Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Before the Fall - Noah Hawley - Review and Giveaway

Noah Hawley is an incredibly talented writer. His highly anticipated new novel, Before the Fall, releases today. And I have two copies to giveaway to two lucky readers!

Eleven people board a private plane for a short flight from Martha's Vineyard to New York City. Sixteen minutes into the flight the plane crashes. The only survivors are a four year old boy and the last minute addition to the flight - a down on his luck painter. The three crew members, the wealthy owner, his wife, daughter, bodyguard as well as his also wealthy friend and his wife all perish.

The media storm surrounding the survivors is immediate. As the search for the plane and bodies gets underway, speculation, theories and conspiracies abound.....with the media providing ample fuel.

Hawley takes us back to before the plane crashes - exploring each character's past until the moment they step on the plane. Each person's story is rich and full. This is what I love about Hawley's writing - the completeness of it. Even though we only have a short time to hear each character's voice before the crash, their backstories keep them firmly in the present. But it was Scott and young JJ that held me enthralled as they try to come to terms with having survived and navigate the media circus.

As more details and confirmations emerge from the present investigation, each 'before' story adds another possible reason or act that could have contributed to or caused the crash. Which character is it? Or was it simply an accident? That mystery is only revealed in the final few chapters.

"Everyone is from someplace. We all have stories, our lives unfolding along crooked lines, colliding in unexpected ways."

Hawley delivers a blistering look at how media shapes our opinions, our lives and the public's thirst for sensational and lurid details about someone else's life. A sense of entitlement to know and expose those details to the world. And how that can affect lives and outcomes.

The publisher has attached the 'thriller' label to this book. I don't quite agree with that, but I do agree that it's a heck of a good read. Read an excerpt of Before the Fall.

Noah Hawley is an Emmy, Golden Globe, PEN, Critics' Choice, and Peabody Award-winning author, screenwriter, and producer. He has published four novels and penned the script for the feature film Lies and Alibis. He created, executive produced, and served as showrunner for ABC's My Generation and The Unusuals and was a writer and producer on the hit series Bones. Hawley is currently executive producer, writer, and showrunner on FX's award-winning series, Fargo. (I love Fargo!) You can connect with Noah Hawley on Twitter as well as on Facebook.

If you'd like to read Before the Fall this summer as well, I have TWO copies to giveaway. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes. Ends June 18/16.

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Weekenders - Mary Kay Andrews - Review and Giveaway

Summer reading has officially begun when Mary Kay Andrews releases her latest book - and it's here! The Weekenders has just released - and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader.  I always love her covers - doesn't this one just shout beach!

Riley Griggs' family is one of the oldest on Belle Isle, North Carolina, developing summer homes and managing others. It's Riley's 'happy place.' Riley and her daughter Maggy are headed over to the island to open up their home on the Memorial Day weekend. Riley's husband Wendell is supposed to join them, but he's a no show and the ferry leaves without him. But, when Riley arrives there's a foreclosure notice on her door.....

The Weekenders is a little bit heavier in tone than previous releases. There's murder, family problems, health concerns, financial woes and lots of secrets. But all of that is accompanied by Mary Kay's trademark romance and overall 'chick lit' feel.

I liked Riley as a character and empathized with her plight. A wee bit of me was angry with her for not being a bit more proactive when it came to her own finances. No chick lit romance is complete without some push/pull, yes/no, back and forth before - well, you know. Loved the love interest in this book. And of course there needs to be a best friend sidekick, who's a little brash, but who would do anything for her bestie. And Parrish is all that. Daughter Maggy is a handful - and Andrews depicts that teen 'tude very well. The rest of the supporting cast is just as well drawn and explores other social and family issues.

That murder? Well, there's lots of suspects to choose from - and whodunit wasn't quite who I expected it to be at all!

Mary Kay's settings always leave me wishing I lived there. And Belle Isle was no exception - descriptions of weathered wood, whitewashed walls and the sound of waves sounds absolutely perfect to me.

The Weekenders was an engaging, entertaining, satisfying escapist read to start off my summer. (Pack drinks and snacks in in your bag too - it's a delicious 450+ pages.)  Read an excerpt of The Weekenders.

"Mary Kay Andrews is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Beach Town, Save the Date, Ladies' Night, Christmas Bliss, Spring Fever, and Summer Rental, all from St. Martin's Press, as well as The Fixer Upper, Deep Dish, Blue Christmas, Savannah Breeze, Hissy Fit, Little Bitty Lies, and Savannah Blues, all HarperPerennial.  A former journalist for The Atlanta Journal Constitution, she divides her time between Atlanta and Tybee Island, Georgia." You can connect with Mary Kay Andrews on: ||  Website  ||  Twitter  ||  Facebook  ||  Pinterest  ||

And if you'd like to take The Weekenders to the beach with you, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Ends Jun 18/16. Open to US only, no PO boxes please.

Friday, May 27, 2016

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #107

- 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
Summer is coming and it's time to fill up on beach reads. Mary Kay Andrews is always a must for me as is Elin Hilderbrand. Elin's new book (June 16) is Here's to Us. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right.
The story is set on the beach and both books reflect that - I think it's the look of your own type of beach that will determine which cover appeals to you this week. Although, I do appreciate the People tag on the UK cover - "Queen of the summer novel." So for me, it the US cover this week. Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read Here's to Us? What authors do you pack in your summer beach bag?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Over the Counter #316

What books caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? The cat in the hat? No, this week its the hat on the cat....

