Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Giveaway - On Second Thought - Kristan Higgins

Kristan Higgin's new novel, On Second Thought, releases today - and I have a copy to give away to one lucky reader!

From the publisher, HQN Books:

"New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Kristan Higgins’s new novel On Second Thought is a moving and emotionally raw tale of two sisters struggling to rebuild their lives in the wake of heartbreak.

Thirty-nine-year-old Kate has almost given up on dreams of love and motherhood when she meets Nathan—a man who is almost too good to be true—and marries him after a whirlwind romance. But before the blush of newly wedded bliss has had a chance to wear off, Nathan dies unexpectedly in a freak accident, and a shattered Kate finds herself more alone than ever before. Barely a bride and now suddenly a widow, Kate must reckon with survivor’s guilt and the revelation of her late husband’s secrets while confronting her own fears and hopes for the future.

In the midst of Kate’s grief, her half-sister Ainsley is dealing devastation of a different variety after
her boyfriend of 11 years dumps her on the night she was expecting him to propose. To make matters worse, his blog post detailing their break-up goes viral. With her perfectly-planned future of domestic harmony dashed in one fell swoop, Ainsley is forced to reevaluate her life and learn how to be alone for the first time in over a decade. As she navigates this new terrain, Ainsley takes solace in supporting Kate through her period of mourning and finds time to exasperate her seemingly heartless boss, who, Ainsley will discover, may have a pulse after all.

From the wreckage of tragedy and heartbreak, Kate and Ainsley will learn to lean on each other and discover a closeness and intimacy they haven’t previously known. Together, these two sisters will find the strength to start over and the courage to believe in second chances." Read an excerpt of On Second Thought.

"New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and two-time winner of the Romance Writers of America RITA® Award, Kristan lives with her family in a small Connecticut town that boasts a wonderful library, a great agricultural fair, a really good ice-cream stand and not much else. She is the mother of two lovely kids and the wife of a brave firefighter who is also (perhaps more important) a fantastic cook.

Previously a copywriter, Kristan began writing fiction when her children graced her life with simultaneous afternoon naps. Writing, she found, was infinitely more satisfying than folding laundry, and so began her first novel. Kristan holds a BA in English from the College of the Holy Cross, which means she can identify dangling participles, quote many great novels and play a mean game of Scrabble.Kristan is an award-winning baker, devoted fan of the New York Yankees and an avid reader. She and her crew spend as much time as possible at the family home on Cape Cod, where they shiver in the Atlantic, ride bikes, swat horseflies and don’t catch any fish." You can connect with Kristan on her Facebook page and follow her on Twitter.

If you'd like to read On Second Thought, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to continental US only, no PO boxes please. Ends Feb 12/17.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Dark Room - Jonathan Moore

It was the cover of Jonathan Moore's new book, The Dark Room, that initially caught my eye. (Yep, dark and ominous appeals to me.....) I was unaware of Moore as an author before this book, but after reading The Dark Room, I've added him to my list of 'must be read' authors.

Gavin Cain is an San Francisco PD detective. He's attending an exhumation that he hopes will clear one of his cases when he is abruptly pulled away. The mayor need the best detective SFPD has. Why? Well, someone has sent him pictures. Pictures of a woman in - well, let's just say, in danger. The mayor claims not to know why the pics have been sent to him or who the woman is. He just wants the sender found and punished.

Well, Cain will take the case, but he'll solve it on his terms, not the Mayor's. Cain is such a great character - sharp, smart, following his own intuition, somewhat grumpy but determined.  But Moore adds a bit more to Cain - his personal life is just as intriguing. His girlfriend is a former crime victim and agoraphobic. An unusual and appealing storyline. Moore gives us a good supporting cast as well - but I was a bit shocked (and disappointed) at the turn things took for one of those characters.

Moore's plotting is fantastic, intricate and detailed. The reader is along for the ride as Cain investigates. I like having no 'insider' knowledge in a police procedural. It's fun to take the pieces given and see if I can figure things out before the final pages. Did I? No, but I sure enjoyed trying.

Those who enjoy a good - really good - police procedural will want to pick up The Dark Room. Read an excerpt of The Dark Room.

Moore's first book, The Poison Artist, looks just as good.
“An electrifying read . . . I haven’t read anything so terrifying since Red Dragon.” — Stephen King
“Magnificent, thoroughly unnerving . . . I dare you to look away.” — Justin Cronin

Giveaway - Pachinko - Min Jin Lee

Min Jin Lee's new novel Pachinko releases February 7/17. I have not one, but two copies to giveaway!

What's it about? From Grand Central Publishing:

"A new tour de force from the bestselling author of Free Food for Millionaires, for readers of A Fine Balance and Cutting for Stone.

Profoundly moving and gracefully told, Pachinko follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them. Betrayed by her wealthy lover, Sunja finds unexpected salvation when a young tubercular minister offers to marry her and bring her to Japan to start a new life.

So begins a sweeping saga of exceptional people in exile from a homeland they never knew and caught in the indifferent arc of history. In Japan, Sunja's family members endure harsh discrimination, catastrophes, and poverty, yet they also encounter great joy as they pursue their passions and rise to meet the challenges this new home presents. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, they are bound together by deep roots as their family faces enduring questions of faith, family, and identity." Read an excerpt of Pachinko.

