Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Giveaway - Barbed Wire Heart - Tess Sharpe

Barbed Wire Heart is Tess Sharpe's debut adult novel. It releases on March 6/18 and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

From Grand Central Publishing:

"A character-driven thriller with an incredibly tough young female protagonist--think Lisbeth Salander set in the world of Hillbilly Elegy--for readers of Winter's Bone and Bull Mountain.

 Never cut the drugs--leave them pure.
Guns are meant to be shot--keep them loaded.
Family is everything--betray them and die.

Harley McKenna is the only child of North County's biggest criminal. Duke McKenna's run more guns, cooked more meth, and killed more men than anyone around. Harley's been working for him since she was sixteen--collecting debts, sweet-talking her way out of trouble, and dreading the day he'd deem her ready to rule the rural drug empire he's built.

Her time's run out. The Springfields, her family's biggest rivals, are moving in. Years ago, they were responsible for her mother's death, and now they're coming for Duke's only weak spot: his daughter.

With a bloody turf war threatening to consume North County, Harley is forced to confront the truth: that her father's violent world will destroy her. Duke's raised her to be deadly--he never counted on her being disloyal. But if Harley wants to survive and protect the people she loves, she's got to take out Duke's operation and the Springfields.

Blowing up meth labs is dangerous business, and getting caught will be the end of her, but Harley has one advantage: She is her father's daughter. And McKennas always win.

From a powerful new voice in suspense fiction comes the unforgettable story of a young woman facing the most difficult choice of her life: family or freedom." Read an excerpt of  Barbed Wire Heart. 

"Born in a mountain cabin to a punk rocker mother, Tess Sharpe grew up in rural Northern California. She lives deep in the backwoods with a lot of dogs and a growing colony of slightly feral cats. She is the author of the critically-acclaimed YA novel Far From You and the co-editor of Toil & Trouble, a feminist YA anthology." You can connect with Tess on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

And if you'd like to read Barbed Wire Heart, enter for a chance to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends March 10/18.

Over the Counter #407

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? A wartime tale done a bit differently...

The War Bride's Scrapbook by Caroline Preston.

From Ecco Books:

"A World War II love story, narrated through a new bride’s dazzling array of vintage postcards, newspaper clippings, photographs, and more

Lila Jerome has never been very lucky in love, and has always been more interested in studying architecture and, more recently, supporting the war bond effort on the home front. But in the fall of 1943, a chance spark with a boarder in her apartment sets Lila on a course that shakes up all of her ideas about romance.

Lila is intoxicated by Perry Weld, the charismatic army engineer who’s about to ship out to the European front, and it isn’t long before she discovers that the feeling is mutual. After just a few weeks together, caught up in the dramatic spirit of the times and with Perry’s departure date fast approaching, the two decide to elope. In a stunning kaleidoscope of vibrant ephemera, Lila boldly attempts to redefine her life in America as she navigates the heartache and longing of a marriage separated by ocean and war.

In her second scrapbook novel after the lauded Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt, Caroline Preston has once again pulled from her own extraordinary collection of vintage memorabilia, transporting us back to the lively, tumultuous 1940s and introducing us to an unforgettable, ambitious heroine who must learn to reconcile a wartime marriage with a newfound self-confidence."

(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 27, 2018

If You Knew Her - Emily Elgar

If You Knew Her is Emily Elgar's debut novel.

Cassie Jensen is out walking her dog late at night when she is struck by a car. She lands in an intensive care unit under the watch of Nurse Alice. Also in the ward is a patient named Frank, locked into his body, unable to communicate that he can hear and see. And as family and friends stop by the ward to see Cassie, Alice gets the feeling that something just isn't quite right. And Frank? Oh, Frank knows something isn't right - but he has no way of telling anyone.

What a great premise! We learn more about what led to this moment from Cassie's memories. There are two other POVs - Alice and Frank's. Bit by bit, the story is pieced together. Those rotating POVs had me listening to just one more chapter late into the night, seeing if I could guess the final whodunit. And guess what? I didn't! I love not being able to guess the final reveal. Each chapter does add to the mystery plot, but also explores each character's personal life though a development in the present.

I chose to listen to If You Knew Her. The reader was Katey Stobey. I quite enjoyed her voice. It's pleasant to listen to, easy to understand and I thought she interpreted Elgar's work well. Her inflections and tones match the content and characters well. Listen to an excerpt of If You Knew Her.