First up is Tiny Hats on Cats: Because Every Cat Deserves to Feel Fancy by Adam Ellis.

From Grand Central Publishing:

"A fun and creative book for cat lovers, crafters, and pop-culture devotees alike. Following the success of recent bestsellers like Grumpy Cat and How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You, Tiny Hats on Cats combines adorable photos of cats with author Adam Ellis's hilarious anecdotes, but also has a fun DIY element: Readers will learn how to craft colorful and creative feline headgear from the book's step-by-step instructions. With a portable trim size and a beautifully designed interior, Tiny Hats on Cats is the perfect gift for every animal lover or for any reader who wants their cat to feel just a little more fancy."

Or how about Cats in Hats: 30 Knit and Crochet Hat Patterns for Your Kitty by Sara Thomas.

From Running Press:

"Deck your cats out in hats that suit their many personalities! With The Punk Mohawk for edgier cats, The Unicorn for cats who are having identity issues, and The Cat in the Hat for any cat that loves great literature, there is a pattern in this book for every feline friend in your home. Complete with a breakdown of skill level and method of working (knit or crochet), suggestions for yarns, and written patterns and charts where necessary, you’ll be able to whip up amazing headwear, whatever your cat’s character. With the adorable color photos and helpful illustrations throughout, these hat patterns will be both exciting and easy to create. It’s fun, it’s addictive, and it’s deliciously purr-fect from start to finish!"

(Over the Counter is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. I've sadly come the realization that I cannot physically read every book that catches my interest as it crosses over my counter at the library. But... I can mention them and maybe one of them will catch your eye as well. See if your local library has them on their shelves!)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Happy Birthday Sophie la girafe! Review AND Giveaway

Today's the day - Happy Birthday to Sophie la girafe! How old is Sophie you ask? She is 55 years old believe it or not!

"First created in France in 1961, Sophie la girafe®, a high-end, all-natural rubber baby teether, is a fixture in nurseries all over the world. A favorite among moms, Sophie is a popular shower gift, and has garnered praise from parents everywhere.".... Now the French character is the star of story time. Babies everywhere will love the multisensory board books, such as Peekaboo Sophie!” - Parents Magazine"

My daughter had one of the Sophie teething toys. How fun that there are now books dedicated to this beloved icon. I'm excited to be sharing them with my grandson. I also have a copy to share with you too - scroll to the bottom to enter to win a Sophie book)

DK Canada is the publisher of the Sophie books - full list can be seen here.

I've added two Sophie titles to little guy's library. The first one is Sophie's Big Noisy Day Book!

This is an oversized board book with lots to look at and name on every page. The faces of the characters are pleasant to look at and are always smiling. And there's a story to follow along with. But here's the fun part. Little guy absolutely adores lift the flap books right now, playing his own modified version of peek-a-boo. So....there's more than one flap on most pages. But when you lift the flap, it's not just a picture - it's noise! A band, a train, a helicopter, ducks and a radio. Well, didn't we lift many, many flaps over and over again! For those worried about the battery dying - it can be changed. (Make sure to read in a room with light - it took me a minute to realize the sounds are activated by light)

The other new addition to little guy's bookshelf is Sophie Pop-up Peekaboo. As I mentioned, he loves peekaboo, so this was an easy choice. Where is Sophie? We meet the other characters as they search for her. This book also has flaps to lift and the most wonderful pop-ups - a toy box, laundry basket, bathtub, apple tree and one last hiding place. Again, many, many flaps were lifted  - the pop ups absolutely fascinated him.

The colours are lovely in both books, they're sturdy and honestly - quite timeless! Two thumbs up from little guy and Gramma. Keep up with Sophie's birthday fun on Twitter. #sophielagirafebirthday

And thanks to DK Canada, I have a copy of Sophie's Big Noisy Day Book to giveaway to one lucky reader. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to Canada only, ends June 11/16.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Giveaway - Discovering You - Brenda Novak

Discovering You is the tenth book in Brenda Novak's Whiskey Creek series. It releases today - and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

From Mira Books:

"Can she ever trust another "bad boy"?

India Sommers once had the perfect family—until an ex-boyfriend broke in and shot her husband. Not only did that cost her the man she loved, a respected heart surgeon and the father of her child, but she also feels responsible. Charlie died because of the people she hung out with before she had the strength to change her life.

Just after moving to Whiskey Creek with her little girl, Cassia, to start over, she's learned that her ex-boyfriend's trial ended in a hung jury. He's getting out of jail; he could try to find her again. And that's not all that scares her. She's extremely attracted to her next-door neighbor, but Rod Amos is the handsome "bad boy" type that's given her so much trouble in the past. If she got involved with him, her in-laws would sue for custody of Cassia.

India has to keep her distance from Rod—but the more she gets to know him, the more difficult that becomes.""Another Whiskey Creek novel is just what readers need to satisfy their craving for a romance that tugs at the heartstrings." -RT Book Reviews" Who doesn't love a good romance read out on the deck in the summer?! "

"New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Brenda Novak has written over 50 novels. A five-time Rita nominee, she's won The National Reader's Choice, The Bookseller's Best, The Bookbuyer's Best and many other awards. Besides writing, she runs Brenda Novak for the Cure, a charity which hosts an annual fundraiser for diabetes research. To date, she's raised over $2.5 million for this cause. Brenda considers herself lucky to be a mother of five and married to the love of her life." You can connect with Brenda on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

And here's some romantic gift ideas from Brenda:

And if you'd like to read Discovering You, I have a copy to giveaway. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends June 11/16.