"Min Jin Lee's debut novel, Free Food for Millionaires, was one of the "Top 10 Novels of the Year" for The Times (London), NPR's Fresh Air, and USA Today. Her short fiction has been featured on NPR's Selected Shorts. Her writings have appeared in Condé Nast Traveler, The Times (London), Vogue, Travel+Leisure, Wall Street Journal, New York Times Magazine, and Food & Wine. Her essays and literary criticism have been anthologized widely. She served as a columnist for the Chosun Ilbo, the leading paper of South Korea. She lives in New York with her family." You can connect with Min Jin Lee on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

And if you'd like to read Pachinko, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no po boxes please. Ends February 11/17.

Friday, January 27, 2017

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #142

- 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 been meaning to read Becky Masterman's Brigid Quinn series, but haven't got to it yet.  The third book in the series, A Twist of the Knife, releases in March in the US and June in the UK. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Hmm, two very different looks. The US is stark with the red and white. And ominous with that drop of blood dotting the 'i'. I wonder about the layers as well - is it paper? The UK cover is clever with a second title behind the first - and twisted. But where it lost me was the woman's face. So, US for me this week. Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read A Twist of the Knife?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Home - Harlen Coben

Harlan Coben has written so many great bestsellers, but I've had a soft spot for his Myron Bolitar series. It's been five years since the last entry - Home is the eleventh book in the series.

The plot of Home is dark - child abduction, child prostitution and slavery. No wonder Win has been missing for a year from Myron's life. There's been a spotting of his long lost nephew and his friend, taken ten years ago, and Win is determined to bring them home.

The banter between Win and Myron (and honestly, with almost everyone else as well) is quick, barbed and hilarious. It's a huge part of the draw of these books for me. The friendship (okay it's more of a bromance) and sense of loyalty between Win and Myron has also been a mainstay of the books. They seem to have no fear and their sense of justice is unerring. Well, Myron is a little more sensible, but still dives in head first. Win is a scary guy and he's given a bigger voice this time out. There is a well hidden soft spot behind his dangerous exterior. It was nice to get to know him a bit better - beyond the 'sidekick' role he has played in previous books. And a Bolitar book wouldn't be complete without supporting characters Esperanza and Big Cyndi. Coben has penned a YA series featuring Myron's nephew Mickey Bolitar. Mickey and his cohorts Ema and Spoon play a part Home as well.

Home is an action packed read, with some unusual plot twists. But that only seems fitting for this unusual duo. Great read, and I hope we don't have to wait another five years for another Myron /Win book. Especially with that surprise revelation in the last chapter. Read an excerpt of Home.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Her Every Fear - Peter Swanson

Have you read Peter Swanson yet? No? Well, if you're a fan of twisty, turny suspense novels like I am, you'll want to add him to your 'must read' list.

Swanson's latest book is Her Every Fear.

Brit Kate Priddy suffers from anxiety, panic attacks and OCD. Her bouts and symptoms got even worse after surviving a horrible relationship with ex-boyfriend George. When the opportunity arises to switch apartments for six months with her distant cousin Corbin in Boston, she decides it's a great opportunity to reclaim her life.

But when a neighbour of Corbin's goes missing the day she moves in, Kate begins to wonder if she's made the right choice. And then the neighbour is found dead.....

A fantasic premise with loads of places to go - and an uncertain narrator to tell the tale. Love it!

Swanson has the reader knowing much more than our poor Kate. There are three other voices - Corbin, a friend of Corbin and another resident of the apartment building in Boston. We know what's happened, what's happening and the danger that Kate is in. Kate tries to downplay odd incidents.... she let the cat out didn't she? How did he get back in? Is someone watching her from the window across the way? (nice little Hitchcockian plot device) Has someone changed one of her sketches? Or is it her own anxieties causing her worries and suspicions?

The narrative switches between then and now and only serves to heighten the tension as we learn more about the characters and their secrets. Swanson has painted one heck of a scary antagonist in one of the three characters His inner dialogue is truly frightening. So, while we know the whodunit long before the police, it's the journey there that makes for a deliciously creepy read.

Swanson's last book, The Kind Worth Killing, had a fantastic 'gotcha' in the last few pages. I was looking (and hoping) for a similar ending. It's there, but subtle. One line in a paragraph near the end has me thinking that Kate may be making another bad choice......

Definitely recommended! Read an excerpt of Her Every Fear.  And pull your curtains, check in your closets and look under the bed before turning in.......

Photo: Jim Ferguson
"Peter Swanson is the author of The Girl with a Clock for a Heart. He has degrees from Trinity College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Emerson College. He lives with his wife in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he is at work on his next novel." Find out more about Peter Swanson on his website and follow him 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.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Over the Counter #350

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Skewering pop and foodie culture this week....

First up is Millennials of New York by Connor Toole and Alec Macdonald.

From the publisher, Gallery Books:

"For fans of both the irreverent Stuff White People Like and the lauded Humans of New York comes the perfect send-up: Millennials of New York, a hilarious satire of the millennial generation, from the creators of the viral Facebook sensation and senior writers at Elite Daily.

Discover the voice of a generation—self- and selfie-absorbed as it may be—in Millennials of New York. With over two hundred pictures, lists, graphs, and charts, authors Connor Toole and Alec Macdonald brilliantly parody this generation with their smart and witty captures of young people from all over New York. Covering everything from how hard it is to wait for a brunch table to the intricacies of Netflix-and-chill, from what constitutes the perfect selfie to how to ask your parents for rent money, Millennials of New York is the ideal gift for millennials and the people who love them—even if they don’t quite understand them."

Next up is Hot Dog Taste Test by Lisa Hanawalt.