This was a fantastic debut and I can't wait to read what Elgar writes next!

“Emotionally charged and tautly plotted, Emily Elgar’s debut is a stunning example of psychological suspense.”—Clare Mackintosh, international bestselling author of I Let You Go and I See You

Monday, February 26, 2018

Surprise Me - Sophie Kinsella

Surprise Me is Sophie Kinsella's latest novel - and (no surprise) - it's another delightful read!

Sylvie and Dan have a storybook marriage, a lovely home, good jobs and twin daughters. But, an offhand remark about longevity has them suddenly panicked. How can they keep their marriage fresh over the course of the years to come? Surprises, that the ticket! 

Well, surprises can be unpredictable can't they? Uh huh."...I thought we couldn't surprise each other anymore. Well, that shows how much I knew."

In her trademark style, Kinsella has concocted more than one laugh out loud situation for Dan and Sylvia. And just as fun are her characters. In Sylvie we have the slightly flustered, lovable lead that you'd want to have as a friend. Dan, well, he's the perfect partner for Sylvie. The supporting cast is always quirky and left of center and just as endearing. I loved the little museum Sylvie worked at - and its odd office practices.

With a great rom-com read, come missed cues and misunderstandings. The reader knows that some choices made are not quite the right ones...but in the end there will be a 'happy ever after.' And no surprise, that the case in this novel. There was a plot thread involving Sylvie's father that was a little bit heavier - but quite timely.

Kinsella's books are engaging, entertaining, humourous and just so much fun to read. If you need a pick-me-up, pick up this latest from Sophie Kinsella. You'll have a smile on your face in no time. Read an excerpt of Surprise Me.

Friday, February 23, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #199

- 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
It was the description of The Color of Bee Larkham's Murder by Sarah J. Harris, that caught my attention - "In the tradition of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time." "Perfect for fans of bestselling authors such as Fredrik Backman and Graeme Simsion." The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Colour is a big part of the plot, so of course it would figure prominently on the cover. I don't like the blue and orange combo on the UK cover. And I find the 'blacking out' of the boy's face somewhat disturbing. In contrast I liked the sense of searching and wonder(?) that the image of the boy on the US cover connotes. The wide open sky is a more appealing backdrop as well. And lastly, the colours are more engaging and I like the 'swirly' movement of them vs. the slapped on blue of the UK cover. So, an easy choice for me this week - US. Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read The Color of Bee Larkham's Murder?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

North of Normal - Cea Sunrise Person

North of Normal is Cea Sunrise Person's own story.

Cea was born to a teenaged mother, living off the grid, in a tepee in the wilderness, alongside her counter-culture grandparents. No electricity, running water, formal schooling and few, if any rules. Drugs were a daily part of the life of the adults around her. The approach to sex and nudity is casual and open. When she is five, Cea's mother Michelle takes her on the road with her latest boyfriend, living a nomadic life. And this life is just as chaotic and unusual. As Cea grows, she begins to question the lifestyle - and yearns for a more 'normal' life. She makes her own way - at thirteen years old.

Wow. The most intriguing, gut-wrenching, amazing stories are not fictional, but those that are true. Cea's upbringing, life and the changes that she herself implements are almost unbelievable. My heart broke for this young girl, who has no idea that her life isn't 'normal' until she grows older. I was torn on my feelings for Michelle. Her hedonistic ways are a product of the way she has been parented. Papa Dick (her father) is the force behind the step back from society. While seeing this as an idyllic lifestyle, he has damaged all four of his children irrevocably.

Person narrates this audiobook herself. And it brings to much to the listening, knowing that she is recounting her own story. Her voice is clear and easy to understand, with a slight gravelly undertone. The emphasis and inflections given to passages and events reflect Cea's reliving and retelling of her life. Listen to an excerpt of North of Normal.

I was entranced by Cea's story from start to finish. Highly recommended.  Those who enjoyed The Glass Castle will enjoy Person's memoir. And there's more to Cea's story - it continues in her follow up book, Nearly Normal.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Over the Counter #406

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Stylin' (and inspired) this week...

Advanced Style: Older & Wiser by Ari Seth Cohen.