Summer Days and Summer Nights - Edited by Stephanie Perkins

You might remember me reviewing My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories, edited by Stephanie Perkins last Christmas. (my review).

Well, Stephanie has edited a new collection that has just released -Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories - that's just perfect to add to your beach bag.

Zoom in on the cover - twelve best-selling YA authors contributed to this collection.You love their novels, so you just know you're going to love these stories. Perkins has drawn from diverse writers so the tales range from contemporary to fantasy and magical realism. You'll have your favorites, but collections also give you a chance to try new to you authors.

I won't detail them all, but will mention two that I really enjoyed.

In Ninety Minutes Turn North by Stephanie Perkins. Pure, unadulterated romance. Marigold and North were a couple with a direction - college together as roommates. And then North backed out. And Marigold has no idea why. Even if the romance is gone, she still wants to be friends, needs to know why it's over. So Marigold heads south to find North. Loved the characters, their dialogue, the journey, the quirkiness and especially the happily ever after. A 'day' story. (and a sequel to their story in My True Love Gave to me)

Last Stand at the Cinegore by Libba Bray. This one kinda reminded me of slasher movies at the drive-in. It's the last night for the Cinegore Theatre and the last night for Kevin to let Dani know how he feels about her. If they live that long - something is seriously messed up with the film that's being shown. Quick, fun dialogue, an inventive plot (loved the on screen characters interacting), action and of course, just the right ending. A 'night' story.

I love short story collections - they let you get in a quick read from start to finish wherever you are. And yes, the beach would be a great place!

"Stephanie Perkins is the New York Times and international bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, and Isla and the Happily Ever After, as well as the editor of My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories. She lives with her husband in Asheville, North Carolina."

You can connect with Stephanie Perkins on: ||  Website  ||  Blog  ||  Twitter  ||

Monday, May 23, 2016

Giveaway - Pen and Palate - Lucy Madison and Tram Nguyen

I've a got a great giveaway today for anyone who can connect with food - and friendship!

Pen and Palate: Mastering the Art of Adulthood, with Recipes by Lucy Madison and Tram Nguyen. (Releases May 31/16)

From Grand Central Publishing:

"From the writers of acclaimed blog Pen and Palate, a humorous coming-of-age (and mastering-the-art-of-home-cooking) memoir of friendship, told through stories, recipes, and beautiful illustrations.

Getting through life in your twenties isn't easy--especially if you're broke, awkward, and prone to starting small grease fires in your studio apartment. For best friends Lucy Madison and Tram Nguyen, cooking was an escape from the daily humiliation that is being a twenty-something woman in a big city. Pen and Palate traces the course of Lucy and Tram's devoted friendship through miserable jobs and tiny apartments, first loves and ill-advised flings, successes and setbacks--always with a shared love of food at the center of the narrative. A modern take on Laurie Colwin's classic Home Cooking, this coming-of-age memoir for the Girls set weaves together comical (mis)adventures and recipes meant to be shared with a best friend and a bottle of wine." Read an excerpt of Pen and Palate.

You can connect with Lucy and Tram on:  || Website  ||  Twitter  ||  Facebook  ||

And if you'd like to read Pen and Palate, I have two copies to giveaway! Simply enter to win using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends June 4/16.

Friday, May 20, 2016

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #106

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

US cover
UK cover
I thought Ruth Ware's debut novel, In a Dark, Dark Wood was fantastic. And I see she has a new one, The Woman in Cabin 10, coming out in the next few months. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. I think I'm drawn more the US cover this week. Obviously it's on a ship, but I like the way the letters are smeared and kind of dripping. The UK cover also tells us it's on a ship and the tagline gives us a bit more. And it's clever how the woman is almost in a bullseye with the zero. But, I'm going with US this week. What about you? Which cover do you prefer?
Any plans to read The Woman in Cabin 10?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Esther The Wonder Pig - Review AND Giveaway

Okay, the title caught your eye didn't it? Esther the Wonder Pig: Changing the World One Heart at a Time. And how about that cute little piggy face?

Well, inside the pages of Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter's new book, written with Caprice Crane, you'll find the story of Esther, the mini pig that was, well, a big pig.

Steve and his partner Derek are animal lovers. They were living with a pair of dogs and cats in their home in a large urban area in Ontario when an old high school friend of Steve's contacted him. (After 15 years of no contact...)

" Hey Steve. I know you've always been a huge animal lover. I have a mini pig that is not getting along with my dogs. I've just had a baby and I can't keep the pig."

Uh huh. So combined with that 15 years and the words 'mini pig', alarms should be going off right? Nope - Steve ends up meeting the woman and bringing home the cute little animal. It's the word 'huge' in that email that is quite prophetic. 'Esther' isn't a mini (surprise!) - instead, she ends up being a full blown commercial size pig. Yes, a 650 pound pig in a 1000 sq.ft. home!

I really enjoyed Steve's voice - I suspect he would be a hoot to meet in person. He's passionate, impetuous and downright funny. I found myself laughing out loud many times. Derek seems to be a bit calmer and more practical. But their love for Esther is the same.