From the publisher, Drawn and Quarterly:

"Hot Dog Taste Test serves up Lisa Hanawalt's devastatingly funny comics, saliva-stimulating art, and deliciously screwball lists as she skewers the pomposities of foodie subculture. From the James Beard Award-winning cartoonist and production designer/producer of Bojack Horseman, Hot Dog Taste Test dishes out five-star laughs as Hanawalt keenly muses on pop culture, relationships, and the animal in all of us."

(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, January 23, 2017

The Wrong Side of Goodbye - Michael Connelly

The Wrong Side of Goodbye is the twenty first novel in Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch series.

I wondered where Connelly was going to take Harry once he left the LAPD. But once a cop, always a cop. Harry has joined the small San Fernando PD as a reserve officer. He's been working the case of The Screencutter, a serial rapist working in the area. Harry is also a private investigator now and is called to the home of a reclusive billionaire. At death's doorway, the man wants to know if he has any blood heirs. But there are those just as determined to see that none are found.

Connelly has come up with two great cases, both intriguing and well plotted. We meet a whole new set of characters in the new police department. I would definitely like to see more of this group and this setting. Mickey Haller (The Lincoln Lawyer) makes an appearance as well. I quite enjoy the two characters appearing in each other's cases.

This is the 21st entry, but this series has never lost it's momentum or freshness. Skillful storytelling, great characters, inventive plotting, excellent detective work and so entertaining.

The Wrong Side of Goodbye was a fantastic listen - here's an audio excerpt. Narrator Titus Welliver has become the voice of Bosch for me - gruff, growly, tough. His interpretation of the character absolutely matches my mental image. And he also stars in the television series Bosch. Or read an excerpt here.

Friday, January 20, 2017

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #141

- 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
It was the cover blurb by Clare Mackintosh that had 
me taking a second look at The Good Daughter by  Alexandra Burt. Suspense! The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Two very different looks this week. The US cover gives off that 'something hidden beneath the water' vibe. But I'm not a fan of the blue and white. The UK cover could be taken either way - innocent or ominous. The tagline on the top lets us know for sure. So which cover do you prefer? I'm going with the UK cover this week. Any plans to read The Good Daughter? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Everything You Want Me To Be - Mindy Mejia

Everything You Want Me To Be is Mindy Mejia's second novel.

Hattie Hoffman is in her last year of high school in a small town. She dreams of moving to New York and becoming the person she wants to be. Only Hattie knows who that is. You see, she changes herself to suit who she is with - family, friends, neighbours, boyfriend - and where she is - alone, school, home or on the stage. Hattie is the consummate actress. And it's going to get her killed......

"Fit the character to the play. You knew you were playing it right when your audience was happy." "I was a million different things depending on who I talked to or how I felt."

The reader is told of Hattie's death in the first chapters. From there the timeline flips from past to present, told in three voices - Hattie's, Del - the local Sheriff tasked with finding her killer, and Peter, her high school English teacher.

Hattie is a complicated character. I did like her drive and dreams. But on the other hand, how she tries to achieve them is at the expense of others and her manipulations left a sour taste in my mouth. But do we ever know who the real Hattie is? Peter - well, I have no words for him. He is shallow, weak and self deceptive. There are other characters that we only come to know through the interactions with the three main characters. Peter's wife Mary, without having a voice of her own, was the one character I was quite drawn to. Del, the Sheriff, is the other character who I sided with.

Mejia's plot explores many different relationships and themes. Innocence, guilt, lust, love, deception and more. And at the heart of it all - who killed Hattie? I liked the slow pacing of the investigation as Del puzzles out the whodunit without the benefit of the reader's inside knowledge. And the final reveal wasn't who I expected.

Everything You Want Me To Be was a different read, but quite good. I would pick up another book by Mejia. Read an excerpt of Everything You Want Me To Be. You can connect with Mindy Mejia on her website and follow her on Twitter.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Over the Counter #349

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner. This week it's all about light beacons...or light sabres....

First up is The World According to Star Wars by Cass R. Sunstein.

From Dey Street Books:

"There’s Santa Claus, Shakespeare, Mickey Mouse, the Bible, and then there’s Star Wars. Nothing quite compares to sitting down with a young child and hearing the sound of John Williams’s score as those beloved golden letters fill the screen. In this fun, erudite, and often moving book, Cass R. Sunstein explores the lessons of Star Wars as they relate to childhood, fathers, the Dark Side, rebellion, and redemption. As it turns out, Star Wars also has a lot to teach us about constitutional law, economics, and political uprisings.

In rich detail, Sunstein tells the story of the films’ wildly unanticipated success and explores why some things succeed while others fail. Ultimately, Sunstein argues, Star Wars is about freedom of choice and our never-ending ability to make the right decision when the chips are down. Written with buoyant prose and considerable heart, The World According to Star Wars shines a bright new light on the most beloved story of our time."

Next up is Brilliant Beacons: A History of the American Lighthouse by Eric Jay Dolin.

From Liveright Books:

"In a work rich in maritime lore and brimming with original historical detail, Eric Jay Dolin, the best-selling author of Leviathan, presents an epic history of American lighthouses, telling the story of America through the prism of its beloved coastal sentinels.

Set against the backdrop of an expanding nation, Brilliant Beacons traces the evolution of America's lighthouse system from its earliest days, highlighting the political, military, and technological battles fought to illuminate the nation's hardscrabble coastlines. Beginning with "Boston Light," America’s first lighthouse, Dolin shows how the story of America, from colony to regional backwater, to fledging nation, and eventually to global industrial power, can be illustrated through its lighthouses.

