Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Over the Counter #342

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? This week its animals that help - and need help.

First up is Pets on the Couch: Neurotic Dogs, Compulsive Cats, Anxious Birds, and the New Science of Animal Psychiatry by Nicholas Dodman.

From the publisher, Atria Books:

The pioneering veterinarian and author of the New York Times bestseller, The Dog Who Loved Too Much, and the national bestseller, The Cat Who Cried for Help, recounts his uniquely entertaining—and poignant—stories of treating animals for all-too-human problems as he reveals his amazing breakthroughs with the new science of One Medicine.

The Oliver Sacks of animal brains, Dr. Nicholas Dodman is an internationally renowned veterinarian and research scientist who wrote one of the first popular books to recognize the complex emotional lives of dogs and to reveal innovative ways to help them, including with Puppy Prozac. Now, Dr. Dodman once again breaks new ground with the practice of One Medicine, the profound recognition that humans and other animals share the same neurochemistry, and that our minds and emotions work in similar ways.

Racehorses with Tourette’s Syndrome, spinning dogs with epilepsy, cats with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, feather-plucking parrots with anxiety, and a diffident Bull Terrier with autism—these astonishing cases were all helped by One Medicine, which emphasizes the similarities rather than differences between animals and humans.

Inspiring, sometimes heartbreaking, and utterly fascinating, Pets on the Couch demonstrates how what we share with our animals can only lead us to a greater appreciation for them—and our mutual bonds."

Next up is The Killer Whale Who Changed the World  by  Mark Leiren-Young.                                                                       

From the publisher, Greystone Books:

"The fascinating and heartbreaking account of the first publicly exhibited captive killer whale―a story that forever changed the way we see orcas and sparked the movement to save them.

Killer whales had always been seen as bloodthirsty sea monsters. That all changed when a young killer whale was captured off the west coast of North America and displayed to the public in 1964. Moby Doll―as the whale became known―was an instant celebrity, drawing twenty thousand visitors on the one and only day he was exhibited. He died within a few months, but his famous gentleness sparked a worldwide crusade that transformed how people understood and appreciated orcas. Because of Moby Doll, we stopped fearing “killers” and grew to love and respect “orcas."

(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, November 29, 2016

Where are the reviews Luanne?

Yes, they've been a bit spotty over the last week and a half. I was a little busy - I spent Thanksgiving with this little guy! 

Things will be back to normal next week!

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Great Reckoning - Louise Penny

I am a huge fan of Louise Penny and her Inspector Gamache series. I've read or listened to them all. The latest (and number twelve) in the series is A Great Reckoning. I chose to listen to it as well.

Now, having expressed that I am a diehard fan, I must admit that the last few books have not been my favourites. I found them distinctly slower paced following on the heels of the long building Sûreté corruption scandal. With a resolution in hand, Gamache has retired and permanently moved to the quaint and quirky town of Three Pines.

Penny combines the best of both worlds in this latest offering. A map is found in the walls of the Three Pines bistro. It's an odd, old map, but is definitely depicting the village of Three Pines. But the village does not appear on any current maps and unless you know it's there, you would not be able to find it. Why is that? And what is the old map pointing to? But retirement hasn't lasted long for Gamache. He has again taken up the challenge of ridding the Sûreté of corruption - this time in the cadet training college.

Penny's plotting is at the top of her game in A Great Reckoning. Gamache has an intricate plan to rid the college of corruption. But there are those plotting just as hard against his actions. When a professor is killed, the stakes are raised for everyone.....

What can I say about this series? It's absolutely wonderful - I love all of  the characters. I've become invested in not only Gamache, but the residents of the village and their personal lives. It's hard to pick a favourite - but I am drawn to the grumpy old poet Ruth. She has hidden depths behind the façade she presents to the world. And darn it, I would love to live in Three Pines! As I said, the plotting is intricate and intriguing and incredibly well played. I truly had no idea where Penny was going with this latest.

When Ralph Cosham died (he embodied Gamache for me) I wondered if I could get used to the new reader. And the answer is yes, I have. Robert Bathurst has a lovely rich voice with an English accent, but he handles the French words and accent very well. His tones are modulated, again embodying Gamache's character. (He rarely raises his voice) He's easy to understand. He also provides different voices for the large supporting cast. I particularly like his voice for Ruth and her duck.