From powerHouse Books:

"The follow-up to our bestselling Advanced Style features more senior street style and inspiration from all over the globe. In this new edition Cohen shares his work from the past few years and now including some of the world’s best-dressed older gentlemen.

Similar in format to the original, with dozens of images from cities all over the world including: Los Angeles, London, Cape Town, Rome, Florence, Tokyo, San Diego, Palm Springs, Melbourne, Sydney, New York, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Stockholm, and Geneva.

The book will also feature around 10 short essays (by the subjects of the book) distilling the wisdom and lifestyle secrets of some of Cohen’s favorite Advanced Style ladies. Plus an introduction from the always fabulous and witty Simon Doonan makes for a celebration of smashing senior style!

“…I must tell you that I am not really an old lady; just cleverly disguised as one. Art and colour keep me young, keep me sane. Working as I do as an untutored ‘outsider’ artist is my therapy, my medicine, my joy and my purpose in life.

Colour surrounds me: I revel in it, splash it everywhere, gulp it with a spoon. I am immersed in art. I make it, collect it, it fills and defines my existence. Childish, shamanistic, wild and anarchic, it is as far outside the box as it is possible to be. Box?? There is no box!

Be bold, be adventurous. Do profound things, dazzle yourself and the world. Don’t wear beige: it might kill you. Contribute to society, and live large. Life is short, make every moment count. It is never too late to find your passion.” — Sue Kreitzman"

(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 20, 2018

The Grave's a Fine and Private Place - Alan Bradley

The Grave's a Fine and Private Place is the ninth entry in Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce series - a series that I absolutely adore!

1952 England. Tragedy struck in the last book and Flavia and her sisters are still coming terms with the new direction their lives have taken. When faithful family retainer Dogger suggests a small getaway trip to help, they (unusally) all agree to go. The four are drifting down the river near Volesthorpe, with Flavia dangling her hand in the water when....she snags something.

"My fingers were inserted firmly in the corpse's open mouth, locked behind it's upper teeth."

Voesthorpe also just happens to have been the scene of a triple murder two years ago. And suddenly things don't look quite so bleak for our twelve year old detective.

Bradley's mysteries are always well planned and executed, but it is the irrepressible Flavia who is the main draw for me. Her curiosity, her quick cleverness, her inner dialogue, the way she views herself and the world around her. And her desire to solve the crimes before the local constabulary does have me reliving my desire to be Nancy Drew. Her skill with poisons is always helpful as well. ;0)

"I cannot pretend that it was unpleasant to be questioned by the police. I had in the past become quite accustomed to occasion quiet chats with Inspector Hewitt: chats during which, as often as not, I was able to set the inspector straight on some of the finer points of chemistry and even, on one or two occasions, certain other matters as well."

"To me, an unexamined corpse was a tale untold: a knotted ball of a tale that was simply crying out to be unraveled until the last strand had been picked free. The fact that it was also a study in progressively putrid chemistry simply made it all that much more lively and interesting."

I've always been fond of the enigmatic Dogger. Bradley gives him a larger role in this latest and we learn a bit more about him and his background. Flavia's relationships with her sisters are also growing and changing, in a direction Flavia couldn't have predicted. They too play a larger role in this ninth entry.

With these changes comes a new avenue for Flavia - one I think is going to open up all sorts of new possibilities for our intrepid sleuth.

I've said it before and I'll say it again...."Flavia is one of the most endearing, captivating, curious, beguiling, precocious characters I've ever discovered in the pages of a book."

Absolutely, positively recommended! If you haven't read any of this series yet, I encourage you to start at the beginning. For established Flavia fans - you won't be disappointed. Read an excerpt of The Grave's a Fine and Private Place.

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Stowaway - Laurie Gwen Shapiro

I am not a winter person at all. But a recent cold, blustery week seemed like the perfect setting to listen to Laurie Gwen Shapiro's latest book - The Stowaway: A Young Man's Extraordinary Adventure to Antarctica.

While adventures and tales can by imagined by authors, sometimes the most intriguing and captivating stories are those plucked from real life. Such is the case of Billy Gawronski. In 1928, Billy was a seventeen year old high school student. Explorer Richard Byrd was putting together an expedition to Antarctica. Over sixty thousand people volunteered to go along with Byrd. And Billy? Well, Billy stowed away on one of Byrd's ships, determined to go along. His attempt to join was not smooth sailing though. But his spunk, determination and heart captured the public's interest.

