brother William makes Lauren his next calling - he can help her, save her and look out for her. And so, he leaves the monastery and heads to New York City as Peter to find her.

And he does. But Peter's desire to help evolves into desire alone. Obsessive desire.

Neither Peter or Lauren is a likeable character. (The character I liked the most was Lauren's on again off again boyfriend Mick  - and he has serious flaws as well.) As the story progresses, both characters alternate between victim and perpetrator. Obviously both characters have mental health issues and their meeting is simply the fuse for an implosion in both their lives.

That fuse is slow burning. The reader is helpless, along for the ride, as Blunt builds the tension and the suspense with another layer, another incident and another nuance until it seems there can be no turning back. Sharp eyed readers will take note of a few off the cuff remarks that hint at something more in Peter's past.

As he did in Breaking Lorca, Blunt has crafted an intense psychological study in the pages of The Hesitation Cut, exploring love, hope, devotion, faith and obsession. But it's also an excellent thriller that keeps the reader wondering what is going to happen next - and to whom. Read an excerpt of The Hestiation Cut. You can connect with Giles Blunt on his website, as well as on Twitter.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Guest Cottage - Nancy Thayer

I don't read a lot of romance, but summertime is just the right time for a feel good read. And there's still some summertime left - and time to pick up Nancy Thayer's newest release The Guest Cottage.

Thayer takes us back to Nantucket Island. (There's nothing better than a beach setting as you read on the beach!)

A series of miscommunications results in two renters arriving to spend the summer in the same guest cottage. Widower Trevor and his young son Leo, both still recovering from the loss of Leo's mother and Sophie, an impending divorcee, along with her children Jonah and Lacey. A compromise is met with the two families agreeing to share the house.

Uh, huh you can see it coming can't you - two lonely people.... But of course that path is fraught with will they, won't they, yes, no, and many complications along the way. Thayer blends in a secondary storyline involving the older man living in the attached apartment.

This is a romance novel, so the reader will have to suspend disbelief in some instances. The wealthy Bulgarian tycoon was a bit of a reach and somewhat cliched. And I wondered about some of those bumps on the way (the attractive best friend being one.) But, once I stopped trying to force hard realities into Thayer's story, I enjoyed the book. As I said, it's great escapist summer reading. Those looking for romantic fairy tale kind of read with a happy ending will absolutely find it here. And that's what summer beach reads are all about. Read an excerpt of The Guest Cottage.

You can connect with Nancy Thayer on her website as well as on Facebook.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Fan Expo with DK Canada!

Fan Expo? Well, the term Comic Con might be more familiar to you, but Fan Expo Canada is currently the 3rd largest pop culture event in North America! And its happening Sept 3-6 in Toronto this year. You might be saying to yourself - Luanne are you going? Umm, no, not my thing (although Norman Reedus from The Walking Dead is going be there....) But boy, oh boy is it up my husband's alley!

DK Canada is also going to be there - and in anticipation, they've put together a great selection of books in their Fan Expo Boutique.  

"Want to find out more about the Avengers impressive roster of members? (Was Ant-Man ever a member?) Do you feel the urge to brush up on your Star Wars backstory in anticipation of the upcoming Star Wars The Force Awakens? (who did R4-P17 belong to?) Each of the titles here are perfect for fans who want to discover more about their favourite heroes, villains, TV shows and films! Fully illustrated with fantastic archival photographs and illustrations and expertly annotated text, these are books to fuel any fan's love."

And fans are going to love Marvel Comics: 75 Years of Cover Art. My husband did!

The book is arranged chronologically, starting with covers and superheros from 1938 right through to 2013. Each entry has a full colour picture of the comic cover, accompanied by a blurb detailing the year, the artist and the significance of each. (Note: not every cover is a full page - some are two up.) I loved comics when I was younger as, I had access to a young uncle's collection from the 1950's. I must admit - I ended up picking up the book a number of times and flipping through, and then I just went back and started at the beginning.  It's absolutely fascinating to see the evolution of cover art from pre-war years to the current movie craze.

Many I recognized, but there were some I'd never heard of - how about Patsy Walker who evolved into Hellcat? Or Millie the Model - I'd love to own this one. My husband was all over the ones he remembers - The Avengers, The Fantastic Four, Spiderman, X-Men and a host of others. And some were new to him - Devil Dinosaur and Moon-Boy!? (I was called over many times to 'see')

DK books are always quality - thick glossy stock, vivid, true colours, great information - and addicting. Marvel Comics: 75 Years of Cover Art is, well, simply marvelous. It's a great coffee table book - and everyone who has visited in the last few weeks has picked it and found something they just have to comment on.