Just an excellent listen and I'm so looking forward to the next in this series. Listen to an excerpt. Or if you prefer, read an excerpt of A Great Reckoning.

Friday, November 25, 2016

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover # 133

- 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
Peter Swanson's books are absolutely fantastic. I am eagerly awaiting the release of his newest, Her Every Fear, in January '17. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. The premise sounds great - a young woman borrows her cousin's apartment. And then a young woman in a neighbouring apt. is found murdered. " An electrifying and downright Hitchcockian psychological thriller." I'm sold. So, on to the covers. The UK cover is darker and gives us the idea that something has been seen through a window. And we have a woman peeking out. Afraid I would assume. The US has a lighter feel, with more 'apartments' represented. The open curtains also give the idea that something has been seen. But in this case, its a man at the window, partially hidden. Hmm, I'm going to go with the US cover this week. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read Her Every Fear? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Giveaway - How Will I Know You - Jessica Treadway

Jessica Treadway's new novel - How Will I Know You? - releases December 6/16. And I have two copies to giveaway to two lucky readers!

From Grand Central Publishing:

"A page-turner about the murder of a teenage girl, from the author of Lacy Eye.

On a cold December day in northern upstate New York, the body of high school senior Joy Enright is discovered in the woods at the edge of a pond. She had been presumed drowned, but an autopsy shows that she was, in fact, strangled. As the investigation unfolds, four characters tell the story from widely divergent perspectives: Susanne, Joy's mother and a professor at the local art college; Martin, a black graduate student suspected of the murder; Harper, Joy's best friend and a potential eyewitness; and Tom, a rescue diver and son-in-law of the town's police chief. As a web of small-town secrets comes to light, a dramatic conclusion reveals the truth about Joy's death." Read an excerpt of How Will I Know You?

"Jessica Treadway is the author of Lacy Eye, And Give You Peace, and two story collections, Absent Without Leave and Other Stories and Please Come Back to Me, which received the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction. A professor at Emerson College in Boston, she lives with her husband in Lexington, Massachusetts."
You can connect with Jessica Treadway on her website.

Sound like a book you'd like to read? Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter for a chance to win one of two copies available. Open to US and Canada, no po boxes please. Ends Dec. 3/16.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Over the Counter # 341

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? This week it's books spawned by television.....

First up is Seinfeldia: How a Show About Nothing Changed Everything by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong.

From the publisher, Simon and Schuster:

"The hilarious behind-the-scenes story of two guys who went out for coffee and dreamed up Seinfeld—the cultural sensation that changed television and bled into the real world, altering the lives of everyone it touched.

Comedians Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld never thought anyone would watch their silly little sitcom about a New York comedian sitting around talking to his friends. NBC executives didn’t think anyone would watch either, but they bought it anyway, hiding it away in the TV dead zone of summer. But against all odds, viewers began to watch, first a few and then many, until nine years later nearly forty million Americans were tuning in weekly.

In Seinfeldia, acclaimed TV historian and entertainment writer Jennifer Keishin Armstrong celebrates the creators and fans of this American television phenomenon, bringing readers behind-the-scenes of the show while it was on the air and into the world of devotees for whom it never stopped being relevant, a world where the Soup Nazi still spends his days saying “No soup for you!”, Joe Davola gets questioned every day about his sanity, Kenny Kramer makes his living giving tours of New York sights from the show, and fans dress up in Jerry’s famous puffy shirt, dance like Elaine, and imagine plotlines for Seinfeld if it were still on TV."

Next up is The Science of TV's The Big Bang Theory : Explanations Even Penny Would Understand by Dave Zobel.

From the publisher, ECW Press:

"The highest-rated scripted show on TV, The Big Bang Theory often features Sheldon, Howard, Leonard, and Raj wisecracking about scientific principles as if Penny and the rest of us should know exactly what they’re talking about.

The Science of TV’s The Big Bang Theory lets all of us in on the punchline by breaking down the show’s scientific conversations. From an explanation of why Sheldon would think 73 is the best number, to an experiment involving the physical stature of Wolowitz women, to an argument refuting Sheldon’s assertion that engineers are the Oompa-Loompas of science, author Dave Zobel maintains a humorous and informative approach and gives readers enough knowledge to make them welcome on Sheldon’s couch."

(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!)