Shapiro's telling of this fascinating story is really well done, bringing intimate details of Billy's life and family to the story, through interviews and mementos shared from family members. The details surrounding the actual expedition, time period and players are equally captivating.

Jacques Roy was the reader. His voice is well modulated and pleasant to listen to. His enunciation is clear and easy to understand. His accents were believable. Roy's interpretation is understated, letting the listener absorb the details and imagine the time and events. Listen to an excerpt of The Stowaway.

This armchair adventurer quite enjoyed The Stowaway, imagining the tenacity, fearlessness and courage it would take to follow such a dream - all from my comfy chair by the fireplace.

Friday, February 16, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #198

- 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
Find You in the Dark is the debut thriller from Nathan Ripley. Surprise! It's on my TBR list. "Martin Reese is an average guy who just happens to be obsessed with digging up the undiscovered remains of serial killer victims." Well, with that line from a publisher's description, the dark, ominous colours, tones and images see to capture the feel of the book. For me this week it comes down to which image I prefer. I do like the dark woods and dark figure in the US cover. And the title font peeking out from behind the trees is clever. But I think I prefer the more graphic image of the bloody shovel in the UK version. And the tagline is clever..."There's a villain in every hero. You just need to dig a little." So, UK for me this week. Which cover do you prefer? And plans to read Find You in the Dark?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Robicheaux - James Lee Burke

Of all of James Lee Burke's novels and characters,  Dave Robicheaux is my favourite. The latest, (#21), featuring this iconic character is Robicheaux.

Burke takes us back to Louisiana. Now semi-retired as a cop with the New Iberia force, Dave is struggling with the loss of his beloved wife, his battle with alcohol and the ghosts of the past. He loses the battle with the bottle one night, blacking out with no memory of anything the next day. A murder took place that night, one that has ties to his life. He couldn't have done it, could he? He's not sure, despite assurances from his daughter Alafair. And Clete - Dave's former partner and life long friend. There's so much more to the plot - drugs, the mob, bent politicians, an assassin, low life thugs and so much more. Burke's plotting is impeccable. Clete too is in trouble, having made some bad financial decisions, and now finds himself indebted to the mob.

But the biggest draw for me is Burke's descriptions and characterizations. His prose are beautiful, bringing time and place vividly to life. The good, the bad and the ugly of his beloved Louisiana. The social commentary woven into his stories are thought provoking. Dave's inner dialogue is raw and real. I love the sense of justice, right and wrong, that Dave and Clete share, even though justice sometimes takes a step over the line the wrong way.  The friendship between the two is unbreakable. But I worry as the two grow older. Burke has moved his books along in real time.

I chose to listen to Robicheaux. The narrator was Will Patton - and he was fantastic. His voice for Dave Robicheaux was perfect - measured, contemplative and easily evoking his thoughts and view of his world. But he also ramps it up into tightly controlled anger and rage. The voice for Clete is wildly different, but absolutely perfect - quick talking, sharp and caustic. I almost thought it was a completely different reader. The most chilling is the assassin. He speaks with a lisp that is truly terrifying. Again, another completely new tone, cadence and voice. All were clear and easy to understand. I appreciated having such distinct voices for each character. Listen to an excerpt of Robicheaux. 

James Lee Burke is a consummate storyteller. Five stars for this latest.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Over the Counter #405

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Eating out...outside, that it.......

A Year of Picnics: Recipes for Dining Out in the Great Outdoors by Ashley English.

From Roost Books:

"Savor good food and good company while lounging beneath the shady canopy of trees or under the sparkle of a starry sky. With just a picnic blanket and a little inspiration, you can transform mealtimes into an opportunity to relax, connect, and enjoy the outdoors. A Year of Picnics presents everything you need to picnic through the seasons, with over 70 picnic-perfect recipes, tips on selecting your location, advice for packing your basket, and creative ideas for outdoor activities. Through 20 themed picnics—celebrate the bounty of summer produce with a Table to Farm Picnic or revel in the colors of autumn with a Falling Leaves Picnic—you’ll discover the ways food can be elevated by your surroundings. From mountaintops to meadows, rooftops to formal gardens, let your picnicking take you to new places."