75 Years of Cover Art comes in a tough protective sleeve and also has two prints included that could be framed. Hubby's rating - five star. (And I thought it was pretty great too!) Peek inside Marvel Comics: 75 years of Cover Art

Saturday, August 22, 2015

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #67

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

After You is the follow up to Jojo Moyes's novel Me Before You. (I loved it). It releases at the end of September on both sides of the pond. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. It's definitely on my ever growing TBR list. I've never been a fan of the covers of Moyes's books, but I love her stories. Hmm, the curlicue font is on both author name and title of the US cover - and is similar to previous covers. The UK changes font between the two. Knowing the story behind this book, the in flight bird and the sneak peek at the stars ties in the book.  But, this week I'm going to go with the US cover. Which cover do you prefer? Do you plan to read After You?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular Saturday feature
at A Bookworm's World.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Giveaway - A Perfect Heritage - Penny Vincenzi

Looking for another juicy beach read before summer says goodbye? Then, I've got the perfect giveaway for you today!

A Perfect Heritage is Penny Vincenzi's latest release. What's it about? From the publisher, Overlook Press:

"The House of Farrell is a prolific skincare company and home of The Cream, an iconic face product that has seen women flocking to its flagship London store since 1953. At Farrell, you can rely on the personal touch that has been their trademark for generations. The legendary Athina Farrell remains the company’s figurehead, while Florence Hamilton plies their cosmetics with the utmost care and discretion. She is sales advisor—and holder of secrets—extraordinaire.

But of course the world of cosmetics is changing and the once glorious House of Farrell is now in decline, its customers tempted away by more fashionable brands. With no idea how to right the ship, Athina hires Bianca Bailey, a formidable businesswoman, mother of three, and someone who always gets her way. Athina and Bianca lock horns over the future of the House of Farrell but it is the past that tells its devastating tale of ambition and ego, passion and wonder." Read an excerpt of A Perfect Heritage.

"Penny Vincenzi is one of the UK’s best-loved and most popular authors. Since her first novel, Old Sins, was published in 1989, she has written fifteen bestselling novels, including The Decision and the number one bestsellers The Best of Times and An Absolute Scandal. She joined the Mirror and later became a journalist, writing for The Times, the Daily Mail and Cosmopolitan amongst many others, before turning to fiction. Several years later, over seven million copies of Penny’s books have been sold worldwide and she is universally held to be the ‘doyenne of the modern blockbuster’ (Glamour). Penny Vincenzi has four daughters, and divides her time between London and Gower, South Wales." You can connect with Penny on Twitter.

And if you'd like to add A Perfect Heritage to your library, I have one copy to giveaway. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends Sept 5/15.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Over the Counter #277

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? All things literary this week - letters....and rooms......

First up is Novel Interiors: Living in Enchanted Rooms Inspired by Literature by Lisa Borgnes Giramonti. Photos by Ivan Terestchenko.

From the publisher, Potter Style:

"For those who have ever lost themselves in the stylish worlds of novels like Sense and Sensibility, The Age of Innocence, Wuthering Heights, The Picture of Dorian Gray and countless others, this design book embraces the fantasy of time and place, showing you how to bring some of those elements into your own home.

Lisa Giramonti inspires a new approach to decorating: by teaching us through the lens of worlds we may already know and love. With gorgeous photographs by World of Interiors photographer Ivan Terestchenko, aspirational quotes, and tailored reading lists, Novel Interiors reveals the essence and details of interiors mentioned in great literary works. This is a stunning, photo-driven book that shares enchanting and timeless ways to live more elegantly."

Next up is I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives by Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda with Liz Welch.

From the publisher, Little, Brown and Company:

"The true story of an all-American girl and a boy from Zimbabwe and the letter that changed both of their lives forever.

It started as an assignment. Everyone in Caitlin's class wrote to an unknown student somewhere in a distant place.

Martin was lucky to even receive a pen-pal letter. There were only ten letters, and fifty kids in his class. But he was the top student, so he got the first one.

That letter was the beginning of a correspondence that spanned six years and changed two lives.

In this compelling dual memoir, Caitlin and Martin recount how they became best friends --and better people--through their long-distance exchange. Their story will inspire you to look beyond your own life and wonder about the world at large and your place in it."

