Friday, September 28, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover # 230

- 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
Squee! Can I tell you how much I adore Flavia DeLuce!? Alan Bradley's newest Flavia mystery- The Golden Tresses of the Dead - will arrive in January 2019 on both sides of the pond - and I can't wait to read it! The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Both feature red, but with differing tones. We've got a train on both covers. A wedding on the US cover, but there is a church in the background as well on the UK cover. I admit, it's an easy choice for me this week. I find the UK cover a little too busy for my taste. I own all of the previous books and the US cover continues the 'look' of past covers. So US for me this week. Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read The Golden Tresses of the Dead?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Tear Me Apart - J.T. Ellison - Review and Giveaway

Tear Me Apart is the latest book from J.T. Ellison.

Seventeen year old Mindy Wright is a world class skier, on track for the Olympics. An accident during a race leaves her with a broken leg. To compound things, a routine blood test reveals Mindy has cancer - and that she is not related to the people she calls Mom and Dad.

Now how could that be? Yep, mom Lauren had to know right? So why has she kept that from both Mindy and husband Jasper. Who are Lauren's parents - can they find them in time for a stem cell transplant? Lauren's sister Juliet is a DNA expert with the Colorado Bureau of Investigations and starts the ball rolling to save her niece.

Tear Me Apart is told in present day with flashbacks to the past in the form of letters between two teenagers. The truth is in those missives and is slowly revealed as the book progresses. My suspect for 'whodunit' was decided early on in the book, but the journey to the final answers is a twisty road.

There's a lot packed into the 500 pages of Tear Me Apart - suspense, mystery, family drama, secrets. sports, romance, medical and mental health issues and more. The characters leave no doubt - you'll be firmly behind some and cursing others. (And there's a great dog!) The book moves along really quickly, with lots of action. A few plot points niggled at me. One of them being where and with whom the letters ended up. But it was easy to let that go in the run up to the final pages.

Tear Me Apart is another great read from J.T. Ellison. See for yourself - here's an excerpt.

"New York Times and USA Today bestselling author J.T. Ellison writes standalone domestic noir and psychological thriller series, the latter starring Nashville Homicide Lt. Taylor Jackson and medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens, and pens the international thriller series "A Brit in the FBI" with #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter. Cohost of the Emmy Award-winning show, A Word on Words, Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband." You can connect with J.T. Ellison on her website, find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. See what others on the TLC book tour thought - full schedule can be found here.

And if you'd like to read Tear Me Apart, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends Oct 6/18.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Over the Counter #446

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? What lies beneath.....?

Blue Planet II: A New World of Hidden Depths by James Honeyborn and Mark Brownlow.

From BBC Books:

"Our understanding of ocean life has changed dramatically in the last decade, with new species, new behaviors, and new habitats being discovered at a rapid rate. Blue Planet II, which accompanies an epic 7-part series, is a ground-breaking new look at the richness and variety of underwater life across our planet. With 300 breathtaking photographs and stills from the BBC Natural History Unit's spectacular footage, each chapter brings to life a different habitat of the oceanic world. Voyages of migration show how each of the oceans on our planet are connected; coral reefs and arctic ice communities are revealed as thriving underwater cities; while shorelines throw up continual challenges to those living there or passing through. A final chapter explores the science and technology of the Ocean enterprise—not only how they were able to capture these amazing stories on film, but what the future holds for marine life based on these discoveries."

(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, September 25, 2018

Lies - T. M. Logan

Lies is T.M. Logan's debut novel.

Joe Lynch is driving home with his young son William when he spots his wife Mel's car in traffic. William wants to show her something, so they decide to follow her and say hi. Uh huh, you got it.....what happens isn't quite what Joe expected.

He finds Mel arguing with her best friend's husband in a hotel lobby. He backs off and waits in the parking garage instead to speak to her. Mel leaves before Joe can catch up with her, so decides to confront the husband instead. Bad move Joe. This chance meeting is the starting point of a crazy spiral that leaves Joe a wanted man.

