Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Over the Counter #411

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? A book about a book about a murder.....

Murder by the Book: The Crime That Shocked Dickens's London by Claire Harman. 

From Knopf Books:

"From the acclaimed biographer--the fascinating, little-known story of a Victorian-era murder that rocked literary London, leading Charles Dickens, William Thackeray, and Queen Victoria herself to wonder: Can a novel kill?

In May 1840, Lord William Russell, well known in London's highest social circles, was found with his throat cut. The brutal murder had the whole city talking. The police suspected Russell's valet, Courvoisier, but the evidence was weak. The missing clue, it turned out, lay in the unlikeliest place: what Courvoisier had been reading. In the years just before the murder, new printing methods had made books cheap and abundant, the novel form was on the rise, and suddenly everyone was reading. The best-selling titles were the most sensational true-crime stories. Even Dickens and Thackeray, both at the beginning of their careers, fell under the spell of these tales--Dickens publicly admiring them, Thackeray rejecting them. One such phenomenon was William Harrison Ainsworth's Jack Sheppard, the story of an unrepentant criminal who escaped the gallows time and again. When Lord William's murderer finally confessed his guilt, he would cite this novel in his defense.

Murder By the Book combines this thrilling true-crime story with an illuminating account of the rise of the novel form and the battle for its early soul among the most famous writers of the time. It is superbly researched, vividly written, and captivating from first to last."

(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, July 30, 2019

The Ghost Garden - Susan Doherty

Susan Doherty's recently released book, The Ghost Garden, is hands down one of the best non-fiction books I've read. And it is one of my favourite reads of 2019.

I work in the public sector, often waiting on those who have some form of mental illness, some more visible than others. The Ghost Garden has given me a different perspective - more understanding of those living with mental illness as well as those who love and care for them. And a renewed sense of empathy and awareness for carers, families and sufferers.

Susan Doherty has volunteered at the Douglas Institute in Montreal, Canada for over ten years. The Douglas houses those with severe mental illness - psychosis and schizophrenia. She has come to know many of the patients well and has continued those relationships outside the hospital. A childhood friend asked Doherty if she could write the life story of her sister, a woman who has struggled for decades with severe mental illness.

The family gave Doherty full access to their family history, dynamics and struggle to help their sister. And the result is a fascinating, gut-wrenching book that is hard to read, but hard to put down. Interspersed between chapters of Caroline's life are short vignettes of other patients Doherty has come to know. Their stories were all told with their or their family's permission.

"My hope is that this book will help family members and others pinpoint warning signs and thereby, perhaps, be in a position to identify incipient mental illness - thus preventing the harrowing lives experienced by the people I have written about.....And if that lofty goal proves hard to reach, at least I can tear down some of the fences that prevent us from seeing those with schizophrenia as intelligent, productive, engaged, hilarious, beautiful, poetic, insightful, maternal, responsible human beings - and above all, worth of love."

The Ghost Garden is so well written and the subject matter is handled with honesty and compassion. A must read book for everyone in my opinion - have a look- here's an excerpt.

"Susan Doherty is a Montreal writer whose award-winning debut novel, A Secret Music, was published in 2015. She worked on staff for Maclean's, and freelanced for The International Herald Tribune, La Tribune de Genève, and The Independent in London, and for eighteen years ran her own advertising production company. She has served on the boards of the Royal Conservatory of Music, the Quebec Writers' Federation and Nazareth House, a home for those afflicted by addiction and homelessness. Since 2009, she has volunteered at the Douglas Institute, a psychiatric hospital, working with people living with severe mental illness. She is married to the educator Hal Hannaford, and has two children." You can connect with Susan Doherty on her website, and follow her on Twitter.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Giveaway - Smokescreen - Iris Johansen

Iris Johansen's latest book, Smokescreen, releases tomorrow and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader! This is the 25th book featuring Eve Duncan!

What's it about? From Grand Central Publishing:

"In this heart-pounding thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Iris Johansen, forensic sculptor Eve Duncan journeys to Africa to help families torn apart by a violent attack deep in the jungle--but she may be putting herself in more danger than she knows.

A journalist shows up on Eve Duncan's doorstep with a plea for help. Jill Cassidy has just come from a small African village with a heart wrenching story: half the villagers--many of them children--have been killed in a horrific attack by guerrilla soldiers, the bodies burned beyond recognition. Now, the families desperately need Eve's help to get closure and begin to heal.

