Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Over the Counter #451

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? I actually found this one online while browsing ..... and it seemed quite timely.....

Pumpkining by Hugh McMahon.

From HMCM Books:

"Pumpkining, A Story of Pumpkin and Melon Carving," is an illuminating retrospective of Hugh McMahon’s career in sculpting pumpkins and watermelons for local, national, and international events. The book includes over 280 images of carved portraits, scary faces, logos, television appearances, publications and large installations of dynamic carvings, punctuated by insightful anecdotes from Hugh’s 40 years of blood, sweat, and seeds. Enjoy!" Happy Hallowe'en!

(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, October 30, 2018

Dark Sacred Night - Michael Connelly

Michael Connelly introduced us to LAPD Detective Renée Ballard in 2017's novel, The Late Show. I really liked this character and was thrilled to find out that Connelly's just released novel, Dark Sacred Night, is billed as a Ballard and Bosch book. Uh huh, two great detectives = one great read.

Ballard is still working the Late Show - the night shift in Hollywood Division. One night she finds a stranger in the squad room, rifling through filing cabinets. That stranger is retired Detective Harry Bosch, pursing a cold case - one he just can't let go. Ballard finds out what he's after - and they join forces....Oh, the joy of starting a new Michael Connelly book! I was hooked from the first chapter.

Connelly's plotting is so very, very good. The reader is alongside Harry and Renée as they put together the pieces. I enjoy not having 'insider' information that the protagonists don't have, instead 'solving' the case alongside them. (I do have to stop myself from peeking ahead at times though - I just can't wait to see the next development.)

I like the two working together, but admit my heart will always have a special place for Harry. Connelly has kept his series moving forward in real time. Harry is an aging war horse, game for the race, but beginning to struggle. Ballard has her own struggles as well - she's a pariah within her own department. But they're both dogged investigators.

This cold case is not the only case on the table - both Bosch and Ballard have other cases they're also running. Bosch gives it his all every time...

" He had always operated according to the axiom that everybody counts in this world or nobody counts. This belief dictated that he must give each case and each victim his best effort."

Connelly's writing has always had the ring of truth - his settings, procedures and dialogue are so detailed and believable. His writing is so addicting. (And I devour his books far too quickly)

Will there be more of Harry Bosch - and Ballard? I think so....

"You know what I was thinking about Harry? I was thinking about all the cases that would never get solved if you were gone. You still have work to do."

....and I can't wait to read them. Absolutely recommended! Read an excerpt of Dark Sacred Night.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Giveaway - The Three Beths - Jeff Abbott

If you like suspense, then I have a giveaway that you're going to want to enter! The Three Beths by Jeff Abbott.

What's it about? From Grand Central Publishing:

"From New York Times bestselling writer Jeff Abbott, a psychologically intense and emotionally gripping new suspense novel about a daughter’s desperate search for her missing mother-one that may lead her closer to home than she ever anticipated.

My mom would never leave me.
This has been Mariah Dunning’s motto. Her compass. Her belief. So when she glimpses her mother–who’s been missing for the past year–on the other side of a crowded food court, Mariah’s conviction becomes stronger than ever. Or is she losing her mind?

An unlikely coincidence?
When Beth Dunning disappeared without a trace, suspicion for her murder-despite the lack of a body or any physical evidence-immediately fell upon Mariah’s father. Until Mariah stumbles upon two other recent disappearances from Lakehaven. And all three women had the same name: Beth.

Or a sinister connection?
Mariah would give anything to find out what happened to her mother, and clear her father’s name. But the truth may be more devastating than she could have imagined…" Read an excerpt of The Three Beths.

"Jeff Abbott is the New York Times bestselling author of fourteen novels. He is the winner of an International Thriller Writers Award (for the Sam Capra thriller The Last Minute) and is a three-time nominee for the Edgar award. He lives in Austin with his family. "You can connect with Jeff on his website, like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

And if you'd like to read The Three Beths, enter for a chance to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada. Ends November 10/18.

