Friday, March 30, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #204

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 fan of Ruth Ware and am looking forward to her forthcoming novel, The Death of Mrs. Westaway, releasing the end of May in NA and the end of June in the UK. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. The first thing I notice is black and white vs a colour cover. The images are also very different, subtle vs. a somewhat overt image - mysterious old mansion. And a lone figure walking into danger. And if you were still unsure, the tagline spells it out for you. Easy choice for me this week - US. I like the black and white and the more restrained image. The 'danger' is still there in the spider web, the iron gate and the ravens. And the title speaks for itself. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read The Death of Mrs. Westaway?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Bring Me Back - B.A. Paris

B.A. Paris returns with a third psychological twister. Bring Me Back releases on June 19/18.

Paris opens the book with a great prologue from twelve years ago, guaranteed to capture the reader from the first pages. A police report details the disappearance of Layla at a roadside stop. Finn, the narrator ends it with an inner dialogue. "That was the statement I gave to the police, sitting in the police station somewhere off the A1 in France. It was the truth. But not quite the whole truth."

Present day. Finn has moved on with his life, but not quite as expected. And then comes the day where a small Russian nesting doll is left for him to find. And there's only two people who would know the significance of that doll - Layla and her sister Ellen. Could Layla really be alive after all these years?

Bring Me Back is told from three POV's with each character's entry adding a little more to the big picture. That narrative flips from past to present as well. But is everyone telling the truth? Or the truth as they want it to be?

For this reader, Finn was not a likable lead. His actions, inner thoughts and dialogue had me prejudiced against him from the opening pages. He has a perpetual simmering edge of anger to him that lets the reader know he is capable of much more than he shows to the world. Ellen's doormat personality doesn't serve her well. But, I was drawn to the long gone Layla.

Paris provides lots of red herrings and alternative paths along the way the final reveal. Some plot developments do ask the reader to suspend disbelief. Go ahead and take a grain of salt. As the end crept closer, I started to firm up my suspicions. I was partially right, but Paris still surprised me with how she ended the book. For this reader, Bring Me Back was not quite as good as the first two books. That being said, Bring Me Back is a good read to tuck in your beach bag this summer.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Over the Counter #411

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? I wonder what the fare might have been.....

It's On the Meter:  One Taxi, Three Mates and 43,000 Miles of Misadventures around the World Paperback by Paul Archer, Johno Ellison and Leigh Purnell

From Skyhorse Publishing:

"When three friends, fueled by an alcohol-induced dream to travel the world, clicked “buy” on an iconic London cab they name Hannah, little did they know what they were getting themselves into. Leaving the Big Smoke in their vintage taxi, Paul, Johno, and Leigh began a 43,000-mile trip that would take them off the beaten track to some of the most dangerous and deadly places on earth. By the time they arrived home, they would manage, against all the odds, to circumnavigate the globe, and in doing so, break two World Records.

It’s On the Meter is an honest account of what it’s like to drive a Black Cab around the world. From altercations with the Iranian Secret Police to narrowly escaping the Taliban, the trio’s adventure is filled with hair-raising escapades. The traveling trio will give an impression of each country the taxi passed through and its people and will help readers understand how to survive fifteen months on the road. Feel the fear, frolic in the fun, and meet the hundred passengers the taxi picked up along the way, as the authors take you on their action-packed journey."

(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, March 27, 2018

Poison - John Lescroart

Poison is the 17th entry in John Lescroart's long running Dismas Hardy series.

A former client of Dismas has been charged with murder. Her employer has been poisoned - and she stands to benefit from the will. But, there are a myriad of other suspects. It's a family business and any of the man's relatives had an opportunity to kill him. And as Dismas digs into their lives, looking to clear his client, he discovers they all have secrets - and motives.

I've always enjoyed Dismas as a lead character - he's intelligent, cagey and driven to find answers. The supporting cast has always included now retired SFPD Lieutenant Abe Glitsky. They play well off of each other, with differing personalities and styles, but with an eye on the prize - catching the guilty. (Glitsky has a few novels where he is the lead character.) PI Wyatt Hunt is also a fave supporting player of mine.

The murder method in Poison was unusual and clever. Dismas's sussing out of the murderer was just as clever. The whodunit is somewhat revealed before the final aha, but the path to those final answers was enjoyable and entertaining.

I enjoyed the return to Hardy's roots - murder, defense and the courtroom. Some of the previous entries became too convoluted and a bit far fetched for my taste.