(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 13, 2018

The Undertaker's Daughter - Sara Blaedel

Sara Blaedel has been called Denmark's 'Queen of Crime'. I've enjoyed her Louise Rick mysteries. Blaedel herself has moved to the US, and her newest novel mirrors that move.

In The Undertaker's Daughter, Dane Ilka Jensen inherits a funeral home from the father she hasn't seen in over thirty years. It's in Wisconsin, but she decides to travel to the US - perhaps she will learn more about her long absent father.

The book is set in and around the funeral home and funeral practices. This was a decidedly different setting, one that opens up lots of possible avenues for plotting. I was initially drawn to Ilka as she arrived in Wisconsin, but that changed a few chapters in. I allowed for cultural shock, but viewed her  thoughts, actions and reactions odd in many situations. The two employees of the funeral home treat her badly and chastise her for not immediately jumping in and conducting business right away. She does, and I found it a bit of a stretch. The same with her non-reaction to their attitudes. I can't believe that the funeral business in Racine would operate in the manner depicted, but hey, who knows. Ilka discovers Tinder and finds some sexual outlets, but I found this part of her character felt forced and I never really bought it.

There is a murder of course, but I found it weak as was the investigation into it. Every supporting character seems quite enigmatic and I found the non-answers grew tiresome after awhile.

I had not realized that this was the first book in a planned series and found the ending rather abrupt and unsatisfying. It literally ends with the words..."To be continued." I'm not sure if this was written in Danish and then translated? It just didn't flow and felt very awkward, both in language and plotting. Sad to say, but this one was just okay for me. Read an excerpt of The Undertaker's Daughter.

Elmore - Holly Hobbie

Holly Hobbie has just released a new picture book called Elmore.

Elmore is a porcupine, looking to make some friends. But when his quills fly off, the other animals don't want to be close to him. Elmore feels rejected, but the animals figure out a way to work around the quills and friends are made by the final pages.

This was the perfect time for Little Guy and Gramma to read this book. There are lots of discussion points that are quite pertinent to his age in Elmore, as he has just started nursery school. It is sometimes hard to make friends - how can we do that? How do you feel when someone doesn't want to be friends? Elmore has those quills which is a great way to illustrate 'differences'. Working together with others to find answers. Kindness and love.

The illustrations are sweet and so appealing. The facial expressions and body language of Elmore are relatable and 'readable', mirroring the words on the page. The colors and tones of the illustrations are warm, soft and inviting.

Little Guy enjoys reading the same story many times. With each telling, the opportunity arose to ask one of those questions and talk about his thoughts, ideas, opinions and experiences.

Elmore is a wonderful picture book, lovely to look at and a joy to read. Thumbs up from Gramma and Little Guy. Read an excerpt of Elmore.

Monday, February 12, 2018

This Fallen Prey - Kelley Armstrong

It was -21°C (-6°F) the day I sat down to begin the This Fallen Prey, the third installment in Kelley Armstrong's City of the Lost Series. The cold and snow falling outside was the perfect setting to immerse myself in the Yukon town of Rockton. An off the grid town that doesn't exist on any map, where people go to disappear...

Protagonist Casey Duncan is one of those who came to Rockton to hide. She's a former cop and is now the only detective on Rockton's small police force. Maintaining law and order in a town where everyone is hiding something isn't easy. And it's made even harder when 'the council' sends a serial killer to Rockton for the small force to imprison.

I really enjoy this series. Why? Casey is a great protagonist - she's tough, smart and determined, but isn't perfect. The setting allows for a large cast of supporting characters. They're all just as interesting and fleshed out. The other lead is Sheriff Eric Dalton. He's the only resident actually born in the area. He's also Casey's love interest. I'm not a big romance reader, but Armstrong does it well. Their relationship is believable, not 'over the top' and enhances the book, rather than being the main focus.

The mysteries are always intriguing and not easily figured out. The plot in This Fallen Prey was excellent. I honestly had no idea who was telling the truth and who was lying. There are a number of twists and turns that changed the direction of the investigation - and the final whodunit - which was a surprise to me. This Fallen Prey is action filled with danger always around the corner. (And on the next page. I admit it - I did flip ahead a few times....)

"It's a puzzle of configuration, and each place in it has two sides - guilt or innocence - and the meaning changes depending on which side I place up....Two ways of looking at everything, leading to two ways of investigating."

