Friday, September 30, 2016

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #125

- 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
Federico Axat's novel Kill the Next One releases soon in North America. Rights have been sold to 33 international publisher and movie rights have been optioned already! The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. An easy decision for me this week - I'm going with the UK cover. It's bold, it's in your face and the colours leap out. The tag line 'The Perfect Thriller' would also have me picking it up. The US cover is bland and washed out. The maze idea is okay, but the X across the eye is meh. It also refers to the book as a 'novel' vs. the UK's 'thriller.' So, I guess I'll have to read it to see. Which cover do you prefer this week?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

When the Music's Over - Peter Robinson

One of my absolute, all time favourite series, that never, ever disappoints, is Peter Robinson's Inspector Banks novels. The 23rd book in the series, When The Music's Over, releases early next month.

Robinson opens When the Music's Over with a gut wrenching prologue. The reader knows that there is someone and something very, very dark out there......

Banks has just been promoted to Detective Superintendent. And along with his promotion, comes a high profile case. A beloved public performer, now in his eighties, may not be the man the British public has believed him to be. More than one woman has come forward with accounts of 'historical sexual abuse'. It's up to Alan and his team to see if they can prove a case that's over fifty years old.

I wondered how Banks would go about investigating the historical case. After so many years, what clues would be left to follow? As Banks says...."I mean...nearly fifty years ago...It's about as cold as case as you can get."

Running parallel and just as challenging is Detective Inspector Annie Cabot's case. The body of a young girl has been found by the side of the road, horribly beaten.  Racial tension, political correctness and public relations tip-toeing are muddying the waters in Annie's investigation.

"And what are the odds of some stranger just happening along this road, seeing a naked woman walking and turning out to be a passing psychopath, deciding to beat her to death."

This latest mystery from Robinson is both topical and current. Both cases draw upon actual cases for inspiration - that of  Rotherham and Jimmy Savile. Although there are two separate cases, they have common (and disturbing) starting point. The plotting is excellent, well thought out, well paced and absolutely believable.

Well loved supporting characters return, including one of my perennial faves, Winsome Jackman. We get to know young newcomer Detective Constable Gerry Masterson a bit better. She provides a different outlook from the seasoned detectives and I look forward to seeing more of her. And I never grow tired of Annie and her strong opinions.

I have always enjoyed Banks' musical tastes, often seeking out some of what he's listening to. In this latest book, poetry is a new passion of Banks. Robinson has grown his characters as the series has progressed. Alan's personal life is always of interest.  His last relationship has ended and as the book progressed I wondered if he might follow through with his attraction to one of the witnesses in his historical case. 

I always like finding the reference to the title when reading. In this case, it's from a conversation...

"You know what they say. When the music's over, it's time to have fun."
"Never heard that one, said Banks. I thought it was turn out the lights."
"Don't you turn out the lights when you want to have fun, Superintendent?"

Well, leave the lights on and immerse yourself in this latest wonderful read from Robinson. While I don't know about fun, I do know it's another fantastic read from Robinson. Five stars for this reader.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Over the Counter #334

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Books with an 'F' and a star(s) in the title.......

First up is I'm Your Biggest Fan: Awkward Encounters and Assorted Misadventures in Celebrity Journalism by Kate Coyne.

From the publisher, Hachette Book Group:

"The Executive Editor of People Magazine provides an unfiltered and hilarious look at her life alongside the rich and famous, as she reveals how being a fan-girl lead to celebrity close encounters she could only dream of growing up.

From the NY Post's "Page Six" to Good Housekeeping and now People, Kate Coyne has spent years on the front lines of the entertainment industry, feeding our insatiable appetite for celebrity news and gossip. I'm Your Biggest Fan chronicles her journey from red-carpet reporter to upper-level editor and the countless surreal, surprising, and awkward interactions she had with stars along the way. Featuring A-listers such as Michael Douglas (who warned her about tabloid reporting), Tom Cruise (whose behavior will surprise you) and Tom Hanks (who, yes, is wonderful) Coyne's stories reveal insights about pop culture's biggest icons-and the journalist who has followed their every move."

Next up is It's Just a F***ing Date: Some Sort of Book About Dating by Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola.

From Diversion Books:

"A fun and funny guide to dating from the New York Times bestselling authors of It's Called a Breakup Because It's Broken and He's Just Not That Into You.

Why does dating have to be so hard?

It doesn’t! Stop trying to out-game the system and relax. It's Just a F***Ing Date presents the tools, not the rules, for bringing back the art of the date. The ordeals of 21st century dating, from online dating and hooking up to pulling the plug when it isn’t working, will soon be easy to navigate. With tips to define what is and isn’t a date, how to get asked out, and setting your own dating standards, dating won’t seem old-fashioned, it will be fun.

Bestselling authors Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola return to the minefield of modern relationships with this revised and updated edition."

(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, September 27, 2016

Giveaway - The Light of the World - Elizabeth Alexander

"Elizabeth Alexander's Pulitzer Prize winning memoir is now available in paperback with a new foreword. The Light of the World is a deeply resonant memoir for anyone who has loved and lost." I have two copies to giveaway to two lucky readers.

From Grand Central Publishing:

"A deeply resonant memoir for anyone who has loved and lost, from acclaimed poet and Pulitzer Prize finalist Elizabeth Alexander.

In The Light of the World, Elizabeth Alexander finds herself at an existential crossroads after the sudden death of her husband. Channeling her poetic sensibilities into a rich, lucid price, Alexander tells a love story that is, itself, a story of loss. As she reflects on the beauty of her married life, the trauma resulting from her husband's death, and the solace found in caring for her two teenage sons, Alexander universalizes a very personal quest for meaning and acceptance in the wake of loss.