Friday, November 18, 2016

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #132

- 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
Yes, I am a sucker for comparisons to The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl and the phrase 'psychological thriller.' All of those apply to J.P. Delaney's forthcoming novel The Girl Before. rights have acquired by Universal with Ron Howard to direct - before it's even published! So, the US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Both covers capture the essence of the book - a house and it's current and previous residents. A little more colour on the US cover but both have red fonts. But, I am going with the UK cover this week. I like the fadeout of the word before on the UK cover, the tagline would have me picking it up to look inside, as would the blurb from Lee Child. I don't really like the figure of the woman on the US cover.
So! Any plans to read The Girl Before? Which cover do you prefer?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Over the Counter #340

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? This week.....Dead? Not really....

First up is Playing Dead: A Journey Through the World of Death Fraud  by Elizabeth Greenwood.

From the publisher, Simon and Schuster:

"Is it still possible to fake your own death in the twenty-first century? With six figures of student loan debt, Elizabeth Greenwood was tempted to find out.

So she sets off on a foray into the world of death fraud, where for $30,000 a consultant can make you disappear—but your suspicious insurance company might hire a private detective to dig up your coffin…only to find it filled with rocks.

Greenwood tracks down a man who staged a kayaking accident and then returned to live in his own house while all his neighbors thought he was dead. She takes a call from Michael Jackson (yes, he’s alive—or so some would have her believe), talks to people contemplating pseudocide, and gathers intel on black market morgues in the Philippines, where she may or may not succeed in obtaining some fraudulent goodies of her own. Along the way, she learns that love is a much less common motive than money, and that making your death look like a drowning virtually guarantees you’ll be caught. (Disappearing while hiking, however, is a great way to go.)

Playing Dead is an utterly fascinating and charmingly bizarre investigation into our all-too-human desire to escape from the lives we lead, and the men and women desperate enough to lose their identities—and their families—to begin again."

Next up is Not Dead Yet by Phil Collins.

From the publisher, Crown Archetype:

"Phil Collins pulls no punches—about himself, his life, or the ecstasy and heartbreak that’s inspired his music. In his much-awaited memoir, Not Dead Yet, he tells the story of his epic career, with an auspicious debut at age 11 in a crowd shot from the Beatles’ legendary film A Hard Day’s Night. A drummer since almost before he could walk, Collins received on the job training in the seedy, thrilling bars and clubs of 1960s swinging London before finally landing the drum seat in Genesis. Soon, he would step into the spotlight on vocals after the departure of Peter Gabriel and begin to stockpile the songs that would rocket him to international fame with the release of Face Value and “In the Air Tonight.” Whether he’s recalling jamming with Eric Clapton and Robert Plant, pulling together a big band fronted by Tony Bennett, or writing the music for Disney’s smash-hit animated Tarzan, Collins’s storytelling chops never waver. And of course he answers the pressing question on everyone’s mind: just what does “Sussudio” mean?"

(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!)

Monday, November 14, 2016

Wolf Lake - John Verdon

I picked up the first book (Think of a Number) in John Verdon's Dave Gurney series back in 2010. I immediately liked the lead character and Verdon's plotting and writing. The fifth book - Wolf Lake - is newly released.

Dave Gurney is a retired NYPD Homicide Investigator who had the highest solve rate in the NYPD's history when he left the department. He's retired but puzzles intrigue him and unsolved cases still call his name. He's often called on as a consultant.

The latest case brought to his attention is a doozy. Four separate suicides with two connecting links. All four men, with no apparent connection, had the same nightmare before they died. And all four had sought the help of a prominent hypnotist before those nightmares. Could the hypnotherapist have actually influenced the men to kill themselves? The police seem to think so and have decided the man is guilty. The man's sister and old colleague Jack Hartwick think differently. Jack and his wife Madeleine stop by the remote lodge where the hypnotherapist is located on their way to their ski vacation. (That cover shot totally matches my mental image of the lodge.) And one day turns into......

Dave Gurney is a great protagonist. He's a brilliant puzzle solver, calm and cool when faced with danger and absolutely driven to find answers. I quite like him. But...I like his enigmatic wife Madeleine even more. She's just as brilliant, but thinks differently than Dave, often making observations and suggestions that he doesn't see. She radiates a zen attitude, but this lodge is part of her past and brings up some hidden painful memories. The relationship between the two is a great part of why I enjoy this series so much. I find it really well written and believable. The two play well off each other. Hartwick fills the role of gruff and tough sidekick.