Loving a full sized pig does bring some inevitable changes - physically, mentally and lifestyle. How those changes occurred and how they literally affected and inspired hundreds of thousands of people is a wonderful, heartwarming tale. Esther's story will bring a smile to your day, have you taking a second look at where your food comes from, perhaps inspire you to investigate a vegan lifestyle, support rescue operations and more.

Oh, and my book has a nice little blurb from Ricky Gervais: "Funny, moving, and heartwarming. The greatest love story ever told between two men and their pig." Yup, that about sums it up. A fun read that will leave you smiling. Read an excerpt of Esther the Wonder Pig. My only negative is the celebrity comparisons that just felt forced and awkward.

You can keep up with Esther, Steve and Derek and learn more on : ||   Website   || Esther the Wonder Pig's Facebook Page ||  Esther's Community Kitchen Facebook Page  ||  Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary  || Twitter  ||  Instagram  ||  Fan Club ||

So, if you'd like to read Esther's story, enter to win one of two copies being given away using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends June 4/16.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Over the Counter # 315

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? All about homes this week - past and present....

First up is The Making of Home by Judith Flanders.

From the publisher, Atlantic Books:

"The idea that 'home' is a special place, a separate place, a place where we can be our true selves, is so obvious to us today that we barely pause to think about it.

But, as Judith Flanders shows in this revealing book, 'home' is a relatively new concept. When in 1900 Dorothy assured the citizens of Oz that 'There is no place like home', she was expressing a view that was a culmination of 300 years of economic, physical and emotional change. In The Making of Home, Flanders traces the evolution of the house across northern Europe and America from the sixteenth to the early twentieth century, and paints a striking picture of how the homes we know today differ from homes through history.

The transformation of houses into homes, she argues, was not a private matter, but an essential ingredient in the rise of capitalism and the birth of the Industrial Revolution. Without 'home', the modern world as we know it would not exist, and as Flanders charts the development of ordinary household objects - from cutlery, chairs and curtains, to fitted kitchens, plumbing and windows - she also peels back the myths that surround some of our most basic assumptions, including our entire notion of what it is that makes a family. As full of fascinating detail as her previous bestsellers, The Making of Home is also a book teeming with original and provocative ideas."

And the present? Who better than The Property Brothers and their new book, Dream Home: The Property Brothers' Ultimate Guide to Finding and Fixing Your Perfect House.

From the publisher, Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt:

"Jonathan and Drew Scott have taken HGTV by storm with their four hit shows, Property Brothers, Property Brothers at Home, Buying and Selling, and Brother vs. Brother. The talented duo’s good-natured rivalry, playful banter, and no-nonsense strategies have earned the popular twins millions of devoted fans who have been anxiously waiting for a Scott Brothers book. Dream Home is a comprehensive source, covering the ins and outs of buying, selling, and renovating a house, with hundreds of full-color photos throughout.

The brothers cover numerous topics including the hidden costs of moving, savvy negotiating tactics, and determining your home must-haves. Other handy features include a calendar of key dates for finding the best deals on home products and a cheat sheet of worth-it fix-its. Look inside for a wealth of information on attaining what you want—on time and on budget. Dream Home also includes all the tips and tricks you won’t see on TV, making it a must-have resource not just for fans but for any current or aspiring homeowner."

(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!)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Every Exquisite Thing - Matthew Quick

Matthew Quick's latest book, Every Exquisite Thing, is a YA read.

I've enjoyed Quick's quirky characters, plots and thoughts in his previous books, especially The Silver Linings Playbook and The Good Luck of Right Now.

When a beloved teacher gives Nannette O'Hare an out of print, cult classic novel called The Bubblegum Reaper, she is entranced, enthralled and consumed with it. She hunts down the author and meets Alex, another teen just as fascinated with the book, its origins and the meaning behind the words.

Quick has created characters I wanted to be drawn to, that I wanted to care about. But I never really warmed up to Nanette. I felt like more of a dispassionate observer, rather than becoming immersed in her path. She herself employs a detached look at her own life, pretending to be someone she's not in the latter part of the book. I enjoyed the the supporting characters a bit more - I liked Alex and Oliver, but again was disappointed with how Quick dealt with Alex. Without revealing the plot line, I was angered by the way his story went - and how it was dealt with by the adults in his life. Booker, the author of The Bubblegum Reaper, kinda creeped me out a little bit. I found his involvement with these teens troublesome.

But, Quick had me just as curious about the book and what the answers might be. I was engrossed in the story until he had the main character talking about herself in the third person. Hated it. A little bit would have been okay, but it just became annoying and irritating. And I finished off reading with that irked feeling.

Every Exquisite Thing is a coming of age tale. Quick does bring in events, thoughts and situations that are part of a teen's search for self. The end message is good, but I just didn't enjoy the journey to the revelations as much as I had hoped to. Quick is a talented wordsmith and an author I will absolutely read again - this one just wasn't a hit with me. Read an excerpt of Every Exquisite Thing.

The title? It's a quote from Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray - "Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic."

Monday, May 16, 2016

Giveaway - A Mary Kay Andrews Goody Bag!

For me, summer reading must include the latest Mary Kay Andrews book! Well, to celebrate the release (tomorrow May 17/16) of her newest read - The Weekenders - I have a fantastic MKA prize pack to give away to one lucky reader!