The Light of the World  at once an endlessly compelling memoir and a deeply felt meditation on the blessings of love, family, art, and community. It is also a lyrical celebration of a life well-lived and a paean to the priceless gift of human companionship. For those who have loved and lost, or for anyone who cares what matters most, The Light of the World is required reading." Read an excerpt of The Light of the World.

Praise for The Light of the World:

“In this powerful, beautifully written memoir, she shares the tragic story of her husband’s sudden death, the challenges of raising her boys in the midst of gripping sorrow and the solace she gained along the road to healing.” —Michelle Obama, More Magazine

“A brave and beautiful book about love and loss—the deep pain that comes with such a loss, and the redemptive realization that such pain is a small price to pay for such a love.”—Jeannette Walls, New York Times bestselling author of The Glass Castle

"Elizabeth Alexander composed and recited "Praise Song for the Day" for President Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration. She is the author of six books of poetry--including American Sublime, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize--and is the first winner of the Jackson Prize for Poetry and a National Endowment for the Arts and Guggenheim fellow. She is the Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry at Yale University." You can connect with Elizabeth Alexander on her website, follow her on Twitter and find her on Facebook.

Enter to win one of two copies I have to giveaway using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada. Ends October 8/16.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd - Alan Bradley

Okay, hands up if you've been waiting (and not patiently) for the next entry in Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce series. Well, the wait is over - the eighth book - Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd has just released. I've devoured it and will be waiting (and not patiently) for the ninth book in this absolutely wonderful series.

Early 1950's. Twelve year old Flavia has been drummed out of Miss Bodycote's Female Academy in Canada and sent packing back to England. She arrives home in time for the Christmas holidays, but much has changed in the few short months she's been gone. But what hasn't changed is Flavia's penchant for finding dead bodies. Or should I say that the bodies find Flavia? On an innocent errand for the vicar's wife, Flavia stumbles across yet another. And her reaction?

"It's amazing what the discovery of a corpse can do for one's spirits."

I'm drawn to the time period, the crumbling mansion the de Luces live in, the small village of Bishop's Lacey, the quirky inhabitants of the village, the characters and the whole idea of a very clever amateur girl detective.

A younger cousin has been introduced in the storylines of the last two books. I'm not completely sure yet how I feel about her (and either is Flavia), but Undine is beginning to grow on me. The enigmatic family retainer, Dogger, is my favourite supporting character, turning up at just the right moment with just the right (or no) words. He sees past the clever front Flavia presents, to the sometimes lonely little girl often left to her own devices. (Did I mention the chemistry lab in the moldering east wing? Flavia is quite adept at poisons....)

Lonely enough that her best friend is Gladys - her bicycle. Flavia often attributes her own feelings and thoughts to Gladys.

"Gladys gave a little squeak of delight. She loved coasting as much as I did, and if there was no one in sight, I might even put my feet up on her handlebars: a bit of bicycle artistry that she loved even more than ordinary free-wheeling."

"Gladys loved to pretend she was being abducted. She was being amusing, I knew, and because it helped pass the time until we reached the road, I did not discourage her."

I enjoy the mysteries that Bradley concocts and this one is fairly complex - woodcarvers, witches, childhood storybooks and more, but it is Flavia that's the main event for me. I love her mind, her deductions and her outlook on life:

"Life with my sister Daffy had taught me that you could tell as much about people by their books as you could by snooping through their diaries - a practice of which I am exceedingly fond and, I must confess, especially adept."

"Thanks to my Girl Guide training, I was able to bluff convincingly when required. All those wet and windy Wednesday evenings spent in cold, drafty parish halls were paying off at last."

"There is an art to staging a convincing accident. It is not as easy as you may think - particularly on short notice. First and foremost, it must look completely natural and spontaneous. Secondly, there must be nothing comical about it, since comedy saps sympathy."

I've said it before and I'll say it again...."Flavia is one of the most endearing, captivating, curious, beguiling, precocious characters I've ever discovered in the pages of a book." I always wanted to be a detective (like Nancy Drew or Harriet the Spy) when I was younger. In Flavia I get to imagine it all over again.

"The world can be an interesting place to a girl who keeps her ears open."

The mystery is solved by the final pages, (and really with Flavia on the case, was there ever any doubt?) and the door has been left open (a bit of a shocking ending really) for the next entry in this series. Each entry in this series answers question, but (happily for this reader) leaves just as many unanswered.

The titles for Bradley's novels are always curiously interesting. This latest, if you've not already recognized it, is a line from the witch's scene in Shakespeare's Macbeth. Double, double, toil and trouble......

Read an excerpt of Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd. I loved it - five stars for this reader!

(And yes, I suppose you could read this as a stand-alone, but I really think you should start at the beginning with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.)

Friday, September 23, 2016

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #124

- 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 am a faithful fan of Lee Child's Jack Reacher novels. (Although I am still having a hard time with Tom Cruise portraying him in the movies) The 23rd book in the series, Night School releases in November on both sides of the pond. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. The US cover certainly catches your eye with the bright colours. The UK version uses more of an actual scene, which is in keeping with their previous covers shots. In previous cover it's just been a shot of one man. It's interesting that there are a man and a woman on this cover. Hmm, what's up Jack? I am torn this week. In the end I guess I'll go with the US cover simply because its so bright. What about you - any plans to read Night School? Which cover do you prefer? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Bookshop on the Corner - Jenny Colgan

Oh, can I tell you how much I enjoy Jenny Colgan's books! A lot - I could happily live in any one of the worlds that Jenny has created in her books.