The premise of a hidden town full of residents with shady (to say the least) backgrounds is brilliant. It allows for so many avenues of possibilities. But not just in the town of Rockton. Outside of the town limits there exist others - a settlement, loners and those referred to as "Hostiles'. We've been given a closer look at these groups in This Fallen Prey, but there is more to discover.

The case is solved by the final pages....but the door is open for more. More questions, more lies, more deceit and more cases to come. And this reader cannot wait. Write faster please Kelley! Read an excerpt of This Fallen Prey.

You can connect with Kelley Armstrong on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Friday, February 9, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #197

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

US cover
UK cover
I've read Peter Swanson's previous books and really enjoyed them. His newest suspense novel is All the Beautiful Lies. It releases in April and is most definitely on my TBR list. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. So, right off the bat, both covers employ a red and black colour scheme. Both titles use the same font and colour. I do prefer the black author's name on the US cover. But what decides it for me this week is the image used. I prefer the rusty lock image on the US cover. It promises an ominous read. The 'figure on a cliff' image on the UK cover reminds me of another cover I've seen lately but can't remember. So, US cover for me this week. Any plans to read The Beautiful Lies? 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 8, 2018

Happiness for Humans - P.Z. Reizin - Review AND Giveaway

Looking for a light, fun, rom-com read? Look no further than P.Z. Reizin's newest novel - Happiness for Humans. (And I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader, courtesy of Grand Central Publishing!)

Jen's job is to spend time talking to Aiden - a 'sophisticated piece of AI wizardry." He's a bit more advanced than anyone realizes, having become self aware, he has 'escaped' and copied himself to the web. He seems to be also experience feelings. Is is possible?  Tom is on the other side of the world in the US. Unknown to him, he also has an AI in his life - Aisling finds him quite fascinating.

The two AI's decide to meddle in both of their lives - helping the course of true love along.... with many mishaps along the way.

Reizin's premise is fun and full of possibilities. Both of the lead characters are eminently likeable and readers will find themselves hoping for a 'happily ever after' outcome. The two AI's are also quite 'personable', if you will. (Aiden will steal your heart) Their burgeoning awareness gives the reader pause. As does the use of electronic devices. We are so connected - phones, computers, surveillance cameras etc. The path to true love is, of course, rocky. Reizin plays this out well, with the unexpected entry of another character.

Happiness for Humans was a quirky, engaging rom-com love story that I found quite entertaining. Here's an excerpt. If you'd like to read Happiness for Humans, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends February 17/18.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Over the Counter #404

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Well, this will never be what my home looks like....but I like looking at the pictures.... ;0) !

Remodelista: The Organized Home by Julie Carlson and Margot Guralnick.

From Artisan Books:

"Buy fewer (and better) things. Store like with like. Get rid of the plastic. Display—don’t stash—your belongings. Let go of your inner perfectionist and remember that rooms are for living. These are a few of the central principles behind Remodelista: The Organized Home, the new book from the team behind the inspirational design site

Whether you’re a minimalist or someone who takes pleasure in her collections, we all yearn for an unencumbered life in a home that makes us happy. This compact tome shows us how, with more than 100 simple and stylish tips, each clearly presented and accompanied by full-color photographs that are sure to inspire. Readers will learn strategies for conquering their homes’ problem zones (from the medicine cabinet to the bedroom closet) and organizing tricks and tools that can be deployed in every room (embrace trays; hunt for unused spaces overhead; decant everything). Interviews with experts, ranging from kindergarten teachers to hoteliers, offer even more ingenious ideas to steal. It all adds up to the ultimate home organizing manual."

(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 6, 2018

Guest Post and Giveaway with Cynthia Swanson

I'm thrilled to have author Cynthia Swanson stopping by today to talk about....."Working at Home (with an Emphasis on “Work”)." Her latest book, The Glass Forest, releases today - and I have a copy to give away to one lucky reader!

"Ah, the work-at-home life – a dream come true. No scrounging in the closet for a clean, professional outfit. No rushing into a meeting late because of traffic. No office politics or windowless cubicles. People who work at home shuffle to their home offices first thing in the morning and sit for eight hours, quietly and blissfully working away. Right? Riiiight.