Verdon's plotting is imaginative and intriguing. While I had my suspicions, I found I wasn't one hundred percent correct by the final pages. It's nice to be kept guessing.

Any of Verdon's can be read as a stand alone, but mystery lovers will enjoy starting at the beginning.

Read an excerpt of Wolf Lake. You can connect with John Verdon on his website and find him on Facebook.

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Boy is Back - Meg Cabot

Meg Cabot is the author of a number of series, but my favourite is the 'Boy' series. The fourth book, The Boy is Back, has just released - and I think it's the one I've enjoyed the most. All can be read as standalones though.

Reed Stewart and Becky Flowers were high school sweethearts - everyone thought they were the perfect couple. Until prom night when something happened - and that was the last night they ever saw or spoke to each other. Fast forward ten years. Reed's elderly parents are in trouble and Reed's brother and sister have asked him to come home to help.

A great set-up all round - with the main thread being will Becky and Reed rekindle their romance? As with any good chick-lit book, there's a whole lot of yes/no/maybe so. (A whole lot of no from Becky's side of the table!) Playing just as big a role in the plot are the family relationships amongst various members of both the Stewart and Flowers families. I found myself laughing out loud many times (Becky's mom's Blessie Sticks quite amused me). And just as often nodding my head at interactions and discussions I think every family has had. The supporting cast was fun, quirky and (mostly) lovable.

What makes this book so much fun to read is the epistolary format Cabot has chosen to use. The entire tale is told in texts, chats, emails, online reviews, journal entries, newspaper stories, cell phone screen shots, photos, flyers, transcripts and more. I feel like I'm eavesdropping a bit, with insider knowledge of what's going on from numerous sources. But it's so easy to get drawn into this style of storytelling, just wondering what's on the next page.

There's not much doubt as to how things will turn out, but I loved the journey to the final pages. If you're looking for an easy, fun read, The Boy is Back is perfect! Read an excerpt of The Boy is Back.

Photo: Ali Smith
"Meg Cabot was born in Bloomington, Indiana. In addition to her award-winning adult contemporary fiction, she is the author of bestselling young adult fiction, including The Princess Diaries and the Mediator series. More than twenty-five million copies of her novels for children and adults have sold worldwide. Meg lives in Key West, Florida, with her husband." Find out more about Meg at her website, follow her blog, and connect with 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.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #131

- 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
Scottish author Val McDermid is one of my all time favourite crime writers. Her latest book is Out of Bounds - already released in the UK and set for December in North America. Hmm, another ominous picture of a woman on the US cover. I'm sure it's her ponytail on her shoulder, but it looks a bit odd to me. Red lettering, a strong font and that misty background seem to promise a good mystery. But I am more attracted to the subtler UK cover this week. It's not as overt as the US cover, but that open gate and broken lock work with the title and make me wonder what's beyond the gate. So, UK cover for me this week. Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read Out of Bounds? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Over the Counter #339

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Well, what came first - the chicken or the egg?

First up is Happy Hens and Fresh Eggs: Keeping Chickens in the Kitchen Garden, with 100 Recipes by Signe Langford.

From the publisher, Douglas and McIntyre:

"Today’s renaissance of the backyard flock is driven by a growing desire for healthy organic ingredients, food security and animal welfare—and while hunger might be “the best sauce,” a dash of self-sufficiency is remarkably satisfying too. As communities from Victoria to St. John’s amend urban bylaws to allow backyard flocks, more and more Canadians are enjoying the pleasures and rewards of keeping hens in the garden.

In addition to tending her family’s flock as a child, Signe Langford has kept chickens in her urban Toronto yard for almost a decade. Her book is stuffed full of practical advice on keeping the garden both gorgeous and productive and hens happy and healthy. In addition to answering questions about coop construction, year-round egg production and whether or not a rooster is really needed, she covers the best breeds for backyards—from the Canadian winter-tough Chantecler to peewee bantams to blue-egg producing Ameraucana.

A self-admitted “biomass addict,” Langford explains how hens are the happiest garden helpers anyone could ever have. Give them kitchen scraps and let them visit the compost pile: they’ll enrich and aerate the soil, all while eating as many bugs as they can get their beaks on. Langford also shares what plants should be scratched and what to sow to support the flock—from edible flowers and foliage to a hens’ herbal healing bed.

