Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Giveaway - Death of a Ghost - M.C. Beaton

Death of a Ghost is the 32nd! book in M.C. Beaton's Sergeant Hamish Macbeth series - Scotland's most quick-witted but unambitious policeman.

What case is Hamish tackling this time?

From Grand Central Publishing:

"When Police Sergeant Hamish Macbeth hears reports of a haunted castle near Drim, he assumes the eerie noises and lights reported by the villagers are just local teenagers going there to smoke pot or, worse, inject themselves with drugs. Still, Hamish decides that he and his policeman, Charlie "Clumsy" Carson, will spend the night at the ruined castle to get to the bottom of the rumors once and for all.

There's no sign of any ghost...but then Charlie disappears through the floor. It turns out he's fallen into the cellar. And what Hamish and Charlie find there is worse than a ghost: a dead body propped against the wall. Waiting for help to arrive, Hamish and Charlie leave the castle just for a moment - to eat bacon baps - but when they return, the body is nowhere to be seen.

It's clear something strange - and deadly - is going on at the castle, and Hamish must get to the bottom of it before the "ghost" can strike again..." Read an excerpt of Death of a Ghost.

"M. C. Beaton has won international acclaim for her New York Times bestselling Hamish Macbeth mysteries. The BBC has aired 24 episodes based on the series. Beaton is also the author of the bestselling Agatha Raisin series, which is now a television show starring Ashley Jensen, available on Acorn and coming soon to PBS. She lives in the Cotswolds with her husband." You can connect with M.C. Beaton on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

If you're looking to read this latest Hamish caper, I have two copies to giveaway courtesy of Grand Central Publishing! Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends March 18/17. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

A Q and A with M.C. Beaton - and Agatha Raisin joins the lineup at KCET television!

On Thursday, March 2 at 10 p.m. PT, KCET, the nation's largest independent public television station, will begin airing quirky British mystery show Agatha Raisin starring Ashley Jensen ("Extras, The Lobster, Ugly Betty"). (Agatha Raisin will also be available for streaming episodes 14 days after the original telecast.) Join the conversation on social media using #AgathaRaisin

The show is based on the novels of the same name, written by New York Times Best Selling Author M.C. Beaton. In addition to the Agatha Raisin series, Beaton has published several romance, stand-alone mysteries and crime novels including the Hamish Macbeth series and Edwardian Murder Mysteries. I was lucky enough to have M.C. Beaton answer a few questions for me - see those below.

"In the television show series opener, the prickly but likeable London-based public relations executive finds herself burnt out on office politics and jumps at the change to retire early to a picturesque village in the Cotswold's. But she soon finds a second career as an amateur detective investigating mischief, mayhem and murder in her new deceptively quaint town, when Agatha's entry in a quiche-baking contest kills the judge."

What was the impetus for creating Agatha - is she based on anyone you know? A bit of yourself? And where did her name spring from?

"My editor at St. Martin’s Press. Hope Dellon, wanted a Cotswold detective story and so Agatha Raisin was born.  Agatha – I was thinking of P.G.Wodehouse’s formidable Aunt Agatha and Raisin for wrinkles. A bit of myself, yes. But I really wanted an anti-heroine, someone like Becky Sharp in Vanity Fair that you might not like but would like to win through in the end."

How much of the settings and characters of the Raisin series are based on your own experience living in the Cotswolds?

"All the settings are based on my love of the Cotswolds but the characters all come from my imagination."

Now, I admit, I have a favourite character - but do you enjoy writing one series more than the other?

"I don’t enjoy writing one series more than the other.  When I’m with Hamish, I forget Agatha and the other way around."

Are you excited to see Agatha come to television? Have you been on set as a consultant or observer? Have you met Ashley Jensen? Does she fit your image of what Agatha should be?

"The reason I was pleased that Agatha was televised was because the film company handling it was Mammoth Television, responsible for Endeavour, Miss Marple, Hornblower and so on. I was invited to all the read throughs. Ashley Jensen does not look like Agatha in the books but she plays the character perfectly.  She is not only a brilliant actress but a very warm-hearted woman."

Where do your ideas spring from? When and where do you do your writing? You've written scores of books - any plans to slow down?

"If you write as much as I have, you develop a sort of muscle in the brain which is always writing something and if I stop writing, discomfort sets in.  I plan to slow down after the next five years or so." You can connect with M.C. Beaton on her website and like her on Facebook.

I'm looking forward to watching the Agatha Raisin series  - don't forget, tune in time is Thursday, March 2 at 10 p.m. PT on KCET.