Her latest North American release is The Bookshop on the Corner - and its my new favourite. (Released in Britain as The Little Shop of Happy-Ever-After - which I prefer as a title.)

What makes this latest my favourite? Books, books, and more books and oh yeah, a bookbus!

Jenny's Message to Readers before you even read the first page sets to the tone and stage for booklovers everywhere. Literally - it's a discussion of where to read - bathtub? Bed? Etc. Colgan's humour and warmth leap off the page. Somewhat - no, just like her writing.

Nina Redmond is a librarian in Birmingham England, happy in her job, connecting readers with just the right book. (And reading as much as she can.)

"Helping to match people to the book that would change their life, or make them fall in love, or get over a love affair gone wrong."

Until her library board decides to 'compress library services, become a hub with a multimedia experience zone, a coffee shop and an intersensory experience." Bottom line? Nina is out of a job. Does she dare to bring her dream of a travelling bookshop to fruition?

She does - and the reader is happily along for the ride as she navigates buying a van, finding books, finding a new home, finding herself and maybe, just maybe, finding love.......

Nina is a wonderful character, someone you would absolutely love to count among your friends. The supporting cast is fun and quirky - notably best friend Surinder - and the residents of Kirrinfief, Scotland. And the two (yes, two) romantic interests - lovely as well.

You certainly don't need to be a librarian to love this book (although if my library decides to downsize, I think a travelling bookshop is a splendid dream job.....) If you think you would enjoy a sweet, delightful, heartwarming story punctuated by books, with a lovely helping of romance, then The Bookshop on the Corner is a match for you. I loved this one - five stars for me. I can't wait for Colgan's next book! Read an excerpt of The Bookshop on the Corner.

Jenny Colgan is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous novels, including Little Beach Street Bakery, Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop, and Christmas at the Cupcake Café, all international bestsellers. Jenny is married with three children and lives in London and Scotland.You can connect with Jenny Colgan on her website, find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Over the Counter #333

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? A pair of memoirs with varying degrees of light....

First up is I Do It With the Lights On by Whitney Way Thore.

From the publisher, Ballantine Books:

"From the star of TLC’s My Big Fat Fabulous Life and the YouTube sensation “A Fat Girl Dancing” comes an empowering memoir about letting go of your limitations and living the life you deserve. Right now.

Whitney Way Thore stands five feet two inches tall and weighs well over three hundred pounds, and she is totally, completely, and truly . . . happy. But she wasn’t always the vivacious, confident woman you see on TV. Growing up as a dancer, Whitney felt the pressure to be thin, a desire that grew into an obsession as she got older. From developing an eating disorder as a teenager, to extreme weight gain in college, to her ongoing struggle with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), Whitney reveals her fight to overcome the darkest moments in her life. She holds nothing back, opening up about the depths of her depression as well as her resilience in the face of constant harassment and mistreatment.

Now Whitney is on top of the world and taking no BS (Body Shame, of course). And she’s sharing the steps she took to get there and the powerful message behind her successful No Body Shame campaign. She even reveals her favorite “F” word (it’s probably not what you think), the thrill of doing it with the lights on, and the story behind the “Fat Girl Dancing” video that started it all.

Exuberant and utterly honest, I Do It with the Lights On is the inspiring story of how Whitney finally discovered her fabulousness when she stepped off the scale and into her life, embracing herself unconditionally—body, heart, and soul."

Next up is Sunny's Nights: Lost and Found at a Bar on the Edge of the World by Tim Sultan.

From the publisher, Random House:

"Imagine that Alice had walked into a bar instead of falling down the rabbit hole. In the tradition of J. R. Moehringer’s The Tender Bar and the classic reportage of Joseph Mitchell, here is an indelible portrait of what is quite possibly the greatest bar in the world—and the mercurial, magnificent man behind it.

The first time he saw Sunny’s Bar, in 1995, Tim Sultan was lost, thirsty for a drink, and intrigued by the single bar sign among the forlorn warehouses lining the Brooklyn waterfront. Inside, he found a dimly lit room crammed with maritime artifacts, a dozen well-seasoned drinkers, and, strangely, a projector playing a classic Martha Graham dance performance. Sultan knew he had stumbled upon someplace special. What he didn’t know was that he had just found his new home.

Soon enough, Sultan has quit his office job to bartend full-time for Sunny Balzano, the bar’s owner. A wild-haired Tony Bennett lookalike with a fondness for quoting Shakespeare and Samuel Beckett, Sunny is truly one of a kind. Born next to the saloon that has been in his family for one hundred years, Sunny has over the years partied with Andy Warhol, spent time in India at the feet of a guru, and painted abstract expressionist originals. But his masterpiece is the bar itself, a place where a sublime mix of artists, mobsters, honky-tonk musicians, neighborhood drunks, nuns, longshoremen, and assorted eccentrics rub elbows. Set against the backdrop of a rapidly transforming city, Sunny’s Nights is a loving and singular portrait of the dream experience we’re all searching for every time we walk into a bar, and an enchanting memoir of an unlikely and abiding friendship."

(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, September 20, 2016

The Perfect Girl - Gilly MacMillan

Gilly MacMillan's first novel, What She Knew, was an Edgar nominated, New York Times Bestseller. Her second novel, The Perfect Girl, is newly released.

Seventeen year old Zoe is a brilliant piano virtuoso. Her mother Maria has nurtured her career from the very beginning.  An accident three years ago ended with one of Zoe's friends dead. But, she's served her time, she and her mother have moved and they have a new family unit. But while giving a concert in their new hometown, a man bursts in ranting and disrupts the event. And six hours later, Maria is dead......