As a work-at-home writer with a second novel, The Glass Forest, coming out on February 6th, I can attest some of that is true. The commute from kitchen to home office is awesome. My office mates are of the fur variety, so office politics are nonexistent, as long as I don’t complain about them snoring on the rug at my feet. My office window looks out on our backyard garden – inspiring even in the winter as I think about the blooms come spring. I prefer donning real-but-comfortable clothes daily; it’s not pajamas but it’s not a stiff suit, either.

But “quietly and blissfully for eight hours”? That’s a challenge. Piles of laundry, proximity to the kitchen and its array of to-be-done tasks, people stopping by – all of these get in the way of a productive day’s work. Not to mention the enticement of social media without fear of a boss looking over your shoulder.

So how do you stay focused in a home office? Here’s what works for me:

Sticking to a schedule. When I’m working on a book – whether first draft or revisions – my goal is to write and edit in the morning, and concentrate on emails, promotion, and engagement with my readers in the afternoon. This is the ideal, and I’ll admit it doesn’t always work out – but it’s what I strive for, and I’m happiest and most productive when it works out this way.

A daily to-do list. I wouldn’t be able to function without it. I consciously make my tasks very small, because there is nothing like the satisfaction of crossing something off your list. (Chapter 3 revisions – done!)

Lunchtime rewards. I meet friends or colleagues for lunch whenever I can. Looking forward to these moments outside the home office helps me stay motivated. Along those same lines…

Working at my “other office” (AKA the coffee shop). A different environment gives me fresh perspective on my work, and even causes me to look forward to the next day back home.

These are the tricks that keep this work-at-home gig moving forward for me. Plus, the view out the window is too good, and the co-workers too lovable, for me to want anything else. "

Cynthia Swanson is the NYT bestselling author of The Bookseller: A Novel, which is soon to be a movie starring Julia Roberts. Her second novel, a literary thriller titled The Glass Forest, releases on February 6, 2018. Cynthia lives in Denver, CO with her husband, children, and “co-workers.” Find her at her website, follow her on Twitter or like her on Facebook.

And if you'd like to read Cynthia's new book, The Glass Forest, use the Rafflecopter form below to enter for a chance to win a copy courtesy of Touchstone Books. Here's an excerpt of The Glass Forest. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends Feb. 17/18.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Giveaway - Wallis in Love - Andrew Morton

I've got a wonderful giveaway today for all of you who follow the Royal Family! Andrew Morton's newest biography is Wallis in Love: The Untold Life of the Duchess of Windsor, The Woman Who Changed the Monarchy.

From Grand Central Publishing:

"For fans of the Netflix series The Crown and from the author of the New York Times bestseller 17 Carnations comes a captivating biography of Wallis Simpson, the notorious woman for whom Edward VIII gave up the throne.

“You have no idea how hard it is to live out a great romance.” -Wallis Simpson

Everyone has heard of Wallis Simpson, the woman for whom Edward VIII so infamously abdicated his throne and birthright. But although her life has constantly been the subject of much fascination, gossip, and speculation, her whole story has yet to be told. Now historical biographer Andrew Morton uses diary entries, letters, and other never-before-seen records to offer a fresh portrait of Wallis Simpson in all her vibrancy and brazenness as she climbed the social ladder, transforming from a hard-nosed gold digger to charming chatelaine.

Morton takes us through the cacophonous Jazz Age, a period of casual sex, cocaine, and screeching trombones; Wallis’s romantic adventures in Washington and friendship with Eleanor Roosevelt; her exploits in China and beyond; to her entrance into the strange wonderland that is London Society. During her journey, we meet an extraordinary array of characters, many of whom smoothed the way for her dalliance with the king of England, Edward VIII, and we gain insights into the personality and motivations of a complex, domineering woman striving to determine her own fate in a harsh, turbulent world." Read an excerpt of Wallis in Love.

"Andrew Morton studied history at the University of Sussex, England, with a focus on aristocracy and the 1930s. Morton has written biographies featuring the British Royal Family as well as celebrities, including Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie, and Madonna. His bestselling biography of Princess Diana, Diana: Her True Story, met with international acclaim as “the closest we will ever come to her autobiography."

If you'd like to read Wallis in Love, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends February 17/18.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

White Bodies - Jane Robins

White Bodies is Jane Robins's first fiction work.