In the modern world of GPS and satellite-monitored shipping lanes, Brilliant Beacons forms a poignant elegy for the bygone days of the lighthouse, a symbol of American ingenuity that served as both a warning and a sign of hope for generations of mariners; and it also shows how these sentinels have endured, retaining their vibrancy to the present day. Containing over 150 photographs and illustrations, Brilliant Beacons vividly reframes America's history."

(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, January 17, 2017

Giveaway - The Rising - Heather Graham and Jon Land

"Stranger Things' Meets 'X-Files' and ‘Independence Day’ in romantic, genre-bending new SciFi thriller  -- The Rising -- by bestselling authors Heather Graham and Jon Land.

So...did that catch your attention? Yes? Well, then you'll want to enter this giveaway! The Rising releases today - and I have three copies to giveaway!

Here's a bit more about the novel from Tor Books:

"From acclaimed thriller-suspense novelists Heather Graham and Jon Land comes a story of action, mystery, and the endurance of young love in The Rising. Twenty-four hours. That's all it takes for the lives of two young people to be changed forever.

Alex Chin has the world on a plate. A football hero and homecoming king with plenty of scholarship offers, his future looks bright. His tutor, Samantha Dixon, is preparing to graduate high school at the top of her class. She plans to turn her NASA internship into a career.

When a football accident lands Alex in the hospital, his world is turned upside down. His doctor is murdered. Then, his parents. Death seems to follow him wherever he goes, and now it's after him.

Alex flees. He tells Samantha not to follow, but she became involved the moment she walked through his door and found Mr. and Mrs. Chin as they lay dying in their home. She cannot abandon the young man she loves. The two race desperately to stay ahead of Alex's attackers long enough to figure out why they are hunting him in the first place. The answer lies with a secret buried deep in his past, a secret his parents died to protect. Alex always knew he was adopted, but he never knew the real reason his birth parents abandoned him. He never knew where he truly came from. Until now." Read an excerpt of The Rising. Or check out the book trailer below.

"Heather Graham is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. Her first book was with Dell, and since then, she has written over one hundred novels and novellas including category, suspense, historical romance, vampire fiction, time travel, occult and Christmas family fare. She has been honored with awards from Waldenbooks, B. Dalton, Georgia Romance Writers, Affaire de Coeur, RT Book Reviews, and more. Visit her online at theoriginalheathergraham.com."

"Jon Land is the USA Today bestselling author of thirty-eight novels, including the bestselling series featuring female Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong. He is also the co-author of the nonfiction bestseller Betrayal. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island and can be found on the web at jonlandbooks.com."

Sound good? Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter to win one of three copies up for giveaway. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends January 31/17.

Giveaway - K Street - M.A. Lawson

Oh, take note mystery lovers - I have a great giveaway for you today! The third installment in M.A. Lawson's kick*** Kay Hamilton series is K Street - and it releases today.

From Blue Rider Press:

"The latest installment in M.A. Lawson’s thrilling Kay Hamilton series, K Street finds the ex-DEA agent working solo to uncover the motivations behind a gruesome shooting at a covert intelligence agency in Washington, D.C.

It’s been almost a year since Kay Hamilton was fired from the DEA for going rogue. Since then, she’s been employed by the Callahan Group, a covert intelligence agency based in Washington, D.C. Her job description is as dubious as the people she works for, and the undercover mission that nearly killed her in Viking Bay has Hamilton questioning the legitimacy of her employers.

When Hamilton arrives at the Callahan Group’s K Street office to tender her resignation, she unwittingly interrupts a deadly heist during which the robbers have stolen the company safe and left her boss gravely injured. She knows that Thomas Callahan doesn’t keep much cash in the safe—the men must have been after something other than money. But before Callahan slips into a coma, he whispers a name that will lead Kay to an organization even more secretive than the Callahan Group: the NSA.

Gripping, cinematic, and endlessly entertaining, K Street is the third installment of M.A. Lawson’s Kay Hamilton series, which follows our tough, gun-toting, and fearless heroine as she sets out to find answers and exact revenge."

Uh, huh - sounds like a great read doesn't it! Enter for the chance at a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends Jan. 28/17.

"M.A. Lawson is the pen name for award-winning novelist Mike Lawson, a former senior civilian executive for the U.S. Navy, and creator of the nine novels in the Joe DeMarco series, including House Odds, House Divided, and The Second Perimeter, as well as the Kay Hamilton novels Rosarito Beach, Viking Bay, and K Street." You can follow M.A. Lawson on Twitter and like him on Facebook.

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Fireman - Joe Hill

I am a huge fan of post apocalyptic novels. What would the world be like if it all went to crap one day? It all does in Joe Hill's novel, The Fireman, newly released in paperback. And I'm kicking myself for not reading this book in hardcover. Twenty pages in and I knew it was going to be an amazing read.

A contagion referred to as Dragonscale is infecting people and causing them to, well, go up in smoke. Yes, it burns people alive. Most people that is. But there's a group who have figured how to survive and yes, even control the affliction. See it as a blessing even. They're in hiding from those who are healthy and determined to kill them off.

Okay, that was a quick in a nutshell outline, but it doesn't even begin to touch the breadth, width, depth, scope and inventiveness of Joe Hill's plotting. Epic saga is a good descriptor. The reader's heart is firmly in the camp with the infected. Hill's cast of characters is just as deep and detailed as his plot. The Fireman is at the heart of it - a man who has figured out how to use the fire, to control it. Nurse Willowes is the other main character, a woman who gets calmer and cooler when the situation heats up - all the while singing Mary Poppins songs. They're our main two, but Hill has populated the book with a rich, wide, varied cast of characters - all detailed and each with their own part to play in the book. Good and bad. I love ensemble novels and The Fireman has a wealth of memorable players.