Who killed Maria is the question that needs answering by the end of the book. And there are a few obvious choices. But it is the exploration of the characters, their lives, their thoughts and their reasoning that make The Perfect Girl a 'literary suspense' novel.

There are eight main characters in The Perfect Girl, but only four of them are given a voice with their own chapters. I was surprised at those that were - Tessa and Richard, Zoe's aunt and uncle and Sam, Zoe's previous solicitor.  A fifth, Lucas - Zoe's new stepbrother, we come to know through his film script.

Zoe is driven to be perfect - in her piano playing and in her behavior. After all, this is her Second Chance with her new Second Chance family in their new Second Chance home. It's heartbreaking to read Zoe's chapters, as we learn of her past and the events that lead to that fateful night. But I found her a hard character to actually like. Maria is also driven as well to make everything 'perfect'. Maria is not given a voice and we only learn about her from others - notably her sister Tessa (who seems to be the most reasonable character)  Chris, Maria's new husband, also only becomes known through his actions and dialogue described by others. (But he's a real piece of work) It was Uncle Richard that I was drawn to the most, despite his spectacular lack of perfection. I understand Sam's inclusion in the book, but felt he was quite removed from the 'main event'.

These are all fractured people with fractured lives and secrets, some holding it together better than others. It was hard to really like any of them, but as a 'removed' observer, I was caught up in their turmoil. The final whodunit isn't the ending I had predicted, but seems, well, just perfect. Read an excerpt of The Perfect Girl.

"Gilly Macmillan is the Edgar Nominated and New York Times bestselling author of What She Knew. She grew up in Swindon, Wiltshire and lived in Northern California in her late teens. She worked at The Burlington Magazine and the Hayward Gallery before starting a family. Since then she's worked as a part-time lecturer in photography, and now writes full-time. She resides in Bristol, England." You can find Gilly MacMillan on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. See what others on the TLC book tour thought. Full schedule can be found here.

I received this book for review from HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Giveaway- Between Breaths - Elizabeth Vargas

'I've got an absolutely inspiring, honest memoir and giveaway for you today.

Between Breaths: A Memoir of Panic and Addiction by Elizabeth Vargas has just released.

From Grand Central Publishing:

"From the moment she uttered the brave and honest words, "I am an alcoholic," to interviewer George Stephanopoulos, Elizabeth Vargas began writing her story, as her experiences were still raw. Now, in Between Breaths, Vargas discusses her accounts of growing up with anxiety-which began suddenly at the age of six when her father served in Vietnam-and how she dealt with this anxiety as she came of age, to her eventually turning to alcohol for relief. She tells of how she found herself living in denial, about the extent of her addiction and keeping her dependency a secret for so long. She addresses her time in rehab, her first year of sobriety, and the guilt she felt as a working mother who had never found the right balance.

Honest and hopeful, Between Breaths is an inspiring read. Elizabeth Vargas is the Co-anchor of 20/20 on ABC News. She resides in Manhattan with her two children."

Read an excerpt of Between Breaths.  If you'd like to read Between Breaths, enter to win one of two copies I have to giveaway using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada. Ends October 1/16.

Friday, September 16, 2016

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #123

- 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 read everything that Emma Donoghue has written - and loved them all. I knew she had a new book coming and placed my hold at the library without even reading the synopsis. I've just read it now and am even more eager to read her new book The Wonder. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Two quite different covers this week. Both dark in tone. But I think that I prefer the US cover. That antique spoon just appeals to me and I wonder what the story behind it might be. The UK cover is quite fanciful with the gold. The title underneath the ground and a tree must have some significance as well to the story. Do you have any plans to read The Wonder? 
Which cover do you prefer? 
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Inkspirations: Fruit of the Spirit - illustrated by Lorrie Bennett - Review AND Giveaway

Do you colour? I loved to colour as a child. I was somewhat sceptical when adult colouring books became a 'thing'. But then I tried it - and discovered that I still enjoyed it very much. And yes, I found it relaxing!

Inkspirations Fruit of the Spirit: Coloring Designs to Nourish You with Love, Joy, Faith, Peace and More with illustrations by Lorrie Bennett is my latest colouring book.

Spirit is a faith based colouring book, with each line drawing accompanied by a quote from the scriptures. Words to ponder as you colour. Words everyone can take to heart and live by. Bennett's illustrations perfectly complement the quotes.

When I was young, I was a 'don't go out of the lines' colourer (is that even a word?). I wanted my finished product to be perfect. And I would colour the pages in order. Well, I'm way beyond that now - if I slip a bit, it doesn't bother me. Now, I just jump in, picking a page and colours that appeal to me. My effort is on the right here.

For those of you who would like a little direction, the first few pages discuss colouring tips and tools, how to choose colours, colours that harmonize and picking your palette. The binding allows the pages to lay flat, but the pages are also perforated, allowing for easy tear-out.

Spirit is just one in a line of colouring books from HCI Books. Check out the entire line of colouring books as well as their greeting cards.  HCI  Books also has a private labeling program for an Inkspirations coloring book designed personally for your organization. You can find Inkspirations on their website and follow them on Facebook and share your work on their Instagram.

"Lorrie Bennett is blessed to live her life as an artist, crafter, teacher, graphic designer, and best of all, a mother. She is passionate about the divine inspiration that is the source of her creativity, and the happiness and beauty that it can bring to others."