Callie and Tilda are twin sisters, but very different in their personality and lives. Callie is an outgoing actress, married to Felix. Tilda is reserved and single. When Tilda begins to notice changes in Callie's behaviour, appearance and demeanor - not working, not eating, with bruises on her body, she is sure it is Felix's doing as he has a temper. In an attempt to understand what might be happening to her sister, Tilda goes online and joins a support group for abuse victims and their friends and families. She makes the acquaintance of a woman who agrees to take things a step further....think Strangers on a Train.

I loved Robins's premise - there are so many possibilities. Especially with twins. But the focus of White Bodies is more on relationships - that between the sisters takes center stage.

In an interview, Robins uses the words intense, eccentric and twisty to describe White Bodies. Its the eccentric that stands out for me. I found the behaviour of both sisters decidedly odd and frankly quite off putting early on. Callie eats her sister's hair and drinks her urine. Yes, she eats things belonging to others to feel close to them. Uh huh. Gagworthy for me. Tilda is not the only one with mental issues. We do get some background into the sisters' past with background chapters. But for me, there were no likable characters in White Bodies.

Yes, there's a nice twisty bit at the end, but overall White Bodies was a miss for me. I'm in the minority on this one - I point you towards favorable opinions on Goodreads.

I chose to listen to White Bodies. The reader was Camilla Arfwedson. Her performance was excellent, as always. Her voice is clear, well enunciated and pleasant to listen to. She interprets Robins' work well.  Listen to an excerpt of White Bodies.

Friday, February 2, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #196

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

US cover
UK cover
I am a big Jenny Colgan fan, having enjoyed every fun, fluffy, rom-com she's written. They're wonderful escapist reads. The Endless Beach is her latest - already released in the UK and coming in May to North America. (and is most definitely on my TBR list) The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Two very different looks this week. The US cover features a 'reality' shot of an English beach. I love the whitewashed buildings and the blue of the water. But for some reason, if I didn't know what Jenny Colgan writes, I would have thought this was perhaps a historical novel. The font is quite serious as well. The UK cover just says fun to me. I like the drawn image of the beach. The fonts uses are also more engaging. And there's a nice cover blurb from Sophie Kinsella that would give potential readers another clue as to the content. So, an easy choice for me this week - UK. What about you? Any plans to read The Endless Beach? 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 1, 2018

Dangerous Crossing - Rachel Rhys

I've been watching old Hercule Poirot movies in the evenings lately. They're somehow soothing with the time period, the mores and manners and the paced deducing of the whodunit.

The description of Rachel Rhys's (a pseudonym) new novel Dangerous Crossing appealed to me for the same reasons.

Dangerous Crossing is set in 1939, with the world on the brink of another world war. Lily is on a ocean liner, headed from England to Australia with other young women to start new lives. The liner is carrying many others, from socialites, refugees, tourists and those headed home. The ship seems like another world, with social lines being crossed. Lily makes friends with a couple from first class and develops feelings for a young man also above her 'station.' But all is not perfect on the voyage.........

I loved the setting; the possibilities that exist in this detached microcosm of society. I was able to picture the boat clearly in my mind. As well as the clothing. Rhys takes her characters off ship with some port visits. I enjoyed the descriptions of those locales as well - Naples and Cairo.

I initially bonded with lead character Lily, but as the book progressed, I found myself unhappy with her choices, her thinking and her actions. I was surprised at some of her decisions, but can see how she got caught up with her taste of 'another life'. Other characters were also unlikable, notably one passenger called George. His views of others and his opinions were loathsome. First class passengers Eliza and Max were just as distasteful. The one character I did like from start to finish was Ian, the native Aussie.

I think I went into this book, expecting a slightly different read based on this descriptive line from the publisher - "By the time the ship docks, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and Lily’s life will be changed irrevocably." This is all true, but I was looking for more of a whodunit I think. The focus of Dangerous Crossing is more on Lily's life being changed. Now, that's not to say I didn't enjoy the book. I did, just not as much as I hoped to.

I chose to listen to Dangerous Crossing. The narrator was Katherine Manners. She was excellent, creating many different voices, tones and accents for the cast. Each was believable and fit the characters. Her diction is clear, easy to understand and pleasant to listen to. Listen to an excerpt of Dangerous Crossing.