Monday, February 27, 2017

My Husband's Wife - Jane Corry

The title of Jane Corry's newest novel is sure to make you stop and think twice - My Husband's Wife. And no - it's not about polygamy - it's my favourite type of book - a twisty, psychological tale.

Now, I must admit when I started the book, I had no idea where Corry was going to go with her opening chapters. We meet Lily and her husband Ed - newly married, following a whirlwind courtship. They've moved into a little apartment - Ed is pursuing his hopes of a new career in art and Lily has just begun her career as a lawyer. Her first case is an appeal for a murderer that she finds herself strangely drawn to. Down the hall live nine year old Carla and her single mother Francesca. We meet and get to know all four. How are the lives of these four going to intersect?

Well, they do - in a most unexpected and clever way. The book covers a period of fifteen years - then and now - lives change and little girls grow up. Every one of the four is guarding a secret - from both the past and the present. But secrets have a way of coming out. As do lies. The opening prologue of the book has an unnamed character thinking...."So it's true what they say about dying. The past comes back to go with you." A great hook to draw the reader in. Those italicized entries continue throughout the book, narrowing down who it could be.

Lily and Carla are the driving narrators. Each one is a master of rationalizing the decisions they make. All four are flawed characters, and I found it impossible to muster to find sympathy or empathy for any one of them. (Okay, little Carla did get some) They're all distinctly unlikable. But it's impossible not to keep reading - I was fascinated with Corry's plotting - and the secret machinations of each player.

A strong debut - I would read this author again. Read an excerpt of My Husband's Wife.

"Jane Corry is a writer and journalist and has spent time as the writer in residence of a high-security prison for men—an experience that helped inspire My Husband’s Wife, her debut thriller." You can follow Jane Corry on Twitter and like her on Facebook. Keep your eyes out for Corry's next novel, Blood Sisters.

The Twilight Wife - A.J. Banner

The Twilight Wife is A.J. Banner's second novel.

After marine biologist Kyra Winthrop suffered a catastrophic diving accident, her husband Jacob moved her to a small island community to heal. And while her physical injuries have healed, her memory has not. She barely remembers anything about her life before the accident or even the accident itself. But lately, she has flashes of another time, other places and other people  - but are they real or imagined? Was Jacob always the devoted husband he is today? Why do some of the townsfolk whisper behind her back? Or is it all in her own mind?

"Why can't I remember four years of my life? Why only four years? Why not everything? Why not just the accident? Why do I keep forgetting conversations? Pieces of time?"

A great premise. I love this current trend of unreliable narrators (memory loss opens up lots of possibilities), psychological suspense and twisty endings.

The Twilight Wife is told through Kyra's eyes and experience. It's a bit of a slow wind-up, full of details that started to make sense to me sooner than they did for Kyra. Banner does a good job of dropping hints and doubts along the way, and had suspicions as to the final reveal long before Kyra did.  But hey, she has a brain injury and I don't.

The Twilight Wife was a quick, engaging book that almost read like a movie if that makes sense. Not a lot of depth, but very entertaining. It would be a great beach bag book - especially with all the marine biology trivia included.  Read an excerpt of The Twilight Wife.

The audiobook is narrated by Cassandra Carroll, a prolific and award winning reader. I do enjoy her voice - she has a nice tone and modulation. Sometimes though that she over elongates words. I don't know why, but in some books, I do find it a bit annoying. Her interpretation of Kyra does match Banner's words. But it's interesting comparing both print and vocal versions of a book. The audiobook made Kyra seem even more vulnerable and lost. Listen to an excerpt of The Twilight Wife.

You can connect with A.J Banner on her websitefollow her on Twitter and like her on Facebook.

Friday, February 24, 2017

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #147

- 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 really enjoyed Fiona Barton's debut novel, The Widow. Her next novel is The Child is due out in June 2017 - and it's on my want to read list. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Two different looks this week. The birds on the US cover suggest something flown away or lost, above it all. The colours used are worn and faded, suggesting the past - which fits with the storyline. But the cover of the UK cover also hints at the story within. A torn scrap of newspaper headline hints that there is more to be told. It's more lurid than the US cover. And if I was standing in a bookstore and hadn't read the author's previous book, I would be more likely to pick up the UK cover, so that's my vote this week. What about you? Any plans to read The Child? Which cover do you prefer?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Giveaway - Down City - Leah Carroll

Down City: A Daughter's Story of Love, Memory, and Murder by Leah Carroll releases on March 7/17 - and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader.