Lescroart has moved the series along in real time, with the players aging and evolving. The Hardy family life has figured into the plots over the years. Dismas is now looking at making a change as well and has been contemplating retirement. I will be curious to see where Lescroart takes him in the next book. Although Posion is part of a series, it can be read as a stand-alone.

I chose to listen to Poison. The reader was Jacques Roy - a narrator I've quite enjoyed in other books. He has a calm, quiet voice that suits the character of Dismas. His speaking is well paced, well modulated and easy to understand with a slight gravelly tone. That measured pace draws the listener into the story. Listen to an excerpt of Poison.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Giveaway - The Lemonade Year - Amy Willoughby-Burle

I love the cover of Amy Willoughby-Burle's new book, The Lemonade Year. It releases April 3/18 - and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

What's it about? From Shadow Mountain Publishing:

"Nina's once-sweet life has unexpectedly turned sour. Her marriage is over, her job is in jeopardy, and her teenage daughter is slipping away from her. Then her father dies and issues with Nina's mother come to a head; her estranged brother, Ray, comes home; and her sister, Lola, is tempted to blow a big family secret out of the water. They say the truth will set you free, but first it will make a huge mess of things.

All Nina's got left is her final photography assignment shooting images for the book 32 Ways to Make Lemonade. Well, that and the attention of a younger man, but Oliver's on-again-off-again romantic interest in her ebbs and flows so much she is seasick. And then Jack, her ex-husband, shows up, wanting to get back together.

As Nina struggles to find a way through her complicated relationships and to uncover her true path, she discovers just how valuable a second chance at life and happiness can be." Read an excerpt of The Lemonade Year.

"Amy Willoughby-Burle is a writer and teacher living in Asheville, North Carolina, with her husband and four children. She writes about the mystery and wonder of everyday life. Her contemporary fiction focuses on the themes of second chances, redemption, and finding the beauty in the world around us. She is the author of a collection of short stories entitled Out Across the Nowhere and a contributor to the anthology Of Mist and Magic." You can connect withAmy on her website, like her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter or check in on Instagram.

And if you'd like to read The Lemonade Year, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends April 7/18. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Embroider Your Life - Edited by Nathalie Mornu

Gramma and Little Guy spent time in the kitchen with a great kid's cookbook titles last week. March Break might be over, but 'making' never grows old. I love to create and although quilting is my favourite hobby, I've dabbled with embroidery over the years. With the nice weather just around the corner (please!), I am looking to have something a little more portable. Something I can do while sitting in the sun!

DK Canada has some great ideas for adult makers too!  #DKMakerMarch 

Embroider Your Life, 
edited by Nathlie Mornu caught my eye.

I am familiar with the basic techniques and tools needed, but appreciated the refresher that Mornu starts the book off with. Floss and Thread, Hoops, Fabric, Other Tools, Transferring Motifs. Newcomers to embroidery will also appreciate the detailed 'how to stitch' diagrams accompanied by colour photos of the real thing. I picked up some refreshers in this section.

Mornu has  found fresh ideas and designs for embroidery. Clothing, combining paint and floss, modern artwork and more. Stitching on photos and paper. I liked this idea for personalized cards. Stitching on jeans is a retro idea - I think I will revisit this using the idea of working on the turned up cuff. The ideas and concepts in the book are courtesy of 21 designers, artists and makers from North America and England.

Motifs for many designs within the cateogories of communication, the natural world, the designed world and patterns. They are in black and white and could be easily photocopied to transfer to your chosen medium.

Embroider Your Life was a fresh, modern take on an old skill. This art form can be incorporated into and onto many everyday objects and pieces. Eye catching and inspiring. Peek inside Embroider Your Life.

Friday, March 23, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #203

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
"In this riveting tale of psychological suspense, a divorce lawyer risks her career, her sanity, and her life when she falls into an illicit, all-consuming affair with her client—who becomes the primary suspect in his estranged wife’s sudden disappearance." That's the premise of JL Butler's forthcoming novel, Mine. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Okay, so black is the dominant colour with red in the title of both covers. A woman's silhouette appears on both as well. The overall tone indicates danger. But, I have to say, I am very tired of the 'woman on the cover' shots. So an easy choice for me this week - UK. The window shot is a bit cheesy, but I really like the sky and trees above the building. What about you? any plans to read Mine? Which cover do you prefer this week?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Love Unleashed - Rebecca Ascher- Walsh

I read Love Unleashed by Rebecca Ascher-Walsh in one sitting. And right beside me was my fifteen year old dog. She's deaf, terribly arthritic and sleeps most of the day away now. But she still gets up to greet anyone coming in, wags her tail and shares her love every day.