(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, August 19, 2015

No Other Darkness - Sarah Hilary

I picked up Sarah Hilary's debut (and award winning) novel, Someone Else's Skin last year and thought it was fantastic. Hilary's second novel, No Other Darkness is newly released - and just as fantastic.

Detective Inspector Marnie Rome returns - and this latest case is a doozy. A homeowner in a newer subdivision is digging in his back garden when he uncovers the entrance to an old underground bunker. But what he finds inside is heartbreaking - two small skeletons curled up together on a camp bed. And there are tins of food, toys and clothing stored about as well. Who are these children? Why would someone provide for them, then leave them to die?

DI Rome's team is incensed, as is the public. But,  as they dig deeper, they find there is much more to the story. I'm going to leave it at that, as I don't want to give anything away. But - Hilary's plotting is inventive, complex and oh, so very good. There are many tendrils, threads and paths to pick from on the way to the final whodunit. And best of all, I wasn't able to predict where the story was going to go. I really enjoy being kept on my toes. Hilary's first book explored domestic abuse, racism and homophobia as part of her plot. She again includes salient issues as part of the investigation.

And speaking of complex, let's talk about Marnie Rome. For, as much as I applaud Hilary's plotting, it is this character that had me eager to read the next book in the series. Rome's own background mirrors many of her cases - her parents were horrifically murdered.  And that past is never far from the present. She knew the killer - and they are still in contact as she tries to find the answer as to why he killed them. Rome is a strong female lead - smart, driven and intuitive. She does prefer to operate on her own terms - sometimes to her detriment. The past effects her view of the present and she often makes judgement calls with those memories colouring her decisions - not always the wisest move. Rome's right hand, DS Jake is a great character as well.  He has his own back story and it too is fleshed out even more in this second book.

The pace is quick, the crime is arresting and the characters are captivating. (And that cover is creepy!) An absolutely recommended book - but do yourself a favour - pick up the first book as well. Read an excerpt of of No Other Darkness.

Hilary is at work on book number three and it's definitely on my must read list You can connect with Sarah Hilary on Facebook, as well as on Twitter and also on her blog.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Woman With A Secret - Sophie Hannah

Last year, Sophie Hannah penned a new Hercule Poirot novel in the style of Agatha Christie. I thought she did a great job writing in the style of Christie but still injecting a bit of her own inflection into the story. That was the first I've read of Hannah's work, so I was eager to pick up her latest North American release, Woman With A Secret. (Note: Woman With A Secret was published in the UK as The Telling Error.)

Hannah grabs the reader's attention right off the bat with the opening prologue - a ad on a 'personals' website - looking for a woman who wants to share her secret...."and then there's the sort of intimacy that involves two people sharing nothing more than a secret. An important secret that matters to both of them."...that then goes on to describe an unusual murder scene.

Nicki Clements is a woman with a lot of secrets - secrets she never wants to see the light of day. When a noted (and reviled) newspaper columnist is found murdered, Nicki is driving near the crime area. Her very attempt to avoid the police check in the neighbourhood brings her to the attention of Detective Chief Simon Waterhouse and his team. But Nicki is not the only person of interest.

Hannah provides the reader with a plethora of suspects, each with their own reason to want Damon Blundy dead. A number of Blundy's vitriolic columns are inserted between chapters. But, it is Nicki in the reader's forefront. She hints at her past, at events and happenings that only serve to keep the reader turning pages. " Being bad and getting away with it: there's not feeling like it." But is she telling us the truth? Nicki is a self proclaimed liar - always has been. (Unreliable narrators are all the rage these days.)

There are numerous characters to keep track of in the both the investigation and the investigators. I admit to feeling slightly overwhelmed with all of them and their personal histories. It was only after finishing the book that I discovered that this was the 9th book in the Simon Waterhouse and Charlie Zailer series. I did quite like these two characters - and a few others in the department, but everyone else was quite despicable and ugly in nature.

Hannah is a clever, clever writer both in prose and plotting. Her character studies are quite fascinating. However, I must admit, by the final pages I just wanted to be finished - I had grown weary of all the convoluted machinations by every player. And there were a few loose ends not quite tied up. (Yes, I'm one of those people who wants everything and everyone accounted for by The End.)

Woman With A Secret was a middle of the road read for me. Not fantastic, but not terrible.  Read an excerpt of Woman With A Secret.