So, I'm speeding through The Fireman - literally I can't put it down - and I hit page 500. And realize I am racing towards the end. And I don't want to finish the book. But I was helpless to stop reading. Hill is one heck of a storyteller. There was no 'down' time. The plot changes and evolves and keeps running faster and faster towards the inevitable outcome. Duplicity, danger and action are woven tightly together with love, friendship, loss - and survival. The final pages did not provide quite the ending I had hoped for, but it was the right one. Everything - plot, dialogue, descriptions and more flows so easily and effortlessly - Hill really has a way with words.

One of my all time fave reads is Stephen King's The Stand. The Fireman has that same epic quest, journey of the embattled underdogs, post apocalyptic survival, battle of good and evil tone mixed with a little Lord of the Flies, The Walking Dead and a dash of Fahrenheit 451. Yup, one helluva hot read.

It took Joe Hill four years to write the 750 pages of The Fireman - and it took me four days to devour it. Read an excerpt of The Fireman.  Fans of The Stand and Justin Cronin's Passage series need to add The Fireman to the 'keeper' shelf of their home libraries. Now, this was my first Joe Hill book, but it sure isn't going to be my last. I'm off to look up his backlist.
Cr: Shane Leonard

Joe Hill is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Horns,
Heart-Shaped Box, and NOS4A2. He is also the Eisner Award-winning writer of a six-volume comic book series, Locke and Key. He lives in New Hampshire. Find out more about Joe at his website and follow him on Twitter and on Instagram and like him 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.

Friday, January 13, 2017

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #140

- 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 picked up the first in Kelley Armstrong's new Casey Duncan series and was hooked. She's a detective in a remote Northern town that is completely off the grid - and populated by people wanting to hide. A Darkness Absolute is the second book, releasing in Feb/17 on both sides of the pond. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. So we've got cold weather on both covers. Interestingly the author's name has the bold bright font on the US cover, while it's the book title highlighted on the UK cover. An easy choice for me this week - UK cover. It conveys a better sense of danger with the running girl, the dark and the blowing snow. The US cover has a scary tree, but the character seems rather sedate. What about you? Which cover do you prefer?
Any plans to read A Darkness Absolute?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Power Up 2017 with DK Canada!

Well, we're a few weeks into 2017 already. Did you make some New Year's Resolutions? I prefer to think of it as changes I would like to implement over the coming year. My changes involve both mind and body. To that end, DK Canada has some great books to help you make some positive changes this year!

Mindfulness is a subject that I've heard much about and have been meaning to investigate and I've decided that now is the time. Happiness the Mindful Way: A Practical Guide seemed like a good book to start with. Plus, I always love how DK lays out their books - text boxes, colour photos, infographics, white space and clear concise information.

I leafed through the book at first - there is so much info packed into 217 pages. What I got from those first few random readings was a sense that yes, I would find valuable insights within. So, with that in mind, I went back and started with page one.

What is mindfulness you ask? The definition from Happiness the Mindful Way:

'It is a practice of purposefully paying attention in the present moment and bringing a non judgemental, compassionate awareness to the nature of things. It is a way of being, a way of relating to our inner and outer experiences, and a coming to our senses, literally and figuratively. At the same time, it is nothing at all, nothing but a rediscovery or a remembering of our natural inborn capacity to be fully awake in our lives, in contact with things in a direct way without the filters of concepts, past experiences, or likes and dislikes."

Okaaaay....how to begin.... The first chapter was eye opening - I found I could only read an entry or two at a time - I needed to take the time to think about and absorb the information. As I finished that first chapter, I realized that this was something I really wanted to learn and put into practice. It's not going to happen overnight, so I can't expound on the entire book at this time. But I will say that so far it has been excellent. The first chapter was Discovering Mindfulness. Further chapters are Toward a Mindful You, Mindfulness Meditation, Mindfulness Life Skills and Mindfulness When You Need It. An index at the end lets you quickly find certain subjects - anxiety, pain, etc.

Happiness The Mindful Way is a great introduction and beginner's guide. And a book I'll be referring to often.  See for yourself - here's an excerpt.

Foam Rolling by Sam Woodworth addresses the physical changes I mentioned.  My daughter has one of these rollers and swears by it. That and the subtitles on the book - Relieve Pain, Prevent Injury and Improve Mobility had me wanting to know more.

Why a foam roller? "Using a foam roller increases flexibility, promotes healing after injury, improves the alignment of your spine, and heightens your body awareness."

Foam Rolling includes 60 step by step exercises and 26 programs. Chapters include Foam Rolling Basics, Core Exercises, Lower Body Exercises, Upper Body Exercises, Pain Relief Programs, Lifestyle Programs and Sports Programs.

Effective illustrations are a key for this type of book. DK Canada always hits the mark. The guide is full of full colour pictures using real people. The layout is great - clear instructions, info boxes letting you know what muscles are being targeted, how to breath and some cautions on avoiding injury. Modified versions of each exercise are also depicted.

I always end up flipping through a book before settling in to read. As I did flip through I actually saw exercises prescribed by my physical therapist. Okay, so I'm on the right track. I was interested in the pain relief programs - specifically those for the upper back - my job (and hobbies) are most definitely straining this area. That and the 'too much standing' module. Things I could do at home to help myself. Note that the book does call for some equipment other than the roller for some exercises - notably a massage stick and/or a sports ball.