The subtitle of  Love Unleashed is: Tales of Inspiration and the Life-Changing Power of Dogs. And these tales truly are inspiring.

Ascher-Walsh profiles thirty-five remarkable rescue dogs. Dogs who have been given a second chance and a new life. Dogs who have changed the lives of not just their owners, but many, many others. And in a myriad of ways. A nursery companion dog - in a zoo. A dog who doles out hugs to anyone who needs one in NYC. Police dogs, therapy dogs. Even a courthouse dog who helps children during testimony. A retired bomb sniffing dog who now sniffs out the deadly C-difficile bacteria in hospitals. Dogs who raise money for shelters through their on line presence. Storm chasers and so many more. Every profile is accompanied by a colour photo and full write-up.

Each dog has a unique story. And every one of them was a rescue. Yes, the dogs are amazing, but so are the people who work with the dogs, own the dogs and champion rescue dogs. They too are inspiring.

My old girl is a rescue. Full of fleas, ticks, mange, worms, she had been abused. She was also a black dog, who get passed over in many adoptive situations. We met her just as her quarantine ended and took her home that day. She has given us nothing but love and devotion each and every day. I know her time with us is coming to an end, but the time with us and the love she has given will never be forgotten.  I encourage anyone contemplating having a dog in their lives to check out their local shelter.

Love Unleashed was such a wonderful little read. Absolutely recommended. Peek inside Love Unleashed.

Credit: Mark Mann
"Rebecca Ascher-Walsh is a writer who specializes in celebrity and lifestyle coverage, but who also loves dogs and telling stories about amazing animals. She contributes to many newspapers and national magazines including Entertainment Weekly, Adweek, and the Los Angeles Times. She is a volunteer at a high-kill shelter in Manhattan and a founding director of the Deja Foundation, devoted to funding the medical care and training costs of dogs rescued from high-kill shelters." See what others on the TLC book tour thought - full schedule can be found here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Notes From a Public Typewriter - Michael Gustafson - Review AND Giveaway

Notes From a Public Typewriter, edited by Michael Gustafson and Oliver Uberti, releases on March 27/18 - and I have a copy of this delightful book to giveaway to one lucky reader, courtesy of Grand Central Publishing.

Notes is a collection of  missives left in the typewriter at Gustafson's business - The Literati Bookstore - an indie bookshop in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

When Gustafson opened his store in 2013, he included a typewriter as a community building experiment.

"What if people could walk into a bookstore and type anything they wanted? Would they write Haikus, confessions, or declarations of love?Would they contemplate the meaning of life? Would they make fart jokes? Would people even know how to use a typwriter?"

The answer is yes to all of the above. Notes From a Public Typewriter is a collection of those thoughts, desires, confessions, hopes, dreams and more. The notes range from heartbreaking to joyful with some laughs mixed in. There are many poignant entries, connections made and lost. All left anonymously. And it's impossible to put down. I read each entry and imagined who would have wrote it? Why they wrote it? Did things change in their lives?

Here's a sampling:

"So much more effort. And no delete key. Kind of how life used to be..."
"Why does this thing have a hashtag symbol? They didn't have Twitter then. #weird"
"Sometimes I get lost just to assure myself someone cares enough to find me."

Gustafson includes his own thoughts in short essays throughout the book. I like his voice and ideas.  And to those who live in Ann Arbor, lucky you - this sounds like a wonderful bookstore - and more.

Notes From a Public Typewriter is a slim volume at just over 150 pages. But, there is lots of food for thought between the covers. What do you think you would type?

Fans of PostSecret and Found would enjoy this book. Enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends March 31/18. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Over the Counter #411

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

How to Speak Chicken by Melissa Caughey.

From Storey Publishing:

"Best-selling author Melissa Caughey knows that backyard chickens are like any favorite pet — fun to spend time with and fascinating to observe. Her hours among the flock have resulted in this quirky, irresistible guide packed with firsthand insights into how chickens communicate and interact, use their senses to understand the world around them, and establish pecking order and roles within the flock. Combining her up-close observations with scientific findings and interviews with other chicken enthusiasts, Caughey answers unexpected questions such as Do chickens have names for each other? How do their eyes work? and How do chickens learn?"

(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, March 20, 2018

The French Girl - Lexie Elliott

The French Girl is Lexie Elliott's debut novel.

Six Oxford students spent a summer vacation together in France ten years ago. They were friends - and friends with benefits.. Their getaway doesn't go quite as planned - a beautiful French girl named Severine who lived next to the villa changes the dynamic of the group. And now she's changing the future. Ten years on, the police have found Severine's body in a well on the vacation property. The group is now part of a murder investigation by the French police.