"Sophie Hannah is the New York Times bestselling author of nine psychological thrillers and The Monogram Murders, the first novel to be authorized by the estate of Agatha Christie. Her books have received numerous awards, including a UK National Book Award, and are published in twenty-seven countries. She lives in Cambridge, England."Find out more about Sophie at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and on Twitter.  See what others on the TLC book tour thought - full schedule can be found here.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Grand Summer Reads Giveaway - It Started With Paris - Cathy Kelly

Grand Central Publishing is running a summer long program aptly named Grand Summer Reads featuring four GCP titles to keep you in "reading bliss."

The fourth and final title is It Started With Paris by Cathy Kelly. And I have three copies to giveaway to three lucky readers!

From the publisher:

"It all started with Paris. At the top of the Eiffel Tower, a young man proposes to his girlfriend. In that second, everything changes, not just for the happy couple, but for the family and friends awaiting their return in Ireland.

Leila's been nursing a broken heart since her husband suddenly left her, but she's determined to put on a brave face for the bride. Vonnie, a widow, has finally dared to let love back into her life, but a curveball arises that puts another's safety at risk. And Grace, a school principal, finds that her son's impending union brings her ex-husband back into her daily life, and starts to ponder past decisions and wonder if her divorce was in fact a mistake.

As these three women gather around the young couple to prepare for the wedding, they'll each have to address their own demons and find a way to move forward, whatever the cost." Read an excerpt of It Started With Paris. And there's a reading group guide ready for book clubs.

"Cathy Kelly is published around the world, with millions of copies of her books in print. A #1 bestseller in the UK, Ireland and Australia, she is one of Ireland's best-loved storytellers. She lives with her husband, their young twin sons, and their three dogs in County Wicklow, Ireland." You can connect with Cathy Kelly on Twitter as well as on Facebook.

And here's Cathy's reply to the question: What, in your opinion, makes a Grand Summer Read?

"A book that makes you feel as if you're on vacation, even when you’re not – and a book that transports you to another world. For me, a Grand Summer Read is a book I simply can’t wait to dive into, like diving into clear blue water on a summer’s day."

Check out the other titles featured on Grand Summer Reads. (And enter to win all four titles from Grand Central Publishing!)

And if you'd like to dive into It Started With Paris, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends Aug 29/15.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #66

- 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
Jennifer Weiner's newest book - Who Do You Love - releases in August both sides of the pond. It's on my ever growing TBR list. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Hmm, that red paperclip hear appears on both cover, but I'm not sure I'm taken with the blue. But the stars and tree give it a different feel than the stark white cover. The font for the author's name is the same for both, but funnily enough one has a small j and one a capital J. In the end, I am going to go with the UK cover this week - it has a bit of a magical feel to it.
What cover do you prefer?
 Do you plan to read Who Do You Love?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular Saturday feature
at A Bookworm's World.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Wonder of All Things - Jason Mott - Review AND Giveaway

Jason Mott's latest novel, The Wonder of All Things, has just been released in paperback.

Mott revisits a premise explored by numerous authors - a miracle and the aftermath.

When an accident threatens to take the life of her friend Wash, young Ava doesn't think, doesn't know how, but she puts her hands on Wash and the gaping wound is healed. And then the proverbial cat is out of the bag - the news spreads and the circus begins.

Their small town is invaded by the press and those looking to be healed. The medical community pokes and prods Ava and the religious sects want to own her. Her widowed father Macon is torn between protecting his daughter and being caught up in the frenzy.

While it is not a new premise for a book, Mott examines it with his own interpretation, exploring the themes of obligation, family, love and loss.  Mott has beautiful prose - his turns of phrases, descriptions and dialogues are eloquently expressed. It's worth reading slowly to savor the sense and the story he builds. People magazine called The Wonder of All Things 'spellbinding'.

While I enjoyed the book, I found I didn't like many of the characters. I expected to find myself drawn to Ava, I was - but not a much as I felt I should be. I was very disappointed with Macon. My favourite character ended up being Brenda, Wash's grandmother. A series of vignettes from the past of Ava and her mother are a lovely interlude, but provide no answers as to why her mother died.

Mott gives the reader an emotional ride of a read - you'll vacillate between sadness, shock, anger, hope, denial and more. And the ending? Fitting I think, but have the hankies ready.

Read an excerpt of The Wonder of All Things.

"Jason Mott holds a BA in fiction and an MFA in poetry both from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and is the author of two poetry collections. His writing has appeared in numerous literary journals, and he was nominated for the 2009 Pushcart Prize. In addition to the rare achievement of receiving starred reviews from all four of the top publishing industry magazines—Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist, and Kirkus Reviews—The Returned was named a “People Pick” by People magazine, and was featured in Essence, Entertainment Weekly, Washington Post, among others. Mott also appeared on numerous broadcast programs including NPR’s All Things Considered and Tell Me More, The Travis Smiley Show, the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Radio Show and many local television shows across the U.S. Mott lives in North Carolina." You can connect with Jason Mott on Facebook as well as on Twitter.