But when Eve arrives in the remote jungle, she begins to suspect that Jill's plea may have been a cover story for a deeper, more sinister plot. Isolated and unsure who she can trust, Eve finds herself stranded in an unstable country where violence threatens to break out again at any moment and with only her own instincts to rely on if she hopes to get home to her family alive . . ." Read an excerpt of Smokescreen.

"Iris Johansen is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than 30 consecutive best sellers. Her series featuring forensic sculptor Eve Duncan has sold over 20 million copies and counting, and was the subject of the acclaimed Lifetime movie, The Killing Game. " You can connect with Iris on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

And if you'd like to read Smokescreen, enter for a chance to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada. Ends August 10/19. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, July 27, 2019

The Campfire Cookbook - DK Canada

It's summer - and time for cooking outside. Seriously, does anything taste better?!

The Campfire Cookbook: 80 Imaginative Recipes for Cooking Outdoors by by Viola Lex and Nico Stanitzok caught my eye.

Note that the cover does show both a grill and a firepit cooking area. And that's what you'll find inside - recipes for different cooking scenarios. They are coded for use - gas stoves with one or two burner and BBQ's.

I did find that much of the book was devoted to those who have a more permanent setup such as a mobile home or camper van. Many of the recipes call for cooking in an oven ahead of your trip. And the list of ingredients are somewhat extensive for some recipes. White wine vinegar, ginger, dried tarragon etc. For me, these are ingredients I would not be packing for a camping trip.

I did find the sandwich and wrap recipes to be inventive and doable. There are also many make ahead recipes such as granola bars, honey roasted peanuts and nut mixes. And I liked the salads. Some quick freeze dried meal ideas most definitely would work in a camping situation. As would the bread on a stick recipe. Not so much the paella, sea bass and mussels in white wine.

I had a different idea when I saw the title and campfire image on the cover of the book. I was expecting simpler recipes for more rustic settings. That said, the recipes are good and could be made at home instead.

Interspersed are tips and hints. Some of them seem downright simple and common sense - 'to prevent the sandwich ingredients falling out if  you're taking it on the road, 'pack it in paper or plastic sandwich bags.'

Bottom line? Some good recipes - but not as many as I had hoped for true campfire cooking.

Check out the other titles in DK Canada's Great Tastes of  Summer Boutique.

Here's a look inside:

Friday, July 26, 2019

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #273

- 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
Joshilyn Jackson has a new novel coming out in the next week - Never Have I Ever. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. "It starts as a game at a book group one night. Never Have I Ever... done something I shouldn't." Havinf read the synopsis, I've added it to my teetering TBR pile. Both covers easily convey domestic suspense with the house images and keys. The US cover with multiple houses shows a neighbourhood, while the single key seems more sinister. The tag line on the UK cover gives prospective readers a bit more info. I'm going to go with the UK cover this week - the image just seems to promise more and the US looks like a family relationship tale perhaps. What about you?
Which cover do you prefer? And plans to read Never Have I Ever?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

The Friend Zone - Abby Jimenez

It's no secret that my favorite genres are mysteries and thrillers. But to temper all that mayhem, I really enjoy a good chick lit, romantic kinda read. I had been seeing lots of positive reviews about Abby Jimenez's debut novel - The Friend Zone, so I made it my next 'light' read.

Kristen's fiancee is deployed in the Middle East. He's on one last tour and then coming home. The plan is to move in together and see what the future will bring. They've both agreed on one thing though - no children. But in Kristen's case, it's a medical impossibility. She's come to terms with it......kinda. Sorta.

But then she meets Josh, the best man in her friend Sloan's wedding. And initially there's no love lost between the two of them. Until about fifty pages in and yes, you got it - there's definitely some attraction there. This back and forth carries on as the two become friends. Only friends, 'cause you know there's a fiancee. But, the reader just knows that that attraction is only going to grow....

I applaud Jimenez for her plotting. Giving Kristen this medical issue allows Jimenez to explore the emotional issues that accompany infertility and the journey to self-love and acceptance.