What's it about? From Grand Central Publishing:

"Like James Ellroy's, My Dark Places, Down City is a gripping narrative built of memory and reportage, and Leah Carroll's portrait of Rhode Island is sure to take a place next Mary Karr's portrayal of her childhood in East Texas and David Simon's gritty Baltimore.

Leah Carroll's mother, a gifted amateur photographer, was murdered by two drug dealers with Mafia connections when Leah was four years old. Her father, a charming alcoholic who hurtled between depression and mania, was dead by the time she was eighteen. Why did her mother have to die? Why did the man who killed her receive such a light sentence? What darkness did Leah inherit from her parents? Leah was left to put together her own future and, now in her memoir, she explores the mystery of her parents' lives, through interviews, photos, and police records. Down City is a raw, wrenching memoir of a broken family and an indelible portrait of Rhode Island - a tiny state where the ghosts of mafia kingpins live alongside the feisty, stubborn people working hard just to get by. Heartbreaking, and mesmerizing, it's the story of a resilient young woman's determination to discover the truth about a mother she never knew and the deeply troubled father who raised her - a man who was, Leah writes, "both my greatest champion and biggest obstacle."

"Leah Carroll lives in Brooklyn, New York. She graduated from Emerson College, and received an MFA in fiction from the University of Florida. She is the recipient of fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the MacDowell Colony." You can connect with Leah on her website and follow her on Twitter.

If Down City sounds like a book you'd like to read, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends March 11/17.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Over the Counter #354

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? I don't read true crime reader, but I was intrigued by two books penned by investigative reporters who became consumed, obsessed even, by the cases they were looking into....

First up is The Spider and the Fly: A Reporter, a Serial Killer, and the Meaning of Murder By Claudia Rowe.

From the publisher, Dey Street Books:

"“Extraordinarily suspenseful and truly gut-wrenching. . . . A must-read.”—Gillian Flynn, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Gone Girl

In this superb work of literary true crime—a spellbinding combination of memoir and psychological suspense—a female journalist chronicles her unusual connection with a convicted serial killer and her search to understand the darkness inside us.

"Well, well, Claudia. Can I call you Claudia? I’ll have to give it to you, when confronted at least you’re honest, as honest as any reporter. . . . You want to go into the depths of my mind and into my past. I want a peek into yours. It is only fair, isn’t it?"—Kendall Francois

In September 1998, young reporter Claudia Rowe was working as a stringer for the New York Times in Poughkeepsie, New York, when local police discovered the bodies of eight women stashed in the attic and basement of the small colonial home that Kendall Francois, a painfully polite twenty-seven-year-old community college student, shared with his parents and sister.

Growing up amid the safe, bourgeois affluence of New York City, Rowe had always been secretly fascinated by the darkness, and soon became obsessed with the story and with Francois. She was consumed with the desire to understand just how a man could abduct and strangle eight women—and how a family could live for two years, seemingly unaware, in a house with the victims’ rotting corpses. She also hoped to uncover what humanity, if any, a murderer could maintain in the wake of such monstrous evil.

Reaching out after Francois was arrested, Rowe and the serial killer began a dizzying four-year conversation about cruelty, compassion, and control; an unusual and provocative relationship that would eventually lead her to the abyss, forcing her to clearly see herself and her own past—and why she was drawn to danger."

Next up is True Crime Addict: How I Lost Myself in the Mysterious Disappearance of Maura Murray By James Renner.

From the publisher, Thomas Dunne Books:

"When an eleven year old James Renner fell in love with Amy Mihaljevic, the missing girl seen on posters all over his neighborhood, it was the beginning of a lifelong obsession with true crime. That obsession leads James to a successful career as an investigative journalist. It also gave him PTSD. In 2011, James began researching the strange disappearance of Maura Murray, a UMass student who went missing after wrecking her car in rural New Hampshire in 2004. Over the course of his investigation, he uncovers numerous important and shocking new clues about what may have happened to Maura, but also finds himself in increasingly dangerous situations with little regard for his own well-being. As his quest to find Maura deepens, the case starts taking a toll on his personal life, which begins to spiral out of control. The result is an absorbing dual investigation of the complicated story of the All-American girl who went missing and James's own equally complicated true crime addiction.

James Renner's True Crime Addict is the story of his spellbinding investigation of the missing person's case of Maura Murray, which has taken on a life of its own for armchair sleuths across the web. In the spirit of David Fincher's Zodiac, it is a fascinating look at a case that has eluded authorities and one man's obsessive quest for the answers."

