Friday, July 29, 2016

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #116

- 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
Karin Slaughter's newest book, The Kept Woman, is the 8th in the Will Trent series. And it's definitely on my TBR list. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Hmm, the UK cover conveys more murder and mayhem with the burned ID, bloodstains and scratched cement (?) floor. I'm not sure what that plastic roll is? Drugs? The US cover is clearer and subtler. I like the knot tying together the rings. The grey colour extends to both versions. Font change on the title from all caps on the US to all small on the UK.  If I didn't know the author and her writing style, the UK cover would convey it better. But I do know her style, so I am going with the US cover this week. Any plans to read The Kept Woman? Which cover do you prefer? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The House Between Tides - Sarah Maine

The House Between Tides is Sarah Maine's debut novel, releasing in Canada on August 2/16.

I always stop to look at a cover before turning the first page and this one definitely caught my eye. A mysterious old house surrounded by water? I'm in.

Hetty Deveraux is living in London when she is contacted by a solicitor informing her that she has inherited Muirlan House in the Scottish Hebrides - a house that is only accessible twice a day from the mainland when the tides are out.

Hetty is shocked, but sees the inheritance as a chance to escape London and her boyfriend. Perhaps the estate can be fixed up and turned into a hotel? But when she arrives, the damage is greater than she could have imagined. Uninhabited since 1945, the house has fallen into abject disrepair. When a set of bones is located under some floorboards, any idea of repairing the building is quickly halted. Who could the bones belong to? What happened? When? Why?

Absolutely delicious! Spanning one hundred years, The House Between Tides is told in a then and now format, alternating chapters from Beatrice's voice in 1910 and Hetty's in 2010.

Beatrice is the young wife of noted painter and wildlife enthusiast Theo Blake, who owns the island and manages the crofters. Life on Muirlan is not quite the idyllic experience Beatrice had imagined. There are secrets and simmering tensions between family members as well as the island community - and between Beatrice and her new husband.  And neither is it quite what Hetty had envisioned either. Those secrets and tensions seem to have survived the years, affecting the present. Issues brought to light in 1910 are still relevant in 2010.

Ahh, what more could you want?  A rambling mansion, desolate setting, secrets, a body, suspicious and unhappy locals, love stories (yes, plural, there are two of them - one in each time frame) and a lovely, atmospheric journey to the ending where the narratives finally meet. A decidedly Gothic feel.

I enjoyed both Beatrice and Hetty as lead characters. But, I was drawn more to Beatrice, for although she was constrained by the societal expectations of the time, she stayed true to herself and had spunk. Hetty is constrained more by her own self, her insecurities and her inability to speak up for herself.

I enjoy dual narrative novels. The reader is privy to both timelines, able to fit together the pieces and see where they might fit together. However, I do find myself staying up late with the back and forth - I always need just 'one more chapter' before shutting off the lights.

Maine paints a beautiful setting in The House Between Tides - the sea, the sun, the sand, the sky and the wildlife are all wonderfully and vividly described - making it very easy to imagine the island.

I quit enjoyed The House Between Tides and look forward to Maine's next book. Fans of Kate Morton and Eve Chase would enjoy The House Between Tides. Read an excerpt.

You can find Sarah Maine on her website, follow her on Twitter @SarahMaineBooks and like her on Facebook.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Over the Counter #325

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? This week it's Christmas in July.....

First up is Cake Pops Holidays by Bakerella.

From the publisher, Chronicle Books:

"Bakerella is the force behind the worldwide sensation that is cake pops and now she's back for the holidays. Here, she celebrates the holiday season with more than twenty winter-themed cake pop creations including adorable Christmas trees, sweet Santas, tiny gingerbread houses, snowflakes and many more. These cute and clever designs include step-by-step instructions and plenty of Bakerella’s expert guidance, giving you the skills to make and decorate them like a professional. Follow Bakerella’s tips for displaying, gifting, boxing and shipping your precious pops and spread lots of smiles this holiday season.

Next up is Gingerbread: Timeless Recipes for Cakes, Cookies, Desserts, Ice Cream, and Candy by Jennifer Lindner McGlinn, hotographs by Beatrice Peltre.