From Egg Yolk Won Ton Soup to Vanilla Coeur a la Crème with Blueberry Compote, Langford includes dozens of simple and elegant recipes from her own kitchen, as well as from celebrated contributors such as Vikram Vij, Laura Calder, Ted Reader, Roger Mooking and John Higgins.

Illustrated with beautiful photographs, illustrations and garden plans, Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs is sure to become a favourite of avid and aspiring backyard farmers alike."

Gardening with Chickens: Plants and Plans for You and Your Hens by Lisa Steele.

From the publisher, Voyageur Press:

"Welcome to a world where chickens and gardens coexist!

Join Lisa Steele, chicken-keeper extraordinaire and founder of Fresh Eggs Daily, on a unique journey through the garden. Start by planning your garden and learning strategies and tips for keeping your plants safe while they grow. Plant with purpose, choosing from a dozen plans for theme gardens such as Orange Egg Yolks or Nesting Box Herbs. Or choose a design that's filled with edibles - sharing the bounty with your family and your feathered friends. Then comes the fun part: enjoy the harvest, even let the chickens graze!

Lisa's friendly writing, together with inspirational photos and illustrations, will have you rolling up your sleeves and reaching for your gardening tools. Lisa also covers a range of topics just for chicken-keepers, including:

Chickens and composting. Using chickens to aerate and till. Coop window boxes. Plants to avoid when you have chickens. Lists of the most valuable crops and herbs. Advice on how to harvest and use many of the plants. And much more!

Whether you're an experienced chicken keeper, master gardener, or just getting into these two wonderful hobbies, Gardening with Chickens is an indispensable guide for a harmonious homestead."

(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, November 8, 2016

Inherit the Bones - Emily Littlejohn

Inherit the Bones is Emily Littlejohn's debut novel - and the first book in the Detective Gemma Monroe novels. (I always enjoy getting in on the ground floor a new series!)

Littlejohn opens up the book with a pretty topical crime - clowns. Well, only one clown - found viciously murdered when a travelling circus stops in town. But when the identity of that victim is discovered, old crimes, old cases and old fears are reignited. Two young brothers were abducted and killed years ago in Cedar Valley. Gemma was the one who found those bodies also - deep in the Colorado woods. The killer was never found - but lives on in infamy as The Woodsman.

Gemma is such a great protagonist! Gemma has made her home in the small town of Cedar Valley, Colorado since she was a child and is now part of the police force. I was immediately drawn to her in the first few pages. She's intelligent, determined, no pushover - and six months pregnant. (I had a Fargo moment when I read this.)

Littlejohn has set the stage for the next entries in this series - the settings and descriptions of time and place have given me a solid mental image of the town and surrounding area. Littlejohn makes her home in Colorado - and the details drawn from a personal view add much to the book The supporting cast of characters are well drawn and fleshed out. We get to know the rest of the police force. Finn is the partner forced on Gemma  - I enjoyed their banter and struggle to build a functional working relationship. Littlejohn gives Gemma an interesting personal storyline as well. Her partner (and the baby's father) does not make an appearance until the final pages of the book, but we learn of their troubled relationship as the book progresses.

Littlejohn's plotting is quite inventive. There are many suspects to choose from, but she kept me guessing until the last bit of the book. Well done! I really enjoy solving the crime along with the detectives, putting the pieces together as they work through the clues. There's some really great creepy suspense filled scenes as well.

I'm looking forward to seeing what other cases Littlejohn comes up with for Gemma and the Cedar Springs force. And now that Gemma has a child, it will be interesting to see how she handles being a parent with being a detective. Read an excerpt of Inherit the Bones.

And one of my favourite mystery authors has this to say about Inherit the Bones...."

"I couldn't put down Inherit the Bones. Small town Colorado police detective Gemma Monroe is a human and fallible heroine I can't wait to meet again, and Littlejohn's prose is lyrical and gripping - the book is a sure bet for one of the finest debut novels of the year." - Deborah Crombie, author of the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma Jones mystery series

"Emily Littlejohn was born and raised in southern California. She has called Colorado home since 2003. If she’s not writing, reading, or working at the local public library, she’s enjoying the mountains with her husband and sweet old dog. She has a deep love of horror stories, butter pecan ice cream, and road trips. Inherit the Bones is her first novel." You can connect with Emily Littlejohn on her website and like her on Facebook.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Two By Two - Nicholas Sparks

Every so often, I have to take a break from my usual fare of mysteries and suspense, and curl up with a book guaranteed to tug at the heartstrings. Nicholas Sparks books are a good choice for that. His latest release is Two By Two.