Social media and technology are used very effectively as a plot device in Lies. How much of what we see and read is the truth? Or lies? What can be manipulated? Lies will definitely have you wondering  about your own online presence. But what about the human factor? Mel keeps telling Joe he's got it wrong. She tells one tale after another. And Joe keeps believing her! I must admit, I got quite frustrated with Joe's continued belief in his wife. Joe is the ultimate nice guy though and without that belief, the book wouldn't move forward. And it does move forward quickly. I hadn't fully predicted the twist at the end, but there are only so many characters to choose from, so you may suss out the whodunit it in the final chapters.

Lies was an easy, addictive, entertaining read. See for yourself - here's an excerpt of Lies. Great debut and I look forward to Logan's next novel.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Giveaway - A Knife in the Fog - Bradley Harper

Calling all mystery lovers! I've got a wonderful giveway for you today!

A Knife in the Fog: A Mystery Featuring Margaret Harkness and Arthur Conan Doyle by Bradley Harper releases October 2/18 and I have a copy to give away to one lucky reader.

What's it about? From Seventh Street Books:

"Physician Arthur Conan Doyle takes a break from his practice to assist London police in tracking down Jack the Ripper in this debut novel and series starter.

September 1888. A twenty-nine-year-old Arthur Conan Doyle practices medicine by day and writes at night. His first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, although gaining critical and popular success, has only netted him twenty-five pounds. Embittered by the experience, he vows never to write another “crime story.” Then a messenger arrives with a mysterious summons from former Prime Minister William Gladstone, asking him to come to London immediately.

Once there, he is offered one month’s employment to assist the Metropolitan Police as a “consultant” in their hunt for the serial killer soon to be known as Jack the Ripper. Doyle agrees on the stipulation his old professor of surgery, Professor Joseph Bell–Doyle’s inspiration for Sherlock Holmes–agrees to work with him. Bell agrees, and soon the two are joined by Miss Margaret Harkness, an author residing in the East End who knows how to use a Derringer and serves as their guide and companion.

Pursuing leads through the dank alleys and courtyards of Whitechapel, they come upon the body of a savagely murdered fifth victim. Soon it becomes clear that the hunters have become the hunted when a knife-wielding figure approaches." Read an excerpt of A Knife in the Fog.

"Bradley Harper is a retired US Army Colonel and pathologist with a great deal of experience in autopsies and forensic investigation. A life-long fan of Sherlock Holmes, he did intensive research for this debut novel, including a trip to London's East End with noted Jack the Ripper historian Richard Jones. This is his first novel." You can connect with Bradley Harper on his website, like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

And if you'd like to read A Knife in the Fog, enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada. Ends Oct 6/18. Good luck!

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Earthly Joys - Philippa Gregory

While mysteries and suspense are my favourite genres, I do enjoy historical fiction as well. I've often had patrons at the library recommend Philippa Gregory to me. Earthly Joys is the first book I've read by Gregory.

Earthly Joys opens in 1603 with the death of Queen Elizabeth and the succession of  her cousin King James VI of Scotland - the beginning the Stuart reign of England. Earthly Joys is written through the eyes of and life of gardener John Tradescant. It was only on further investigation that I learned that Tradescant is an actual historical figure. He was gardener to the aristocracy , a traveler, a collector and much, much more.

Gregory's research is detailed and her fictionalization of Tradescant's life is fascinating. He is a strong personality, but loyalty, honour and duty drive the decisions in his life. I quite liked him to begin with, but found my opinion often changed as his life progressed. And that was true of many of the characters, including his wife Elizabeth and son John. They are not as mercurial as John the Elder, but I applauded their views, beliefs and hopes for a different society. There are some particularly vile characters - notably the Duke of Buckingham.

Tradescant's love of plants and trees and his skills are so vividly depicted that I felt I could 'see' his garden. Rich detail is woven throughout Gregory's narrative clearly illustrating both time and place.

Now, this isn't a time period I would normally gravitate to, but I chose to listen to Earthly Joys, which made a huge difference. I felt drawn into the story, could make sense of what political machinations were afoot and the characters sprang to life for me.

The reader was David Rintoul and he was absolutely wonderful. He has a powerful voice and uses it well. He captured the character of John the Elder perfectly, using his voice to interpret Gregory's work and bring it life. His tones are rich and sonorous with a lovely gravelly undertone. He uses a softer tone for the female players that works just as well. His voice is pleasant to listen to and easy to understand. He matches his voice to the tenor of the tale. Listen to an excerpt of Earthly Joys.

Earthly Joys covers the whole of John the Elder's life. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Tradescant story continues in a sequel titled Virgin Earth with John the Younger taking the lead role.

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Boy at the Keyhole - Stephen Giles - Review AND Giveaway

The Boy at the Keyhole is the latest novel from Stephen Giles.

1961 Britain. A run down estate. A surly housekeeper. And a young boy dependent on that housekeeper while his mother is away. All the elements for a read with a gothic feel to it.

But is his mother away? After many months, young Samuel is desperate to see his mother again. And then doubt begins to creep in and with his imagination in overdrive, Samuel begins to wonder if Ruth could have killed his mother.....

Giles ups the ante by pitting a child against an adult. Ruth is more than surly - she rules the house with a heavy hand. A hand she uses against Samuel. The bulk of the book is a back and forth battle between the two over the whereabouts of the mother. I did find this got a bit repetitive over the course of the book. Clues as to his mother's whereabouts are slowly revealed through Samuel's narrative. As adults, we can read a bit more into the letters he finds than a child can. But Giles still caught me unawares with the final chapters, although I found the ending is a bit ambiguous.

The Boy in the Keyhole is light gothic fare, perfect for a rainy night and a comfy chair, easily finished in one sitting. Read an excerpt of The Boy at the Keyhole.

"Stephen Giles is the Australian author behind the lauded children’s series “Anyone But Ivy Pocket”, penned under the pseudonym Caleb Krisp. The series, published in the US by HarperCollins/Greenwillow and the UK by Bloomsbury, appeared on the New York Times Best Seller List, has been translated into 25 different languages and was optioned by Paramount Pictures.Prior to selling his first book, Stephen worked in a variety of jobs to supplement his writing including market research, film classification and media monitoring. “The Boy at the Keyhole” is Giles’ first work for adults and the film rights for this book have been acquired by New Regency." See what others on the TLC book tour thought - full schedule can be found here.

And if you'd like to read The Boy at the Keyhole, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends Sept 29/18.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #229

- 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 a number of Lou Berney's books and see that he has a new book, November Road, releasing in October in NA and next spring in the UK. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. So at first glance, very similar looks. The same image of a young girl. Differences? The black and read font colour is switched on each cover. Sepia tones vs. black and white. The 'Kennedy Assassinated' headline placement from top to middle.  A taglines on the UK cover. A newspaper in used on both, but is more recognizable on the US cover. Hmm, this week I'm going to go with the UK cover - I just like the black and white better. Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read November Road?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Over the Counter #445

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

Conan Doyle for the Defense: The True Story of a Sensational British Murder, a Quest for Justice, and the World's Most Famous Detective Writer by Margalit Fox.

From Random House:

"For all the scores of biographies of Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the most famous detective in the world, there is no recent book that tells this remarkable story—in which Conan Doyle becomes a real-life detective on an actual murder case. In Conan Doyle for the Defense, Margalit Fox takes us step by step inside Conan Doyle’s investigative process and illuminates a murder mystery that is also a morality play for our time—a story of ethnic, religious, and anti-immigrant bias.

In 1908, a wealthy woman was brutally murdered in her Glasgow home. The police found a convenient suspect in Oscar Slater—an immigrant Jewish cardsharp—who, despite his obvious innocence, was tried, convicted, and consigned to life at hard labor in a brutal Scottish prison. Conan Doyle, already world famous as the creator of Sherlock Holmes, was outraged by this injustice and became obsessed with the case. Using the methods of his most famous character, he scoured trial transcripts, newspaper accounts, and eyewitness statements, meticulously noting myriad holes, inconsistencies, and outright fabrications by police and prosecutors. Finally, in 1927, his work won Slater’s freedom."

(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, September 18, 2018

Transcription - Kate Atkinson

Oh my gosh, how do I even begin to describe Kate Atkinson's just released novel, Transcription? Brilliant! Mesmerizing! Incredibly clever! Uh huh - that good!

Juliet is 18 years old in 1940. She is recruited into the murky world of MI5 as a transcriptionist. She puts to paper the recordings of British Fascist sympathizers. 1950 - the war is over and Juliet is now working for the BBC. She assumes she has left the past where it belongs, but it's not to be.......

Juliet is such a great lead character. I adored her spunk and her acerbic sense of humour. Her naivete about some things makes her all the more human, likeable and believable.

Atkinson's plotting is intricate, richly detailed and so well done. There is no way to predict where the story was going to go, what would happen next and what the final pages would bring. It's a joy to be completely surprised by a story. Atkinson only slowly reveals an 'event' that happened at the end of Juliet's MI5 career. I was so curious to find out what that was - and how it affected the present in 1950. And the ending? Caught me completely unawares!

"And together they had committed a hideous act, the kind of thing that binds you to someone for ever, whether you like it or not."

Atkinson's plot found inspiration in National Archive releases - transcripts of an actual WWII agent's infiltration of Fascist support organizations. I loved the historic details of dress, settings, mores etc. of the time period. It was so easy to imagine the little apartment where Juliet toiled. And ten years on, her time at the BBC is just as vividly drawn.

 I mentioned Juliet's acerbic sense of humour. I laughed out loud many times - her inner dialogue is so sharp and witty. The descriptions of the BBC players, writers and programming are 'dreadfully' clever. As are Atkinson's prose. She is truly a gifted wordsmith.

And that flamingo? What a great cover! It's mentioned in the latter half of the book and pivotal to the plot....

If you've read Atkinson before, you know you're in for a treat. And if you haven't - I can't recommend her books enough! Read an excerpt of Transcription.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Giveaway - We All Love the Beautiful Girls - Joanne Proulx

Let's start off the week with another great giveaway! We All Love the Beautiful Girls by Joanne Proulx is perfect for "fans of Rick Moody, Lauren Groff, and Celeste Ng."

From Grand Central Publishing:

"Who suffers when the privileged fall?

One frigid winter night, Mia and Michael Slate's comfortable world dissolves in an instant when they discover that their best friend has cheated them out of their life savings. At the same time, a few doors down, their teenaged son passes out in the snow at a party--a mistake whose consequences will shatter not just their family, but an entire community.

In this arresting, masterful page-turner shot through with fierce, clear-eyed compassion and a sublime insight into human fragility, award-winning novelist Proulx explores the savage underpinnings of betrayal, infidelity, and revenge--and a multilayered portrait of love, in all its glory, that no reader will soon forget." Read an excerpt of We All Love the Beautiful Girls.

"Joanne Proulx’s fist novel Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet won Canada’s Sunburst Award for Fantastic Fiction and was named a best debut by The Globe and Mail and Kirkus Reviews. A feature film adaptation will be released in 2018. A graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars, Joanne lives, writes and teaches in Ottawa, Canada." You can connect with Joanne on her website and follow her on Twitter.

And if you'd like to read We All Love the Beautiful Girls, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, ends Sept. 23/18.

Friday, September 14, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #228

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

UK cover
US cover
I've enjoyed Diane Setterfield's previous books and was excited to learn that has a new book called Once Upon a River coming out this winter on both sides of the pond. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. So, two very similar looks this week. A river in the UK cover, complete with water plants and a black background. Also a black background in the US cover, but the river image is actually a swan's neck. And the plants are more suited to land. Having read the synopsis, it sounds like a magical read. I am hard pressed to choose a favourite this week, but if pressed will choose the UK cover. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read Once Upon a River?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Exes' Revenge - Jo Jakeman

The Exes' Revenge is Jo Jakeman's debut novel.

Imogen, Ruby and Naomi all have one thing in common - Phillip. Current wife Imogen desperately wants a divorce and full custody of their son. Ex wife Ruby still believes she has a connection with Pip. And girlfriend Naomi has discovered the kind of man Phillip really is....abusive, manipulating and sadistic. And he's a cop.

I loved the timeline of Jakeman's storytelling. The book opens with Phillip's funeral. So we know the ending....

"There are only three of us here - Naomi, Ruby and I - who know how satisfying it feels to know that Phillip Rochester got the death he deserved."

....but it is the how that makes the book. That how unfolds in chapters starting twenty two days before Phillip's death and moves forward to the day of the funeral. We get to know the background of each woman with a few flashback chapters to set the tone for the present. The Exes' Revenge is not a character driven novel, but is instead driven by action. Jakeman keeps the reader on their toes with many shifts of power between the women and Phillip. And between themselves as well - can they really trust each other?

For pragmatic readers, some of the plot devices will need to be taken with a grain of salt. But go with it as they absolutely work for the tale Jakeman has imagined. The Exes' Revenge was a good debut and an entertaining page turner. I can absolutely see this one as a movie. Read an excerpt of The Exes' Revenge.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Over the Counter #444

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Bookworm? Hello!

Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading Hardcover by Lucy Mangan.

From Square Peg Books:

"When Lucy Mangan was little, stories were everything. They opened up new worlds and cast light on all the complexities she encountered in this one.

She was whisked away to Narnia – and Kirrin Island – and Wonderland. She ventured down rabbit holes and womble burrows into midnight gardens and chocolate factories. She wandered the countryside with Milly-Molly-Mandy, and played by the tracks with the Railway Children. With Charlotte’s Web she discovered Death and with Judy Blume it was Boys. No wonder she only left the house for her weekly trip to the library or to spend her pocket money on amassing her own at home.

In Bookworm, Lucy revisits her childhood reading with wit, love and gratitude. She relives our best-beloved books, their extraordinary creators, and looks at the thousand subtle ways they shape our lives. She also disinters a few forgotten treasures to inspire the next generation of bookworms and set them on their way.

Lucy brings the favourite characters of our collective childhoods back to life – prompting endless re-readings, rediscoveries, and, inevitably, fierce debate – and brilliantly uses them to tell her own story, that of a born, and unrepentant, bookworm."

(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, September 11, 2018

Tell Me You're Mine - Elisabeth Norebäck

Tell Me You're Mine is the debut novel of Swedish writer Elisabeth Norebäck.

Stella is a psychotherapist. Isabelle is a new patient - and Stella is sure she is her daughter Alice. But, Alice went missing over twenty years ago, presumed drowned. Stella has always believed she is still alive. But she has been wrong before. Kerstin is Isabelle's mother and she is quite worried about Stella's interactions with her child.

Norebäck gives each woman a voice in Tell Me You're Mine. The lead is Stella. Stella is a decidedly unreliable narrator. She has been hospitalized in the past for mental issues. She is determined, obsessed really, with the idea that she has found her long lost child. But has she? Norebäck keeps the reader guessing - could Isabelle really be Alice? Isabelle's chapters give us background into her childhood, giving the reader more food for thought. And Kerstin. Kerstin is an interesting character - is she simply worried about her child - or something more?

I became quite caught up in the story - yes or no? My opinion solidified as I got closer to the end of the book. I was correct, but enjoyed the fast paced action of those last chapters. I did find the first part of the book a bit slow and somewhat repetitive for me. Norebäck does explore the emotions of  parenthood - love, loss  and obsession - with a sharp eye.

Tell Me You're Mine was a solid debut for this reader.  Here's an excerpt of Tell Me You're Mine.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Giveaway - The Forbidden Place - Susanne Jansson

I've got a great giveaway for you today - Susanne Jansson's debut novel - The Forbidden Place. Paula Hawkins called it a "a bone-chillingly cool crime debut."

Here's more from Grand Central Publishing:

"In the remote Swedish wetlands lies Mossmarken: the village on the edge of the mire where, once upon a time, people came to leave offerings to the gods. Biologist Nathalie came in order to study the peat bogs. But she has a secret: Mossmarken was once her home, a place where terrible things happened. She has returned at last, determined to confront her childhood trauma and find out the truth.

Soon after her arrival, she finds an unconscious man out on the marsh, his pockets filled with gold–just like the ancient human sacrifices. A grave is dug in the mire, which vanishes a day after. And as the police investigate, the bodies start to surface…

Is the mire calling out for sacrifices, as the superstitious locals claim? Or is it an all-too-human evil?

Richly atmospheric and haunting to the last page, Susanne Jansson’s stunning debut is a gripping tale of the power of nature to shape our reality, the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of the world, and the terrible consequences they may have. This international sensation will captivate fans of the celebrated suspense fiction of Jane Harper or Tana French." Read an excerpt of  The Forbidden Place.

"Susanne Jansson was born in 1972 in Åmål, Sweden. She later moved to Gothenburg to work in advertising and then to New York to study photography. After returning to Sweden, she worked as a freelance photographer while studying journalism, and for the past twenty years she has been combining her work as a photographer with freelance journalism. This is her debut novel. Jansson lives with her family outside Gothenburg."

If you'd like to read The Forbidden Place, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends September 22/18.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Half Moon Bay - Alice LaPlante

I've really enjoyed Alice LaPlante's previous two books and was eager to read her latest - Half Moon Bay.

Jane is very emotionally wounded. She has moved to the small town of Half Moon Bay from San Francisco. She has found work at a nursery, but avoids people as much as possible. When young children start to go missing in Half Moon Bay, she becomes a suspect. You see, her own daughter died in San Francisco.

I chose to listen to Half Moon Bay. The reader was Gabra Zackman. She did an excellent job capturing Jane's confusion, fogginess and grief with her interpretation of LaPlante's character. Her voice is measured, easy to understand and well modulated. Zackman has a nice gravelly tone to her voice that makes it quite pleasant to listen to. Listen to an excerpt of Half Moon Bay.

So great narrator, but for me the book was a miss. A wounded, unreliable lead is a great addition to a mystery. But Jane's inner monologues go 'round and 'round to the point where I got quite bored of her angst. This rambling discourse had me tuning out. Jane's 'oddness' is reiterated over and over again, punctuated by two other workers at the nursery. Adam is just as odd, so of course the listener suspects him as well. Honestly, I could not buy Adam's attraction to Jane at all. And Jane's attraction and relationship with also newly transplanted to Half Moon Bay couple Edward and Alma. Sorry, big what the heck, ugh and really?  The final ending and 'whodunit'? Telegraphed well in advance. And the reason? Sorry, can't buy that either.

The cover is great and the descriptions of Jane's plants and the physical settings were well done. But overall? Sorry, I can't recommend this one at all.

Friday, September 7, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #227

- 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
Susan Hill writes one of my favourite British police series - featuring Simon Serraillier. The 9th entry, Comforts of Home, releases this fall. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. There are undertones of blue in both covers as well as the pink of a sun setting. The black of a coming night appears in both. But two very different settings. The US cover is a shot of a home, while the UK cover has no structure in site, only a man gazing off into the distance, The US cover has a more ominous feel, while the UK cover seems more melancholy. For me, it's the UK cover this week. What about you?Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read The Comforts of Home?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Sadie - Courtney Summers

A Bookworm's World is today's blog tour stop for Courtney Summer's brand new book, Sadie.

Sadie has been raising her little sister Mattie all of her life. Their addict mother left and Sadie has been trying to give her the best life she can. When Mattie is found murdered, Sadie is devastated. The police investigation is going nowhere, so Sadie decides to find the killer herself.

Now here's the fun part. Sadie is told as a podcast. A brilliant idea Courtney! I love listening to podcasts and starting 'hearing' the book as I read. We come to know the host, West McCray,  and follow along with the investigation week to week (chapter to chapter).

"...The Girls explores what happens when a devastating crime reveals a deeply unsettling mystery. It's a story about family, about sisters, and the untold lives lived in small town America. It's about the lengths we go to protect the ones we love...and the high price we pay when we can's.  And it begins, as so many stories do, with a dead girl."

Now I don't know about you, but I was hooked by that introduction from the podcast.

Alternating are chapters from Sadie in real time as she pursues the killer. We get to know her more intimately in her chapters and become privy to her inner thoughts, worries, hopes and more. I liked her as a lead character very much and was firmly in her corner as she set out. But oh, some of it's downright gut-wrenching. (And don't even get me started on the ending!)

Sadie turned into a one sitting read for me - I just couldn't put it down, caught up in Sadie's pursuit and West's exploration of what happened. Such a great read! Here's an excerpt of Sadie.

"Courtney Summers was born in Belleville, Ontario, Canada in 1986 and currently resides in a small town not far from there. At age 14, and with her parents' blessing, Courtney dropped out of high school to pursue her education independently. At age 18, she wrote her first novel and never looked back. Her first book, Cracked Up to Be, was published in 2008, when she was 22. To date, she has authored five novels and is best known for her unapologetic, difficult female protagonists. In 2016, Courtney was named one of Flare Magazine's 60 under 30." You can connect with Courtney Summer on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

What books caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? It was the cover at first glance, but the story inside sounds fascinating...

The Song and the Silence: A Story about Family, Race, and What Was Revealed in a Small Town in the Mississippi Delta While Searching for Booker Wright by Yvette Johnson.

From Atria Books:

"In this “beautiful, evocative” (Booklist, starred review) memoir, Yvette Johnson travels to the Mississippi Delta to uncover the moving, true story of her late grandfather Booker Wright, whose extraordinary act of courage would change his and, later, her life forever.

“Have to keep that smile,” Booker Wright said in the 1966 NBC documentary Mississippi: A Self-Portrait. At the time, Wright was a waiter in a “whites only” restaurant and a local business owner who would become an unwitting icon of the Civil Rights Movement. For he did the unthinkable: speaking in front of a national audience, he described what daily life was truly like for black people of Greenwood, Mississippi.

Four decades later, Yvette Johnson, Wright’s granddaughter, found footage of the controversial documentary. No one in her family knew of his television appearance. Even more curious for Johnson was that for most of her life she’d barely heard mention of her grandfather’s name.

Born a year after Wright’s death and raised in a wealthy San Diego neighborhood, Johnson admits she never had to confront race in the way Southern blacks did in the 1960s. Compelled to learn more about her roots, she travels back to Greenwood, Mississippi, a beautiful Delta town steeped in secrets and a scarred past, to interview family members about the real Booker Wright. As she uncovers her grandfather’s compelling and ultimately tragic story, she also confronts her own conflicted feelings surrounding race, family, and forgiveness."

(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, September 4, 2018

Pieces of Her - Karin Slaughter

Karin Slaughter's latest is Pieces of Her.

Her own life has had its ups and downs, but the one person Andrea could always count was her mother Laura. Laura has lived in the same city for over thirty years, she's recognized as a community leader, speech pathologist, reliable, kind, generous and more. But when Laura and Andrea are caught in the middle of a shooting, Laura reacts unexpectedly. And after the event, she won't talk about it and tells Andrea to leave - now. Andrea procrastinates and again witnesses her mother in another unthinkable situation. A cryptic set of instructions send Andrea on a search for the past.Who is her mother - or rather who was she? What a great premise!