What in the prize pack? Glad you asked! Inside you'll find:

• A copy of BEACH TOWN in trade paperback
• A copy of SPRING FEVER in mass market paperback
• Two different Mary Kay Andrews bookmarks
• A recipe card featuring two recipes from MKA’s kitchen
• BEACH TOWN sunglasses
• BEACH TOWN lip balm with SPF 15

"Mary Kay Andrews is the New York Times bestselling author of Beach Town, Save the Date, Ladies' Night, Christmas Bliss Spring Fever, Summer Rental, The Fixer Upper, Deep Dish, Blue Christmas, Savanna Breeze, Hissy Fit, Little Bitty Lies and Savannah Blues, with THE WEEKENDERS coming from St. Martin’s Press on May 17, 2016.

As a lifelong “junker” the author claims to know the location of every promising thrift store, flea market and junkpile in the Southeastern United States, plus many parts of Ohio.

Married to her high school sweetheart, Tom, she has two adult children and two grandchildren. After a three-year hiatus in Raleigh, NC, she and her husband moved back to their old neighborhood in Atlanta. She also owns two restored beach cottages on Tybee Island, GA, both of which are named for fictional locations in her novels." You can connect with Mary Kay Andrews on: 
||   Website   ||   Facebook   ||   Twitter   ||   Pinterest   ||   Instagram  ||

Enter using the Rafflecopter form below for a chance to win.
Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends May 28/16.
Oh, and watch for my forthcoming review of The Weekenders - and another giveaway!

Blog Tour - The Only Thing Worse Than You Is Me - Lily Anderson

A Bookworm's World is the next stop on the blog tour for The Only Thing Worse Than You Is Me by Lily Anderson.

What's it about? From Griffin Teen:

"Trixie Watson has two very important goals for senior year: to finally save enough to buy the set of Doctor Who figurines at the local comic books store, and to place third in her class and knock Ben West--and his horrendous new mustache that he spent all summer growing--down to number four.

Trixie will do anything to get her name ranked over Ben's, including give up sleep and comic books--well, maybe not comic books--but definitely sleep. After all, the war of Watson v. West is as vicious as the Doctor v. Daleks and Browncoats v. Alliance combined, and it goes all the way back to the infamous monkey bars incident in the first grade. Over a decade later, it's time to declare a champion once and for all.

The war is Trixie's for the winning, until her best friend starts dating Ben's best friend and the two are unceremoniously dumped together and told to play nice. Finding common ground is odious and tooth-pullingly-painful, but Trixie and Ben's cautious truce slowly transforms into a fandom-based tentative friendship. When Trixie's best friend gets expelled for cheating and Trixie cries foul play, however, they have to choose who to believe and which side they're on--and they might not pick the same side.

Credit: Sarah Lambert
The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You is a geeky, contemporary retelling of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing." Check out the excerpt below!

"Lily Anderson is an elementary school librarian and Melvil Dewey fangirl with an ever-growing collection of musical theater tattoos and Harry Potter ephemera. She lives in Northern California. This is her debut novel."

Friday, May 13, 2016

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #105

- 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
Susie Steiner's newest novel, Missing, Presumed is the first in a new series. It's a crime thriller, so it is right up my alley! The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Two very different covers this week. Having read the synopsis, I'm going to go with the UK cover this week. The cover shot suits a crime novel, the font used for the title is bold and the tagline gives you a further clue. The US cover shot doesn't hint at a crime novel at all. At first glance, I would think family drama were it not for the title. What about you? What cover do you prefer?
Any plans to read Missing, Presumed?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Close Your Eyes - Michael Robotham

Close Your Eyes is the newest - and 8th- book in Michael Robotham's Joseph O'Loughlin series.

O'Loughlin is a clinical psychologist who has worked with the police in the past as a consultant profiler. He has retired himself from that job, focusing instead on teaching, his daughters and his health as he copes with living with Parkinson's Disease.

When DS Cray calls him for help, his immediate response is no. Until she tells him that one of his past students has injected himself into a murder investigation with negative results. He's calling himself The Mindhunter, telling everyone O'Loughlin taught him everything he knows, and using Joe as a reference. It's not true and is enough to have Joe saying yes and agreeing to taking a look at the case - two murdered women. The killer has his own chapters - letting the reader know that he's watching the investigation as Joe begins to make progress......

I like Joe very much as a lead character. The way he thinks and his processes of deduction. But it his his personal life that rounds the character out, making him more 'real' to me. Things are always progressing, changing and evolving - his marriage difficulties, his mistakes and his interactions with his daughters as they navigate growing up. His oldest daughter, Charlie, plays a larger role in this novel. (And I must admit to wondering where Robotham would take things next - I found the ending quite surprising.) O'Loughlin's health concerns also set this character apart from many other crime leads. The Parkinson's is portrayed realistically. Every good lead character needs a sidekick. In this series, it's now retired police Detective Vincent Ruiz. He's tough, intelligent, loyal and brings an alternate view to the crimes being investigated.

Robotham has crafted another great plot. There are many suspects to choose from and Robotham keeps the reader guessing until the final pages for the 'whodunnit".

It's that blending of 'professional' and personal that make this series work for me. Can't wait for the next entry in this series.  Read an excerpt of Close Your Eyes.

Robotham is one of my favourite authors - for me, he simply can't write a bad book. He just can't write fast enough for me! You can connect with Michael Robotham on his website, find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Over the Counter # 314

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner?

Rock Art! : Painting and Crafting With the Humble Pebble by Denise Scicluna. I remember painting rocks as a child, and I think a planned trip to the beach this summer will involve some new rock paintings.