(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, February 17, 2017

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover # 146

- 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
Matthew Quick's new novel, The Reason You're Alive releases in the US on July 4/17 and the UK a week later. The Independence Day release date seems tailored to fit the premise of the book. "The New York Times bestselling author of The Silver Linings Playbook offers a timely novel featuring his most fascinating character yet, a Vietnam vet embarking on a quixotic crusade to track down his nemesis from the war. Through the controversial, wrenching, and wildly honest David Granger, Matthew Quick offers a no-nonsense but ultimately hopeful view of America’s polarized psyche." The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Truthfully, I have no idea what the colours on the cover are meant to convey. Confusion? Camouflage? Art? I can say that if it wasn't Matthew Quick's name on the cover, I would not even pick the book up. For me, the cover doesn't invite the reader in. So, it's a draw for me this week - I dislike them both equally. What about you - any plans to read The Reason You're Alive? Which cover do you prefer?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Odds of You and Me - Cecilia Galante

The Odds of You and Me is Cecilia Galante's latest novel.

It was the cover that first drew me to the book. I love those little sneakers protected by the bigger pair.

And that's the premise of the book....

Bird Connolly is a young single mom to four year old Angus. She loves him more than anything, but wishes their lives were different. Living with her mother cleaning houses was not what she imagined for herself. At one time, she wanted to be a nurse. But some bad choices have set her back. But her probation is almost up and she has plans. Until the past comes barreling into the present.

A young man she used to work with commits a serious crime. He escapes police custody, but is injured. Holed up in the local church, Bird inadvertently comes across him...

....and now new choices must be made. Help him? At what cost? Or walk away? When is the wrong choice the right choice?

I liked Bird as a lead character and her love for her son is well portrayed. The relationship between Bird and her Ma is quite fractious and in the first bit of the book, I could see both sides. But as the book progressed, their bickering grew tiresome and repetitive. Ma is quite religious, bordering on fanatical. When Bird reveals a horrific event from her past to her mother, Ma's reaction is downright shameful. And I ended up firmly in Bird's camp. But, there is much to be fixed in this relationship - on both sides.

Galante explores many relationships in The Odds of You and Me with both the main players and the supporting cast - parent and child being in the forefront.

There are a number of coincidences that drive the plot of this book, but who's to say serendipity doesn't exist?  Or second chances? I was urging Bird on out loud many times - I wanted her to succeed. I had no idea where Galante was going to take the ending. I can't say it's the one I wanted, but it seems right. Read an excerpt of The Odds of You and Me.

Cecilia Galante, who received an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Goddard College, Vermont, is the author of eight young adult novels and a children’s chapter-book series. She has been the recipient of many awards, including an NAIBA Best Book of the Year, and an Oprah’s Teen Read Selection for her first novel, The Patron Saint of Butterflies. She lives in Kingston, Pennsylvania with her three children. Find out more about Cecilia at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and 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.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Over the Counter #353

What books caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? I love abandoned buildings, flea markets, curbside treasures and more......

First up is Junk Gypsy: Designing a Life at the Crossroads of Wonder and Wander by Jolie Sikes and Amie Sikes.

From Touchstone Books:

"In their first book, the Junk Gypsies—sisters and stars of the popular Texas-born brand and HGTV show—combine big dreams, stories of roadside treasures found, and down-home design projects inspired by epic makeovers for friends like Miranda Lambert, Billie Joe Armstrong, and Sadie Robertson.

Amie and Jolie Sikes, the Thelma and Louise of the design world, are the Junk Gypsies: a family with an addiction to flea markets, wanderlust, and Americana inspired design. In their world, cowgirls are heroes, road trips last forever, and junk is treasured.

Beginning with a little bit of faith and a whole lot of heart and soul, the sisters travelled the back roads of America like gypsies, collecting roadside trinkets and tattered treasures while meeting kindred spirits and lively characters along the way. With a mix of hippie, rock n’ roll, southern charm, and big dreams, these small-town Texas girls became restless wanderers and owners and operators of their dream business and bohemian brand, Junk Gypsy.

Filled with stories from their unique journey as well as DIY projects and bohemian inspired designs, Junk Gypsy is a tribute to all the rowdy gypsies, crafty junkers, free-spirited romantics, and true-blue rebels who have ever dared to dream big."

Amazing Barn Finds and Roadside Relics by Ryan Brutt.