The dialogue is sharp and snappy. The characters were okay and I only wished them the best. But. Yes, there's a but. I had a hard time connecting with Kristen. IMO she was overwritten - too sassy, too rude, too irritating, just too much all round. I wish we knew more of Josh than the 'hunky guy hopelessly in love from first meeting with cute lead character with issues." And while the back and forth builds the romantic tension and the hope that love will triumph in the end, I grew tired of the repetitiveness after awhile and wanted things to just move along a little faster. For gosh sakes, just tell him the truth. When I got to the ending? Sorry, it just left me flat after focusing so much on infertility. And the ending for friend Sloan? Didn't like it either - but it opens the door for 2020's release - The Happily Ever After Playlist.

The Friend Zone was just okay for this reader. I am in the minority on this one though - The Friend Zone has made the USA Today Bestseller list. Here's an excerpt of The Friend Zone.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Over the Counter #410

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner?  The cover image right away - I'm a dog person.....

The Animal's Companion: People and Their Pets, a 26,000-Year Love Story Hardcover by Jacky Colliss Harvey.

From the publisher, Black Dog and Leventhal:

"A unique and compelling exploration of why humans need animal companions — from dogs and cats to horses, birds, and reptiles — through the eyes of a New York Times bestselling historical detective author.

In The Animal’s Companion, the acclaimed social anthropologist and author of Red: A History of the Redhead turns her keen eye for cultural investigation toward uncovering why humans have such a strong desire to share everyday life with pets. It’s a history that can be traced back to a cave in France where anthropologists discovered evidence of a boy and his dog taking a walk together — 26,000 years ago.

From those preserved foot and paw prints, Jacky Colliss Harvey draws on literary, artistic, and archaeological evidence to sweep readers through centuries and across continents to examine how our relationships with our pets have developed, but also stayed very much the same. Through delightful stories of the most famous, endearing, and sometimes eccentric pet owners throughout history, Colliss Harvey examines the when, the how, and the why of our connection to the animals we take into our lives, and suggests fascinating new insights into one of the most long-standing of all human love affairs."

(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, July 23, 2019

Bad Axe County - John Galligan

Bad Axe County is John Galligan's latest novel. If you're a 'grit-lit' fan, you're going to enjoy this one.

Heidi Kick is a former Wisconsin Dairy Queen. She's also the interim Sheriff for Bad Axe County. There are many who don't want her to have the job permanently - including others on the force, drug dealers, corrupt local government and a whole bunch of other lowlifes. She does have some supporters though. And she's going to need all the help she can get.....

I couldn't help but think bad a** as I got to know the lead character. She's tough, smart, determined to clean up the town and solve the mystery of her own parents' murder. All while trying to juggle being a wife and mother as well. Heidi is the main voice in the book, but we also hear from some of the antagonists - each one of them perfectly skin-crawling despicable. And one victim, determined to save herself. I have to say, her chapters were really hard to listen to.

Galligan's descriptions are very atmospheric - I could easily picture the settings. And I doubt I would stop in Bad Axe County - it just says 'keep on driving' to me. The winter storm and flood only serve to isolate the county.

The plotting was good as well, with the pieces falling into place with each new chapter and revelation. The reader is privy to more information than the Sheriff and can only hope she puts the pieces together before it's too late.

I chose to listen to Bad Axe County. The reader was Samantha Desz - and her voice was perfect for this character. It has a nice gravelly tone, is easy to understand and completely matched the mental image I had created for Heidi. She rarely raises her voice which is right for this character. The calm way of speaking belies her determination. It's well paced, never rushing and perfectly modulated. The voices employed for other characters are really good as well. Listen to an excerpt of Bad Axe County.

I hope there's another book in the works with the Dairy Queen. I think they are more stories to be told.  Fans of Fargo (indeed, one of the really nasty guys has 'that' way of talking), Justified or Ace Atkin's Quinn Colsen novels would enjoy Bad Axe County. Gentle readers, this one is probably not for you - there are graphic sexual and abuse situations.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Giveaway - The Possession - Michael Rutger

I enjoyed The Anomaly last summer - the first book in Michael Rutger's Anomaly Files. (my review) The second book, The Possession, releases tomorrow - and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

What's it about? From Grand Central Publishing:

"From the author of The Anomaly comes the second installment in The Anomaly Files, a series in the tradition of James Rollins of a team investigating American myths and legends.

Still recovering from the shocking revelations they uncovered deep in uncharted territory in the Grand Canyon, American myth and legend investigator Nolan Moore and his team take on a new mission, investigating a rumored case of witchcraft and possession.

Nolan hopes their new case, in a quaint village in the middle of the woods, will prove much more like those he and his team investigated prior to their trip to Kincaid’s cavern.

But as the residents accounts of strange phenomena add up, Nolan and company begin to suspect something all too real and dangerous may be at play. A force that may not be willing to let them escape the village unscathed." Read an excerpt of The Possession.

"Michael Rutger is a screenwriter whose work has been optioned by major Hollywood studios. He lives in California with his wife and son."

And if The Possession sounds like a book you'd like to read, enter for a chance to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, ends August 3/19.

Friday, July 19, 2019

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #272

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

US cover
UK cover
I've enjoyed J.P. Delaney's previous psychological suspense novels. There's a new one - The Perfect Wife - coming in August 19 on both sides of the pond. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. The stark, simple look of both covers matches the look of previous covers. And we've got a woman in white on both covers. I did like the insertion of the figure for the letter I on the US cover. And I like the blue tones and water images. At first glance I wasn't sure what the image on the UK cover was. (It's a very modern staircase.) The word perfect is off kilter - a nice touch. We also get a tagline. I think I"m going to go withe the US cover this week - it just appeals to me more. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read The Perfect Wife?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

The Sentence is Death - Anthony Horowitz

The Sentence is Death is the second book in Anthony Horowitz's Detective Daniel Hawthorne Series. (The first was The Word is Murder - my review.)

I found the first book incredibly clever and that originality continues with book two.

The protagonist is the enigmatic Hawthorn, let go from the police and now working as a P.I. Hawthorne is such a great character - a brilliant detective, but somewhat lacking in personal interactive skills. I quite like him. And playing Watson to his Holmes? Anthony Horowitz. Uh, huh - Horowitz has written himself in as a character in the series. And in the series, he plays himself, writing about Hawthorne's cases, often referring to actual events. Can you imagine the writing process? The interactions between the two are wonderfully depicted.

In this latest, a divorce lawyer is found bludgeoned to death with an expensive bottle of wine. Hawthorne picks up on the smallest clues and discrepancies. Horowitz also tries to investigate at times, but doesn't have the skill set of Hawthorne. What Horowitz desperately wants to konw is more about Hawthorne. The personal details of the detective are sparse and are only slowly being brought to light.

The murder is clever and takes several turns, keeping the reader guessing along with Horowitz. Hawthorne is far ahead of us on the final path to whodunit.

Clever, clever, clever. And so much fun to read. Here's an excerpt of The Sentence is Death. This reader will be looking forward to book number three. (And Horowitz has stated that he sees nine or ten Hawthorne book in the series.)

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Over the Counter #409

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

The Valedictorian of Being Dead by Heather B. Armstrong.

From Gallery Books:

"From New York Times bestselling author and blogger Heather B. Armstrong comes an honest and irreverent memoir—reminiscent of the New York Times bestseller Brain on Fire—about her experience as one of only a few people to participate in an experimental treatment for depression involving ten rounds of a chemically induced coma approximating brain death.

For years, Heather B. Armstrong has alluded to her struggle with depression on her website, dooce. It’s scattered throughout her archive, where it weaves its way through posts about pop culture, music, and motherhood. But in 2016, Heather found herself in the depths of a depression she just couldn’t shake, an episode darker and longer than anything she had previously experienced. She had never felt so discouraged by the thought of waking up in the morning, and it threatened to destroy her life. So, for the sake of herself and her family, Heather decided to risk it all by participating in an experimental clinical trial involving a chemically induced coma approximating brain death.

Now, for the first time, Heather recalls the torturous eighteen months of suicidal depression she endured and the month-long experimental study in which doctors used propofol anesthesia to quiet all brain activity for a full fifteen minutes before bringing her back from a flatline. Ten times. The experience wasn’t easy. Not for Heather or her family. But a switch was flipped, and Heather hasn’t experienced a single moment of suicidal depression since.

Disarmingly honest, self-deprecating, and scientifically fascinating, The Valedictorian of Being Dead brings to light a groundbreaking new treatment for depression."

(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, July 16, 2019

We Were Killers Once - Becky Masterman

Becky Masterman's latest book, We Were Killers Once, is the fourth in her Brigid Quinn series, but can absolutely be read as a stand-alone.

Masterman has come up with an absolutely fascinating premise for We Were Killers Once. What if.....there were three men at the Clutter killings? Yes, those murders - the ones that inspired Truman Capote's 'In Cold Blood.' And what if that third man is freshly out of prison - and determined to make sure that the evidence he knows it out there is destroyed. And what if Brigid and Carlo end up in this killer's path......

Brigid and her husband Carlo are seemingly opposite personalities. The relationship between the two is well written and believable. As individuals, they are written with lots of depth. Brigid has a most interesting background - and a fascination with killers that served her well in her FBI career. She's now retired n- I like that she is an 'older' lead character.  Carlo is a former priest. They are light and dark - and prove to be excellent foils for each other's thoughts, leanings and actions.

I loved Masterman's idea of this third person. He too is very well drawn - ruthless, though he doesn't believe so. His ideas of how to blend and behave gave me chills. We Were Killers Once is told in two voices - the killer and Brigid. The reader is aware of what is going to happen, but can only helplessly turn pages, keeping up with the cat and mouse game being played. (And I had a moment where I wanted to flip ahead.....but didn't) But who is the cat and who is the mouse? Again, this was my first introduction to Brigid - and I am very, very intrigued. She's a complex protagonist - on the side of the law, but with very dark thoughts and tendencies. Her niece Gemma-Kate seems to have the same, umm, personality.

Masterman's writing is excellent, driving the reader forward with each new chapter. There's action, but there's also some thoughtful bits exploring the relationship between Carlo and Brigid, as well as some philosophical discussions.

The plot moves along at a good pace, culminating in a final scene that was just right. My only question was whether this antagonist would have pursued this elusive piece of evidence, having his role in the killings go unnoticed for many, many years.

I enjoyed We Were Killers Once and I will indeed be looking forward to further work from Masterman. Here's an excerpt of We Were Killers Once.

Monday, July 15, 2019

The Chain - Adrian McKinty

There's been lots of publicity surrounding the release of Adrian McKinty's latest novel - The Chain. Did it live up to the hype? Oh yeah it did - thriller readers are going to want to pick up this one!

The premise is a frightening (and pretty dark) one...

"Your phone rings. A stranger has kidnapped your child. To free them you must abduct someone else's child. Your child will be released when your victim's parents kidnap another child. If any of these things don't happen: your child will be killed."

Takes the chain letter concept to a whole new level doesn't it?

McKinty has created a great lead character in Rachel. She's a divorced, single mother battling breast cancer. Why in the world have her and her daughter been targeted? I love books that place an everyday person in an extraordinary position. Can they beat the odds? Thwart the 'bad guys'? Pull off the impossible? Rachel is a force to be reckoned with.

Action is the word of the day in The Chain. The plot is driven forward by twists - most of them ones I could not have predicted. I love being caught unawares by a book. So, the game changes frequently and Rachel has to react and respond to the newest directive. Now, I must admit - some of those plot lines require a few grains of salt. And that's okay - this is pure escapist, entertainment reading.

I had a three day weekend lately - and I devoured The Chain on that extra day. It's addictive, propulsive reading that will consume the reader. The Chain is an action packed thriller film just waiting to be made. See for yourself - here's an excerpt of The Chain.

Friday, July 12, 2019

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #271

- 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
Canadian cover
Oh, I'm a big Peter Robinson fan! The latest Inspector Banks, Many Rivers to Cross ( #26) releases in early fall. And it's on my must read list. The US cover is on the left and the Canadian cover is on the right. Well, if we take the title literally, you might be looking for a river on the cover. Instead, we have a lake or sea and a pathway in a garden/sidewalk. Having read the synopsis of the book, I can see why the image on the Canadian cover suits. The US cover is clean and more sedate. Yellow title font and white for the author on both cover with size being the difference. I'm kinda 'meh' on both this week, but if pressed I will go with the Canadian cover this week. I find the image more interesting. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? 
Any plans to read Many Rivers to Cross?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Bookshop on the Shore - Jenny Colgan

Ahh, Jenny Colgan, you had me at bookshop. Well, that's not quite true - I will happily pick up anything you write! But a love of books is indeed woven through the pages of this novel. Colgan's latest North American release is The Bookshop on the Shore.

Before you even start to read, take the time to read the author's notes at the front of the book. Colgan is very funny and it will give you some background and insight into her writing.

Setting is always important in Colgan's books. This time we're on the shores of Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. A run down house full of books - and secrets. A village full of wee shops - and quirky, lovable supporting characters. The descriptions of land and sea have me wanting to visit, as do the villagers.

Colgan's characters immediately endear themselves to the reader. While Nina and Surinder from The Bookshop on the Corner have a role in this latest, it is Zoe's story that is front and center. She's a struggling single mom to four year old Hari - who has chosen not to speak. This move means a place to live - up in that 'big house' looking after three motherless children after the housekeeper goes home. And driving the bookmobile in the day. Uh, huh a great premise. The reader is firmly behind Zoe as she navigates a new home, two new jobs and trying to give Hari the best life she can.

And of course, it wouldn't be a Colgan book without a romantic subplot. Will Zoe connect with the single father of her charges? Or reconnect with Hari's father?  I always enjoy the yes/no/maybe so...And the romance isn't confined to our lead character. Nina is expecting her first child - and I have to say I am smitten with her partner Lennox.

But of course, there are hurdles to clear on the way to that happy-ever-after ending. Colgan tackles some tough issues in this latest with a deft touch.

Colgan is my go-to author when I need a warm, witty feel-good comfort read. And this latest did not disappoint. Here's an excerpt of The Bookshop on the Shore. I will be eagerly awaiting Colgan's next book!

Jenny Colgan is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous novels, including Little Beach Street Bakery, Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop, and Christmas at the Cupcake Café, all international bestsellers. Jenny is married with three children and lives in London and Scotland.You can connect with Jenny Colgan on her website, find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Over the Counter #408

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Well, one I do wish my library would order....

Allowed to Grow Old: Portraits of Elderly Animals from Farm Sanctuaries by Isa Leshko.

From University of Chicago Press:

"There’s nothing quite like a relationship with an aged pet—a dog or cat who has been at our side for years, forming an ineffable bond. Pampered pets, however, are a rarity among animals who have been domesticated. Farm animals, for example, are usually slaughtered before their first birthday. We never stop to think about it, but the typical images we see of cows, chickens, pigs, and the like are of young animals. What would we see if they were allowed to grow old?

Isa Leshko shows us, brilliantly, with this collection of portraits. To create these portraits, she spent hours with her subjects, gaining their trust and putting them at ease. The resulting images reveal the unique personality of each animal. It’s impossible to look away from the animals in these images as they unforgettably meet our gaze, simultaneously calm and challenging. In these photographs we see the cumulative effects of the hardships of industrialized farm life, but also the healing that time can bring, and the dignity that can emerge when farm animals are allowed to age on their own terms.

Each portrait is accompanied by a brief biographical note about its subject, and the book is rounded out with essays that explore the history of animal photography, the place of beauty in activist art, and much more.  Open this book to any page. Meet Teresa, a thirteen-year-old Yorkshire Pig, or Melvin, an eleven-year-old Angora Goat, or Tom, a seven-year-old Broad Breasted White Turkey. You’ll never forget them."

(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, July 9, 2019

The Last House Guest - Megan Miranda

Megan Miranda's latest novel is The Last House Guest.

Avery is a townie, living the tourist town of Littleport, Main. Sadie's wealthy father owns many of the local rental properties. When their paths cross, the girls form an unlikely friendship. One that continues for a decade - until Sadie is found dead. It's ruled a suicide, but Avery has trouble believing that - as does a local cop. She feels like they're looking at her....

Miranda's timeline flips from present to past. We see the friendship from Avery's viewpoint. And as she seems to try to convince herself that they were friends and equals, the reader will see cracks and inconsistencies in Avery's memories. I looked forward to those cracks widening as the search for answers progressed. They did, but slowly.

The present introduces us to Sadie's family. I found them cliched - the troubled brother, the parents that never saw Avery as one of them, but only as the employee she is. I thought I should be on Avery's side, but found her unlikable and difficult to connect with. Avery's seemingly selective memories are interesting as they do cast doubt on the suicide theory, as well as the reality of their relationship. And Miranda does give us a nice twist at the end. But.....there was something missing for me. The pacing perhaps - I found it to be a slow burner. Maybe I just went in expecting more as I loved her first two books. All The Missing Girls was a standout. That said, I will be curious to see what Miranda pens next. Read an excerpt of The Last House Guest.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Giveaway - Dragonfly - Leila Meacham

Historical fiction fans I have a wonderful giveaway for you! Dragonfly by Leila Meacham releases on July 9/19 and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

What's it about? From Grand Central Publishing:

"From the New York Times bestselling author of Roses comes a gripping new novel about five young spies embedded among the highest Nazi ranks in occupied Paris

At the height of World War II, a handful of idealistic young Americans receive a mysterious letter from the government, asking them if they are willing to fight for their country. The men and women from very different backgrounds-a Texan athlete with German roots, an upper-crust son of a French mother and a wealthy businessman, a dirt-poor Midwestern fly fisherman, an orphaned fashion designer, and a ravishingly beautiful female fencer-all answer the call of duty, but each for a secret reason of her or his own. They bond immediately, in a group code-named Dragonfly.

Thus begins a dramatic cat-and-mouse game, as the group seeks to stay under the radar until a fatal misstep leads to the capture and the firing-squad execution of one of their team. But…is everything as it seems, or is this one more elaborate act of spycraft?" Read an excerpt of Dragonfly.

Leila Meacham is a writer and former teacher who lives in San Antonio, Texas. She is the author of the bestselling novels Roses, Somerset and Tumbleweeds. You can connect with Leila on her website and like her on Facebook.

And if you'd like to read Dragonfly, enter for a chance to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada. Ends July 20/19.

Friday, July 5, 2019

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #270

- 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
Rene Denfeld's book The Child Finder, was a runaway success.
I loved it and have been watching for the next book to feature Naomi Cottle. The Butterfly Girl releases in October 2019. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. I like the muted colour on the US cover - the tones give it an ethereal feel. The butterflies give it movement. And the hands - are the butterflies landing or being sent on their way? I am also drawn to the starker colours of the UK cover. The strong red butterfly image at the top fades and the outline seems to get less sharp with the green image. And the last brown butterfly has tears and seems to be drying up and dying. Oh, this is going to be a tough choice this week. While I like both covers, I think the UK cover is closer to what's inside. So, UK for me this week. What about you? 
Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read The Butterfly Girl?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Man of the Year - Caroline Louise Walker

Man of the Year is Caroline Louise Walker's debut novel.

Dr. Robert Hart has it all - his practice is doing well, beautiful home in Sag Harbor, a boat in the marina, a gorgeous younger wife - and he's just been named man of the year. His son Jonah was struggling but his college roomate Nick seems to have helped him find his way. So when his wife asks Nick to spend the summer with them, he can't say no. Nick can have the guest cottage of course.

But how Robert envisioned the summer doesn't seem to be quite what's happening. He's sure that Nick is hitting on his wife - and that she is welcoming his advances. And so, the good doctor decides to (subtly) confirm and correct this issue. And so he lies. (about what I'm not going to say as I don't want to provide a spoiler) And that one lie leads to another - and another and .....

The first half of the book is told through the good doctor's voice. He is most definitely an unlikable character. He's the definition of supercilious - arrogant, smug and more. In the second half of the book, the supporting players are given a voice. Now, I'd like to say that they were the opposite of Robert, but they weren't. There was just something off about all of them. And I found all of them unlikable as well. Kudos to Walker for her characterizations.

Walker does a wonderful job manipulating the reader's perceptions along the way to a wonderful last gotcha. Do we believe Robert's view of what's happening? Are the supporting players telling the truth? The unraveling of Bobby Hart is an accident you can't help but rubberneck.

I chose to listen to Man of the Year. The lead role was voiced by George Newbern, one of my favourite narrators. He has a wonderfully expressive voice that perfectly suited my mental image of this character. Disdainful and condescending. He has interpreted the role perfectly. I really enjoy a full cast of readers rather than just one. Man of the Year employed three other readers to tell this tale -  Cassandra Campbell, Michael Crouch and Gabra Zackman. Again, the voices matched the script. Softer for the wife and office assistant and younger, more innocent voices for Jonah and Nick. I've said it before and I'll say it again - I find I become so much more immersed in a story when I listen. Here's  an audio excerpt of Man of the Year.

Walker is a talented writer and I will be curious to see what she pens next. Read an excerpt of Man of the Year.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Over the Counter #407

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? A haunting book on so many levels...and this one's on my hold list...

The Ghost Garden: Inside the Lives of Schizophrenia's Feared and Forgotten by Susan Doherty.

From Random House Canada:

"A rare work of narrative non-fiction that illuminates a world most of us try not to see: the daily lives of the severely mentally ill, who are medicated, marginalized, locked away and shunned.

Susan Doherty's groundbreaking book brings us a population of lost souls, ill-served by society, feared, shunted from locked wards to rooming houses to the streets to jail and back again. For the past ten years, some of the people who cycle in and out of the severely ill wards of the Douglas Institute in Montreal, have found a friend in Susan, who volunteers on the ward, and then follows her friends out into the world as they struggle to get through their days.

     With their full cooperation, she brings us their stories, which challenge the ways we think about people with mental illness on every page. The spine of the book is the life of Caroline Evans (not her real name), a woman in her early sixties whom Susan has known since she was a bright and sunny school girl. Caroline had formed a close friendship with Susan and shared stories from her life; through her, we experience what living with schizophrenia over time is really like. She has been through it all, including the way the justice system treats the severely mentally ill: at one point, she believed that she could save her roommate from the devil by pouring boiling water into her ear...

     Susan interleaves Caroline's story with vignettes about her other friends, human stories that reveal their hopes, their circumstances, their personalities, their humanity. She's found that if she can hang in through the first ten to fifteen minutes of every coffee date with someone in the grip of psychosis, then true communication results. Their "madness" is not otherworldly: instead it tells us something about how they're surviving their lives and what they've been through. The Ghost Garden is not only touching, but carries a cargo of compassion and empathy."

(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, July 2, 2019

Keep You Close - Karen Cleveland

Karen Cleveland's first book, Need to Know, was a New York Times bestseller. She returns with her newly released second book, Keep You Close.

Steph Maddox works with the FBI, heading up an Internal Affairs division. She's had to juggle her job with her personal life - she's a single mother to teenage Zachary. When she finds a gun in Zak's room, she is stunned. And then a friend who works in the domestic terrorism division shows up at her door. Home and work well does she really know her son?

Need to Know focused on the choices the lead character had to make to protect her family and that directive is again front and center as Steph struggles to protect her son and country.

She is trying to ferret out sleeper Russian agents that have infiltrated high ranking offices. I did wonder if Steph could have actually gotten away with some of the things she does as she pursues this path. But, Cleveland was herself a CIA analyst, so I will defer to her inside knowledge.

Steph has a heartbreaking secret in her past and her personal life should draw the reader to her, but I found I just couldn't connect with her. She makes some really questionable choices regarding her son and her mother, often at the expense of work. The same thoughts and scenes occur more than once in her personal life. Espionage and conspiracies theories abound - and rather than draw me in, the repetitive nature had me growing weary.

Now, Keep You Close can absolutely be read as a stand alone, but this second book does continue a storyline that began with the first book. The lead character of that first book makes an appearance in Keep You Close. And I think that's why I found the ending unsatisfying - this plotline will continue on with the third book. I'll be honest - I'm not sure I'll pick it up.

Read an excerpt of Keep You Close.

Monday, July 1, 2019

13th Canadian Book Challenge

Happy Canada Day! It's also time for the next round of The Canadian Book Challenge. This is year 13 and the 10th year I've participated. Shonna at Canadian Bookworm is this year's host.

What's the Challenge?

"The Canadian Book Challenge is an annual online reading challenge in which participants from Canada and around the world aim to read and review 13 or more Canadian books in a one year span: Canada Day to Canada Day. Reviews must be posted online and participants are asked to share links to their reviews with other participants.

"This year marks the 13th year of the challenge, and the United Nations marked 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages. With the recent release of the Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada, I decided to use the 12 linguistic groups that Indigenous languages in Canada are organized into, adding Settler for the 13th category."

I've met the challenge every year so far! It's a wonderful way to sample the great writing Canada has to offer and discover new authors. Interested in joining? Further details and sign up info can be found here. I'll be using this post to track my progress.

1. The Ghost Garden - Susan Doherty - July
2. This Little Light - Lori Lansens - August
3. Hideaway - Nicole Lundrigan - August
4. The Testaments - Margaret Atwood - September
5. A Better Man - Louise Penny - October
6. Elevator Pitch - Linwood Barclay - October
7. Perception: A Photo Series - KC Adams - December
8. Alone in the Wild - Kelley Armstrong - February
9. A Conspiracy of Bones - Kathy Reichs - March
10. Misconduct of the Heart - Cordelia Strube - April