From the publisher, Barron's Educational Series:

"Great uses for rocks: throwing, skipping, kicking…how about painting? Rock painting is one of the oldest forms of artistic expression known to man. The varied surfaces, shapes, and sizes of rocks also make them perfect for crafts. From brooches to bookends, paperweights to place cards, miniature owls to patterned pebbles, you can create just about anything with the right rock and a bit of imagination. In Rock Art!, visual artist Denise Scicluna provides inspiration and advice for rocking our artsy side with:

  • Tips for finding and identifying rocks and preparing them for paint
  • Techniques for creating the perfect “rock” from polymer clay
  • A guide to gathering tools, from paint, pencils, and brushes to wood filler and varnish
  • Dozens of projects for bringing pebbles to life with personality and style

Simple, step-by-step instructions, and more than 250 full-color illustrations that practically pop off the page make this fun and unusual book perfect for crafters of all ages."

(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!)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

I Let You Go - Clare Mackintosh

I Let You Go is Clare Mackintosh's debut novel......and oh boy is it good!

I'm always on the lookout for my next 'psychological thriller' read. Taglines such as...."The next blockbuster thriller for those who loved The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl... “a finely crafted novel with a killer twist.” (Paula Hawkins, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Girl on the Train)".....definitely catch my eye. The comparison has been used on quite a few books since last year - sometimes living up to the promise and sometimes not. I Let You Go absolutely hits the mark!

The starting point of the novel is the hit and run killing of a five year old boy. DI Ray Stevens and his team, including newcomer Kate, are given the case. The mother is heartbroken, the public is outraged - and the team is struggling to find anything leading to the identity of the driver.

Jenna Gray provides another POV. Devastated over the accident, she retreats to a small Welsh village and an isolated cottage. " I never thought I would run away. I never thought I would need to." What secrets is Jenna holding on to?

Mackintosh had me hooked from the first pages. But it was the ending of Part One, that had me shouting out loud - What!? Mackintosh had completely bamboozled me! And I loved it! I ended up going back and rereading a few chapters, just to see when and where the wool was pulled over my eyes.

With the amount of mysteries and suspense novels that I read, I find I can almost predict how some novels are going to progress. Not so with I Let You Go. And so finding out the rest of the story kept me up 'til the wee hours. That first 'gotcha' is not the last - there's more than one twist to this tale.

I do have to mention the antagonist of the story as well - he is a piece of work. His chapters just made my skin crawl. I'm being deliberately obtuse in this review - I simply don't want to give anything away - the unexpected turns need to be - well - unexpected. But, if you want to - here's an excerpt.

Mackintosh spent 'twelve years in the police force, including time on CID and as a public order commander'. Her descriptions of the investigation and the team have the ring of authenticity. I also enjoyed the secondary plot line involving Kate and Ray. The title? Almost every character can use the line "I Let You Go" in their lives.

You can connect with Clare Mackintosh on her website, find her on Facebook and connect with her on Twitter. Mackintosh's next book is I See You, due out in July.  Can't wait!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Giveaway - Walleye Junction - Karin Salvalaggio

I've got a great giveaway today for all the mystery readers out there! Karin Salvalggio's newest Macy Greeley mystery - Walleye Junction - releases on May 10/16 - and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

From the publisher, Minotaur Books:

"When outspoken radio talk show host Philip Long is kidnapped and murdered, Detective Macy Greeley leaves her young son in the care of her mother and heads up to remote Walleye Junction, Montana to take charge of the investigation. It is initially believed that Long’s murder is the result of a controversial radio show he’s done on the rise of far right militias in the state. Within days the two kidnappers are found dead following a massive heroin overdose, and the authorities are hopeful the investigation is finished. But there are too many discrepancies for Macy to settle for obvious answers. The kidnapper’s bodies have been moved, their son is on the run and a series of anonymous emails point investigators toward the murky world of prescription painkiller abuse. Macy soon finds herself immersed in small town intrigues as she races to find who’s really responsible for Philip Long’s murder.

Meanwhile, Philip Long’s daughter Emma is dealing with her own problems. It’s been twelve years since she left Walleye Junction after her best friend died from a drug overdose. Emma finds that little in Walleye Junction has changed in her absence. She is also becoming increasingly uneasy as the familiar surroundings stir up memories that are best forgotten.

With Walleye Junction, a taut, propulsive mystery, Karin Salvalaggio will once again grip readers from the opening page to the stunning conclusion." Read an excerpt of Walleye Junction.

"Karin Salvalaggio received an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck at the University of London.  Born in West Virginia and raised in an Air Force family, she grew up on a number of military bases around the United States. She now lives in London with her two children." You can connect with Karin on her website, find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

And if you'd like to read Walleye Junction, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada only, no PO boxes please. Ends May 21/16.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Wilde Lake - Laura Lippman

I've read all of Laura Lippman's books. I don't bother looking at the flyleaf at all anymore - I just know I'm going to enjoy whatever story she's crafted. Her Tess Monaghan series is a perennial favourite of mine, but the stand alones are just as good.

Her latest stand alone, Wilde Lake, has just released.

Lu Brant has just been elected as the first female State's Attorney of Howard County, Maryland, filling the chair that her father once held. She decides to make her presence known by taking on a recent murder case - a woman beaten to death in her home by a homeless man.