From the publisher, Motorbooks:

"Something that to the rest of the world is nothing but a forgotten automotive hulk slowly degenerating into a pile of iron oxide is to the car enthusiast something so much more. Like those who restore Victorian homes or antique furniture, car guys see not a decrepit piece of junk, but a desirable object that "just needs some attention." And should the vehicle abandoned in a field or lying in a creek bed be too far gone to resurrect, car enthusiasts can simply enjoy it for what it once was (while lamenting that it has come to such a sad end).

Finding a lost, restorable car is every auto collector's dream! Amazing Barn Finds and Roadside Relics taps into the thrill of the hunt with hundreds of photos of lost cars - each accompanied by detailed information covering the nature of the find and details about the car. Ride along as author Ryan Brutt, the "automotive archaeologist," travels the United States documenting lost and abandoned automotive gems."

(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, February 14, 2017

A Darkness Absolute - Kelley Armstrong

A Darkness Absolute is the second book in Kelley Armstrong's Casey Duncan series. I devoured the first book, City of the Lost, and have been eagerly awaiting this next entry.

Casey Duncan was a homicide detective 'down south'. She also killed a man before she became a cop. But the past caught up with her. So, she and her friend Diana, headed for an off the grid town called Rockton, deep in the wilds of the Canadian north. Rockton doesn't exist on a map and everyone in town is running from something or someone. Casey is admitted to town based on her profession -  and she's now Rockton's detective.

The first book laid the groundwork for the series, introduced us to the town and had a darn good mystery included. And, yes some romance - with the town sheriff.

In a Darkness Absolute, Casey and her deputy Will, storm stayed outside the town's borders, take refuge in a cave. It is there that they find a former town resident held captive for more than a year. So..... a detective in a hidden town that doesn't exist on any map and populated by criminals and those looking to disappear. Well, that makes for a wealth of suspects, doesn't it?

The search to find the perpetrator is a page turner. I love the voice Armstrong has given Casey. She's intuitive and clever. The supporting cast is wide and varied, all hiding secrets. Casey has her work cut out, trying to ferret out the truth.

Armstrong's setting is fascinating. There very easily could be a hidden settlement in the north. But what's outside those town boundaries is just as intriguing. There are those living even more 'lost' than the townsfolk of Rockton. Armstrong is slowly giving us glances at these people.

Solving the case is full of twists, turns and lots of action. Lies and false leads keep the reader guessing until the final pages. And although the end is satisfying.....I want more.....I can't wait 'til book number three is released!

Read an excerpt of A Darkness Absolute. You can connect with Kelley Armstrong on her website and follow her on Twitter.

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Impossible Fortress - Jason Rekulak

I love finding a book that is completely different from my usual reading fare - quirky, funny, heartwarming and just fun to read. The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak is one of those finds.

I think it was nostalgia that sold me on reading The Impossible Fortress. Set in the late 1980's in New Jersey, we meet a trio of fourteen year olds determined to get their hands on the latest Playboy - featuring Vanna White. That's the premise but there is so much more to the tale.

It's a story of friendship, growing up, first love, dreams, discoveries and yes - disappointments. And who doesn't remember those years - good and bad?

Rekulak's trio - Billy, Alf and Clark - are wonderful characters - they're a misfit bunch, but eminently likeable. As adults, we can easily see that their schemes are likely to fail, but their hopes and enthusiasm are contagious.

Computer programming is in it's infancy in the 1980's. Billy and Mary (yes, there's a girl involved) are fascinated by this new technology. Remember the Commodore 64? There's coding at the beginning of every chapter - take the time to read it - Rekulak cleverly ties the coding to the story.

Engaging, entertaining and oh so eighties. Here's an excerpt of The Impossible Fortress. This is another one of Entertainment Weekly's 'Most Anticipated Novels of 2017."

Check out Jason Rekulak's website and play The Impossible Fortress game. (It's really kind of fun!)

And as an aside - Rekulak is "the publisher of Quirk Books, where he has acquired a dozen New York Times bestsellers. Some of his most notable acquisitions at Quirk include Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and the YA fantasy novel series Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, which has spent five years on the New York Times bestseller list."

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Rising - Heather Graham and Jon Land

Heather Graham and Jon Land have joined forces (and pens), creating a new series. The first book is the newly released The Rising.

My library has The Rising shelved with adult fiction, but the target audience seems to be teens, given the lead characters. Those characters are Alex and Samantha. Alex is a star football player and Samantha is his tutor. When Alex suffers a head injury in a game, a CAT scan reveals something unbelievable in his head. Then his parents are killed - and some otherworldly entity seems bent on killing him as well. Sam and Alex end up on the run, desperately trying to find out what's going on. And it's pretty huge. Save the world kinda huge.