Russ is a man who seems to have it all - beautiful wife and daughter, successful career and a lovely home. Yes, things in the relationship aren't quite what they were in the beginning, but everyone's marriage goes through those up and down times, right? But for Russ, those down times take a further downward spiral when he finds himself without a wife, without a job and now the main carer for his daughter.

"When you start trying to figure out what went wrong - or, more specifically where you went wrong - it's like peeling an onion. there's always another layer, another mistake in the past or a painful memory that stands out, which then leads one back even further in time, and then even further, in search of the ultimate truth. I've reached the point where I've stopped trying to figure it out: The only thing that really matters now is learning enough to avoid making the same mistakes again."

Oh, my goodness, I don't know when I have had such a strong dislike for a character - and so early on in a book! I'm talking about Russ's wife Vivian. She's spoilt, obnoxious and oblivious to her own behavior. She may love her daughter, but she's not a great role model at all. I did enjoy Russ's transformation from weekend/after work parent to dad who does it all. His relationship with his daughter London changes and grows over the course of a year. Russ himself changes as well. I did find myself annoyed with him in the beginning of the book - for all that Vivian is a manipulator, Russ is an enabler. He kowtows to her every wish and whim, accepts her criticism and tries even harder to make her happy. I wanted him to stand up for himself - but Russ is a nice guy - to his own detriment. His obsequious behaviour isn't great role model material either.

Sparks excels at relationship exploration in his novels. The husband/wife, parent/child dynamic is explored in not just Russ's family unit, but also through the eyes of his parents, his sister and her partner and a longtime friend and her child. I quite enjoyed the cast of supporting characters - especially sister Marge and partner Liz. And yes, there has to be a romantic thread as well. I won't spoil things, but I liked the way Sparks wrote and handled this part of his plotting.

There's no doubt as to what direction the book is going to take - and I was right in my predictions. But, I'm not thrilled with the ending. 'Nuff said without spoilers. Two By Two is a slower paced book, taking it's time to reach the final pages. I think it probably could have been shortened up a wee bit.

Read an excerpt of Two By Two. (And on a side note, I really like this cover)

Friday, November 4, 2016

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #130

- 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
Darcey Bell's debut novel A Simple Favor is garnering lots of press already. It releases next year, but is already on my must read list. Movie rights have already been bought by Fox. The US cover is on the leftand the UK cover is on the right. So - first obvious difference is the spelling of favor - or favour. The broken glass on the US cover hints at something not quite right. As does the red underlining. The UK cover isn't quite so obvious, but has an ominous sky. The tag line grabs your interest immediately. This week I'm going to go with the UK cover - I don't mind 'far-away' shots of people, but I'm still very tired of facial shots of women in peril (on the US cover) Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read A Simple Favor? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Diabolic - S.J. Kincaid

Okay, so you've finished all the latest trilogies and you've been waiting for a new kick*** heroine and a fantastic plot along with it. Uh, huh - you got it - The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid is all that - and more.

Here's the premise - sometime far in the future and spread across the universe, an elite class has risen to rule, with an Emperor at the top of the pyramid. That ruling class all own Diabolics - genetically modified and trained killers with no emotion. The Diabolic's reason for living is to protect the person they were created for. Nemesis was created for Sidonia.

"We looked like people, to be sure. We had the DNA of people but we were something else: creatures fashioned to be utterly ruthless and totally loyal to a single individual."

When the Emperor decrees that all Diabolics should be destroyed and then summons all the young heirs to the galactic Senate, Sidonia's mother knows that the Emperor is up to no good. She decides to send Nemesis in Sidonia's place.

I was caught up in the first few pages. Nemesis was such a great lead character - she's ruthless, but ignorant of the ways of the court, the political machinations and human interactions with anyone but Sidonia and her family. She has to both imitate Sidonia and make her way through the minefield she's landed in. Kincaid does a great job with the tension, inserting one nail biting scene after another. The story is action filled and moves forward at a rapid pace. Kincaid's world building is laudable as well. Her society believes it has evolved to the highest pinnacle - unaware that they are simply repeating a history that has come and fallen before. The physical details of her settings are unique and well described. I loved all the 'future' technology Kincaid dreamed up.