So, I am going slow, easing myself into the entire program. There is going to pain associated with releasing the fascia. The key is to not overdo it. One step at a time, one exercise at a time.

A good introductory book for those interested in foam rolling. Have a look inside Foam Rolling.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Over the Counter #348

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the counter and under my scanner? This week, it's all about the meat....

First up is The Wurst of Lucky Peach: A Treasury of Encased Meat by Chris Ying and the editors of Lucky Peach.

From the publisher, Clarkson Potter:

"The best in wurst from around the world, with enough sausage-themed stories and pictures stuffed between these two covers to turn anyone into a forcemeat aficionado.

Lucky Peach presents a cookbook as a scrapbook, stuffed with curious local specialties, like cevapi, a caseless sausage that’s traveled all the way from the Balkans to underneath the M tracks in Ridgewood, Queens; a look into the great sausage trails of the world, from Bavaria to Texas Hill Country and beyond; and the ins and outs of making your own sausages, including fresh chorizo."

Next up is Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling Hardcover by Meathead Goldwyn and Greg Blonder.

From the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt:

"For succulent results every time, nothing is more crucial than understanding the science behind the interaction of food, fire, heat, and smoke. This is the definitive guide to the concepts, methods, equipment, and accessories of barbecue and grilling. The founder and editor of the world's most popular BBQ and grilling website, AmazingRibs.com, Meathead applies the latest research to backyard cooking more than 100 thoroughly tested recipes.

With the help of physicist and food scientist Prof. Greg Blonder, PhD, of Boston University, he explains why dry brining is better than wet brining; how marinades really work; why rubs shouldn't have salt in them; the importance of digital thermometers; why searing doesn't seal in juices; how salt penetrates but spices don't; when charcoal beats gas and when gas beats charcoal; how to calibrate and tune a grill or smoker; how to keep fish from sticking; cooking with logs; the strengths and weaknesses of the new pellet cookers; tricks for rotisserie cooking; why cooking whole animals is a bad idea; which grill grates are best; and why beer-can chicken is a waste of good beer and nowhere close to the best way to cook a bird.

The book blends chemistry, physics, meat science, and humor. Lavishly designed with hundreds of full-color photos by the author, this book contains all the sure-fire recipes for traditional American favorites and many more outside-the-box creations."

(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, January 10, 2017

Giveaway - Pretty Little World - Elizabeth LaBan and Melissa DePino

I've got a great giveaway today for those of you who enjoy contemporary fiction!

In Pretty Little World, authors and real-life friends and neighbors Elizabeth LaBan and Melissa DePino present a snapshot of a modern family with a sentimental yearning for community.

From Lake Union Publishing:

"On a cozy street in Philadelphia, three neighboring families have become the best of friends. They can’t imagine life without one another—until one family outgrows their tiny row house. In a bid to stay together, a crazy idea is born: What if they tear down the walls between their homes and live together under one roof? And so an experiment begins.

Bucking the trend of an increasingly fragmented society more accustomed to isolation than cooperation, the friends create a shared space that's as practical as it is idyllic—six adults to keep you company, six pair of hands to pick up the slack with the kids and the housework. But before long, love, lies, and lust collide, and their "pretty little world" gets rocked by reality" Read an excerpt of Pretty Little World. Sound like something you'd like to read? Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

"Elizabeth LaBan is the author of The Tragedy Paper, which has been translated into eleven languages, The Grandparents Handbook, which has been translated into seven languages, and The Restaurant Critic's Wife. She lives in Philadelphia with her restaurant-critic husband and two children."

"Melissa DePino is a former high school English teacher and founding partner, principal, and editorial director of Leapfrog Group, a branding and marketing firm for nonprofits. She grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and earned degrees at both Villanova and Temple Universities. She lives in Center City, Philadelphia, with her two sons. Pretty Little World is her first novel."

Giveaway is open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends January 21/17.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Little Heaven - Nick Cutter

Nick Cutter is a pseudonym for a Canadian author who has written some lovely memoirs that I've enjoyed. And then there's the opposite side of the coin. Cutter writes some scary sh...um stuff. (To this day if I think about The Troop I get all squeamish.) The squeam factor his latest, Little Heaven, is even greater.

The premise? In 1965 three guns for hire band together (instead of killing each other) to rescue a boy from a religious cult (echoes of Jonestown) deep in the woods of New Mexico. What awaits them is much darker and devilish that expected. We know they survive (but not unscathed) and fifteen years later they are called upon again to return to the site of Little Heaven.

Cutter flips the narrative from past to present, as the reader slowly begins to understand what was faced in 1965 and what they are marching back into in 1980. Although the book has specific time frames attached to it, I felt like the story was in some nebulous time frame with an old timey Western feel.

The three gunfighters are all fleshed out with distinct personalities, strengths and foibles. The reader cannot help but be on their side - despite them being killers in their own rights. My favourite was the lead - Micah Shughrue.

I was somewhat reminded of Stephen King's works. (The Dark Tower series sprang to mind for me and the publisher has mentioned It in the book description.) Cutter lists King as one of his favourite authors and influences. That band of misfits against all evil theme sucks me in every time.

Cutter has a way with descriptions. "Micah Henry Shughrue awoke into a darkness so thick it was like all nights folded together. Darkness stuffed into his mouth and eye sockets, teeming in his nostrils and perched heavy on his chest." That descriptive power is multiplied and magnified when drawing the evil that lives at Little Heaven and in the Black Rock. Perhaps a bit too much for this reader. Some of it became repetitive with the two time frames and I wanted to move on quicker to what was 'behind the curtain.'