See what others on the TLC book tour thought - full schedule can be found here. And if you'd like a copy of Inkspirations: Fruit of the Spirit for yourself, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only. Ends October 1/16.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Leave Me - Gayle Forman

I enjoy Gayle Forman's writing. Her newest book - Leave Me -  is a departure from young adult fiction and is geared towards adult readers.

Maribeth Klein leads a busy life - wife, mother to twins and magazine editor. There's always somewhere to be, something to do and not enough time to do it in. And so, when she feels chest pains, Maribeth ascribes it to stress or perhaps it's simply indigestion. But it's not - it's a heart attack - at forty-four years old.

No, Maribeth doesn't die. But, she comes close and everything changes for her. When she returns home though, nothing seems to have changed. Barely into recovery, her husband and children treat her as they did before the heart attack, expecting so much from her. Her mother is there to help, but she too adds to the workload. And Maribeth? She simply can't take it - and she leaves. Leaves her husband, her children, her mother and her job. Takes her half of the savings, hops on a bus, rents a furnished apartment and stops. Stops to take stock of her life, her health, her relationship with her husband, her role as a mother. And her role as a child. Maribeth is adopted, but does not know her birth mother. Where does she want her life to go from here?

I think you would be hard pressed to find a mother who has not felt stretched to the limit with her time, energy and physical and mental capabilities. Let alone having a major health crisis. I know I did when my kids were younger. I can absolutely empathize with Maribeth's decision to leave. Although, I was a little annoyed with her for not being able to say no - both before and after her heart attack. But without that inability, there would be no story.

I liked Maribeth, liked her a lot. I was definitely sitting in her cheering section as she worked her way through her past and into her present. Forman throws in challenges and different avenues that Maribeth could travel along the way. What will she choose? I had my druthers, but won't spill the beans. Suffice it to say, I had a hard time liking her husband Jason. I just couldn't get past his initial introduction and actions despite further developments as the book progresses.(And is it bad if I say, I really didn't like the four year old daughter either? Her behaviour and dialogue seem older than four. But really annoying) I adored the upstairs neighbours - their quirkiness and kindness made them the kind of friends I would love to have in my circle.

And yes there are further developments and resolutions. And deep down, I know it's the only way the story could go, but that little bit of me just wonders what if.........(and I'm only talking about Jason here, not the kids)  I did however find the ending a bit rushed considering the path to it.

Forman's writing flows so well and is very easy to read. I'll absolutely pick up her next book. Although Leave Me was a good read, it isn't my favourite from this author.

I think there will be Maribeth lovers and Maribeth detractors. Book clubs would have a field day with Leave Me - lots of fodder for discussion! The title is clever as leave me can apply to so many of the characters and their relationships. Read an excerpt of Leave Me.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Over the Counter # 332

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? A pair of light hearted memoirs this week.

First up is Paddle Your Own Canoe by Nick Offerman.

From the publisher, Dutton Books:

"When it comes to growing a robust mustache, masticating red meat, building a chair, or wooing a woman, who better to educate you than the always charming, always manly Nick Offerman, best known as Parks and Recreation’s Ron Swanson? Combining his trademark comic voice and very real expertise in carpentry, Paddle Your Own Canoe features tales from Offerman’s childhood (born, literally, in the middle of an Illinois cornfield) to his theater days in Chicago to the, frankly, magnificent seduction of his wife, Megan Mullally. Offerman also shares his hard-bitten battle strategies in the arenas of manliness, love, styles, and religion, and invaluable advice on getting the utmost pleasure out of woodworking, assorted meats, outdoor recreations, and other palatable entrees."

Next up is Housebroken: Admissions of an Untidy Life by Laurie Notaro.

From the publisher, Ballantine Books:

"#1 New York Times bestselling author Laurie Notaro isn’t exactly a domestic goddess—unless that means she fully embraces her genetic hoarding predisposition, sneaks peeks at her husband’s daily journal, or has made a list of the people she wants on her Apocalypse Survival team (her husband’s not on it). Notaro chronicles her chronic misfortune in the domestic arts, including cooking, cleaning, and putting on Spanx while sweaty (which should technically qualify as an Olympic sport). Housebroken is a rollicking new collection of essays showcasing her irreverent wit and inability to feel shame. From defying nature in the quest to make her own Twinkies, to begging her new neighbors not to become urban livestock keepers, to teaching her eight-year-old nephew about hobos, Notaro recounts her best efforts—and hilarious failures—in keeping a household inches away from being condemned. After all, home wasn’t built in a day."

(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, September 13, 2016

The Last True Love Story - Brendan Kiely

I love 'road trip' novels. Anything could happen on the way 'there'. Where is 'there'? Why is the trip being made? As one character often says in Brendan Kiely's new novel, The Last True Love Story - 'You have to respect the road trip."

Hendrix's beloved Gpa is slipping away from him - Alzheimer's is stealing his memories. Hendrix has been writing down the stories of Gpa and Gma (loved these inserted tales), but when Gpa says he wants to go 'home', Hendrix impulsively decides to sign him out of the retirement home and drive from LA to Ithaca, New York. Problem is he doesn't have a license. He's got a car - his mom is out of the country and won't notice that her 'bug' (or Gpa) are missing for at least a few days.

Corrina is seventeen as well, but does have her license. Both Hendrix and Corrina are lonely and out of step with the rest of their peer groups, but sense something in each other - kindred spirits? And so the road trip is on with each character having their own reasons to head out.