"Human history, Tyrus said, is a repetition of pattern. Empires rise and fall into decadence and decay. Time and time again."

The plotting is just as wonderful - a political cat and mouse game well played out.  And of course, it would not be complete without a possible romance. But will it be a two sided affair? After all, Nemesis can't feel emotion - or can she? Will Nemesis find her humanity? In time to save humanity?

The Diabolic was a really good read. Good enough that I devoured most of it on my day off and got up early to finish it the next day before I went to work. Take a second look at that cover - it's perfect for the story - sharpened steel sheathed in a beautiful guise. As well as the idea of the diabolic morphing into something perhaps a bit gentler.

And speaking of kicking - I'm kicking myself - this is the first book I've read of Kincaid, but it won't be the last! Read an excerpt of The Diabolic.

The Diabolic is a stand alone - but I kinda wish Kincaid would do a sequel......

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Giveaway - Crime Plus Music - Edited by Jim Fusilli

Love crime tales? Music? How about a combination of both? Crime Plus Music: Twenty Stories of Music-Themed Noir edited by Jim Fusilli absolutely fills the bill. And I have three copies to giveaway to three lucky readers!

From the publisher, Three Rooms Press:

"Crime Plus Music: Twenty Stories of Music-Themed Noir collects twenty darkly intense, music-related noir stories by world-renowned mystery authors Brendan DuBois, Alison Gaylin, Craig Johnson, David Liss, Val McDermid, Gary Phillips, Peter Robinson and, from the music world, Galadrielle Allman, author of Please Be With Me: A Song for My Father, Duane Allman and award-winning songwriter-novelist Willy Vlautin. Edited by novelist and Wall Street Journal rock and pop music critic Jim Fusilli.

The lively anthology’s chilling, sinister tales tap into the span of rock and pop history, ranging from Peter Blauner’s heart-wrenching “The Last Temptation of Frankie Lymon” to Fusilli’s “Boy Wonder,” set in the world of contemporary electronic dance music; from Naomi Rand’s “The Misfits,” a punk-rock revenge saga to Mark Haskell Smith’s menacingly comedic “1968 Pelham Blue SG Jr.”; from Reed Farrel Coleman’s study of a one-hit wonder, “Look at Me/Don’t Look at Me” to Erica Wright’s account of betrayal among minor talents in “A Place You’re Likely to Find”—and many more.

In the hands of these modern masters of mystery fiction, Crime Plus Music exposes the nasty side of the world of popular music, revealing it to be the perfect setting for noir." Read an excerpt of Crime Plus Music.

“Fusilli’s music-themed anthology rocks with superb solos from a number of big-name mystery writers and others who deserve to be better known. . . . Splendid compilation.” —Publishers Weekly

If Crime Plus Music sounds like a book you'd like to read, enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only, ends November 12/16.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Over the Counter #338

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Well voting seems to be a timely topic.....

First up is The Year of Voting Dangerously by Maureen Dowd.

From the publisher, Twelve Books:

"Maureen Dowd's incendiary takes and takedowns from 2016--the most bizarre, disruptive and divisive Presidential race in modern history.

Trapped between two candidates with the highest recorded unfavorables, Americans are plunged into The Year of Voting Dangerously. In this perilous and shocking campaign season, The New York Times columnist traces the psychologies and pathologies in one of the nastiest and most significant battles of the sexes ever. Dowd has covered Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton since the '90s. She was with the real estate mogul when he shyly approached his first Presidential rope line in 1999, and she won a Pulitzer prize that same year for her penetrating columns on the Clinton impeachment follies. Like her bestsellers, Bushworld and Are Men Necessary?, The Year of Voting Dangerously will feature Dowd's trademark cocktail of wry humor and acerbic analysis in dispatches from the political madhouse. If America is on the escalator to hell, then The Year of Voting Dangerously is the perfect guide for this surreal, insane ride."

And how about one with a Canadian viewpoint?

Campaign Confessions: Tales from the War Rooms of Politics by John Laschinger. Peter Mansbridge (Foreword, Contributor), Geoffrey Stevens (Contributor)

From the publisher, A J. Patrick Boyer Books:

"John Laschinger, Canada’s only full-time campaign manager, opens up about the fifty campaigns he has worked on around the world. From smoke-filled backrooms to social media, Laschinger gives unflinching detail on everything in a campaign manager’s arsenal."