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

And if you think The Wonder of All Things sounds like a book you'd like to read, I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends August 29. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Over the Counter #276

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Orange memoirs abound lately.....

First up is Criminal That I Am by Jennifer Ridha.

From the publisher, Scribner:

"A candid memoir from a talented young lawyer who becomes romantically entangled with the convicted drug felon she represents—Cameron Douglas, son of film actor Michael Douglas—and who soon makes the mistake of her life. Or does she?

Criminal That I Am is a defense attorney’s account of the criminal justice system as seen through the prism of a particular case: her own. Jennifer Ridha is enlisted to defend Cameron Douglas in a federal drug trafficking case while he is incarcerated in a maximum-security prison under difficult, even dangerous, conditions. As media scrutiny and the pressures of Cameron’s case mount and as Jennifer becomes increasingly transfixed by her charismatic but troubled client, he asks her to do the unthinkable: commit a crime. In a decision inexplicable even to herself, guided only by her indignation and infatuation, she agrees. When her transgression is discovered, her criminal case begins, and her life as she knows it is over.

A page-turning trip through professional self-destruction, tabloid scandal, and self-reckoning, Criminal That I Am is about the choices one woman makes: how they define her, how she lives with them, and, ultimately, how she is transformed by them. Recounted with brutal introspection and self-deprecating humor, this strange and twisted love story contemplates what we make of crime and punishment...and what it makes of us."

Next up is Out of Orange by Cleary Wolters.

From the publisher, Harper Collins:

"The real-life Alex Vause from the critically acclaimed, top-rated Netflix show Orange Is the New Black tells her story in her own words for the first time—a powerful, surprising memoir about crime and punishment, friendship and marriage, and a life caught in the ruinous drug trade and beyond.

Fans nationwide have fallen in love with Orange Is the New Black, the critically acclaimed and wildly popular Netflix show based on Piper Kerman’s sensational #1 New York Times bestseller. Now, Catherine Cleary Wolters—the inspiration for Alex Vause, Piper’s ex-girlfriend, friend, and sometimes-romantic partner on the show—tells her true story, offering details and insights that fill in the blanks, set the record straight, and answer common fan questions.

An insightful, frustrating, heartbreaking, and uplifting analysis of crime and punishment in our times, Out of Orange is an intimate look at international drug crime—a seemingly glamorous lifestyle that dazzles unsuspecting young women and eventually leads them to the seedy world of prison. Told by a woman originally thrust into the spotlight without her permission—Wolters learned about Piper’s memoir in the media—Out of Orange chronicles Wolter’s time in the drug trade, her incarceration, her friendships and acquaintances with odd cellmates, her two marriages, and her complicated relationship with Piper. But Wolters is not solely defined by her past; she also reflects on her life and the person she is today.

Filled with colorful characters, fascinating tales, painful sobering lessons, and hard-earned wisdom, Out of Orange is sure to be provocative, entertaining, and ultimately inspiring."

(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, August 12, 2015

On the Run - Alice Goffman

Alice Goffman undertook a massive project for her academic dissertation in sociology - an ethnographic study documenting the lives of a group of people living in a predominately black, crime ridden neighborhood in Philadelphia. She ended up doing more than documenting - she lived in and around the 'hood for six years, becoming roommates with two of the young men who figure prominently in her book.

Goffman ends up being accepted as part of the scenery in the pseudonymous 6th Street, welcomed by a group of young men and their families to document their lives. And those lives are full of trouble - crime, drugs, poverty, arrests, warrants and any other number of hardships. Goffman immerses herself in part their lives, crossing the impartial observer line in many cases to become a participant.

Her statistics regarding young, poor black men are frightening. This book does serve to underscore what we see almost every day on news feeds. We also get to know the friends and families of this core group. Goffman does also make connections with people in the neigbourhood who are 'clean' and trying to make a good life without the crime, guns etc. These subjects are just as interesting, but receive less focus.

I did find that some stories were repeated in more than one chapter - Goffman seems to be using certain compelling incidents to illustrate numerous points she wants to highlight. I found the appendix of  her own journey to and through the book quite fascinating.

On the Run is an accounting from one side of the street. There are some questions as to the veracity of some of the anecdotes and interactions that Goffman describes. Some of her own motives, behaviors and recollections have been called into question. Despite that, On the Run does provide much food for thought - and discussion.