Lippman employs one of my favourite story telling techniques - past and present in alternating chapters. As Lu prepares for the impending court case, names and events from her own past begin to pop up. And so we relive Lu's life from age six until it collides with the present day - with a very loud crash.

Ahh, Lippman is such a storyteller. I was immediately caught up in the characters and the plot. Lu is a difficult character, bristly, stubborn and somewhat unpredictable. I felt sympathy for young Lu but funnily enough that sympathy did not extend to adult Lu, even though I knew the past shaped her present. I didn't really like adult Lu at all.

There is more than one mystery in Wilde Lake. That of the accused drifter of course, but also events in the past - seemingly all stemming from one night in her brother AJ's life. " Most of what I know about that night is from reading old court documents and press accounts over the past few months." But as we learn more about the Brant family from Lu's memories, it seems that one night is just one event never fully spoken of. There are others. From the outside looking in, the Brants have an idyllic life - from the inside looking out, the view is not quite the same.

The mysteries are joined by an exploration of family dynamics, tensions, deceptions, what we would do to protect our families and loved ones and the consequences of those choices. There ate many 'reveals' in the last few chapters. There was one late addition that I thought was a bit of a stretch, but on reflection, I could see the groundwork being laid in the chapters dealing with the past.

I enjoyed Wilde Lake - although it's less of a true mystery than some of my favourite Lippman books, it kept me engaged from first page to last. Read an excerpt of Wilde Lake.

Interesting side note - Lippman grew up in Columbia, Maryland (the setting for this book) and also attended Wilde Lake High School. (also featured)

Cr: Jan Cobb
"Since Laura Lippman’s debut, she has won multiple awards and critical acclaim for provocative, timely crime novels set in her beloved hometown of Baltimore. Now a perennial New York Times bestselling author, she lives in Baltimore and New Orleans with her family." You can connect with Laura Lippman on her website, find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. See what others on the TLC book tour thought - full schedule can be found here.

The Eleventh on Feeln.com

I admit it - I love to read murder mysteries, thrillers and suspense novels. And sometimes, movies in the same vein. But when I've had a rough day, or life has thrown me a curveball, I love to cuddle up under my favourite blanket and watch something that makes me feel, tugs at my heartstrings and has me counting my blessings. (Hallmark movies and shows are my faves.)

 I've just discovered Feeln. What is Feeln you ask? "Feeln is the leading streaming service that brings you heartfelt stories of love and togetherness - anytime, anywhere - including the exclusive library of Hallmark Hall of Fame features, Hollywood movies, TV series, and award-winning originals you won’t find anywhere else."

I just watched the first episodes of a new Feeln "original drama series that focuses on a young girl’s journey to getting to know her estranged grandmother in order to bring closure to the past and unite her family." With Mother's Day around the corner, this is a perfect time and an inspiration to reflect on familial relationships in our own lives. Family and forgiveness are the themes that stood out for me.

It was so comforting to reconnect with  some acting legends from past favourite shows of mine! The Eleventh stars Florence Henderson (The Brady Bunch, Dancing With The Stars), Ed Asner (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Roots, Up), and Cloris Leachman (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Malcolm In The Middle).

The Eleventh also fills my penchant for mysteries - what happened in the past to create such a family rift? Can it be repaired? The episodes are short and end with a nice little cliffhanger that will leave you wanting to know more. (I can't wait to find out about those pictures in the photo album...) I thoroughly enjoyed the premiere of The Eleventh - and I'm looking forward to watching more on Feeln!

Find The Eleventh on Twitter @Feeln  - #TheEleventh.  Family friendly and definitely feel good. Check out the trailer for The Eleventh below. And if you like what you see - watch full episodes of ‘The Eleventh’ on Feeln - and many other shows as well.


Thursday, May 5, 2016

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #104

- 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
Oh, I am looking forward to Mark Billingham's newest release - Die of Shame! He's a brilliant crime/mystery author I highly recommend. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. A circle of chairs is used on both covers (and is an integral part of the plot) But the US has empty chairs and the point of view is above while the UK has the chairs filled with a blurry look and a side view.  For me this week, it's the US cover. What about you? Any plans to read Die of Shame? Which cover do you prefer? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Over the Counter # 313

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? This week it's The Legend of Zippy Chippy: Life Lessons from Horse Racing's Most Lovable Loser by William Thomas.

From the publisher, McClelland and Stewart:

"From acclaimed humorist William Thomas comes the funny yet poignant story of a thoroughbred racehorse that lost 100 races in a row -- but, in everyone's eyes, became the ultimate winner.

On April 20, 1991, at Capritaur Farms in Upstate New York, Zippy Chippy strolled into the world. He was born from American horse racing royalty -- Compliance (his father was Kentucky Derby-winner Northern Dancer; his great-grandfather Native Dancer, the Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner) and Listen Lady (great-granddaughter of Native Dancer). Even before his birth, the hopes (not to mention the bill for his planned production) for Zippy Chippy were high. His pedigree was horse racing gold: Northern Dancer, Man o' War, Count Fleet, Bold Ruler, War Admiral, and Buckpasser were all ancestors. His success and glory seemed inevitable.

But moments after his birth, Zippy Chippy struggled to his feet, took two steps forward . . . and stopped dead in his tracks. He looked around, took in his surroundings, maybe indulged in a little daydream, then promptly lay down for a nap in the straw. And thus began Zippy Chippy's storied racing career.