Also from Chronicle Books:

"Who says gingerbread is just for the holidays? This unique cookbook shows how gingerbread can be enjoyed for breakfast or dessert year-round. Reflecting the wisdom and creativity of a professional pastry chef and dedicated home cook, Gingerbread collects 60 traditional and modern recipes. Start with simple, yummy treats like Gingerbread Rum Cake and Sticky Toffee Gingerbread, then graduate to building your own gingerbread house for the holidays. Any way you slice it, these gingery goodies are sure to be a hit on any day of the year!"

(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, July 26, 2016

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper - Phaedra Patrick

I love thrillers, suspense and mystery novels. But the books that really stay with me are those that tug at the heartstrings. Books such as The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rush Home Road, A Man Called Ove and Britt-Marie Was Here, to name a few.

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick is going to join that list. (And a lot of others - translation rights for this debut novel have been sold to twenty countries already!)

After forty years of marriage, Arthur Pepper's beloved wife Miriam passes away. Arthur keeps the same routines and touches nothing in the house for a year. But after a year, he decides he needs to finally go through her things. And that's when he discovers a golden bracelet with eight charms tucked away (well let's say hidden) in one of her shoes. A bracelet that Arthur has never seen in their forty years together........

Arthur discovers what he thinks to be a phone number on the elephant charm, calls it - and begins a journey to discover his wife's life before they met. A life that he had no idea about.

Arthur is such a warm wonderful protagonist! The reader can't help but empathize as Arthur struggles to understand why his wife hid so much from him and cheer him on as his journey progresses. For with each charm and each new revelation, Arthur also moves forward, not just physically (his journey takes him to India, London and Paris), but mentally and emotionally as well. And although Arthur may not realize it, his calm, measured, friendly manner is also making a difference in the lives of those he meets along the way.

I felt just as strongly about Arthur's neighbour Bernadette (and her son Nathan) - she has been trying to help Arthur over the last year with meals and company. At first I thought 'busybody' but my opinion changed. Her ever cheerful, upbeat mood is genuine despite her own problems.

Patrick explores love, loss, grief, friendship and more with healthy doses of charm, wit, humour and reality in The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper. I absolutely loved this book! And Arthur.

The title is quite clever - the charms themselves, Arthur himself and the story itself. Read an excerpt of The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper.

You can connect with Phaedra Patrick on Twitter, on her website, and find her on Facebook.

Monday, July 25, 2016

After Anna - Alex Lake

After Anna by Alex Lake was a Sunday Times bestseller in Britain last year. I picked it up based on the publisher's description: "A bone-chilling psychological thriller that will suit fans of Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn, Daughter, by Jane Shemilt, and The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins."

Julia is running late to pick up her five year old daughter Anna from school - and her phone is dead. She hopes the school will understand - again. But when she finally arrives......Anna is not there. She's vanished without a trace.

The first half of the book details the search for Anna and the guilt and blame Julia is subjected to - by herself, the public, her husband Brian and his mother Edna. The actual police investigation is a bit thin - the focus seems to be on the three main characters and their dysfunctional relationships. Despite what has happened, I found it hard to like Julia and empathize with her. She's mercurial, all over the map with what she wants from life, from her marriage and belatedly - from motherhood. There's no question about Brian and his mother however. Edna is quite opinionated and Brian is happy to agree with her. Negative social media coverage provides a realistic look at how the media influences opinions and public judgement.

Cut into the narrative are the kidnapper's thoughts...."It was easier than you had expected. The girl came without complaint. You spotted her as she left the school, alone, looking around, clearly bereft of a parent to pick her up. Who would do that? Who would be so negligent as to leave a five-year-old in so vulnerable a position? It was appalling, it really was. But it was good for you."

This is not a spoiler - it figures prominently into the publisher's description. In part two Anna is returned unharmed. Where was she? Why was she taken? And why is the kidnapper still interested in this family? I think this plot turn would have been better if the reader could have discovered it themselves, rather than having it already laid out. It certainly detracted from the search for Anna in part one as we know she is going to be found.

There is a paucity of suspects and I found the whodunit fairly easy to suss out, despite the large red herring in the room. After Anna didn't quite live up to the comparison to Gone Girl, but I found the book entertaining for a lazy day's reading. Read an excerpt of After Anna. You can connect with Alex Lake (a pseudonym) on Twitter @Alexlakeauthor.