Friday, October 26, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #234

- 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
The 25th book in Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series releases in mid November on both sides of the pond. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right.  Now, I must admit, I got to about 13 and found them to be getting repetitive. That being said, this is a really popular, light-hearted series that has many loyal followers. The colour tone is similar in both covers. The US look matches the style of previous covers - bold words on a coloured background.  The UK cover seems to promise a different read than you might be expecting. More serious than the series actually is.  Hmm, I'm not keen on either cover, but guess I'll go with the US cover simply for it's familiarity. What about you? Have you kept up with this series? Any plans to read Look Alive Twenty-Five? Which cover do you prefer?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Careless Love - Peter Robinson

DS Alan Banks returns in Careless Love - the 25th entry in this long running and much loved series from Peter Robinson. (Yes, I've read every one!)

I never bother reading the synopsis before I turn the first page of the latest Banks book. I already  know I'm in for a great read. And so I happily settled in on a rainy Sunday morning.

A young girl's body is found in an abandoned car. Suicide or something else? Banks and DS Winsome Jackman take on this case. DI Annie Cabot and newer addition DC Gerry Masterson are called out to another death. A man has fallen to his death off an embankment - or has he been pushed?

I'm always happy to reconnect with these characters and see where life has taken them. Robinson has moves their lives along in real time. Careless Love find Banks pondering love... "Banks wasn't even lonely most of the time - it had been over twenty years since he had split up with Sandra - but there were days when he ached for a companion, a love, someone to share it all with."

So, great characters - but Robinson's plotting is just as wonderful. The mysteries are intelligent and intricately plotted. I appreciate the solving of the crimes - the interviews, the piecing together of clues and the connections. A criminal from both Annie and Alan's past surfaces in an unexpected context. The desire to capture him is high on both their lists. This thread will lead nicely into the next book.

Banks' love of music and his new interest in poetry have often sent me to the web to listen or read what has been mentioned. While I appreciate them, I did find there were perhaps a few too many references in this latest.

For me, Robinson's writing is such a pleasure to read. I enjoyed this latest and can't wait for number twenty six! Read an excerpt of Careless Love.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Over the Counter #450

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Well after listening to Dry (my review) this one seemed to be timely....

Prepping 101: 40 Steps You Can Take to Be Prepared: Protect Your Family, Prepare for Weather Disasters, and Be Ready and Resilient when Emergencies Arise by Kathy Harrison.

From Storey Publishing:

"The next severe storm, power outage, or financial meltdown could hit at any time. Having a household contingency plan and being part of a strong, resilient community could mean the difference between life and death. This friendly and highly accessible guide introduces the most important, practical steps your whole family can take to ensure survival in short- or long-term emergencies. The critical information is presented in 40 achievable tasks, ranging from simpler ones such as creating a preparedness notebook and repackaging store-bought food for storage to more involved preparations like learning to collect rainwater and building a solar oven."

(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, October 23, 2018

Dry - Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

I'm a bit of a insomniac and often to listen to audiobooks at night. I eventually drift off and sometimes have to backtrack the next night to see what I missed. But this wasn't the case with Dry  by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman. It was so good, I just couldn't stop listening!

California's drought issues are ongoing and worsening - until the day of  the Tap-Out. The day the water is completely shut off, stores are stripped of water and thirst drives people to unthinkable choices.

Teen Alyssa, her younger brother Garrett and her teenaged prepper  neighbor Kelton are at the heart of the narrative. Two others - Jacquie and Henry become part of the story as well.

The first thing I thought to myself was this was not a far fetched premise at all. The Shusterman's imagining of what might transpire if the water disappeared was completely believable - and frightening real. Anarchy.

Each of the five characters is given a voice through their own chapters and outlooks. Each player has a different take on how to survive this catastrophe. What choices will they make? As a group? As individuals? What would you do?

The decision to record this audiobook with an ensemble cast of five narrators was brilliant. Each voice completely matched the character they were reading. Alyssa, (Jenni Barber) is the voice of reason, more disposed to consider society than the individual. But as things go from bad to worse, she is forced to make some terrible decisions. Garrett, (Kivlighan De Montebello) is young, frightened and innocent of what this shortage will mean. Kelton, (Noah Galvin) I quite liked - pragmatic on the outside, paddling hard on the inside. Henry, (Michael Crouch) oh Henry. As my Gran used to say - he's a piece of work and his inner dialogue and actions made me so angry. And then there's Jacqui (Candice Thaxton). She's tough, smart and a survivor. I have to say, she ended up being my favourite character. Each voice was clear, easy to understand and absolutely matched the character they were playing. Listen to an excerpt of Dry.