Robin Miles was the narrator. She has a voice that is easy to listen to, clear and well modulated She is able to emphasize and empathize with a change in tenor and tone. She's also able to provide suitable voices when one of the subjects of the book is 'speaking'. I thought she interpreted the book well. Listen to an excerpt of On the Run.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Broken Promise - Linwood Barclay

I've been eagerly awaiting the release of Linwood Barclay's new book - Broken Promise. I didn't read any synopses  - I knew I would love it, (as I have all his other books) and wanted to be completely surprised.

Well, wasn't I surprised to find many characters I already knew and enjoyed living in the pages of this new book....

Newspaper reporter David Harwood (Never Look Away) moves back to his hometown to provide a better life for his young son. But he loses his job shortly after returning and is forced to move back in with his parents. He's on an errand for his mom when he stops in at his cousin Marla's house and discovers her with a baby that 'an angel dropped off.' Marla's baby died at birth - so whose baby is this?

Promise Falls Detective Barry Duckworth (a favourite character of mine who was in Too Close to Home, Never Look Away and Trust Your Eyes) has his hands full. In addition to the baby case, someone has ritualistically slaughtered and displayed 23 squirrels, a ride at the defunct amusement park in town is up and running - with mannequins in seat 23, and a rapist is on the prowl at the local college.

Uh huh, lots going on.....I wondered how is Barclay going to tie all of this together?

I find Barclay's storytelling so engaging. We are introduced to many of the residents of Promise Falls. Backgrounds and personal storylines are detailed - some more than others. The reader is never sure who is going to play a part - and how large and in what capacity. I loved the detail and the ensemble cast - it somewhat reminded me of Stephen King's narrative style. (King calls Barclay "A suspense master.")

But are these the only crimes in Broken Promise? Or just the only ones we know about? There's lots of hinting at events in the past that may paint a larger picture - snippets and tendrils tease the reader. Clues to many of the current crimes are quietly inserted at the end of some chapters, slowly building the answers to whodunit. I did figure out one of the crimes before the end, but I was happy to discover that I was not completely right. And that there's more to the story of Promise Falls.

Now, I've read that a few readers feel cheated at the ending as not every loose end was tied up. This reader? I loved it - especially now that I know there will be two more novels in the 'Promise' series! The next book, Far From True, is due out in March 2016.  A must read for me!

Read an excerpt of Broken Promise. You can connect with Linwood Barclay on Twitter as well as on Facebook.

Want even more? Hazlitt Magazine has a great four part podcast, bringing even more of Promise Falls to you. Barclay himself is the reader.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Giveaway - The Flicker Men - Ted Kosmatka

Oh, I love the cover of Ted Kosmatka's new novel, The Flicker Men. It absolutely makes me want to know what the book is about.....

From the publisher, Henry Holt:

"A quantum physicist shocks the world with a startling experiment, igniting a struggle between science and theology, free will and fate, and antagonizing forces not known to exist.

Eric Argus is a washout. His prodigious early work clouded his reputation and strained his sanity. But an old friend gives him another chance, an opportunity to step back into the light.

With three months to produce new research, Eric replicates the paradoxical double-slit experiment to see for himself the mysterious dual nature of light and matter. A simple but unprecedented inference blooms into a staggering discovery about human consciousness and the structure of the universe.

His findings are celebrated and condemned in equal measure. But no one can predict where the truth will lead. And as Eric seeks to understand the unfolding revelations, he must evade shadowy pursuers who believe he knows entirely too much already." Read an excerpt of The Flicker Men.

"If Stephen Hawking and Stephen King wrote a novel together, you'd get The Flicker Men. Brilliant, disturbing, and beautifully told." -Hugh Howey, New York Times bestselling author of the Wool series."

Ted Kosmatka is the author of Prophet of Bones and The Games, a finalist for the Locus Award for Best First Novel. His short fiction has been nominated for the Nebula and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Awards. He lives in the Pacific Northwest. You can connect with Ted on Twitter as well as on Facebook and on his website.

If you'd like to read The Flicker Men, I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends Aug 22/15.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #65

- 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
John Grisham's latest legal thriller releases in October of this year on both sides of the pond. And it is on my TBR list (although I didn't love the last one - Gray Mountain) The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. It's an easy choice for me this week - the UK cover hands down. I don't like the font, the colours or the picture on the US cover at all. The UK is much more appealing to me. What cover do you prefer?
Do you plan to read Rogue Lawyer?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular Saturday feature
at A Bookworm's World.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Grand Summer Reads Giveaway - The Girls of August - Anne Rivers Siddons

Grand Central Publishing is running a summer long program aptly named Grand Summer Reads featuring four GCP titles to keep you in "reading bliss."