Interspersed throughout the story are black and white drawings by Adam Gorham that perfectly capture the tone and tenor of Cutter's words.

Creepy, chilling and scary as hell. Not for the faint at heart - or if bugs really get to you.....Read an excerpt of Little Heaven below.

Friday, January 6, 2017

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover# 139

- 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
Okay, so has there been a more anticipated second book!? And yes, I will
definitely be reading it! Paula Hawkins next novel, Into the Water releases in May 2017 on both sides of the pond. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Okay, so we've got a woman's face on the US cover, but covered by water. I appreciate this instead of a clear image. I like that the font is also distorted, matching the watery look.  The UK version has the woman by the side of the river. Trees without leaves are also ominously reflected. There's some circular current as well, adding to the ominous feeling. Well, two very different looks this week, but I am having a hard time deciding! So, a tie for me this week. What about you - which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read Into the Water? 
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Depraved Heart - Patricia Cornwell

I started with the first book (Postmortem) in Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta series way back in 1990 when forensic mysteries were becoming popular. Depraved Heart, is the 23rd entry in this series and has just released in trade paperback.

Now, I must admit, I've struggled with the last few books - they seemed mired in extraneous detail and I found them somewhat repetitive. But I was willing to give this latest a go. And up front, I want to say, I did enjoy Depraved Heart.

Scarpetta and Marino are at the scene of what appears to be the accidental death of a wealthy young woman when a video link appears and starts playing on Kay's phone. Although her policy is to never interrupt a scene investigation with personal calls, she is powerless to stop watching. The video is a twenty year old video of her niece Lucy - and her then lover Carrie Grethem. Grethem was thought to be dead, but surfaced in the last book and attempted to kill Kay. It looks like she's back again and still determined to wreak havoc with Kay and her family.

"The FBI placed the niece I raised like a daughter into a psychopathic monster's care, and that decision changed the course of our lives. It has changed absolutely everything."

Depraved Heart picks up two months after the abrupt ending of the last book, Flesh and Blood. Readers who have kept up with the Scarpetta books will have a better understanding of this perpetrator and plotting.

One key element of Depraved Heart is the concept of 'data fiction'. "It's what can happen if we're so reliant on technology that we become completely dependent on things we can't see. Therefore we can no longer judge for ourselves what's true, what's false, what's accurate, what isn't. In other words if reality is defined by software that does all the work for us, then what if this software lies? What if everything we believe isn't true but is a facade, a mirage?"

 I was fascinated - and somewhat disturbed - with this notion. (I thought of how much time I spend online...) Are the videos (yes there's more than one) true? Or false? Is Kay's FBI agent husband, Benton lying to her? Who and what can she believe and trust? The reader sees the entire book unfold through Scarpetta's eyes and thoughts.

Marino is a perennial favourite of mine and this time Scarpetta seems to be a little kinder towards him. But, for the life of me, I have no idea why she stays with Benton. Lucy just annoys me, but I think there's more of a forthcoming story with her new partner Janet.

The book takes place during a twenty four hour period. The book moves along quickly as Kay and Marino attempt to deal with both their latest case - and the apparent danger to Lucy.  The tension is palpable as everyone's actions and motives are called into question. I was easily caught up in the story and possibilities. Cornwell does weave an intricate plot, one I appreciated. (But one glaring omission by investigators, that is mentioned and is part of the final whodunit, will be caught by sharp eyed readers.)

The title? "Legal definition of Depraved Heart - 'Void of social duty and fatally bent on mischief.' Mayes V. People, Illinois Supreme Court. 1883."

The ending leaves the door open for a continued story in this vein. Although I quite enjoyed this latest entry more than the last few, a wee bit of me thinks it's time to end this ongoing storyline and give readers a fresh mystery and investigation next time 'round. Read an excerpt of Depraved Heart.

"Patricia Cornwell is recognized as one of the world’s top bestselling crime authors with novels translated into thirty-six languages in more than 120 countries. Her novels have won numerous prestigious awards including the Edgar, the Creasey, the Anthony, the Macavity, and the Prix du Roman d’Aventure. Beyond the Scarpetta series, she has written a definitive book about Jack the Ripper, a biography, and two more fiction series. Cornwell, a licensed helicopter pilot and scuba diver, actively researches the cutting-edge forensic technologies that inform her work. She was born in Miami, grew up in Montreat, North Carolina, and now lives and works in Boston."

Find out more about Patricia at her website, and follow her on Twitter, like her on Facebook, as well as Instagram. 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.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Over the Counter #347

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

First up is Call of the Cats: What I Learned about Life and Love from a Feral Colony by Andrew Bloomfield.

From the publisher, New World Library:

"When aspiring screenwriter Andrew Bloomfield moved into a bungalow in Southern California he soon discovered that he shared the property with a large colony of feral cats — untamed, uninterested in human touch, not purring pets in waiting. But after a midnight attack by predators that decimated yet another litter of kittens, Bloomfield decided to intervene. He began to name and nurse, feed and house, rescue and neuter. Drawing on his time living in Asia among spiritual teachers, he takes us on the contemplative, humorous, and poignant journey of saving these cats, only to find it was they who saved him by revealing a world of meaning beyond his unrealized Hollywood dreams."

And if we can learn from cats, how about learning from fish.....unless the cats eat them first....What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins by Jonathan Balcombe.