A few times, I said to myself - 'why don't you....?' But then I reminded myself that these were teens.

Bottom line - loved it! Honestly, I wanted more. But as the credits rolled, I thought hey, this would make a great movie. Turns out Paramount Pictures thought the same thing. And I also thought - I better pick up a few cases of water - you know - just to have on hand......

Monday, October 22, 2018

Giveaway - Every Breath - Nicholas Sparks

You've been waiting for it....and it's here! Nicholas Sparks' new novel Every Breath has just released - and I have a copy to give away to one lucky reader!

From Grand Central Publishing:

"Get swept up in #1 New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Sparks’s epic romance across decades and continents–from North Carolina to Zimbabwe–a heartbreaking love story in the tradition of his beloved classic, The Notebook.

Hope Anderson is at a crossroads. At thirty-six, she’s been dating her boyfriend, an orthopedic surgeon, for six years. With no wedding plans in sight, and her father recently diagnosed with ALS, she decides to use a week at her family’s cottage in Sunset Beach, North Carolina, to ready the house for sale and mull over some difficult decisions about her future.

Tru Walls has never visited North Carolina but is summoned to Sunset Beach by a letter from a man claiming to be his father. A safari guide, born and raised in Zimbabwe, Tru hopes to unravel some of the mysteries surrounding his mother’s early life and recapture memories lost with her death. When the two strangers cross paths, their connection is as electric as it is unfathomable . . . but in the immersive days that follow, their feelings for each other will give way to choices that pit family duty against personal happiness in devastating ways.

Illuminating life’s heartbreaking regrets and enduring hope, Every Breath explores the many facets of love that lay claim to our deepest loyalties–while asking the question, How long can a dream survive?" Read an excerpt of Every Breath.

"With over 100 million copies of his books sold, Nicholas Sparks is one of the world’s most beloved storytellers. His novels include fourteen #1 New York Times bestsellers, and all of his books, including Three Weeks with My Brother, the memoir he wrote with his brother, Micah, have been New York Times and international bestsellers, and were translated into more than fifty languages. Eleven of Nicholas Sparks’s novels–The Choice, The Longest Ride, The Best of Me, Safe Haven, The Lucky One, The Last Song, Dear John, Nights in Rodanthe, The Notebook, A Walk to Remember, and Message in a Bottle–have been adapted into major motion pictures." You can connect with Nicholas Sparks on his website, like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

And if you'd like to read Every Breath, enter for a chance to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada. Ends November 3/18.

Friday, October 19, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #233

- 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 devoured C.J. Tudor's debut novel, The Chalk Man. I was
excited to hear she has a new book releasing next year. So, you're saying to yourself - Luanne - those are two different titles! Well, they are - but it's the same story within. Both release in February 2019. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. So let's talk title first. Which one do you prefer? The Hiding Place is somewhat forgettable for me. But The Taking of Annie Thorne is unique and kinda scary. Now onto the covers. Both grey. The blood red font promises danger. The open window and empty metal bed frame hint at someone missing. And a scattered deck of cards. Now, that UK cover. Love it! It matches the tone of the UK cover of The Chalk Man that I really liked as well. The little girl figure torn out of newspaper headline with the word murders, the childish writing of the name...chilling. Easy choice for me this week on both cover and title - UK.
What cover and title do you like this week? Any plans to read this book?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Clockmaker's Daughter - Kate Morton

Kate Morton is one of my favourite writers. Every time I finish one of her books, I'm sure it's the best one yet. And it is, until the next one comes along. The Clockmaker's Daughter is her latest - and yes, it's the best one yet!

Morton again employs all the elements that are hallmarks of her work. Past and present narratives, houses, their history, love lost, love found, an element of other otherworldliness this time and so much more.

"My real name, no one remembers. The truth about that summer, no one else knows."

Summer 1862. A group of artists and friends plan to spend a month at Edward Radcliffe's new home, Birchwood Manor. But before the month is out, one of them will be dead, a priceless heirloom is missing and Edward's life will never the same. Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie, a young archivist, uncovers photographs that seem somehow familiar to her....

"The woman in the white gloves unlatched the dull silver buckle and the satchel held its breath. Open me, open me, open me....She pushed back its leather strap and for the first time in over a century light swept into the satchel's dark corners."

The past has always fascinated me, bits of history and lore woven into family stories. Pictures of those now gone, houses now emptied. What is their story? I was immediately drawn to Elodie and couldn't wait to discover and uncover what happened in the past at Birchwood and why she seems to know the house. But it's not only Elodie we hear from. The past is unfolded from many different, yet intertwined viewpoints and time frames. Each and every one of those characters are so very well drawn. All of them have a connection to Birchwood Manor and feel inexplicably drawn to the house.

"Edward used to say that the river possessed a primeval memory of everything that had ever happened. It occurs to me that this house is like that, too. It remembers, just as I do. It remembers everything." It is this voice that I found the most poignant - the voice in the house. (No spoilers, so not saying another word about this.)

Kate Morton's descriptions are so wonderful. The house sprang alive for me - I could feel the warm spot on the turn of the stairs, smell the flowers in the garden, envision myself under a shady tree listening to the sound of the river going by.

I started reading slower as I realized I was reaching the end. I knew what was coming and I just didn't want to face it. But I wanted to see how all of those threads and lives would weave together.

My review doesn't do this book justice. But suffice it to say that I loved it. Absolutely, positively recommended. Pick up a copy for snowy nights reading. Read an excerpt of The Clockmaker's Daughter.

"Each clock is unique, he used to tell me. And just like a person, its face, whether plain or pretty, is but a mask for the intricate mechanism it concealed."

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Over the Counter #449

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Another in the 'life advice from other countries category'.....

The Finnish Way: Finding Courage, Wellness, and Happiness Through the Power of Sisu by Katja Pantzar.

From TarcherPerigee:

"An engaging and practical guided tour of the simple and nature-inspired ways that Finns stay happy and healthy--including the powerful concept of sisu, or everyday courage

Forget hygge--it's time to blow out the candles and get out into the world! Journalist Katja Pantzar did just that, taking the huge leap to move to the remote Nordic country of Finland. What she discovered there transformed her body, mind and spirit. In this engaging and practical guide, she shows readers how to embrace the "keep it simple and sensible" daily practices that make Finns one of the happiest populations in the world, year after year.

Topics include:

  *  Movement as medicine: How walking, biking and swimming every day are good for what ails us--and best done outside the confines of a gym
  *  Forest therapy: Why there's no substitute for getting out into nature on a regular basis
  *  Healthy eating: What the Nordic diet can teach us all about feeding body, mind and soul
  *  The gift of sisu: Why Finns embrace a special form of courage, grit and determination as a national virtue - and how anyone can dig deeper to survive and thrive through tough times.

If you've ever wondered if there's a better, simpler way to find happiness and good heath, look no further. The Finns have a word for that, and this empowering book shows us how to achieve it."

(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, October 16, 2018

Leave No Trace - Mindy Mejia

I enjoyed Mindy Mejia's last book and happily picked up her latest, Leave No Trace.

Lucas Blackthorne was nine when he and his father walked into the wilderness of Minnesota and never returned. Ten years later Lucas is found ransacking a store and is taken into custody. He doesn't or won't speak and refuses to communicate in any way, so he is admitted to a psychiatric facility. Where has he been? What has happened to him? Where is his father? Maya Stark is an assistant language therapist who begins to work with Lucas to find answers. Maya herself has a troubled past. (Which had me wondering how she could be working in a psychiatric facility.)

Okay, let me mention again that Lucas is 19 and Maya is 23. Uh huh - you see what I'm pointing at? The attraction is there between the two and only grows as the book progresses. Mejia does a good job at ramping up the suspense. But, I have pragmatic tendencies......and I found some of the plot developments a bit far fetched and frankly unbelievable. (Seriously, an assistant speech therapist doing what she's doing? Sorry, trying not to provide spoilers.) Now, that being said, I did finish the book as I really wanted to know the final answers as to where Lucas has been.

But, in the end, I felt like I had listened to a YA novel. Which I do really like. But that isn't what I was expecting when I started Leave No Trace. It was the billing of a "riveting and suspenseful thriller" that initially caught my attention.

Much of that YA feeling was down to Maya. Leave No Trace is told in first person through her viewpoint. And unfortunately - I didn't like her or didn't feel a great deal of sympathy or empathy for her. For me she came across as unprofessional, irresponsible, impetuous and juvenile.

I chose to listen to this latest book. I find listening to a book immerses me more fully in the story. The reader was Patricia Rodriguez and she was excellent. She had a voice that matched the age, demeanor and mental image I had imagined for the the lead character. Her voice is quite expressive and captures the tone of the plot and action very well. Listen to an audio excerpt of Leave No Trace.

So, great narrator, but only a so-so listen for me. I'm in the minority on this one I think - check out the positive reviews on Goodreads.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Giveaway - The Winters - Lisa Gabriele

Oh, I love the cover of Lisa Gabriele's new novel, The Winters. Take a second look at those beautiful roses....what story lies within? And what about this first line..."Last night Rebekah tried to murder me again."

The Winters releases tomorrow (Oct. 16) and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

From Viking Books:

"A spellbindingly suspenseful new novel set in the moneyed world of the Hamptons, about secrets that refuse to remain buried and consequences that can’t be escaped

After a whirlwind romance, a young woman returns to the opulent, secluded Long Island mansion of her new fiancé Max Winter—a wealthy politician and recent widower—and a life of luxury she’s never known. But all is not as it appears at the Asherley estate. The house is steeped in the memory of Max’s beautiful first wife Rebekah, who haunts the young woman’s imagination and feeds her uncertainties, while his very alive teenage daughter Dani makes her life a living hell. She soon realizes there is no clear place for her in this twisted little family: Max and Dani circle each other like cats, a dynamic that both repels and fascinates her, and he harbors political ambitions with which he will allow no woman—alive or dead—to interfere.

As the soon-to-be second Mrs. Winter grows more in love with Max, and more afraid of Dani, she is drawn deeper into the family’s dark secrets—the kind of secrets that could kill her, too. The Winters is a riveting story about what happens when a family’s ghosts resurface and threaten to upend everything." Read an excerpt of The Winters.

"Lisa Gabriele is the author of two literary novels. Her writing has appeared in Glamour, Vice, and Salon as well as various anthologies, including The Best American Nonrequired Reading. She lives in Toronto, where she is an award-winning television producer." You can connect with Lisa on her websiteand follow her on Twitter.

Enter to win a copy of The Winters using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends October 27/18

Saturday, October 13, 2018

What Remains of Her - Eric Rickstad

What Remains of Her is Eric Rickstad's latest book.

Jonah Baum's wife Rebecca and young daughter Sally went missing twenty five years ago from their home in Vermont. Jonah has never been the same from that day. He's living in a run down cabin in the forest, eschewing society, but hoping against hope that they might still be found. Sally's friend Lucinda might remember something still.....

When another little girl is lost in the woods, it is Jonah who finds her. Is she real or has Jonah's mind finally broken?

I liked the idea of the long disappearance and memories from a child perhaps holding the answers. The other little girl, Gretel was an unexpected entry in the plot. (Really? Gretel? Fairy tale lost in the woods Gretel?) And I think it was here that Rickstad lost me. Much time is spent on this mystery child with the plot going in directions that seemed utterly ridiculous. The mystery itself has limited options as to the whodunnit is. (Fairly easy to suss out.) The police investigation I was hoping for never really happened. (And c'mon - clues left for 25 years in the victim's house?!)

Sorry, this one was overdone and overwrought in my opinion. But I'm in the minority it seems - check out the positive reviews on Goodreads.

Friday, October 12, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover # 232

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

The Strange Diaries
UK cover
I can't get enough of Elly Griffith's Ruth Galloway series. Her
forthcoming book, The Stranger Diaries,  is a stand alone and I can't wait to read it....."A gripping contemporary Gothic thriller..." The US cover is  on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Two very different looks this week. I'm a sucker for old houses on covers. I like the image on the US cover and the line that cuts through the title, image and author's name is very effective. The tagline on the UK cover - death lies between the lines - seems to fit that image. But on looking closer at the UK cover, there are lines of handwriting in the background. Not sure about the plants. Poisonous perhaps? The dark blue is quite striking. But my fondness for Gothic reads and creepy houses has me voting for the US cover this week. How about you? Any plans to read The Stranger Diaries? Which cover do you prefer?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Play With Art - DK Canada

Who doesn't love being creative? I've always enjoyed creating and making. And so does Little Guy!

I thought Play with Art from DK Canada would be a title he would enjoy exploring. Check out the other titles in DK's Celebrate the Arts boutique.

Little Guy always likes looking at the cover before he opens a book. The cover of Play With Art is colourful and inviting. The inner flyleaf is covered in fingerprints with faces drawn on. I quite liked this one - I can see framing a set for Gramma. So, he wanted to know how to do that one right away.

We made it to the table of contents. He loves tables of contents, so we had to read out the name of every craft within before looking at pictures. The crafts are broken down into: Painting and Printing, Paper Craft, Drawing and Coloring, Make and Create.

I know I used some of these techniques and crafts with my own children when they were little, but I had forgotten many of them until I saw them again in Play With Art.

Make dinosaur tracks by dipping a plastic toy in the paint, use nature items - flowers, leaves, fruits and veggies as your brush. (But we'll hold off on the 'use your feet' until we can do it outside!) There's many more ideas in this chapter.

Cutting paper is fun when you've mastered the art of scissors. Paper chains, free form scuptures, tracers, shadow puppets and more in the Paper Craft chapter. Do you remember wetting down crepe paper for a watercolour picture?

Drawing and colouring. I'm always fascinated by what Little Guy chooses to portray in his drawings. Remember scratch art? Colouring, then covering it with black paint, then scratching in a picture.

Make and create. Save those empty rolls and cardboard boxes - staple elements of 'making things'.

Play With Art has some good, basic ideas (50) for creating for the 3-5 year old crowd. It also fits nicely into the STEAM educational approach to learning. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) There's no right and no wrong in creating and imagination is a wonderful thing. As is the satisfaction of making something. This one's going to wait on Gramma's bookshelf for Little Guy's next visit. See below for a peek inside.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Over the Counter #448

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter? A clever title, but I'll pass....

Offal Good by Chris Cosentino

From Clarkson Potter:

"The off cuts, the odd bits, the variety meats, the fifth quarter—it seems that offal is always hidden, given a soft-pedaled name, and left for someone else to eat. But it wasn't always this way, and it certainly shouldn't be.

Offal—the organs and the under-heralded parts from tongue to trotter—are some of the most delicious, flavorful, nutritious cuts of meat, and this is your guide to mastering how to cook them. Through both traditional and wildly creative recipes, Chris Cosentino takes you from nose-to-tail, describing the basic prep and best cooking methods for every offal cut from beef, pork, lamb, and poultry. Anatomy class was never so delicious."

(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, October 9, 2018

Fall Down Dead - Stephen Booth

Fall Down Dead is the newest release from author Stephen Booth. This is the 18th (!) entry in his Cooper and Fry series. It's a first read of this series for me.

A group of thirteen ramblers go walking on Kinder Scout, a difficult - and dangerous - climb, in the Peak District of England. The group becomes disoriented in the fog, losing their sense of direction and the path. When the rescue patrol finally brings them off the mountain, there are only twelve. One of their number has fallen - or was she pushed - at Dead Woman's Drop.

Cooper and his team are charged with investigating the event, while Fry is herself being investigated by Professional Standards.

It's great having twelve suspects to choose from. (A hint of Agatha Christie) As each recounts their memory of the event, Cooper and his team must discern who is telling the truth. For it seems like none are being completely forthright. Especially the group's leader Darius. My opinion on who it could be changed with each new interview and revelation. (And when I did reach the end, it wasn't who I suspected)

Diane is unsure what Professional Standards is looking for. It is only as the interviews continue that she begins to get an idea of what they're after. And that she might need some help. Not something she's used to asking for.

I quite liked both of these characters. The relationship between the two seems complicated. They're polar opposites and that makes for a charged dynamic. I enjoyed the personal story lines of each key player. British police duos are the basis of some of my favourite series. However, I did feel like I was playing catch up with what has transpired in the past for Cooper and Fry. Booth does provide enough information that I could appreciate what was happening with Fry in this latest. I am not a reader who will go backwards once I know where the character's lives are now. But I would absolutely pick up Booth's next book to see where they go from here.

Booth's description of the Peak area, the mountain and the climbing was really descriptive and brought the setting to life. Bleak, beautiful and treacherous. (I went online to look at pictures and it is something to see.) And the history behind the Mass Trespass of Kinder Scout was fascinating as well. I appreciate history woven into a fictional tale.

A new author to add to my list! Read an excerpt of Fall Down Dead.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Giveaway - The Night Stalker - Robert Bryndza

Mystery fans, I've gone a great giveaway for you! The Night Stalker is the follow-up to Robert Bryndza's bestselling mystery debut, The Girl in the Ice.

What's it about? From Grand Central Publishing:

"If the Night Stalker is watching, you’re already dead…

In the dead of a swelteringly hot summer’s night, Detective Erika Foster is called to a murder scene. The victim, a doctor, is found suffocated in bed. His wrists are bound and his eyes bulging through a clear plastic bag tied tight over his head.

A few days later, another victim is found dead, in exactly the same circumstances. As Erika and her team start digging deeper, they discover a calculated serial killer – stalking their victims before choosing the right moment to strike.

The victims are all single men, with very private lives. Why are their pasts shrouded in secrecy? And what links them to the killer?

As a heat wave descends upon London, Erika will do everything to stop the Night Stalker before the body count rises, even if it means risking her job. But the victims might not be the only ones being watched… Erika’s own life could be on the line." Read an excerpt of The Night Stalker.

"Robert Bryndza is the author of the international #1 bestselling Detective Erika Foster series. Robert’s books have sold over 2 million copies and have been translated into 27 languages. He is British and lives in Slovakia." You can connect with Robert on his website and follow him on Twitter.

And if you'd like to read The Night Stalker, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, ends October 20/18.

Friday, October 5, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #231

- 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 really enjoyed Fiona Barton's previous books and was excited to see she has a new book - The Suspect -  coming out in January 2019. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Okay, so muddy, darker tones on both covers. Author's name at the top of both covers. The title in white with a similar font on both covers. Two different images though. The US cover draws on (what I believe to be) a woman's image. Reflection of an image I feel as it's upside down. The image on the UK cover appeals to me much more. A burnt notebook, a cryptic question. So it's the UK cover for me this week. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read The Suspect?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Other Wife - Michael Robotham

Michael Robotham is one of my favourite authors. I couldn't wait to read his latest book, The Other Wife - especially when I found out it was a Joseph O'Loughlin book. (9th in the series)

Joe is a clinical psychologist, a widower, a father to two girls, a man living with Parkinson's disease - and a son who thought he knew his parents well. But when Joe receives a call that his father has been admitted to hospital in a coma, his world is turned upside down. He arrives at his father's bedside to find
 the woman who called him. The woman who says she is his father's wife. His other wife....

Oh, great opening and what a great premise to work with!

I've always enjoyed the personal story lines that Robotham weaves through his books. Joe's life (and that of the other supporting players) has moved forward with each new entry. That personal aspect is real, believable and I always look forward to seeing where Robotham has taken his characters. I especially like his relationships with his daughters. And every good lead character needs a sidekick. In this series, it's now retired police Detective Vincent Ruiz, now a corporate fraud investigator. He's tough, intelligent, loyal and brings an alternate view to the crimes being investigated. I was quite happy to see him again as well.

The unraveling of Joe's father's hidden life is serpentine, with each new revelation leading to more questions. Who is William O'Loughlin really? I have to say, I had no idea what was truth or lies. Everything other wife Olivia says is hard to believe. Is she truly a devoted 'wife' or does she have another agenda? I couldn't decide. And Joe questions everything he ever believed about his father. There are many possible outcomes to this tale and it's not until the final pages that the whodunit is revealed.

Robotham's writing has it all - great characters, wonderful plotting and addictive, well written prose. I recommend any of his books. The Other Wife was another great read from Michael Robotham  - and one I finished far too quickly. Read an excerpt of The Other Wife.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Over the Counter #447

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? A scathing look at the opioid crisis....

Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America by Beth Macy.

From Little, Brown and Company:

"The only book to fully chart the devastating opioid crisis in America: "a harrowing, deeply compassionate dispatch from the heart of a national emergency" (New York Times) from a bestselling author and journalist who has lived through it.

 In this masterful work, Beth Macy takes us into the epicenter of America's twenty-plus year struggle with opioid addiction. From distressed small communities in Central Appalachia to wealthy suburbs; from disparate cities to once-idyllic farm towns; it's a heartbreaking trajectory that illustrates how this national crisis has persisted for so long and become so firmly entrenched.

 Beginning with a single dealer who lands in a small Virginia town and sets about turning high school football stars into heroin overdose statistics, Macy endeavors to answer a grieving mother's question - why her only son died - and comes away with a harrowing story of greed and need. From the introduction of OxyContin in 1996, Macy parses how America embraced a medical culture where overtreatment with painkillers became the norm. In some of the same distressed communities featured in her bestselling book Factory Man, the unemployed use painkillers to numb the pain of joblessness and pay their bills, while privileged teens trade pills in cul-de-sacs, and even high school standouts fall prey to prostitution, jail, and death.

 Through unsparing, yet deeply human portraits of the families and first responders struggling to ameliorate this epidemic, each facet of the crisis comes into focus. In these politically fragmented times, Beth Macy shows, astonishingly, that the only thing that unites Americans across geographic and class lines is opioid drug abuse. But in a country unable to provide basic healthcare for all, Macy still finds reason to hope and signs of the spirit and tenacity necessary in those facing addiction to build a better future for themselves and their families."

(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, October 2, 2018

Heartland - Sarah Smarsh

Sarah Smarsh's memoir, Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth, was written over the course of fifteen years.

Smarsh 'combed through public records, old newspaper, letters, photographs, and other archives to piece together a family history from the ill-documented chaos that poverty begets.'

Smarsh was born to a teenage mother on the plains of Kansas. Her birth was the next chapter in a story of teen mothers, domestic abuse, inter generational poverty and more. But is also a story of resilience, strength, tenacity and hope for something better.

Smarsh introduces us to the members of her family, with an honest and unadulterated voice. The emphasis is on the maternal members. I have to say, I was smitten by Grandma Betty. She is a force of nature, a rock to her family. Smarsh details her own family history, but also includes how government policies, programs and the economic climate over the years impact the working poor.

Smarsh has written Heartland with asides and ruminations to the child/daughter she will never have. (by choice). I did find this a bit hard to wrap my head around in the opening chapters. It continues throughout the book and although I understand she has broken the pattern and chosen not to raise another generation, it became a bit repetitive and lost it's initial impact.

As I read, I found myself nodding my head, as some of Smarsh's story is familiar to me - snippets of conversation, situations and hurdles to overcome. I always feel privileged to read a memoir, a telling of lives....

"With deepest reverence, thank you to my family for surviving, with humor and dignity, the difficulties that allowed this book to exist. When I asked for their blessing to tell our shared past, they bravely answered yes. Their reasons for standing behind my work, as they sometimes told me: Because it might help someone else, and because it is true."

Thank you Sarah Smarsh for sharing - here's an excerpt of Heartland.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Three Things About Elsie - Joanna Cannon

Three Things About Elsie is the newly released second book from Joanna Cannon.

"There are three things you should know about Elsie. The first thing is that she’s my best friend. The second is that she always knows what to say to make me feel better. And the third thing…might take a bit more explaining."

And so begins the story of a life, a friendship and a secret told by eighty-four-year-old Florence. Florence lives in the Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly and has fallen. As she awaits rescue, she worries about that secret finally coming to light.

Oh my - prepare to have a tissue (or two or three) handy. Three Things About Elsie is a moving, powerful, heartbreaking, heartwarming listen. It's about friendship, growing older, the foibles of memory and a life well lived. All of that is surrounded by the mystery of the new resident at the care home. Could he really be the man from Flo and Elsie's past?

I adored Florence's voice, her outlook on life and her sense of humour. Supporting players Elsie and Jack were also brilliantly drawn. Two employees of the home were also given a voice. Their humaneness belied the 'Nurse Ratchet' mindset I was afraid I would find.

I chose to listen to Three Things About Elsie. Listening always immerses me in a story, making it more 'real'. The reader was Paula Wilcox and she was wonderful. Her voice matched the mental image I had for Flo. Her accent was perfect, easy to listen to and easily understood. And yes, her voice seemed to belong to a senior. She interpreted Cannon's characters and story very well. Listen to an excerpt of Three Things About Elsie.

Cannon is a psychiatrist and has an 'interest in people on the fringes of society.' Her writing benefits greatly from these interests. Flo's narrative is full of keen observations, ruminations and truths. I do have to say I cried each time Flo imagined what her rescue would be like and who would come. And those final pages.......