(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, November 1, 2016

Her Nightly Embrace - Adi Tantimedh

Her Nightly Embrace by Adi Tantimedh is the first in a planned trilogy - The Ravi PI books.

"Before we start, there's something you should know.
I see gods.
Usually in the corner of my eye. They just pop up from time to time, deities from the Hindu pantheon.
I never talk to them. I don't want to.
They never talk to me, just watch in silent judgement. Occasionally they tut-tut and tweet about me to one another on their phones.
I'm not mentally ill. Honest
Back when this started, I was switching from anti-psychotics, to mood stabilizers to anti-anxiety to anti-depressant medications before I finally got it under control.
I haven't been seeing many gods lately. That must be a good sign."

Ravi Singh is a failed religious scholar and secondary school teacher. There was that breakdown with the god thing. But the meds seemed to have helped and he's embarked on a new career as a  private investigator at the prestigious Golden Sentinel Investigations. (His friend David got him in) Golden Sentinel takes on cases for the rich, celebrities and those who need their cases handled with the utmost discretion.

Now, you might be questioning Ravi being asked to join such a prestigious firm. But the rest of the employees are all a little, well, quirky also. Each is very talented in their own way. I love ensemble casts. It might takes a few chapters to keep everyone straight, but they all have strong personalities and talents, so it really won't take you long. And let's not forget the gods. They start by showing up, but as the cases progress, they start interacting.....

"My coworkers are a bunch of brilliant f***ups with nowhere else to go. They're ex-coppers, lawyers, hackers, tech geeks. I feel under-qualified next to them. I'm not sure I belong, but I have nowhere else to go, either."

Ravi is still the newbie on the team, but is given a case involving a high profile politician as a bit of a test. You see, the politician insists that his girlfriend is showing up in the middle of the night and having sex with him. He has body fluids for proof. The problem you ask? Well, his girlfriend is dead. Seems like this is the perfect case for Ravi as those Hindu gods are showing up again.

There are four cases in Her Nightly Embrace. Each reads like a short story on their own, but there are threads joining them together in the form of supporting characters as well as Ravi's personal life. I adored his family - especially his parents. That little gambling problem his mother has only goes to prove that addiction does run in families.

Ravi is suave, quick thinking and a smooth talker. Half the fun in this book were the somewhat (okay a bit more than somewhat) outlandish cases. The other half is the way Ravi handles things - again, not how you would expect.

As the book progresses, we learn a bit more about the founders of the agency. And the plot thickens a bit here, setting up lots of fodder for the next two books.

Ravi is the narrator, so the reader only sees events through his eyes. I found this a bit one sided - I think I would like to see the other character's viewpoints once in awhile. Tantimedh's writing is definitely plot driven. The details of Ravi's personal life and some of his observations came across as somewhat dispassionate.

All in all, Her Nightly Embrace was a completely fun and different look at the PI genre. Read an excerpt of Her Nightly Embrace. (For gentle readers - be advised that her Nightly Embrace does contain some sex and violence.)

Tantimedh says that "I originally thought I’d write some short stories about Ravi and his cases and perhaps pitch them as a TV series later on. I just wanted to update private detective fiction and tell stories that hadn’t been seen before in the genre." Well, Ravi PI is currently in development as a TV series set to star Sendhil Ramamurthy (NBC’s Heroes and Heroes Reborn) He's a great choice for this character! Sendhil will also be voicing the audiobook.

“Her Nightly Embrace introduces us to an exciting and dynamic new world of storytelling in which spirituality and science are inextricably entwined. Ravi is a character unlike any that readers have quite encountered before, and as he starts to see increasingly wild and fascinating visions, so will those lucky enough to dive into this rich narrative.” -- Deepak Chopra

"Adi Tantimedh has a BA in English Literature from Bennington College and an MFA in Film and Television Production from New York University. He is of Chinese-Thai descent and came of age in Singapore and London. He has written radio plays and television scripts for the BBC and screenplays for various Hollywood companies, as well as graphic novels for DC Comics and Big Head Press, and a weekly column about pop culture for He wrote “Zinky Boys Go Underground,” the first post-Cold War Russian gangster thriller, which won the BAFTA for Best Short Film in 1995." You can connect with Adi on Twitter.