The third title is The Girls of August by Anne Rivers Siddons.

From the publisher:

"Now in paperback, Anne Rivers Siddons's New York Times bestselling novel about four friends whose lives are forever changed by the events of one summer.

Every August, four women would gather together to spend a week at the beach, renting a new house each year. The ritual began in their twenties when their husbands were in medical school, and became a mainstay of every summer thereafter. The only criteria was oceanfront and isolation, their only desire was to strengthen far-flung friendships. They called themselves the Girls of August. But when one of the women dies tragically, the group slowly drifts apart and their vacations together are brought to a halt. Years later, a new marriage reunites them and they come together once again on a remote barrier island off the South Carolina coast. There, far from civilization, the women make startling discoveries that change them in ways they never expected." Read an excerpt of The Girls of August.

"Anne Rivers Siddons previous bestselling novels include Burnt Mountain, Off Season, Sweetwater Creek, Islands, Nora Nora, Low Country, Up Island, Fault Lines, Downtown, Hill Towns, Colony, Outer Banks, King's Oak, Peachtree Road, Homeplace, Fox's Earth, The House Next Door, and Heartbreak Hotel. She is also the author of a work of nonfiction, John Chancellor Makes Me Cry. The Girls of August is Siddons's 19th novel."

Check out the other titles for the Grand Summer Reads  (And enter to win all four titles from Grand Central Publishing!)

And if you'd like to make The Girls of August part of your summer reading list, I have three copies to giveaway to three lucky readers! Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends August 22/15.

Giveaway - Stone Rider - David Hofmeyr

Are you an YA fiction fan? A sci-fi fan? Both? Well, I've got a great giveaway for you today if any of those descriptions apply!

Stone Rider is David Hofmeyr's debut novel - and film rights have already been optioned by Working Title, with a screenplay development under way!

From the publisher, Delacorte Press:

"In the vein of the cult classic Mad Max series, crossed with Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, this inventive debut novel blends adrenaline-fueled action with an improbable yet tender romance to offer a rich and vivid portrayal of misfits and loners forced together in their struggle for a better life.

Adam Stone wants freedom and peace. He wants a chance to escape Blackwater, the dust-bowl desert town he grew up in. Most of all, he wants the beautiful Sadie Blood. Alongside Sadie and the dangerous outsider Kane, Adam will ride the Blackwater Trail in a brutal race that will test them all, body and soul. Only the strongest will survive.

The prize? A one-way ticket to Sky-Base and unimaginable luxury. And for a chance at this new life, Adam will risk everything."

"With a special section comprised of excerpts from The Riders Code: A Manual for Riders of the Vodden Circuit and a Q andA with the author, STONE RIDER is an action-packed page-turner that will appeal to fans of fantasy and adventure." For ages 12+. Read an excerpt of Stone Rider.

"David Hofmeyr was born in South Africa and lives in London and Paris. In 2012 he was a finalist in the SCBWI Undiscovered Voices competition, and in 2013 he graduated with distinction from Bath Spa University with an MA in Writing for Young People. He works as a Planner for Ogilvy and Mather in the UK. Stone Rider is David Hofmeyr’s first novel. He also wrote the companion novel, Blood Rider." You can connect with David at his website as well as on Twitter and Facebook.

If Stone Rider appeals to you, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada. Ends Aug 22/15.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Over the Counter #275

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

First up is The Sweetapolita Bakebook: 75 Fanciful Cakes, Cookies, and More to Decorate by Rosie Alyea.

From the publisher, Penguin Random House:

"Paint, doodle, and sprinkle your way to stunning one-of-a-kind sweets.

The world of Sweetapolita is sparkly and sprinkly and charming as can be, with 75 recipes for everything from pretty homemade cookies to decadent layer cakes. But what really sets these treats apart are interactive designs that let everyone in on the fun of decorating: Painted Mini Cakes are served with edible "paint" for guests to personalize at the table, the fondant-covered tiered Chalk-a-Lot cake is paired with homemade edible "chalk," and Rainbow Doodle cookies are made for kids to go to town on with edible markers.

Rosie Alyea, the creator of the Sweetapolita blog, frolics in flour and frosting, and she loves to get her two young daughters involved, too. The pages of her debut book are full of playful ideas that will inspire creativity in bakers of all levels—including a recipe for making sprinkles at home and numerous ways to showcase them, such as the Sprinkle-Me-Silly Pizza with rainbow jimmies and nonpareils galore.

With 75 full-color photographs of cookies, cakes, and more plus step-by-step technique tutorials, The Sweetapolita Bakebook will change the way bakers decorate, while entertaining every kid—and kid-at-heart."

Next up is Oh Joy!: 60 Ways to Create Joy by Joy Cho.

From the publisher, Harper Collins:

"A beautiful, colorful, inspired guide to help anyone bring joy and whimsy into their lives with stylish projects, from home decor to food to fashion, from the popular Oh Joy blogger and Pinterest sensation.

Thirteen million Pinterest members look to Joy Cho, a designer, blogger, mother, and founder of the Oh Joy blog, for creative inspiration. Now, she builds on that success to offer a cornucopia of new ideas in this simple yet sophisticated full-color book. Following the unique aesthetic and joyful tone of her blog, Oh Joy! shows you how to add style, detail, color, flavor, and bliss to your daily life.

For Joy, it's the small things that can make a big impact, like decorating cakes with fun toppers, or brightening your home with vibrant pops of color. Joy wants to help you make your world a happier, prettier place and her boundless enthusiasm is infectious. Oh Joy! is packed with quick, easy, and fun projects and fabulous notions for:

Fashion: tips for mixing patterns or finding unique pieces at vintage stores
D├ęcor: make your own wallpaper and use artificial flowers in unexpected ways
Entertaining: suggestions for quirky centerpieces and photo booth backdrops
Food: Recipes for striped cakes, surprise confetti cookies, and other bite-sized foods
Gifts: Spread the joy with personalized lottery tickets and pop-up wrapping paper

Incorporate beauty into the things you do—make your everyday life feel more colorful, fresh, and fun—and get an intimate, gorgeous look into the world of Joy Cho with Oh Joy!"

(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, August 5, 2015

Crooked Heart - Lissa Evans

Oh, I'm telling you right up front that Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans is going to be one of my top reads for 2015!

It's the height of WWII and England is on high alert. Ten year old orphan Neil Bostock is evacuated from London. He lands with Vee - a small time con artist with a good heart, but not great luck. Neil is educated, precocious and misses his suffragette Godmother Mattie terribly. Neil and Vee seem like an unlikely pairing. But 'war makes strange bedfellows.' And they might just have what the other needs.....

Evans has created such tangible characters in Vee and Noel. My opinion of Vee changed as the book progressed - from dismissing her as a hustler, to getting to know her, to empathizing with her losses, and finally to cheering her on, hoping against hope that the ending I want would materialize. We get to know Noel slowly as he assesses his current situation and adapts as need be. I was immediately taken by him. Other supporting characters are just as interesting - I especially enjoyed the myriad letters that Vee's mute mother pens. Mattie makes only a brief appearance, but her presence is large in Noel's life and memories and we come to love her as much as he does. The wartime setting is also a character in Crooked Heart. The rationing, the attitudes, the bombings and more all shape, direct and change the course of Vee and Noel.

Now, yes, there are sad situations, but.....Evans has a wickedly dark sense of humour that's quite appealing. Her sly wit is visible in a description, a look or a snippet of dialogue. Above all, Crooked Heart is entertaining. I read so many books and often find I can predict where a tale will go, or recognize a plot. I truly had no idea where Evans was going to take her tale.

Initially, I took the moral high ground when confronted with Vee's scams. But, my opinion rapidly changed as I got to know Vee and Noel. I found myself soundly in their corner - and hoping they could scam the scammers. Evans nicely explores right and wrong through many characters and situations in Crooked Heart. And by the end, it's impossible to say that a little bit of wrong isn't a little bit right.

I love books that speak to the human condition - life, love, death and everything that comes in between. This unlikely pair totally won my heart. I was sad to turn the last page. But satisfied, very satisfied. Crooked Heart is, well, heartwarming, heartbreaking and oh,so very good. Heartily recommended!

Read an excerpt of Crooked Heart.

"Lissa Evans, a former radio and television producer, is the author of three previous novels, including Their Finest Hour and a Half, which was longlisted for the Orange Prize. Crooked Heart was also longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction (formerly known as the Orange Prize); it is her first novel to be published in the US. Evans lives in London with her family. Find out more about Evans at her website, and follow her on Twitter."  See what others on the TLC book tour thought. Full schedule can be found here.