Kate Channing is one of those six and she is our narrator.  Elliott slowly ekes out the details of what happened that summer week. Something happened that irrevocably changed each of the six. Kate herself sees Severine as a presence and although she does not speak, Kate gives her emotions.

"Severine glances at him with disdain, and suddenly I wonder: if Severine is a creation of my mind, are her reactions my own deeply hidden feelings?"

The friends are still in contact with each other. Our sense of who they are is coloured by Kate's views. I found them to all be flawed and not overly likable. But could one of them be a murderer? It is the relationships between them that takes center stage in the book. Elliott's depiction of those bonds, memories, interactions and current sparring is excellent. She is a gifted writer.

The publisher has described The French Girl as "exhilarating psychological suspense". I enjoyed The French Girl, but found it to be a bit of a slow burn rather than a fast paced suspense read. But, that slow burn absolutely works for exploring the relationships. For this reader, that was more of a draw that the actual whodunit.

"One's and Cosmopolitan's Best Books of the Month."Read an excerpt of The French Girl.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Let Me Lie - Clare Mackintosh

Let Me Lie is the third book from Clare Mackintosh. I devoured the suspense and twists in her first two books and was eager to dig into this latest.

Anna's parents both committed suicide within a year. On the one year anniversary of her mother's death, someone drops a card through her mail slot. Inside is a cryptic message ... "Suicide? Think again."

Anna always questioned their deaths. The bodies were never found and she can't believe her beloved mother would leave her. She decides to check in with the local constabulary on the case. Retired detective Murray Mackenzie is on the desk, now working in a civilian capacity. But old instincts die hard and he decides to look into the case further - on his own.

Murrary ended up being my favourite character. His personal story (his wife is mentally ill) was very well depicted and drew this reader in. Their relationship and how Murray copes were some of my favourite bits of the book. He's kind and intelligent as well as being a clever investigator. Anna's emotions and mental health are also explored. However, I wasn't as drawn to Anna, despite her being the lead character. I questioned some of her actions and decisions plot wise. But on the flip side, without some of those decisions, we wouldn't have as many  questions and avenues to explore. Mackintosh does give us lots of characters that may or may not have suspicious motives, keeping us guessing.

Interspersed are italicized chapters from, well, someone. These are deliberately vague and let the reader decide who it might be. In the beginning, these missives had me thinking things were going to unfold in a certain way (one I wasn't interested in). (Sorry, being deliberately obtuse. )As these entries continue, more and more detail is added, so that their identity becomes evident and the direction changes. Clues to the past are found in these narratives.

Let Me Lie was not as fast paced as the first two novels. I found the first part of the book to be a bit of a slow burn. Things do pick up in the last few chapters and one last final twist was a real 'gotcha'!Read an excerpt of Let Me Lie. I'll be watching for Mackintosh's next book.

Friday, March 16, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #202

 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
Squeee! Linwood Barclay has a new book coming out in July called A Noise Downstairs! Perfectly creepy without even knowing what the plot is@The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Okay, lets get to it. Black on both covers, white title and a difference with the author's name in size and colour. Now when I first looked at the US cover, I thought the image was of blinds with a bit of light seeping through. But on looking at the UK cover, I can see typewriter keys - with a wee bit of blood on one of them. Both covers feature tag lines that entice the reader, but I think the US line appeals to me more. Another hard call this week. I like the colours of the US cover better, as well as the tagline. But I like the image of the UK cover better. A tough choice, but I'm going to go with US this week. No matter the cover, it's going to be a great read!
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Zero Day - Ezekiel Boone

Zero Day is the last entry in Ezekiel Boone's Hatching trilogy.

It's the final showdown. Man against the carnivorous spiders that are threatening the extinction of the human race. The first book was the outbreak, the second the continuing fight and in this last book it's do or die.

"The world is on the brink of apocalypse. Zero Day has come."

Yes, the premise reads like a B-movie plot, but it's great fun to read. And cringe -worthy, creepy, crawly spiders skittering all around.....

 Boone has created an ensemble cast that I've come to know and enjoy over the course of the first two books and this is what kept me coming back. They are an eclectic group with many different outlooks and personalities and I'm hard pressed to pick a favourite. No surprise that there is an ending to this ongoing battle. And I have to say, I quite enjoyed the 'wrap-up' of where the lives of the large cast went. (And in that wrap-up I wonder if I'm the only one that thinks one or two of them might make appearances in the future?)

This trilogy could probably have been told in fewer pages, as the fight against the spiders seems a bit repetitive over the course of three books. That being said, Boone does have a way with words and does spin a good tale. I enjoyed his a wonderfully dark sense of humour. Boone fleshes out his narrative with lots of descriptions and side stories that I enjoyed.

I chose to listen to Zero Day, as I did with the previous books. The narrator was George Newbern, one of my favourites. He has a unique voice - clear, pleasant to listen to and easy to understand. He has a wry tone that matches the book and captures Boone's dark humour. His inflections rise and fall, giving the tale movement. Listen to an excerpt of Zero Day. 

You can connect with Ezekiel Boone on his website or follow him on Twitter. He has a new book coming out later in 2018 called The Mansion - it looks like another fun read.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

If I Die Tonight - Alison Gaylin

If I Die Tonight is Alison Gaylin's newest release. This was a first read of this author for me, but it won't be the last.

Small town USA. An aging pop star who goes by the name Amie Em stumbles in the local police station, saying she was carjacked by a teenaged boy. Another boy named Liam tried to stop the theft and was critically injured. But her story keeps changing and there are gaping holes in her recounting of the crime. The finger is inevitably pointed at Wade - a high school outcast.

Gaylin mirrors today's society - much of the case is debated online in various social forums. The presumption of innocent until proven guilty doesn't figure into the diatribe.. A young man's life is irrevocably changed and the injured teen becomes a downed hero to the town.

But is Wade guilty? He refuses to speak about that night. His mother Jackie knows he is not capable of such an act. Or is he? Gaylin tells this story through many points of view, giving the reader options as to what the outcome might be. I felt for Jackie as she struggled to clear her son's name. Gaylin's depictions of her emotions and relationships with her sons was well done. But my favourite supporting character was Officer Pearl Maze. She has her own issues, but was the clearest thinking character for me. (And I'd really like to see her in another book.)

Gaylin provides red herrings and alternative outcomes along the way to the final whodunit. I admit to having my suspicions about one character, who was just a little too calm and helpful for me. And yes, they did figure into the final reveal. But, that in no way detracted from my enjoyment of If I Die Tonight.  An entertaining read and I will be picking up Gaylin's next book. Read an excerpt of If I Die Tonight.

"Alison Gaylin is the award-winning author of Hide Your Eyes and its sequel, You Kill Me; the standalones Trashed and Heartless; and the Brenna Spector series: And She Was, Into the Dark, and Stay with Me. A graduate of Northwestern University and of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, she lives with her husband and daughter in Woodstock, New York." Find out more about Alison at her website, friend her on Facebook, or 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.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Over the Counter #409

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? As someone who enjoys sewing the pun in the title caught my eye....

Pattern Behavior: The Seamy Side of Fashion Hardcover by Natalie Kossar.

From Running Press:

"For those who like their humor droll, deadpan, and hysterically funny, Pattern Behavior features more than 100 vintage McCall's patterns--with captions that will leave you in stitches.

Feeling nostalgic for your grandmother's old sewing patterns? Stitch some humor into your distant childhood with Pattern Behavior, featuring vintage covers from the McCall Pattern Company's archives. Based on the popular Tumblr blog, this droll comic collection brings the McCall's models back to life--in a way you haven't seen before! Combining retro fashion and modern wit, Pattern Behavior shines a light on the outdated social ideals of yesteryear--all with a big dose of humor."

(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, March 12, 2018

Closer Than You Know - Brad Parks

Closer Than You Know is the latest stand-alone from author Brad Parks. Last year's Say Nothing was the first time I'd read Parks and it was a book I couldn't put down. (my review) I was eager to read this latest - and I couldn't put it down either!

As he did in Say Nothing, Parks' premise preys upon a parent's worst fear - their child disappearing.

Melanie Barrick goes to pick up her infant son Alex from the childminder, only to be told that Social Services has taken the child. A large amount of cocaine has been found in Melanie's house. Police are on their way to find her - and Alex is gone. Melanie protests her innocence, but at every step of the way, the evidence against her grows - and her chances of ever seeing her son again lessen.

Great premise and Parks only builds the tension with every new plot development, ensuring that I stayed up much too late, reading 'just one more chapter.' Parks manipulates the reader with some red herrings, alternate paths and more than one 'whodunit' to choose from along the way to the final pages. There were a few plot points that I thought were perhaps a bit far-fetched, but I didn't think too hard about them - instead I just kept turning pages. And although my suspicions were proven out in the end, I really enjoyed the journey to the final reveal.

Closer Than You Know is told from more than one viewpoint. I was drawn to Melanie and her inner thoughts. I did find her a bit calm in situations that I would have been losing it. The background Parks has drawn for her addresses this. The next door neighbor Bobby Ray was also a character I quite liked. Amy, the Assistant DA was a character I initially had high hopes for, but as the story progressed, her tunnel vision frustrated me. But my hands down fave was Melanie's rumpled, unprepossessing lawyer Mr. Honeywell.

All in all, Closer Than You Know was a fast paced, entertaining read. Fans of Linwood Barclay and Harlan Coben will enjoy this one. (And this reader will be eagerly awaiting Parks' next book.) Read an excerpt of Closer Than You Know.

You can connect with Brad Parks on his website, like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Cooking Step by Step with DK

Little Guy has recently expressed interest in the kitchen - helping to make supper and bake desserts.

Cooking Step by Step from DK Canada seemed like the perfect starting place for Gramma and Little Guy to cook together. (Check out the other great book suggestions in the 'Maker March' boutique.) #DKMakerMarch

There are fifty recipes included under the headings Light Bites, Main Dishes, Sweet Treats and Baked Goods.

Musts for a children's cookbook - colour photographs and lots of easy to understand instructions. Check. Cooking Step by Step has a simplified ingredients list that employs pictures of the ingredient and a plus symbol. Perfect for little ones. Basics such as hygiene and safety etc are covered and are good beginner foundations. Measurements are given in both imperial and metric.

Little Guy is at the younger end of the recommended age range (6-8), so we stuck to some simpler recipes. Ones he was interested in eating! Pancakes, Spaghetti and Meatballs. And then the baking section - his favourite. The Lemon Muffins were really good. (Little Guy decided to leave out the poppy seeds though) The favourite of all though, was the Clever Cookies recipe. The dough is a good basic recipe - and the fun comes in adding different bits. We divided the dough into four portions, then added chocolate chips, dried cranberries, raisins and blueberries. Tada! Four different cookies.

There are more recipe choices that would appeal to a more experienced palate and an older child such as Gazpacho, Falafels, Salmon Parcels and a few others. I actually liked some of them for myself - there's a quick and easy Fried Rice, a Quiche recipe and super simple flatbread I'll most likely make for myself.

STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) is a focus in learning in school systems today. Cooking is a great way to explore many STEM principles. So much can be learned and experienced in the kitchen. Measuring, techniques, tasting, new foods and the satisfaction that comes with creativity and sharing. And spending time together! Cooking Step by Step is a book that will grow with Little Guy. Thumbs up.

Friday, March 9, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #201

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
"A gripping thriller about a man who may or may not have dementia—and who may or may not be a serial killer—from a master of twists and turns, in the tradition of Laura Lippman and Gillian Flynn." Sigh, another one for the teetering TBR pile. Paper Ghosts is Julia Heaberlin's forthcoming novel. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Okay, so both covers employ the colour red - which connotes danger and death. The UK cover illustrates a woman who may or may not be dead with fallen leaves covering her. I'm kind of meh on this pic. But I quite like the image that the US cover has. The black and white definitely evokes a ghostly feel, fitting with the title. Twins make it even more eerie. Hands down the US cover for me this week. What about you -which cover do you prefer? And plans to read Paper Ghosts?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Halfway: A Memoir - Tom Macher

Halfway is Tom Macher's newly released memoir.

Macher came from a dysfunctional home, was an alcoholic youth, a petty criminal and lived in a string of communes, boy's homes, rehabs and halfway houses. All this before he's twenty.

Halfway is a documentation of these times and places with an emphasis on two halfway houses. Macher's recollections are sharp and focused, rattled off with machine gun rapidity. His honesty is admirable, baring his life for all to see. I hurt for the young child ignored by his birth father. Understood the anger and acting out of a growing boy. And the inevitability of the path his life was taking. Macher seems to have given in and given up, but he never loses the hope for something better for himself. He falls many, many times, but keeps getting back up.

We meet other residents, all with a nickname and a story. The groups, interactions and tenacity of the boys/men living together. The expectation that they will fail from those meant to help them. And the hope that they won't. I work in a low income neighborhood of a mid sized city. I interact with many addicted, homeless and marginalized people each day. Macher's memoir gives us a window into what life might be like for some of these people.

I chose to listen to Halfway. The reader was Corey Brill and he was the perfect choice. His voice has a defiant attitude to it and captures the tone and tenor of Macher's memories. His inflection is a perfect match for Macher's story. His voice is clear and easy to understand and the speed at which he speaks captures that machine gun delivery of Macher's almost stream of consciousness narrative. Here's an audio excerpt of Halfway.

Can you put a rating on someone sharing their life story? No, but if pressed, someone's life can be no less than five stars. Halfway is a dark and gritty memoir - one I'm glad I listened to.

"Tom Macher grew up in Georgia, New York, and California and spent his teenage years bouncing around from boys’ homes to halfway houses to communes in Montana, New York, and Louisiana. He attended Riverside City College, San Francisco State University, and The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was a Teaching-Writing Fellow. He has twice received fiction fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Halfway is his first book."

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Over the Counter #408

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Sadly, one whose subject is always in the headlines....

Shot: 101 Survivors of Gun Violence in America by Kathy Shorr.

From powerHouse Books:

"The increasing ubiquity of gun violence has become the norm across the world and particularly in the United States, where we have begun to hear horror after horror on a daily basis. So much so that it has started to produce a numbing effect, a helplessness that allows us to hear the news and say, “Here we go again,” and put it out of our mind. Gun violence is now something we expect to happen.

SHOT is about people who have been shot and survived the experience. It portrays 101 survivors, aged 8 to 80, from all races and many ethnicities. They are the representatives of “survivorhood.” Most were photographed in the location where they were shot.

SHOT allows us to explore a dialogue about gun violence and how we are all vulnerable."

(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, March 6, 2018

Find You in the Dark - Nathan Ripley

Find You in the Dark is Nathan Ripley's debut novel - and if you like suspense fiction, its one you're going to want to pick up!

The premise is deliciously dark....... Martin Reese is obsessed with serial killers, specifically with the victims not found. He's been buying up police reports for many years and has managed to locate (and dig up) the bodies they couldn't find. But, he's doing all of it anonymously and taunts the cops with a tip off of each new body located. Oh, and he takes only photos as souvenirs. Uh huh. He's been branded as The Finder by the cops. And it's all going along as it has for many years got it - a serial killer figures out who Martin is and what he's doing - and......

I know, I couldn't wait to start reading either! Martin knew something would happen eventually with his 'hobby', but "I didn't know yet that I'd made deeper mistakes I wouldn't ever be able to put all the way right." Martin didn't engage me as a person, rather I found myself observing him, somewhat dispassionately.

Now, someone else is after The Finder as well. Detective Sandra Whittal. I loved this description of her...."She was thirty-two and lacked the penis that functioned as a skeleton key to acceptance, but she had the competence and could properly talk shit, which went a long way." Whittal is clever, dogged and determined. This is the character I really liked.

Find You in the Dark is a delicious cat and mouse game. It is a plot driven novel, with numerous twists and turns and some great foreshadowing. Now, yes there are some moments in the plot that I thought were a bit of a stretch, but I quickly let them go and kept turning page after page. For this reader, Find You in the Dark was definitely an entertaining read. I look forward to Ripley's next book. Read an excerpt of Find You in the Dark. (And you know, I think this book would make a great movie.)

"Nathan Ripley is the pen name of literary fiction writer and journalist Naben Ruthnum. His stories and essays have appeared in The Walrus, Hazlitt, Sight & Sound, and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, among other places. He lives in Toronto. Visit him at or follow him on TwitterMartin is not quite the responsible cit @NabenRuthnum."

Monday, March 5, 2018

Death of an Honest Man - M.C. Beaton - Review AND Giveaway

Death of an Honest Man is the 33rd (!) entry in M.C. Beaton's Hamish MacBeth series. I have a copy of this latest to give away to one lucky reader courtesy of Grand Central Publishing.

Paul English has retired to the Scottish Highlands. He prides himself on his 'honesty'. But that honesty is often cruelty - and one of the recipients of his candor has taken exception - and killed Paul. The murder has happened in Police Sergeant Hamish MacBeth's beat.

For those unfamiliar with this series, Hamish is quite content to live in his remote Scottish village. In fact, he usually solves the cases and lets someone else take the credit, so he doesn't get promoted. Beaton has created a cast of recurring characters from those quirky inhabitants of the village of Lochdubh, to the higher ups in the police department, both friend and foe. His romantic life is an ongoing saga and I don't see any resolution happening now or in the future. The rotating constables and ongoing pet saga are also mainstays of the plotting.

And that's the fun of this series - the continuity and the revisiting of familiar characters. The clues come fast and furious, the logic leaps sometimes mystify me and some of the goings on require a few grains of salt, but again that's also part of the charm of the series. They're quick little reads, perfect for a dreary day.

Hamish had developed a bit of a sharp edge in the last few books that I didn't enjoy. I'm happy to say that's not the case with this latest, as he seems to be back to his old self. Read an excerpt of The Death of an Honest Man.

And if you'd like to read Death of an Honest Man, I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends March 17/18.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

The True Adventures of Esther the Wonder Pig - Steve Jenkins, Derek Walter and Caprice Crane

I first wrote about Esther the Wonder Pig back in 2016 when Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter inadvertently ended up living with a full sized pig instead of the mini-pig they thought they were raising. Esther changed their lives - and the lives of many others. (my review)

The True Adventures of Esther the Wonder Pig, written by Steve and Derek with Caprice Crane, is a retelling of Esther's story in a children's picture book format. It was perfect for Gramma and Little Guy storytime.

We had to stop at the forward for awhile as there is an actual photograph of Esther in a bathtub that fascinated him. I had to promise that we would go on the computer after we read the book to look at more pictures of Esther.

The first read through had us guessing how big the pig was going to get. And where would she sleep as she keeps outgrowing her beds? What will they do next? There are many themes and ideas to explore with subsequent readings. Love, animal rescue, pets and families of all shapes and sizes. Having read the adult version, I wondered if the picture would touch on veganism, but did not - that's a much heavier topic for a young one.

Cori Doerrfeld's illustrations are playful. She gives Esther expressions that can be 'read' by a child - most of then being happy. Steve and Derek's expressions are also easy to interpret. The colour palette used is bright and appealing, as are the illustrations. Doerrfeld has captured Esther's story with her illustrations.

Little Guy was quite taken with Esther and I am sure this is one book we'll be reading again. And the burning question that we had to investigate after reading? Can a pig really smile? What do you think!?
You can keep up with Esther, Steve and Derek and learn more on : || Website || Esther the Wonder Pig's Facebook Page || Esther's Community Kitchen Facebook Page || Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary || Twitter || Instagram || Fan Club ||

Friday, March 2, 2018

Girl Unknown - Karen Perry

Girl Unknown is written by two authors - Paul Perry and Karen Gillece. I mention this right off the bat as Girl Unknown is told in alternating chapters from a husband and wife and I wonder if each author took on one of the  personas writing the book.

David is a university professor. He is stunned when one of his first year students comes to his office professing to be his daughter. When DNA results prove that she is, he wants her to be part of his family, along with his son and daughter. But his wife Caroline, while welcoming Zoe on the surface, has her own doubts about Zoe's motives. And being privy to both David's and Caroline's take on the situation, the reader does as well.

I did not like David at all. Even though he starts out trying to do the right thing, I found him somewhat entitled and smug. Without giving anything away, as the book progresses, his thoughts and actions became increasingly disturbing to me. Caroline has made mistakes in the past and is far from perfect, but she is the character I was on side with the most. Zoe is a manipulator, beguiling David and toying with his wife, children and friends. I wondered what her end game was.

Kudos to Perry and Gillece for creating such strong reactions in this reader. Their depiction of this couple's interactions is really well done. And I liked the back and forth of the chapters, seeing the same events through different eyes. As the cracks in their foundation widen with the addition of Zoe, the reader knows that things are not going to go well. And it was here that I grew saddened (and a little frustrated) with the inability of this couple to actually be honest with and listen to each other and to actually see what is going on in their lives.

Those looking for a fast paced thriller won't find it in Girl Unknown. Instead it is a slow burn, with the tension and the inevitable outcome building with every chapter.  But, I was caught unawares by the final turn the ending took. An unsettling, literary family drama. Read an excerpt of Girl Unknown.

Cr: Edmund Ross
Karen Perry is the pen name of Dublin-based authors Paul Perry and Karen Gillece. Together they wrote Girl Unknown.

Paul Perry is the author of a number of critically acclaimed books. A recipient of the Hennessy Award for New Irish Writing, he teaches creative writing at University College, Dublin.

Karen Gillece is the author of several critically acclaimed novels. In 2009 she won the European Union Prize for Literature (Ireland). Connect with them on Facebook.

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

Thursday, March 1, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover # 200

- 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 love Anthony Horowitz's writing - his plotting is deliciously intricate. The Word is Murder is his latest - already released in the UK and coming to NA in June of this year. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. So, the colour scheme is the same on both covers - white, red and black. But the emphasis in on the black with the US cover. A knife and a pen captures the title quite succinctly. But I like the British phone box images on the UK cover - especially the dripping bloody one on the word murder. The UK cover seems to have a 'retro' feel to it. I'm torn this week - the US definitely catches the reader's eye, but I truly enjoy UK mysteries and the UK cover also catches my eye. If pressed to choose, I will go with the US cover. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read The Word is Murder?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.