I loved all three main characters. Corrina's smart mouth and 'acting out' hide an insecure young woman trying to find her place in her family and society. But when the mask comes off, she's a kind, intuitive person. Hendrix too, is struggling with unresolved family questions. His father is dead and no one really talks about him. There may be answers about 'Dead Dad' in Ithaca as well. Gpa affected me the most. Alzheimer's has touched my family as well. The glimpses into Gpa's life and his love for his deceased wife make for some touching and poignant scenes. And the times he forgets are well (and sadly) depicted.

The relationship between Hendrix and his Gpa is a joy to read. The budding relationship between Hendrix and Corrina is sweet and believable. Family dynamics are also explored from many viewpoints. These three are not just navigating the road, but life as well.

Music is such a big part of any road trip. I ended up jotting down many of Corrina's play lists - rock and roll classics with a healthy dose of new stuff.

Great opening prologue.....

"I'd feel like this is all coming to the end, except I can't. Because it can't be. It can't be the end, not for Gpa, not for Corrina, and not for me, because it is out here on the road in the middle of nowhere that I have finally come to understand what my grandfather means when he says that the point of living is learning how to love."

.....and some great endings too - lines, songs and stories - that I'll let you discover. And yes, I can absolutely see The Last True Love Story as a movie. Read an excerpt of The Last True Love Story.  You can follow Brendan Kiely on Twitter.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Blood Wedding - Pierre Lemaitre

I first discovered Pierre LeMaitre back in 2013 when I picked up his (terrifying) novel Alex. I loved it (my review) and have been a fan ever since. His latest book - Blood Wedding has just released - and it's just as creepily terrifying as his previous works.

Sophie is working as a nanny to a young boy. When she awakes one morning she find the boy dead - with one of her shoelaces around his neck. And Sophie can't remember a thing.

Hoping she hasn't killed the boy (She couldn't have done such a thing - could she?) and knowing no one will believe her Sophie runs, creates a new identity and tries to hide. Why? Well, that little dead boy isn't the first time Sophie can't remember things. Working as a nanny was the latest stop in a downward spiral from successful, married businesswoman to frightened, forgetful and unstable woman she is today. What has happened to her and her life? She has no idea - but someone else does....

I enjoyed getting immediately caught up in Sophie's maelstrom. As I read the first half, I thought the novel was going to go one way, looked at the number of pages left and thought 'oh, that's too much for this storyline'. And then LeMaitre knocked all my preconceived notions as to how the book would unfold out the window in the second half. I truly don't want to ruin the book for anyone. But there is someone 'helping' Sophie on her downward spiral.

"I know her so well. I knew how she would react, what would interest her. "It's important not to overdo it. The important thing is to maintain the atmosphere."

Just as I thought I now knew where LeMaitre's story was going, he threw in a few more twists. I love that gotcha moment when you read a single sentence, sit stunned for a second, and then read it again just to confirm.

This is a one sided cat and mouse game, with the reader fully aware of what is happening to Sophie. Until........

Deliciously creepy! Stephen King calls LeMaitre "A really excellent suspense novelist." I think so too.  Read an excerpt of Blood Wedding.

Friday, September 9, 2016

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #122

- 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
The Twenty-Three is the third book in Linwood Barclay's Promise Falls trilogy. I've really enjoyed the first two and can't wait for the pieces to all fall into place in this last book! The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. I'm going to go with the US cover this week. The style matches what has been used in the first two books. I like the main street hidden in the liquid (hmm, can't be blood as its orange...). The UK cover is starker and only showcases one man - the plot is much bigger than that. Although it looks ominous, I find the colours and the font don't really appeal to me. What cover do you prefer? Have you read the first two books? Planning to read The Twenty Three? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Film on Friday #50 - Disney's The Jungle Book

When I was young, I always begged my grandmother to read me stories from  her copy of The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. I wanted to live in the jungle with those talking animals for friends. Walt Disney produced an animated version in 1967 that had music and comedy as the focus. And for the time, it was good.

But, director Jon Favreau's version of The Jungle Book  has just released on Blu-ray and DVD for home viewing - and I have to say - it is absolutely fantastic!

Favreau has employed 'live-action' filming. It is miles beyond that '67 version. You'd swear that the animals were real, yet the only 'real' actor is Mowgli - played by Neel Sethi. (His journey to being cast and his time on set is one of the special features) The all-star cast includes Bill Murray as the voice of Baloo, Sir Ben Kingsley as Bagheera and Lupita Nyong’o as the voice of mother wolf Raksha. Scarlett Johansson gives life to Kaa, Giancarlo Esposito  provides the voice of alpha-male wolf Akela, Idris Elba roars as the voice of Shere Khan, and Christopher Walken. These voices were absolutely perfect for each character. I have to say I probably enjoyed Baloo the most.

Favreau has stayed very close to the stories I remember. Even though I knew what would happen, I found myself caught up in the story, crying for the wolves, frightened of Kaa and Shere Khan and protected by Bagheera and Baloo. He's also included music from the '67 version. Walken's King Louie song is priceless. But my fave is Baloo's The Bear Necessities. Again, I can't stress how good the graphics are - check out the trailer below to see for yourself. The bonus features are great, giving you a look at behind the scenes. This new version is a wonderful tribute to Kipling's stories. Just excellent for this viewer.

This is a family film with a few caveats - there is a death and some danger. I'll be sharing the stories and movie with my grandson when he's a few years older. Until then, I am so happy to have this in my DVD library - I can still dream of living in the jungle with talking animals for family!

And if you too would like to add The Jungle Book to your library, enter to win a copy from this blog HERE. Ends Sept. 10/16.

Film on Friday # 49 - A Sunday Horse - Mongrel Media

Summary: "After a near-fatal accident, on a horse the experts thought was nothing special, a determined rider from the wrong side of the tracks defies all the odds to pursue her dreams of winning a national jumping championship."