From the publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux:

"Do fishes think? Do they really have three-second memories? And can they recognize the humans who peer back at them from above the surface of the water? In What a Fish Knows, the myth-busting ethologist Jonathan Balcombe addresses these questions and more, taking us under the sea, through streams and estuaries, and to the other side of the aquarium glass to reveal the surprising capabilities of fishes. Although there are more than thirty thousand species of fish—more than all mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians combined—we rarely consider how individual fishes think, feel, and behave. Balcombe upends our assumptions about fishes, portraying them not as unfeeling, dead-eyed feeding machines but as sentient, aware, social, and even Machiavellian—in other words, much like us.

What a Fish Knows draws on the latest science to present a fresh look at these remarkable creatures in all their breathtaking diversity and beauty. Fishes conduct elaborate courtship rituals and develop lifelong bonds with shoalmates. They also plan, hunt cooperatively, use tools, curry favor, deceive one another, and punish wrongdoers. We may imagine that fishes lead simple, fleeting lives—a mode of existence that boils down to a place on the food chain, rote spawning, and lots of aimless swimming. But, as Balcombe demonstrates, the truth is far richer and more complex, worthy of the grandest social novel.

Teeming with insights and exciting discoveries, What a Fish Knows offers a thoughtful appraisal of our relationships with fishes and inspires us to take a more enlightened view of the planet’s increasingly imperiled marine life. What a Fish Knows will forever change how we see our aquatic cousins—the pet goldfish included."

(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, January 3, 2017

The Woman in Cabin 10 - Ruth Ware

I  have been eagerly awaiting Ruth Ware's new novel, The Woman in Cabin Ten - pretty much since I turned the last page in her first book - In a Dark, Dark Wood! Yes, her books are that good!

The premise? Lo Blacklock is a travel writer who has just landed a plum assignment on a new, intimate, luxury cruise ship. She is assigned to cabin nine and briefly meets the woman in cabin ten when she borrows some cosmetics. Later that evening after dinner - and after many nightcaps - she thinks she hears a splash from next door, runs out to her balcony and peers across to cabin ten. She is sure that there is a smear of blood on ten's patio door as well. Could the woman have fallen overboard? She raises the alarm.......but is informed that there is no guest registered in cabin ten. And sure enough the room is empty. Delicious!

The publisher has used 'reminiscent of Agatha Christie's works' in the back cover blurb. I agree - the setting is remote and contained, there are a limited number of players and/or suspects and the narrative changes the reader's suspicions with every new piece of information.

But how accurate is that information? Lo is the epitome of the 'unreliable narrator'. She drinks too much, mixes her drink with medications, questions her own memories and is dealing with PTSD from a break in at her home. She's self destructive but tenacious. She is determined to find her own answers instead of accepting what she has been told. And prove her sanity. What I really liked was that as a reader, we know no more than Lo does. We are looking for answers alongside of her.

Ware ramps up the tension with every new avenue explored by Lo. It's not clear what the truth is and what is being hidden. I so appreciate not being able to predict where a plot is going to go. Ware kept me on my toes the whole way.  The whodunit is a wonderful twist. And then there's just one more gotcha on the last page. (Do not flip ahead!)

Yes, this was a sit in the jammies and finish it in one day read for me - addicting and entertaining. I loved it! And now I will be eagerly awaiting Ware's third book - The Lying Game - due out in July 2017. Read an excerpt of The Woman in Cabin Ten.

Monday, January 2, 2017

I See You - Clare Mackintosh

Okay, so someone who loves you gave you a gift certificate to a bookstore - nice! And you're debating what to spend it on. I have the answer and you will not regret it - you need to pick up, pre order, download or listen to Clare Mackintosh's newest novel - I See You.

Clare's first novel, I Let You Go, was a runaway success. (my review - I loved it!) There is always that little bit of me that wonders if an author can successfully follow up such a fantastic first novel. Well, as much as I loved I Let You Go, this new book is even better.

Set in Britain. Zoe rides the same train, sits in the same seat, sees the same travellers and walks the same route to work every day. Killing time one day, she peruses the local paper while riding the train. And sees her own photo in the personal ads section with a link to a website called FindTheOne.com. Stunned, Zoe convinces herself it's just someone who looks like her. But she keeps checking the paper and each day there's a photo of a different woman in the same ad. Digging deeper, Zoe finds that some of those women have been the victims of various crimes, including murder.

Ahh! What a great premise! Mackintosh provides plenty of suspects to choose from - pretty much everyone who is riding the train, her boss, neighbours, acquaintances - really it could be anyone tracking Zoe and the other women. (And at this point I stopped to wonder how much of a creature of habit I am.....) The watcher is given their own voice every so many chapters - and it's quite chilling.

Mackintosh keeps the reader on their toes, adding in another turn of events, another question and another suspect. And yes, I found myself shouting out loud at Zoe quite often - the equivalent of the movie watching 'don't go in the basement!'

I enjoyed the character of Kelly, a cop who joins the police investigation - she's flawed, driven and intelligent. Always my fave type of cop character. Mackintosh spent twelve years on a police force in Britain and her insider knowledge adds much to this character and the investigation.

Mackintosh ends things with one last twist after what I thought was the answer to the whodunnit. It's absolutely perfect - and nope, didn't see it coming! I See You is the first book out of the gate for me for 2017 and I know it will be one of my top reads for the year.

I See You is original and oh so addictive - it was a one day in my jammies read over the Christmas holidays. Read an excerpt of I See You.