Alex and Sam are both likable leads. They're opposites and although opposites attract, I'm not sure about the romance between the two. I think the story would have been good without the romantic thread this time out. It seemed forced and having it occur more organically in future entries would be more believable. However their strengths do play off each other well.

Land and Graham  have come up with an interesting concept, but I found the amount of detail used to describe some of their theories and science to be somewhat overwhelming (and okay - boring). To the point where I started skimming. I think the depth of detail would be daunting for teen readers who may be looking for the same thing I was - action and a plot that moved along a little quicker. I get that this is the foundation book, but I did find it too dense and drawn out. I think it could have been tightened up. I found the 'bad guys' to be somewhat one-dimensional and clich├ęd. Co-authoring a book must be a challenge.

This adult reader found The Rising to be just an okay read. I would be curious to see what teen readers thought. Read an excerpt of The Rising.

Friday, February 10, 2017

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #145

- 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 enjoyed British author Paula Daly's previous books. Her latest, The Trophy Child, is on my ever teetering TBR pile. "A thrilling tale of ambition and murder, Daly’s richly imagined world of suburban striving and motherly love is an absorbing page-turner about the illusions of perfection and the power games between husband and wife, parent and child." The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Two very different looks this week. Just on first look the US cover appeals to me more. The US's overgrown hedges and the gate and fence underline the 'what happens behind closed door' part of the plot. The colours on the UK cover don't appeal to me at all. But the image of a child studying is part of the plot as well. So, any plans to read The Trophy Child? Which cover do you prefer?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

There has been tons of buzz surrounding the release of Sarah Pinborough's just released novel, Behind Her Eyes.

Especially the ending. And to get to the ending, you need to start at the beginning. (no cheating!) I started reading and was immediately immersed in the story.

David, a psychiatrist and his wife Adele have just moved to a new city. It's a new job for David and what looks to be a fresh start for their marriage. Louise is a single mom who works as a secretary, out on the town for a night, when she meets a handsome man. And takes him home. Unbelievably, that man turns out to be David - her new boss. And Adele wants to be friends with Louise.

So much could go wrong here eh? Nothing is as you expect it to be in this book. But there is definitely something wrong - in so many ways. I thought I had things pegged in the first few chapters and that Pinborough's plot would be similar to others in the psychological suspense genre. But I was mistaken, very mistaken. The character I thought was the victim is not. One of these three is playing a long range 'game', one you can't even begin to imagine.

The reader is privy to all the machinations of that character. We know what the other two players do not. But it's still not easy to fit together what's going on. Pinborough is quite cryptic with her dropped clues and foreshadowing.

So, that ending. It's definitely good. I thought the book had ended and then there was that one last 'gotcha'. That I did not see coming. Surprise endings are hard to pull off but Pinborough does.

So why would I rate this a four and not a five? Well, being deliberately obtuse so as not to ruin the book for you, I wasn't one hundred per cent sold on the plot device Pinborough employs to achieve that ending. Pragmatic me found it a bit of a stretch. But overall, Behind Her Eyes was a good read, one that will keep you intrigued. Read an excerpt of Behind Her Eyes.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Over the Counter #352

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? A combo - nature and social media.....

@NatGeo: The Most Popular Instagram Photos.

From the publisher, National Geographic:

"Featuring the most liked, commented on, and favorite photos from National Geographic’s iconic Instagram account, @NatGeo is a winning combination of expertly curated National Geographic photographs. National Geographic, or @natgeo, is one of the world's top accounts on Instagram, with millions of followers and several billion likes on its thousands of images posted. Embracing the diversity of the account and weaving in social media trends such as hashtags, throwbacks, flashbacks, and of course animals, @NatGeo’s stunning imagery will delight and inspire."

(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, February 7, 2017

To Catch a Killer - Sheryl Scarborough Release Day Giveaway

Sheryl Scarborough's debut novel, To Catch a Killer releases today and I have a copy to give away to one lucky reader!

From the publisher, Tor Books:

"In this contemporary mystery by debut author Sheryl Scarborough, a teenage girl uses forensic science to solve the cold-case murder of her mother.

Erin Blake has one of those names. A name that, like Natalee Holloway or Elizabeth Smart, is inextricably linked to a grisly crime. As a toddler, Erin survived for three days alongside the corpse of her murdered mother, and the case—which remains unsolved—fascinated a nation. Her father's identity unknown, Erin was taken in by her mother's best friend and has become a relatively normal teen in spite of the looming questions about her past.

Fourteen years later, Erin is once again at the center of a brutal homicide when she finds the body of her biology teacher. When questioned by the police, Erin tells almost the whole truth, but never voices her suspicions that her mother's killer has struck again in order to protect the casework she's secretly doing on her own.

Inspired by her uncle, an FBI agent, Erin has ramped up her forensic hobby into a full-blown cold-case investigation. This new murder makes her certain she's close to the truth, but when all the evidence starts to point the authorities straight to Erin, she turns to her longtime crush (and fellow suspect) Journey Michaels to help her crack the case before it's too late." Read an excerpt of To Catch a Killer.

Sheryl Scarborough worked as a story writer and series developer in children's television before
receiving her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College, where she studied under Rita Williams-Garcia, Tom Birdseye, and Susan Fletcher, among others. She currently lives and works in Kalama, Washington. To Catch a Killer is her debut. You can connect with Sheryl on her website, follow her on Twitter and like her on Facebook.

And if you'd like to read To Catch a Killer, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends Feb 18/17.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Little Deaths - Emma Flint

Little Deaths is Emma Flint's latest novel.

Flint professes that "Since childhood, she has been drawn to true crime stories, developing an encyclopaedic knowledge of real-life murder cases. She is equally fascinated by notorious historical figures and by unorthodox women – past, present and fictional."

Those interests are put to good use in Little Deaths. The novel is a fascinating blend of literary mystery, character study and social commentary.

Set in 1960's blue collar New York. Ruth Malone is a single working mother of two. She works nights as a cocktail waitress - and yes, she exploits her looks and her body for extra tips. And even when not working, she likes to look good. And so what if she unwinds with a drink now and then. Sex is not a taboo word for her either.

Except that one morning she wakes up and her children are missing. Gone. And Ruth's lifestyle, demeanor and attitude all factor into the police's opinion of what happened. The reader knows from the first pages that Ruth is in prison. Flint takes the reader back through the investigation, vilification and conviction of Ruth. Her clothes, her drinking, her carousing, her not behaving 'as she should.'

The glimpses into Ruth's past, mind and thinking are fascinating and go far to explain who Ruth is - and why she wears 'armor.' I was sickened by the police investigation, the bullying of the lead officer, the newspaper's bias, the certainty by most of the neighborhood that she is guilty. One reporter doesn't believe she is guilty though and makes it his mission to clear Ruth's name. While Ruth is not perhaps a likeable character, my sympathies were in her corner.

And as I read, I realized that really, nothing has changed. Social and public judgement is still there, but has changed venue - appearing online everywhere. Thought provoking for sure - what would be your thinking?

Was the ending what I expected? No, not quite. But it absolutely fits. Little Deaths is based on the actual case of Alice Crimmins.

Little Deaths is another of Entertainment Weekly's Most Anticipated Books of 2017. Read an excerpt of Little Death. You can connect with Emma Flint on her website and follow her on Twitter.

Friday, February 3, 2017

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover # 144

- 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'm quite looking forward to reading The Impossible Fortress - Jason Rekulak's debut novel,  It's on Entertainment Weekly's most anticipated novels of 2017 list. " A dazzling debut novel—at once a charming romance and a moving coming-of-age story—about what happens when a fourteen-year old boy pretends to seduce a girl to steal a copy of Playboy but then discovers she is his computer-loving soulmate. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Two very different looks this week. The US cover is bright and in your face. I like the use of a keyhole for the 'o; and the little heart and girl pictured within. But I have to say, it brings back memories looking at the UK cover! So, UK for me this week. What about you? Any plans to read The Impossible Fortress? Which cover do you prefer?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. 

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #143

- 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 try to sample debut authors through the year as well as keeping up with established authors that I follow. Foxlowe is Eleanor Wasserberg's debut novel and it's on my TBR list. This blurb from the publisher caught my eye.
"An astonishing literary debut about a young girl’s coming of age in the haunting, enchanting world of an English commune—a modern Gothic novel with echoes of Room and Never Let Me Go." It's an easy choice for me this week - I'm going with the US cover. The dark muted colours, the picture of a real (and imposing) mansion and that foreboding gate seem to convey a darker sense than the UK cover. Frankly the UK cover somewhat reminds me of a fairy tale - Hansel and Gretel maybe. Has anyone else added Foxlowe to their TBR list. Which cover do you prefer?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

This is Not Over - Holly Brown

So, have you ever stayed in a Bed and Breakfast or booked a few nights in an Airbnb? Ever have any problems? Well, a problem with a rented stay is the the starting point for Holly Brown's new novel, This is Not Over.

Dawn looks forward to her 'getaways' with her husband Rob. A weekend rental in a luxurious home is a chance to imagine what life might be like for them. It's also a large financial outlay for them. So, when their latest 'host' Miranda deducts $200.00 from their deposit to 'replace the stained sheets', Dawn sees red. She knows that they did not ruin the sheets. And the rental was not perfect......

And so begins a war of sorts. Escalating nasty emails and texts, online stalking and more that threatens to consume each woman and their lives. Neither can let it go. They are each adamant that they are right and neither will back down. This is not over....

Each woman has a voice and as readers, we become privy to the details of their lives. We're observers, along for the ride, as the misconceptions compound and the resentment grows. I use observer as that was what I felt like as I read. I didn't become invested with either character as they are not likeable in any way, shape or form. I felt a bit like a rubbernecker, driving by an accident, unable to turn away but wanting to know what happened. I was curious as to where Brown was going to take things from that initial set of emails.

I had my suspicions about the ending as things progressed and I wasn't far off. I do feel the back and forth between the two women went on a bit too long in my opinion and could have tightened up a bit. And some of the plot devices need to be taken with a grain of salt. But that being said,  I can absolutely see how this would happen. Social media has become the public ring for battles of all sorts.  Read an excerpt of This is Not Over.

Brown is a practicing therapist and her descriptions of Dawn and Miranda's thinking and 'logic' benefits from her expertise. In the acknowledgments, Brown writes: "Thanks are also due to my 'host', who shall remain nameless. Sometimes inspiration comes from the most unlikely of places, and I am so grateful for that."

Cr: Yanina Gotsulsky
Holly Brown lives with her husband and toddler daughter in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she's a practicing marriage and family therapist. She is the author of the novel Don't Try to Find Me, and her blog, "Bonding Time," is featured on the mental health website PsychCentral.com. You can connect with Holly on Facebook.

See what other 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, February 1, 2017

Over the Counter #351

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? A serious topic this week......mental illness....

First up is Show Me All Your Scars: True Stories of Living with Mental Illness edited by Lee Gutkind.

From the publisher, In Fact Books:

"What do you do when your father kills himself, or your mother is committed to a psych ward, or your daughter starts hearing voices telling her to harm herself—or when you yourself hear such voices?

In any given year, one in four American adults suffers from a diagnosable mental illness—but the tremendous stigma attached to being labeled as “crazy” still prevents many from reaching out to professionals or even loved ones for help. As former US Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy writes in his introduction: “The only way for this to change is for people to share their truth. Total honesty is essential not only for recovery, but also for changing societal attitudes and enacting public policies.”

Addressing bipolar disorder, OCD, trichotillomania, self-harm, PTSD, and other diagnoses, the twenty fascinating stories collected in Show Me All Your Scars vividly depict the difficulties and sorrows—and sometimes, too, the unexpected rewards—of living with mental illness."

Next up is While the City Slept: A Love Lost to Violence and a Young Man's Descent into Madness by Eli Sanders.

From Viking Books:

"A Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter’s gripping account of one young man’s path to murder—and a wake-up call for mental health care in America.

On a summer night in 2009, three lives intersected in one American neighborhood. Two people newly in love—Teresa Butz and Jennifer Hopper, who spent many years trying to find themselves and who eventually found each other—and a young man on a dangerous psychological descent: Isaiah Kalebu, age twenty-three, the son of a distant, authoritarian father and a mother with a family history of mental illness. All three paths forever altered by a violent crime, all three stories a wake-up call to the system that failed to see the signs.

In this riveting, probing, compassionate account of a murder in Seattle, Eli Sanders, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his newspaper coverage of the crime, offers a deeply reported portrait in microcosm of the state of mental health care in this country—as well as an inspiring story of love and forgiveness. Culminating in Kalebu’s dangerous slide toward violence—observed by family members, police, mental health workers, lawyers, and judges, but stopped by no one—While the City Slept is the story of a crime of opportunity and of the string of missed opportunities that made it possible. It shows what can happen when a disturbed member of society repeatedly falls through the cracks, and in the tradition of The Other Wes Moore and The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, is an indelible, human-level story, brilliantly told, with the potential to inspire social change."

(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!)