Pieces of Her is told in alternating POV's from Andrea and Laura, both past (1986) and present (2018). The beginning belongs to Andrea and the tension of those first chapters is almost unbearable - I was tempted to commit the sin of peeking ahead and then going back. And where Slaughter takes her story next is completely unpredictable - I did not see what was coming at all. Laura's history was genuinely a surprise. But you know what they say - you can't keep the past buried. Past and present have collided and how it plays out is a non-stop, action filled read. I did find some of the plot a bit improbable and needed to take it with a few grains of salt, but this didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book.

My feelings for both women changed over the course of the book many times. Andrea is an immature whiner in the beginning, but grows as she pursues her search for answers. And I'd have to say the same for Laura. Present day Laura is kick-butt, but the Laura of the past is weaker as well.

Pieces of Her was a good, albeit somewhat different read from Slaughter. I enjoyed it, but am hoping Will is due for a new book next up. Here's an excerpt of Pieces of Her.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Three Little Lies - Laura Marshall - Review AND Giveaway

Laura Marshall follows up the success of her debut novel, Friend Request, with the just released Three Little Lies.

Three Little Lies is told over the course of fifteen years, flipping back and forth between then and now. In 2005, teenage Ellen is happily drawn into Sasha's family life - until an event on New Year's Eve changes the lives of everyone concerned. In 2017, Sasha goes missing. And Ellen is afraid that the past is not done with them all. Questions arise - how well does she really know Sasha.....

I always enjoy a back and forth narrative. It lets the reader take those pieces from the past and apply them to the mystery in current day. Marshall directs the reader's attention back and forth between possible suspects, but sharp readers may suss out the whodunit before the last pages.

Although Three Little Lies is a mystery, it also explores teenage angst, friendship and coming of age. Those early years definitely affect the future. Ellen is the lead character and she fills the 'good' role. The others are all damaged, suspicious and have questionable motives. And are all pretty unlikable.

I do feel the timeline could have been tightened up a bit, but overall a solid read.  Here's an excerpt of Three Little Lies.

"Laura Marshall was born in Melbourne, Australia, where she has lived all her life and currently resides with her two young sons. She has a degree in journalism and has a career in advertising. She is currently a partner at the creative agency Mr Smith." You can connect with Laura Marshall on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. 

And if you'd like to read Three Little Lies, I have a copy to giveaway, courtesy of Grand Central Publishing. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below, open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends Sept 15/18.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Her Pretty Face - Robyn Harding

Her Pretty Face is Robyn Harding's newest book.

Frances is a stay at home mom of a troubled son. When he wins a scholarship to an elite school, she hopes it will be a new start for him - and her. Frances doesn't make friends easily. But history begins to repeat itself, despite the fresh start. And then Kate enters the Metcalfe's lives.Kate is everything Frances is not - beautiful, wealthy, powerful, and confident - and she wants to be friends.

Frances isn't sure why she would pick her for a friend......and then she finds out why...

Great premise - what secrets do new friends have? And what would you do if you discovered that secret? What if someone discovered yours?

I really liked Frances as a character - despite her own self doubt, I was drawn to her. She is the first POV. Just as well drawn is Kate - but my spidey senses were going off. Kate's treatment of her daughter Daisy is quite different than how she treats her son. Daisy provides the second POV and someone named DJ provides the third. Who is he? As readers, we can begin to put together the pieces from the three viewpoints.

Harding deftly explores both parenthood and friendship through Frances and Kate. But each woman also has to take a look at themselves. Can the past be forgiven? Or does it shape the direction of a life with no absolution? I couldn't help but draw parallels to an actual criminal case in Canada.

I chose to listen to Her Pretty Face.  The readers were Rebekkah Ross, Cassandra Campbell and Kirby Heyborne.  I really enjoy multiple readers - I feel more immersed in the story. Each reader was excellent, putting their own spin on their character, conveying the thoughts and emotions of each. And as secrets are revealed, the tension, anger and uncertainty. Each reader was clear and easy to understand. Listen to an excerpt of Her Pretty Face.