A Sunday Horse is the true story of Debi Walden Connor, played by Nicki Reed. The supporting cast includes veteran actors William Shatner, Ving Rhames and Linda Hamilton amongst others.

I have a bit of a quibble with ' the wrong side of tracks' description. I think limited financial resources would have better described Debi and her family. The tracks description seems over sensationalized.

Reed was at her best playing Debi after the accident. I think her acting was somewhat overplayed in the 'before' scenes - notably when she is playing the 'bad girl' with a temper, smoking pot and a few others. I thought her interactions with the horses were very believable. (The horse scenes were very well done and fun to watch) I really enjoyed Hamilton's performance as the long suffering Mrs Walden, whose quiet demeanor hides depths of strength and faith.

A Sunday Horse could absolutely be watched as a family film. There are many topics for discussion throughout the movie - financial and class snobbery, (there is no mistaking the rich folks in this movie) drug use (however I did find this scene somewhat unbelievable - smoking in a barn does not seem like something horse lover Debi would do - and she's in dire financial straits), racism,  family dynamics and of course faith. Faith in yourself, your family and of course, in God.

I love movies based on real life. The old adage truth is stranger than fiction is often true. Coming back from such a horrific injury, persevering and triumphing seems near impossible. But Debi had faith and determination. And you know - God does work in mysterious ways. Who's to say her story isn't one of them?

A Sunday Horse will leave you feeling hopeful and uplifted. And perhaps you will find inspiration in Debi's faith and determination to discover your own strength and faith.

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

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Closed Casket - Sophie Hannah

Agatha Christie created some of the most memorable and beloved characters ever to populate a mystery novel - Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot. The first Poirot novel was published in 1920 and the last in 1975. Forty odd years later, Sophie Hannah was tapped to write a new novel featuring this iconic detective, with the Christie estate's blessing. That first novel was The Monogram Murders.

The latest Poirot novel from Hannah is the newly released Closed Casket.

Hannah introduced us to a new character in The Monogram Murders - Scotland Yard Detective Edward Catchpool.

1929. In Closed Casket, both Poirot and Catchpool are invited as guests to the estate of children's writer Lady Athelinda Playford. (I loved the references to her character Shrimp Seddon) Why, they both wonder? It becomes apparent that 'Athie' is worried that her planned announcement to a house full of staff, family and guests may provoke someone - to murder. Despite Poirot and Catchpool's efforts to thwart any such attempt, a murder does occur. The local, somewhat inept, Garda insist that no one leave the house. And so, Poirot and Catchpool begin their own investigation. I was somewhat reminded of Christie's And Then There Were None in which the murderer can only be one of the residents of the house.

I wasn't sold on Catchpool in the last book - he came off as somewhat pedestrian and seemed to be only there to serve as narrator and blank slate for Poirot. I'm happy to say that Hannah has filled out this character, given him more of a personality and yes, more of a brain. In this book, he is part of the investigation, with his own thoughts and deductions, not merely a foil for Poirot's ideas.

But it is Poirot's 'little gray cells' that drive the investigation. I always have enjoyed the deductions, the piecing together, the reasoning, the seemingly innocuous clue tucked into a paragraph along the way. Christie - and Hannah - force the reader to pay attention. The whodunit can change rapidly as each new revelation is revealed. There is no way to successfully guess who the culprit is. Hannah successfully captures Poirot's style, mannerisms, dialogue and idiosyncrasies.

Hannah has also recreated Christie's traditional mystery style in Closed Casket. The estate setting, the quirky bunch of suspects and the convoluted path to the final culprit. I adored the final reveal in the drawing room - such a civilized discussion of murder. (The dialogue in the book is just excellent - clever, humourous and cutting.) There's much to be said for 'old style' investigations.

Those looking for a book written as Agatha Christie won't find it in Closed Casket. But those looking for a classic mystery written in the style of Christie will enjoy this book. I did. Read an excerpt of Closed Casket.

Cr:Phillipa Gedge
"Sophie Hannah is the New York Times-bestselling author of numerous psychological thrillers, which have been published in 27 countries and adapted for television, as well as The Monogram Murders, the first Hercule Poirot novel authorized by the estate of Agatha Christie."  Connect with Sophie Hannah through her website, or find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

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

"Agatha Christie is the most widely published author of all time, outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare. Her books have sold more than a billion copies in English and another billion in a hundred foreign languages. She died in 1976." Learn more about Agatha Christie through her official website.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Over the Counter #331

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

How about the UFO Investigator's Manual: UFO investigations from 1892 to the present by Nigel Watson.

From Haynes Publishing UK: (and you thought they only published car and truck manuals.....)

"UFOs have been a global phenomenon from the late 19th century to the present day, and this Haynes Manual will examine many UFO investigations worldwide by looking at the government reports – both official and secret – that have attempted to explain the ‘otherworldly’. This Manual will also explain how you can identify a UFO yourself and how to classify an alien encounter – was it of the first, second, third, fourth or fifth kind? The findings of scientific research will also be explored, as will the human attempts at alien communication, and, finally, alternative explanations of uncanny happenings

Next up is The 37th Parallel: The Secret Truth Behind America's UFO Highway by Ben Mezrich.

From the publisher, Simon and Schuster:

"Like “Agent Mulder” of The X-Files, computer programmer and sheriff’s deputy Zukowski is obsessed with tracking down UFO reports in Colorado. He would take the family with him on weekend trips to look for evidence of aliens. But this innocent hobby takes on a sinister urgency when Zukowski learns of mutilated livestock, and sees the bodies of dead horses and cattle—whose exsanguination is inexplicable by any known human or animal means.