Vince Lombardi, one of the greatest NFL coaches of all time, famously said, "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing." These words have become the battle cry of athletes, coaches, and teams everywhere, but over the years, sports have taken on a literal interpretation of Lombardi's mantra. Match-fixing, doping, sabotage, cocky and mean sportsmanship, all in the name of winning, have infiltrated and scandalized games, teams, reputations, and newspaper headlines. Yet, since his first moments in the world, Zippy Chippy ignored Lombardi and turned his nose at the concept of winning-at-all-costs. In fact, he decided to not win at all, losing, over the course of his career, 100 consecutive races, at some of the greatest tracks in the country: Belmont Park, Aqueduct, Finger Lakes, and Suffolk Downs among them. And he did so with his owner, Felix Monserrate, by his side -- a man who refused to sell Zippy, or even retire him, simply because he couldn't come in first. Soon, Zippy's cheering squad grew to include people who, enchanted by his story, would travel from all over North America to watch him lose but then happily gallop back to his stable. To them, Zippy Chippy was just like them; someone who wasn't an athlete with a million-dollar contract, or someone with movie star looks -- he was a creature who struggled, who lost, and who failed even the lowest of expectations. But, somehow, he found a way to enjoy himself and eagerly return for the next race.

Told with laugh-out-loud wit and a lot of heart, The Legend of Zippy Chippy is the story of the losing-est racehorse in North American history -- a perpetual loser who would become the winning thoroughbred in professional horse racing to steal peoples' hearts."

(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!)

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Revenant on Blu-ray and Digital HD

It seems to me lately that the best movies I've watched have been based on really great books. Such is the case with Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu's award winning film The Revenant. (Based on Michael Punke's book) I always try to read the book first and then watch the movie. The book was fantastic and I hoped the movie would be as well.

The Revenant on Blu-ray and Digital HD is newly released from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

And my hopes that the movie would be good were met and far exceeded. Leonardo DiCaprio won an Academy and Oscar Award for Best Actor. The film won numerous other prizes.

DiCaprio portrays Hugh Glass, a frontiersman/tracker in 1823 America with a fur company, who is severely mauled by a bear. With both winter and hostile natives on their heels, the company commander assigns two men, Fitzpatrick and Bridger to stay with Glass until he dies, bury him and then catch up with the rest of the company. Also with Glass is his son Hawk, who is sure his father can survive. Seemingly close to death, everyone figures it won't be long 'til the end.

Fitzpatrick, played by Tom Hardy, decides that he doesn't want to wait around for Glass to die and instead chooses to leave him on his own. Hardy brilliantly interprets the despicable character of Fitzpatrick. I don't know how many times I yelled at the screen.

But it is Leo who steals the show. He has very little dialogue, but his physical acting and his facial expressions (especially his eyes) transmit so much more than words could have. His courage, grit, perseverance and determination to hunt down Fitzpatrick becomes the viewer's goal as well.

Not far behind Leo is the cinematography - the backdrops are simply spectacular - the choice of actual settings instead of green screens brings the wildness and wilderness of the time and place to life. Costuming and physical props are just as believable. The bear attack is also really believable. (and a bit hard to watch)

Iñárritu has changed some of the events from the book - most notably, Glass's reason for revenge. But it works. This reason is more personal and will have the audience even more invested in Glass's drive for revenge. With every tortured step and obstacle thrown in his way, I was urging him forward, just as determined that he have his retribution. Iñárritu has also changed the ending from the book. It wasn't what I expected and I watched it two or three times. In the end, it seemed right and fit with the 'extra' character(s) that he had brought to his version of the story.

Brutal and brilliant, The Revenant is a welcome addition to my film library. Check out the trailer below. Gentle readers/watchers please be warned there are some graphic scenes. @RevenantMovie


The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge by Michael Punke

Michael Punke's 2002 novel, The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge, isn't one that I would have noticed or picked up were it not for the 2015 award winning film of the same name.

And that would have been a shame, as it's a he** of a good read. What surprised me even more is that it's based on factual historical events and persons. (At the end of the book, I went online to suss out the real story - absolutely fascinating reading)

1823 America. Hugh Glass is one of the best trackers and frontiersmen around, working for The Rocky Mountain Fur Company. When he is severely mauled by a bear, his compatriots carry him as far as they can in the winter mountains. Company Commander Captain Henry pays two men - Fitzgerald and Bridger - to stay with Glass until he dies, then bury him properly. But Fitzgerald has different ideas..... he decides that staying with Glass isn't worth his while. He forces young Bridger to leave Glass to die on his own and the two take off. But not before they steal Glass's gun and knife, leaving him alone and exposed to the elements.

And here's where the revenge part comes into play......Glass is as tough as nails and bent on revenge. And he wants his gun back. What follows is a nail biting fight for his life as Glass begins crawling towards the fort two hundred miles away where Fitzgerald and Bridger are to meet up with the rest of the company.

Punke has brought in many factual events and people - the conflicts between the native tribes and the white men who have come to trap and settle their land. The wilderness and the men living in it are brilliantly described, but it is Hugh Glass who captures the reader. The injustice done to him and his single minded desire to seek revenge on Fitzgerald will have the reader on the edge of their seat, urging him to take one more breath, one more step forward until.....

As I said not my usual fare, but I absolutely loved it. Punke is an absolutely wonderful writer.  Read an excerpt of The Revenant. And now that I've read it, I'm off to watch the movie....stay tuned for my review.