Friday, July 22, 2016

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #115

- 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've not read Michael Koryta before, but his new book, Rise the Dark is on my TBR list. Two very different looks this week. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right.  I like the colours of the US cover, but I'm really over the 'girl looking back over her shoulder' shot. (although is is a part of the plot)I would have picked it up to read the flyleaf without the girl on the cover. It seems a bit more sensationalistic than the UK cover. But, I'm going to go with the UK cover this week. I like the stark, black and white look, the empty road and the figure in black. Have you read Michael Koryta before? Which cover do you prefer? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Dark Matter - Blake Crouch

Praise from some of my favourite authors (Lee Child, Harlan Coben and Justin Cronin) had me eager to dive into Blake Crouch's new novel, Dark Matter.

And if that wasn't enough, this description from the publisher, sealed the deal.

" “Are you happy with your life?” Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”"

I love this type of storyline - an everyday person thrown into an extraordinary situation - with no idea who, what, where and why. I can't wait to dig in find the answers alongside the main character. Crouch's writing easily draws the reader in - and then keeps them captivated until the last page is turned.

The publisher has suspense/thriller and science fiction as genres for Dark Matter. But, if you're thinking, oh I don't like sci-fi, think again. It doesn't define the book completely. Yes, there are some mind bending theories to wrap your head around, but there's action, suspense, twists and yes - a love story. I know eh? Heck of a mix. But Crouch makes it really, really work.

I want to be somewhat vague in describing the plot - I'll just say this - multiverse vs. universe. Uh, huh, the possibilities are endless.....and had me wondering what if?

I raced through Dark Matter, totally caught up in Jason Dessen's world and desperate race to find answers and resolution. Five stars for this one!  Read an excerpt of Dark Matter.

Crouch has also penned the Wayward Pines books, made into a Fox television series, that I really enjoyed as well. (Can't wait for season two.) Dark Matter would also make a great series or feature film. You can connect with Blake Crouch his website, and follow him on Twitter.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Over the Counter #324

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Two for the crocheters in the crowd this week.....

First up is Twinkie Chan's Crocheted Abode a la Mode: 20 Yummy Crochet Projects for Your Home.

From Creative Publishing International:

"Crochet the cutest food-themed home goods you'll ever see with Twinkie Chan's new book of patterns!

Crochet designer and craft superstar Twinkie Chan is back with her highly anticipated book Crocheted Abode a la Mode: 20 Yummy Crochet Projects for Your Home. This is the follow-up to Chan's first book, which featured food-inspired crocheted accessories. In Crocheted Abode a la Mode, Chan unveils twenty new food-themed crochet patterns for crafters to follow as they crochet their living space into a cozier, yummier place. The book is organized according to rooms in your house: kitchen and dining, living and lounging, bath and beauty, and home office.

Helpful diagrams, step-by-step instructions, and colorful photos help crocheters of all skill levels create Chan's cute and cozy home decor pieces. Readers are guaranteed to find several adorable, food-forward patterns to bring to life with their crochet hooks--everything from giant donut floor poufs to sweet honeybear aprons to savory corn dog pen cozies.

Chan's signature style is cute, colorful, food-themed, and always functional, which highlights an attribute she likes to call "cute-tility." Her fun, unique designs are inspired by Japanese kawaii (cute) culture as well as her childhood collection of faux food toys. Her patterns appeal to crafters of all ages, and her warm, conversational writing style welcomes them into her cozy crocheted world, encouraging everyone to get creative. So, what are you waiting for? Let the fun unravel!

Now, my library does not own this one, but it seemed apropo. Next up is Animal Heads: Trophy Heads to Crochet by Vanessa Mooncie.

From The GMC Group:

"This amazing collection of trophy animal heads to crochet will be a stunning addition to any home. Inside this colourful book there are 10 fabulous trophy animals to choose from. Simply place above the fireplace for a great conversation piece or on a child’s bedroom wall for a playful decoration. The projects vary in level of complexity and there is a comprehensive techniques section to help you learn all the necessary skills. Each project includes beautifully drawn crochet charts and detailed instructions. Projects include: hare, mouse, ram, bear, stag and zebra."

(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, July 19, 2016

The Trap - Melanie Raabe - Review AND Giveaway

The Trap is Melanie Raabe's debut novel. The tagline on the cover is a great invitation to open up the book and read more..."I know who killed my sister. I wrote this book for him."

Author Linda Conrads has not left her house in eleven years. The death of her sister was incredibley traumatic - she was brutally murdered in her own home - and Linda saw the man as he fled the house. The killer was never apprehended. Linda has retreated..."It's not a wide world, my world, but it is safe. At least that's what I thought."

While watching the news on television one evening, Linda is stunned - she has immediately recognized the murderer on the screen. Unable to leave her house, she is determined to catch the killer with the only power she has - the written word. Linda Conrads' newest book will mirror the circumstances and details of the actual case - and draw out the murderer.

Or will it? As her plan comes to fruition, Linda is now not as sure as she was and she begins to doubt her memories -  and her sanity.

Oh, my goodness, does Raabe play with the reader. I was on board with Linda and her idea to expose the crime through her book. (Linda's parallel book is within the pages of The Trap. As the book progresses, we learn more of the past) But then, Raabe turns things upside down. Our narrator may not be as reliable as we initially believed. I love unreliable main characters, trying to decide what's real, right and the truth as I read. Raabe turns things around more than once as the book progresses. There's a lovely little cat and mouse game between Linda and the alleged murderer. Hmm, makes the title The Trap even more apropos.

I did however, find some of  the plot devices a bit of a stretch. Linda never confides in her friends, never talks to police about her suspicions, but instead devises a plan that will take quite a while to execute - she needs to first write a book. But it is a novel idea. (yes, pun intended )  I was drawn in by Linda's history, story and quest, but only as a removed, impartial witness - I never really connected personally with her and her grief and guilt.

The word thriller has been attached to the promotion of The Trap. I myself found it to be more of a slow building plot, drawing on alternate scenarios and answers, before making its way to the final reveal.

Read an excerpt of The Trap. Sony Pictures has already picked up the film rights for The Trap.

Melanie Raabe was born in 1981 and grew up in a small village in former East Germany. After studying media and literature, she went on to become a magazine editor, freelance journalist, writer, and stage actor. While juggling several jobs by day, she wrote at night, crafting two plays and THE TRAP, which is her debut novel. Melanie Raabe currently lives in Cologne and loves the stage, traveling, cooking, bungee jumping, tattoos, indie rock, and cats. You can connect with Melanie on Twitter.

If you'd like to read The Trap, I have two copies to giveaway. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, ends July 30/16. 

Giveaway - Orchard - Jack H. Bailey

Here's a great giveaway today for readers who like historical fiction - Orchard by Jack H. Bailey.

From the publisher:

"This much is true. It's 1899. Harry Orchard is a member of the fire-breathing Western Federation of Miners. While other members labor underground to harvest the riches of the earth, Orchard is paid to kill men who are a problem for the union. He's an interesting killer, well-liked by his peers and by the ladies.

After years of cat-and-mouse pursuit by legendary Pinkerton, Charles Siringo, when he's arrested in 1906 for the murder of Idaho's former Governor, Frank Steunenberg, he's killed nineteen men in Idaho and Colorado. Even today, in the silver mining towns of northern Idaho, his name is spoken in whispers by those familiar with his deeds." Read an excerpt of Orchard.

"Descended from gold miners, Jack H. Bailey grew up in and around the locales frequented by Harry Orchard. It was while living in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, that his fascination with Orchard began. Jack joined the Navy at 17 and served in WWII aboard the aircraft carrier USS Lexington until she was sunk in the Battle of the Coral Sea. He graduated from USC with a BA in English and spent 16 years in aerospace during which time he wrote two critically praised novels, The Number Two Man and The Icarus Complex. Jack wrote prolifically until his death in 2010. Most notably, Jack was an annual participant in the prestigious Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and was one of only a handful of writers to have advanced in the competition seven times."

If you'd like to read Orchard, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. 
Open to US only, ends July 30/16.

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Last One - Alexandra Oliva

I always get a little tingle when I realize after the first few pages of a new book that I'm not going to be able to put it down. That's exactly what happened with Alexandra Oliva's debut novel The Last One. I started it early on a Sunday morning and read straight through to the end (somewhat delaying our afternoon plans....)

Admit it, you've watched at least one episode of a reality television show. (There's lots to choose from!)  In The Last One, Oliva has twelve contestants participating in a remote wilderness challenge, seeing how far they can push themselves.

"That's the whole idea behind the show, after all - to break the contestants. Though the twelve who entered the ring were told that it's about survival. That it's a race. All true, but. Even the title they were told was a deception. Subject to change, as the fine print read."

Oliva nicely skewers reality tv, with the producer and editor's comments, the cheesy host, the dehumanizing of the participants by giving them descriptors as names - Waitress, Tracker, Black Doctor, Zoo, Biology and others. It's only the contestants themselves who use their real names. The manipulation of what has been filmed, presenting the storyline they want viewers to see. "All they care about is that the viewers watch to the end." Chat room responses to the show reinforce this.

But while they're removed from society, something happens. Some sort of deadly pathogen strikes the country. While some participants realize this, others don't - they still believe they're on the show - and that the cameras are still rolling. Zoo is one of those who has no idea. The reader walks along with Zoo, who is determined not to quit - she is going to be the last one standing.

We know something has happened and see Zoo's thoughts and choices through that knowledge and question her logic. But seen through her eyes, her choices make sense. She is in survival mode - both physically and mentally.

"I had no idea it would be like this. They didn't say anything about a fake pandemic or props shaped like dead people. About animatronics or feral cats. Empty towns and abandoned children. They didn't say anything about being so alone for so long."

Dystopian/apocalyptic novels are a favourite of mine and Oliva has put a delicious spin on hers. I really liked Zoo as a character (her real name is only mentioned once). Her determination, resilience and stamina to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Oliva's imagining of her journey totally captured me - who knows what's around the next bend, what she will face, if she'll survive. There was no way to predict where the story was going to go and I was on the edge of my seat for most of the book.

Oliva ends the book on a great turn. I had wondered how she could finish off such a great read, but she surprised me. The ending was just right. The Last One is absolutely one of my favourite reads this year. Read an excerpt of The Last One.

You can connect with Alexandra Oliva on her website, follow her on Twitter and find her on Facebook. I can't wait to see what she writes next.

Friday, July 15, 2016

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #114

- 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've got Lisa Jewell's new book, The Girls in the Garden on hold at the library. Jojo Moyes liked it and there was an 'if you liked Paula Hawkins' reference. But when I went looking for a comparison cover this week, I discovered that the same book was called only 'The Girls'. I wonder why that is? So, US cover on the left and UK cover on the the right. Easy choice for me this week. I like the ivy covered mansion - these kind of shots always bring hidden secrets to mind. The UK cover looks far too juvenile to me, given the premise. But as always, there's a great tagline. Which cover do you prefer?
Any plans to read this book?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Miracles From Heaven - Sony Home Entertainment

I'd heard about  Christy Wilson Beam's book when it crossed over the library counter. I had a quick glance at it as I signed it out for a patron, but never got around to reading it myself. But, when the chance to view the movie of Miracles From Heaven was offered, I happily accepted.

Based on true events, Miracles From Heaven tells the story of Annabel Beam - a young girl suffering from a rare digestive disease. An accidental fall finds Annabel miraculously cured after her rescue.

One of my favourite actresses, Jennifer Garner, plays mom Christy in the movie. I just like Garner, her acting, her choice of roles and her genuineness. I thought she was a great choice for the lead in this film. The rest of the casting was great as well - Queen Latifah is always a treat, Martin Henderson as Kevin Beam conveyed his unwavering support and faith perfectly. Kylie Rogers as Anna does a great job - she has such an expressive face and eyes. John Carroll Lynch was inspiring as Pastor Scott.

I was crying in the first half hour of the film, saddened by Anna's plight, Christy's frustration with the medical community who took forever to diagnose her condition and empathizing with having a sick child.

Miracles From Heaven is yes, about a miracle - but it's also about faith. Faith is a large part of the Beam family's life. But, Christy loses her faith when Anna falls ill, unable to understand how God would let a child fall so ill. Remarks and reactions from some of the congregation have her refusing to attend church. She finds herself unable to even pray. Kevin and the other two daughters hold fast in their belief - as does Anna. She herself never wavers - knowing there is more. There are some great conversations and scenes that explore belief and some of those hard questions.

Miracles From Heaven is an extraordinary story, offering the viewer a chance to reaffirm their belief in a higher power, or an opportunity to explore the idea that yes, miracles do exist. There's a great quote from Albert Einstein used in the film:

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." Uh, huh, take a second look around you .....

There's some great music in the film as well - particularly in the church scenes featuring the band Third Day. And for a sneak peek at the movie, check out the trailer below. Great family viewing too.

"Movie has been provided courtesy of Sony Entertainment Canada and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Here's to Us - Elin Hilderbrand

My beach bag reading list wouldn't be complete without the latest Elin Hilderbrand novel. This summer's new title is Here's to Us.

Hilderbrand takes us back to her favourite setting - Nantucket. Her descriptions of the island and locale make me want to visit - or better yet - live in a lovely old wooden cottage by the ocean.

One of those cottages has been the vacation home of one man, Deacon Thorpe -  and over the years - his three wives and children. But with Deacon's death, the three women and their families have gathered at the cottage to spread Deacon's ashes.

They may have all loved Deacon, but they can't stand each other. This forced togetherness brings up the past both good and bad.

It took me a few chapters to put all the characters in their place - who was who, who was related etc. Once I had that down, I formed an attachment with some - first wife Lauren, adopted daughter Angie from marriage number two and local guide JP. I was torn on how I felt about Deacon - he was a conflicted man, but loved his children. Wives two and three (Scarlet and Belinda) were horrid, vapid, vindictive and shallow. Supporting male characters were a mixed bag. I was confused by Deacon's best friend Buck's actions - his long time attraction to Laurel is thrown away for a few minutes of sex with one of the other exes. I found this somewhat jarring and not what I expected from Hilderbrand.

But without having characters that aren't likable, we wouldn't have the tension, recriminations, secrets and ultimately at the end, a form of resolution. I'm sure that some of Hilderbrand's situations are not that far from the truth for some. Food plays a part as well, with many of Deacon's recipes included.

Here's to Us is a good escapist beach read, but I've enjoyed other Hilderbrand novels more. Read an excerpt of Here's to Us.  You can connect with Elin Hilderbrand on her website, find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Over the Counter #323

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

First up is Welcome to Marwencol by Mark Hogancamp and Chris Shellen. (This one I signed out - it's a fascinating story.)

From the publisher, Princeton Architectural Press:

" In April 2000, Mark Hogancamp was beaten and left for dead outside a bar in his hometown of Kingston, NY. Waking from a nine-day coma, he had no memory of the thirty-eight prior years of his life, including his ex-wife, family, artistic talents, or military service. To reconstruct his past, Hogancamp built, in his backyard, Marwencol, an imaginary village set in World War II Belgium, where everybody is welcome---Germans, Americans, French, British, and Russians---as long as peace is kept. With 1:6 scale action figures and Barbie dolls, as well as toy armaments and meticulously built props, buildings, and clothes, Marwencol is an alternate reality, created with painstaking (and sometimes painful) realism and obsessive attention to detail. Here, riveting wartime dramas are played out and photographed in saturated hues and unflinching detail. The emotional narrative mirrors the artists own: through Marwencol, Hogancamp regained his cognitive facilities. Welcome to Marwencol is an astonishing story of the redemptive power of art---of art as therapy and act of obsession."

Next up is 100 Little Knitted Projects by Sarah Keen.

From the publisher, GMC Publications:

"The days of having leftover yarn left languishing in a cupboard are over. This book is the perfect partner to your remnants. With 100 fun, fabulous and frivolous projects to make, you’ll be spoilt for choice. These little masterpieces make the perfect gift. Quick and fun to make, they’ll appeal to all ages and abilities. Why not make them as party favours or use them to decorate a Christmas tree? You could sew brooch backs or keyrings to them, or string several together to make fun bunting. There are lots of possibilities to explore, so dig out all those little bits of yarn and start knitting these super-cute knick-knacks."

(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, July 12, 2016

The Hatching - Ezekiel Boone

Does the cover art of Ezekiel Boone's new novel, The Hatching, give you the creepy crawlies? All that spider web sticking to the letters.....even the title alone is creepy.

No? Well, this might......

"There are thirty-five thousand species of spiders, and they've been on earth for at least three hundred million years. From the very origin of humanity, spiders have been out there, scuttling along the edges of firelight, spinning webs in the woods, and scaring the hell out of us, even though with a few rare exceptions, they are no real threat. But these were something different."

Peru. An ancient spider egg sac in a wooden box is discovered. It's shipped back to the US, already beginning to hatch. But it's not the only one......

Okay, I don't mind spiders and I'm happy to move them outside without killing them. But...if they were bent on killing me? Skittering and moving faster than......oh, now my skin is crawling.....

Having an everyday creature that we're accustomed to seeing (and squishing) seems even more horrifying than say, a creature from outer space. (Sharks, bears and birds also come to mind)

I am a huge fan of 'cast' or ensemble novels with multiple characters. Boone excels at this in The Hatching. Each set of characters - from political, military, agents and scientists trying to understand and contain the spiders, to preppers in the Californian desert, and across the world to China, Afghanistan, India and Scotland - all bring wildly different points of view and pieces of the plot to The Hatching.

The Hatching was a great, fun, squirmy read. A hugely entertaining read and it's got movie written all over it. I see that online the book is listed as The Hatching Series: Book One. The ending of this book left me thinking it was all over. But, I can see where the story could continue. This reader will be picking up Book Two for sure. Read an excerpt of The Hatching.

You can connect with Ezekiel Boone on his website, find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Missing, Presumed - Susie Steiner

Susie Steiner's newest book, Missing, Presumed, has just released.

The opening chapters introduce us to to DS Manon Bradshaw of the Cambridgeshire Police. Manon comes across as real - the insecurities about her own life and relationships make her both believable and likable. Her internet dating forays are quite laughable.

As Manon and her squad are called out to a missing persons case, we get to see a different side of Manon - the calm, cool professional. Edith, the missing person is high profile - her father is surgeon to the Royal Family - and he wants results.

I always enjoy British police procedurals - the focus is not on blood or gore, but on the clues, the investigation, and the players. Missing, Presumed has a good mystery as its basis, but it is a character driven novel. The interactions between the parents, the glimpses into the life of the missing girl, her friends and family drive the story as much as the crime. Relationships and interactions between the member of the police squad are just as detailed. I was quite drawn to Davy - the 'nice guy' of the group. I liked that many characters are given a voice and a point of view - the reader benefits from having information and perspective from many.

The plotting is good and moves along at a good pace. There are many possibilities as to what has happened and whodunit. The ending is not what I expected at all. At first, it made me a little angry, but with reflection it fits well with the character driven plot that came before. Read an excerpt of Missing, Presumed.

I really liked Manon as a lead character and would love to see her again. Looks like I'll get my wish - Steiner has said there will be another Manon book in 2017. You can connect with Steiner on her website and follow her on Twitter.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

So, you may have noticed.....

there were no reviews last week.......and here's why.....

no explanation really needed......

The 10th Canadian Book Challenge

July 1st is the start date for the next 10th Canadian Book Challenge. This will be the 7th year I've participated.

What's the challenge you ask? Well, it's hosted by John Mutford from The Book Mine Set.

From John's blog:

"The Canadian Book Challenge is an annual online reading challenge in which participants from Canada and around the world aim to read and review 13 or more Canadian books in a one year span: Canada Day to Canada Day. Reviews must be posted online and participants are asked to share links to their reviews with other participants. (It's also a lot of fun and collectively we've read and reviewed thousands of Canadian titles! Actually, the whole books, not just the titles.)

I've met the challenge every year so far! It's a wonderful way to sample the great writing Canada has to offer and discover new authors. Interested in joining? Further details and sign up info can be found here. I'll be using this post to track my progress.

1. The Hatching - Ezekiel Boon - July
2. The House Between Tides - Sarah Maine - July
3. The Couple Next Door - Shari Lapena - August
4. Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd - Alan Bradley - September
5. When the Music's Over - Peter Robinson - September
6. The Witches of New York - Ami McKay - December
7 The Lost Gift - Kallie George - December
8. A Darkness Absolute - Kelley Armstrong - February
9. Follow Me Down - Sherri Smith - March
10. Beyond the Wild River - Sarah Maine - April
11. The Last Neanderthal - Claire Cameron - May
12. The Only Child - Andrew Pyper - May
13. Girl Last Seen - Nina Laurin - June

Friday, July 8, 2016

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #113

- 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 newest book, The Whistler, releases in October on both sides of the pond. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Very different versions this week. The US is dark and ominous with the black and red. Water and boats seem to figure into the plot. The UK version is lighter in tone, but also indicates water will figure into the story. I think I'll go with the US version this week - I would be more likely to pick it up based on the colours. Which cover do you prefer? 
Any plans to read this latest from Grisham? 
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Over the Counter #322

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? How could that cover not catch your eye?! Wings and hooves this week......

First up is The Living Bird: 100 Years Of Listening To Nature by Gerrit Vyn.

From the publisher, Mountaineers Books:

"New York Times Bestseller. Foreword by Barbara Kingsolver. Over 250 images by acclaimed wildlife photographer Gerrit Vyn Essays by Jared Diamond, John W. Fitzpatrick, Lyanda Lynn Haupt, and Scott Weidensaul.

The Living Bird explores the relationship between birds and people through over 250 images by wildlife photographer Gerrit Vyn and thought-provoking essays by some of the world's leading naturalists and bird enthusiasts. The book also marks the 100th anniversary of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, a world leader in the study, appreciation, and conservation of birds. Captured in terrain both exotic and familiar--the Yukon Delta, a woods in Arkansas, a remote village in Russia's Arctic, and even urban Seattle--Vyn's remarkable photographs illustrate nearly 100 North American bird species. The exhilaration of migratory Whooping Cranes, the fragility of the endangered Spoon-Billed Sandpiper, and the wide-eyed beauty of Great Horned Owls all come alive on the page. From enjoying backyard Black-capped Chickadees and Yellow Warblers, to wondering over a Pileated Woodpecker, or to admiring the powerful soar of a Gyrfalcon, The Living Bird educates and inspires."

Next up is Lesser Beasts: A Snout-to-Tail History of the Humble Pig by Mark Essig.

From the publisher, Basic Books:

"A globe-trotting history of the domestic pig, showing how this humble and oft-maligned beast has helped humans to survive and thrive from the Neolithic Period to the present day. Unlike other barnyard animals, which pull plows, give eggs or milk, or grow wool, a pig produces only one thing: meat. Incredibly efficient at converting almost any organic matter into nourishing, delectable protein, swine are nothing short of a gastronomic godsend—yet their flesh is banned in many cultures, and the animals themselves are maligned as filthy, lazy brutes.

An expansive, illuminating history of one of our most vital yet unsung food animals, Lesser Beasts turns a spotlight on the humble creature that, perhaps more than any other, has been a mainstay of civilization since its very beginnings—whether we like it or not."

(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, July 5, 2016

Giveaway - The Long, Hot Summer - Kathleen MacMahon

Yes, summer is finally in full swing! And to celebrate, I have the perfect giveaway for you.......

The Long, Hot Summer by Kathleen MacMahon releases today.

From Grand Central Publishing:

"Determined to be different from other people, they have carved out a place for themselves in Irish life by the sheer force of their personalities.

There's Deirdre, the aged matriarch and former star of the stage. Her estranged writer husband Manus now lives with a younger man. Their daughter Alma is an unapologetically ambitious television presenter, while Acushla plays the part of the perfect political wife. And there's Macdara, the fragile and gentle soul of the family. Together, the MacEntees present a glamorous face to the world. But when a series of misfortunes befall them over the course of one long, hot summer, even the MacEntees will struggle to make sense of who they are.

From Kathleen MacMahon, the #1 bestselling author of This is How it Ends, comes this powerful and poignant novel, capturing a moment in the life of one family." Read an excerpt of The Long, Hot Summer.

"Kathleen MacMahon is a former radio and television journalist with Ireland's national broadcaster, RTE. The granddaughter of the distinguished short story writer Mary Lavin, Kathleen lives in Dublin with her husband and twin daughters. This is How it Ends, her first novel, was published in 20 countries and was a #1 bestseller in Ireland." You can connect with Kathleen on Twitter and find her on Facebook.

If The Long, Hot Summer sounds like a book you'd like to read this summer, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends July 16/16. 

Friday, July 1, 2016

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover # 112

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

US cover
UK cover
Here's another one on my ever teetering TBR list! Dark Matter by Blake Crouch.
"'Are you happy in your life?' Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious." The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Very, very similar this week, with the red covers and in your face black font. But I'm going with the UK cover this week - I like the tagline and somewhat fractured cover. Which cover do you prefer?
Any plans to read Dark Matter?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.