Along an expanse of land stretching across the southern borders of Utah, Colorado, and Kansas, Zukowski discovers multiple bizarre incidences of mutilations, and suddenly realizes that they cluster around the 37th Parallel or “UFO Highway.” So begins an extraordinary and fascinating journey from El Paso and Rush, Colorado, to a mysterious space studies company and MUFON, from Roswell and Area 51 to the Pentagon and beyond; to underground secret military caverns and Indian sacred sites; beneath strange, unexplained lights in the sky and into corporations that obstruct and try to take over investigations. Inspiring and terrifying, this true story will keep you up at night, staring at the sky, and wondering if we really are alone...and what could happen next." 

(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, September 6, 2016

Only the Hunted Run - Neely Tucker

Only the Hunted Run is the newest book in Neely Tucker's Sully Carter series.

I've read the first two books and really enjoyed them, so I happily picked up this newly released third entry.

Sully is a newspaper reporter in Washington, DC. I'm going to borrow from one of my previous descriptions of Sully:

"The best protagonists for crime books are the walking wounded, the ones who buck authority, the ones who just can't let things be or let justice go unserved. Sully Carter fills the bill on every count. He's battling PTSD, alcohol and anger issues, his bosses and manages to step on toes everywhere he goes. He's also a confidant of the one of DC's crime lords. Flawed but driven."

Sully is in the Capitol building on an assignment when a shooter goes on a rampage. Sully, instead of running, moves further into the building, chasing the story. He gets close, manages to hide, and is a first hand witness to the carnage. The shooter himself makes the 911 call, but manages to walk out without being apprehended. After reading Sully's story, he calls him, insisting they have similarities in their lives. And that they should talk.....

I always love keeping an eye out for the title cue as I read. In this case, it comes from Terry Waters, the shooter:

"Sully, okay. You've got to understand this. It's key. Only the hunted run. I, me, I'm not the hunted. I'm not running. I hunt. I am the hunter."

But Sully too is hunting - hunting for who Terry Waters is and the whys and wherefores of his killing spree.

The journey for those answers makes for addictive reading. It was only when I finished the book that I discovered that Neely had (again) woven in fact with fiction. It was hard to believe that these horrific historical details were sickeningly real.

What makes this such a great series? Well, I love the main character, flaws and all. Sully is making progress on the anger, drinking and PTSD, but it's two steps forward, one step back. Tucker has given Sully an expanded personal life with Alexis that I hope lasts - I quite like her. There seems to be an exit for one supporting character that I will be sad to see leave. But I am looking forward to seeing what his replacement will bring to the series.

The writing is fantastic - great pacing, dialogue, setting and plotting. And no wonder  - Tucker himself is a writer at The Washington Post. He's also been a war correspondent in over sixty countries. Tucker brings that experience and knowledge to his writing. And to Sully as well - I do wonder how much of Tucker himself is woven into the character?

Only the Hunted Run was another great read for me. I look forward to number four. Read an excerpt of Only the Hunted Run.

You can connect with Neely Tucker on his website, find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @NeelyTucker.

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Kept Woman - Karin Slaughter

I stumbled across Karin Slaughter's first book, Blindsighted, back in 2002. On turning the last page, I knew she was an author I wanted more from. And Slaughter has not disappointed! Her latest book is The Kept Woman, newly released and the eighth book in the Trent series.

Over the years, two series have evolved - The Grant County and Will Trent books. (along with some really great stand-alones)

Will and his partner Faith (both whom work for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation) are called out to a murder at a construction site. The body is identified as that of an ex-cop - and then things get a little more complicated. There's blood evidence at the scene of a badly hurt second victim, but no body. And if that's not enough, the building site belongs to a high profile athlete who's run afoul of the GBI in the past.

What has made Slaughter one of my all time favourite authors? Her characters - I feel like I've come to know them - and yes, care about them. Each new entry in this series has me wondering what will happen in their lives. And there's no predicting - Slaughter absolutely keeps the reader on their toes, anticipating  - and fearing - what might happen next. There are characters I don't like as well. But, Slaughter has given them just as much development. The 'negative' characters, if you will, have a full background and reasons behind their personalities and actions.

Plotting. Oh, man can Slaughter write a story. I often wonder how far ahead she has the series planned. With each book, a little more about the continuing storyline is revealed. This runs parallel the the mystery within each book. Both are just excellent. The first half of the book I was totally engrossed, really enjoying the story, thinking I knew where the plot was headed. (And I had mixed feelings about the direction I thought Slaughter was taking) And then BAM....she totally sucker punched me.....and took the plot in another direction. And then, just when I thought there couldn't be any more surprises in order, there's another revelation. Secrets everywhere. Loved it!

And the ending - well, the case is sewed up.....but there's an ominous last line that leaves the door open for the next book. And this reader will be eagerly waiting for it. Highly recommended - five stars for me. I would recommend reading the backlist to get a full appreciation for the long game plot Slaughter is unravelling before reading this latest. Trust me, you'll be a fan. Read an excerpt of The Kept Woman.

Cr:Alison Rosa
"Karin Slaughter is the #1 internationally bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, including the Will Trent and Grant County series and the instant New York Times bestselling standalones, Cop Town and Pretty Girls. There are more than 35 million copies of her books in print around the world." Find out more about Karin at her website and connect with her on Facebook. See what others on the TLC book tour thought - full schedule can be found here.

I received this book for review from HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours.