Friday, February 28, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #302

- 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
John Grisham will be releasing the second 'Camino' book in the Spring of this year. I know I listened to the first one, but apparently didn't write a review on it. It was okay, but not a standout if I remember correctly. The US cover of Camino Winds is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Well, we have palm trees on both covers The US palms are still in the sunshine while the UK trees are dark and in midst of a good wind. The two images seem to be opposite with the US rather peaceful and the UK promising a storm. I think I prefer the US cover this week - I'd rather like to be underneath a palm tree in the sun! What about you? 
Any plans to read Camino Winds. Which cover do you prefer?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

The Second Chance Club - Jason Hardy

Fiction is my usual genre, but I also enjoy social science books - ones that ask the reader/listener to take a look at our world, society and the people within. I knew I wanted to listen to The Second Chance Club: Hardship and Hope After Prison by Jason Hardy.

Hardy was a high school English teacher, had a master's degree in creative writing, but was toiling away in a retail job when he applied to become a probation officer in New Orleans. Armed with a badge, a gun and good intentions, Hardy is handed his caseload - over 200 cases, double the national average. The department is understaffed and underfunded.  Here's a stat for you - over 4.5 million people are on probation or parole in the United States.

Hardy focuses on seven of his cases in The Second Chance Club. Drugs are present in each of these people's lives. Some of them truly want a way out to a better life. But, what does that encompass? A better life means something different for each person. Others are gaming the system. I found myself quite surprised by the breadth of Hardy's job. Maybe it's from reading all those fictional police procedurals - for me, a probation officer sat in an office, with clients checking in on a regular basis, told to get a job and have a drug test. Well, yes that happens, but there's much more to the job. Hardy and his co-workers regularly visit for home inspections (and yes, home includes homeless tent encampments), find shelters, detoxes, counselling, court help and so much more than I knew.

I quickly became invested in the story of those seven cases. What would happen to each of them? Would they escape the past, find a future or continue to live the life they know? Sadly, disaster prevention becomes a phrase heard more than once in this book.

It was impossible not to stop, turn off the player and think as I reflected upon the latest chapter. Hardy himself reflects that "Every hour on the job presented a new opportunity to reflect on my own privilege and the extent to which a person’s place of birth dictates his aspirations..."

The Second Chance Club gives us a real look at the inner workings of the criminal justice system - and suggestions for what needs to change. And change only comes with knowledge. An excellent book and most definitely recommended.

I chose to listen to The Second Chance Club. The reader was a favorite of mine and an excellent choice - Jacques Roy. He seems to take on the personality of the author and becomes the voice for the mental image I had created. It's calming and suited the subject matter. His voice is clear, easy to understand and pleasant to listen to. The speed of speaking is just right, allowing the listener to take it all in. He enunciates well. His voice rises and falls with the emotion/actions etc. Listen for yourself -  here's an audio excerpt of The Second Chance Club.

(And as an aside, American Prison is about prisons in Louisiana - a nice companion piece to The Second Chance Club)

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Over the Counter #439

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under the scanner? I'm a sucker for a dog tale...

Where the Lost Dogs Go by Susannah Charleson.

From Houghton Mifflin Harcourt:

"From a New York Times best-selling author, an important and heartfelt exploration into the world of lost dogs and the power of reunion

One in six dogs go missing at some point in their lives, leaving bereft owners to search high and low, hang missing posters, check shelters, and hope for good news. But amid these grim statistics, countless happy endings are forged. Tails wag again. Best friends are reunited.

In Where the Lost Dogs Go, Susannah Charleson, author of Scent of the Missing and a trusted chronicler of the human/animal bond, dives headlong into the world of missing dogs. The mission to reunite lost pets with their families starts with Susannah’s own shelter rescue, Ace, a plucky Maltese mix with a mysterious past who narrowly survived months wandering lost. While Susannah formally studies animal behavior, lost-pet search tactics, social media strategies, and the psychology of loss, Ace also steps up for training. Cheerful and resourceful, Ace has revealed a nose for the scent of lost pets, and together they help neighbors and strangers in their searching.

In Where the Lost Dogs Go, readers take to the streets beside Susannah to bring home a host of missing pets. Along the way, Susannah finds a part of herself also lost. And when unexpected heartbreak shatters her own sense of direction, it is Ace—the shelter dog that started it all—who leads Susannah home. Inquisitive, instructive, heartrending, and hopeful, Where the Lost Dogs Go pays tribute to the missing dogs—and to the found—and to the restless space in between."

(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 the counter at the library. But...I can mention them and maybe one of them will catch your eye as well. See if your local library has them on their shelves!)

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The Chill - Scott Carson

Michael Connelly and Stephen King provided glowing blurbs for Scott Carson's newest novel, The Chill. Both are favorite authors of mine, so I definitely wanted to have a listen!

The premise intrigued me, the idea of a lost town under water. In order to bring water to New York, Galesburg, a town that had existed for centuries was flooded seventy five years ago. The residents were not happy of course - then or now. Because, you see, there are ghosts still in the tunnels, working away until they have their revenge. And there are descendants of those lost souls still alive, that are aware of their plans....

The Chill is a character driven novel. I enjoyed the many details of each of the player's lives, especially the two leads, Aaron and Gillian. Carson gives them personalities and emotions that were believable.

Carson did loads of research for this book - there are many details about dams, sluices, reservoirs and how they are maintained and run. Initially I found this interesting, but as the book progressed, it grew a bit boring and repetitive. (But it did make me think about our use of and need for fresh water) I wanted more about the underwater entities. We do meet the 'leader', but I still wanted more interaction. The Chill is billed as a horror novel - and I wanted chills running and up and down my spine. I did, but not as much as I had hoped. Maybe part of it was because I didn't really 'get' how the underwater inhabitants were going to get revenge on New York City. They're busy digging to finish a tunnel. But what then? Flood? Cut off? Poisoned? I found it hard to buy into the 'dying to dig a tunnel' aspect as well.

Now, that being said, I did like the book. I like Carson's writing. And I was entertained by this tale. I do feel it could have been shortened up a bit and still told the same story. I would like to see Aaron again - I think he has unplumbed depths to explore. Pun intended ;0)

I did choose to listen to The Chill. The reader was John Bedford Lloyd. And he was a great choice. He has such a rich, resonant voice. He has a measured way of speaking that lets you appreciate every word and phrase. It's pleasant to listen to, well enunciated and easy to understand. I think his voice suited this book and the genre. Hear for yourself - here's an audio excerpt of The Chill.

(And while looking for Carson's website, I made an interesting discovery - Carson is the pseudonym for an author I quite enjoy...."Scott Carson is going to handle the supernatural stories for me.")

Monday, February 24, 2020

Giveaway - Girl at the Edge - Karen Dietrich

Does this description catch your eye? " In this nature vs. nurture psychological suspense, a teenage girl is both fascinated by her father’s legacy and determined to escape it." Yes? Karen Dietrich's debut novel, Girl at the Edge, releases on March 3/20 - and I have a copy to give away to one lucky reader!

What's it about? From Grand Central Publishing:

"Not a single resident of St. Augustine, Florida, can forget the day that Michael Joshua Hayes walked into a shopping mall and walked out the mass murderer of eleven people.

He’s now spent over a decade on death row, and his daughter Evelyn – who doesn’t remember a time when her father wasn’t an infamous killer – is determined to unravel the mystery and understand what drove her father to shoot those innocent victims.

Evelyn’s search brings her to a support group for children of incarcerated parents, where a fierce friendship develops with another young woman named Clarisse. Soon the girls are inseparable, and by the beginning of the summer, Evelyn is poised at the edge of her future and must make a life-defining choice. Whether to believe that a parent’s legacy of violence is escapable or that history will simply keep repeating itself. Whether we choose it to or not."Read an excerpt of Girl at the Edge.

"Karen Dietrich is a writer of fiction, poetry, and memoir. She earned an MFA in poetry from New England College. She also writes music and plays drums in Essential Machine, a band she formed with her husband.Karen was born and raised in southwestern Pennsylvania and currently lives outside Pittsburgh with her husband and son." You can connect with  Karen on her website, follow her on Twitter as well as on Instagram.

And If you'd like to read Girl at the Edge, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends March 7/20.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Board Games in 100 Moves - DK Canada

I am not a winter person at all. I find a book, a cup of tea and a comfy chair is a great way to stay cozy. DK Canada has put together some other ideas for books to stay cozy with - any day of the year!

The other thing we do at our house is regularly play games - card games, dice games, board games and more. So, Board Games in 100 Moves: 8000 Years of Play definitely caught my eye!

There's a great introduction from Ian Livingstone on the history and importance of games and how games and culture are interwoven. Right at the front of the book is a timeline of the 100 games that are featured in this book, each with a colour image.

The first entry is 3100 BCE! Did you know Backgammon is 500 CE and Chess is 600 CE!? I was fascinated to see how long many of the games have been in existence. And how the rules for each are available. Hands up if you had marathon Monopoly games with your family and friends. Invented in 1935. I still have my childhood set. Scrabble - 1938 - and again, I play it regularly still. Oh, so many more faves and memories - Clue, Candy Land, Yahtzee and the list goes on.

The book has been divided into categories based on the materials used to make the game - Wood and Stone, Paper and Print, Cardboard, Plastic, Imagination and The Future. Within those chapters you'll find details on other games and how they came to be. Mousetrap? Twister?

Board Games in 100 Moves makes for fascinating reading. It's well written and researched.  Livingstone makes his living in the game industry, so although is it factual, Livingstone's personal thoughts and biases do pop up.

I appreciated that actual images of the games - boards, boxes etc. were included. The book is well made and sturdy. This is a fun book to browse. Have a peek below.

Friday, February 21, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #301

- 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
Stephen King has a collection of four novellas coming out in May of this year titled If It Bleeds. The title story is a follow up to 2018's The Outsider. I've quite enjoyed the last few books from King and have always liked the novellas, so this is on my TBR list. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. So, solid vs. white. Both use fonts that are ominous. The red on the UK cover promises danger. The dancing? disappearing? man on the UK cover is curious. The image used on the US cover is even more curious. (and more than a little creepy.) Obviously a cat, but there's a mouse there too. Cat and mouse suggest a 'game. Hmm, I think I'll go with the UK cover this week. What about you? Which cover do you prefer?
Any plans to read If It Bleeds?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Picturepedia: An Encyclopedia on Every Page - DK Canada

'Learning begins at home' - and DK books are great part of that! They've put together a great selection of titles with learning in mind - you can check them out here.

The one that caught my eye was Picturepedia: An Encyclopedia on
Every Page. Inside you'll find "ten thousand stunning photographs and illustrations"!

Now Little Guy and I always have to look at the cover first. There was lots up front to pique his interest. Once he was done looking at that, and instead of reading front to back, we just started reading whatever page caught his attention. Animals, trucks and diggers have been the favourites so far.  (I quite liked the Women's Fashion and Bread pages. Did you know that Turkey consumes more bread per person than any other county?)

For those of you who like to be a little more organized, the book does categories listed up front - Science and Technology, Nature, Geography Culture, Sports and Hobbies and History. Within those headings, you'll find a number of subcategories. There's also an index in the back if you want to look up specific topics.

And you'll find exactly what I expect from DK books. Beautiful, crisp, clean, full colour photographs and pictures. The layout is always great - with sidebars, information boxes and text with lots of white space framing them all. The book has sturdy covers and is very well made. And above all - concise information written in easy to understand language.

There's so much information inside - enough to keep preschool and elementary school aged interested and curious. This made for great reading together for Gramma and Little Guy. It's going to take a while to work our way through Picturepedia. Lots of learning to be had as he grows! Now this book is part of the DK children's collection, but I have to say the adults that saw this book were just as fascinated by it as the children that read it. It was left on the coffee table and everyone just had to have a peek inside! And here's a peek for you...

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Over the Counter #438

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

The League of Wives: The Untold Story of the Women Who Took on the U.S. Government to Bring Their Husbands Home Hardcover by Heath Hardage Lee.

From St. Martin's Press:

"The true story of the fierce band of women who battled Washington—and Hanoi—to bring their husbands home from the jungles of Vietnam.

On February 12, 1973, one hundred and sixteen men who, just six years earlier, had been high flying Navy and Air Force pilots, shuffled, limped, or were carried off a huge military transport plane at Clark Air Base in the Philippines. These American servicemen had endured years of brutal torture, kept shackled and starving in solitary confinement, in rat-infested, mosquito-laden prisons, the worst of which was The Hanoi Hilton.

Months later, the first Vietnam POWs to return home would learn that their rescuers were their wives, a group of women that included Jane Denton, Sybil Stockdale, Louise Mulligan, Andrea Rander, Phyllis Galanti, and Helene Knapp. These women, who formed The National League of Families, would never have called themselves “feminists,” but they had become the POW and MIAs most fervent advocates, going to extraordinary lengths to facilitate their husbands’ freedom—and to account for missing military men—by relentlessly lobbying government leaders, conducting a savvy media campaign, conducting covert meetings with antiwar activists, and most astonishingly, helping to code secret letters to their imprisoned husbands.

In a page-turning work of narrative non-fiction, Heath Hardage Lee tells the story of these remarkable women for the first time. The League of Wives is certain to be on everyone’s must-read list."

(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 the counter at the library. But...I can mention them and maybe one of them will catch your eye as well. See if your local library has them on their shelves!)

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Things in Jars - Jess Kidd

I loved Jess Kidd's previous book, Mr. Flood's Last Resort. (my review). I was eager to see what story lived between the pages of her latest novel, Things in Jars.

What's not to love? 1863 Victorian England, a female private investigator named Bridie Devine, curiosity collectors and a baffling new case.

Young Christobel Berwick has been kidnapped and Bridie is on the case. But, as she investigates, she meets much resistance and more questions than answers. There is a mystery surrounding the young girl - rumours of sharp teeth, water and yes, the word mermaid is whispered. Christobel would be a prize for any collector, exhibit or circus.

Bridie was such a wonderfully wrought lead character. Bright, tough, accepting, but with hidden wounds in her soul. Those scars figure into the dark plot line that runs parallel to the investigation. Bridie's companions are a ghost named Ruby that only she can see and a bearded, seven foot maid named Cora. Additional supporting players are just as well drawn.

Kidd's writing is absolutely fantastic - she captures Victorian England in every passage. Descriptions of time and place conjure up smoky alleyways, dark rooms, fog on the River Thames, questionable activities, Resurrection Men and more. The dialogue is true to the time, flowery and detailed

Kidd unfurls the mystery slowly, adding in new paths and people along the way. Things in Jars is a journey to be savoured and enjoyed. Mystery, history, fantasy all take turns in Things in Jars, but it is Bridie and her companions that stayed with me after the last chapter ended.

I chose to listen to Things in Jars. The reader was Jacqueline Milne and she was brilliant. The lilt and movement of her voice captured the time, the characters and the plot so very, very well. Her voice supports the magical, fantasy feel of Things in Jars. She provided many different voices for assorted characters that matched the mental images I had created. Her voice was pleasant to listen. Here's an excerpt for you to listen to. Absolutely recommended.

Monday, February 17, 2020

The Impossible First - Colin O'Brady

I am always fascinated by those that attempt the seemingly impossible - tales of adventure, determination, courage and  stamina. That is certainly the case with Colin O' Brady’s memoir The Impossible First: From Fire to Ice -Crossing Antarctica Alone.

In 2018 Brady was determined to become the first person to cross Antarctica alone, with no support, no caches and completely human powered. In 2008, Brady was told he'd probably never walk again....and this book is the journey from that to the Antarctic.

O'Brady also works as a motivational speaker. His written work embodies that same inspirational feel. The listener is privileged to share O'Brady's fears, hopes, dreams and achievements and more - not only his public life, but in his private life as well. There's much more to this memoir than the nuts and bolts of a trek. Colin’s mission is to 'inspire kids and communities to dream big, set goals and live active, healthy lives'.

I was captivated by The Impossible First from first chapter to last. O'Brady's is an excellent writer and raconteur. The book is told in non-linear fashion that had me hooked into staying up later for 'just one more chapter'.

I chose to listen to the The Impossible First - especially as Brady himself narrates. I always appreciate hearing an  author read their work. They've lived it and know the work intimately. The inflection, emotion, emphasis and more all come from having lived it, and provide a rich listening experience. O'Brady's voice is pleasant to listen to to, well paced and easy to understand. And as I've said many times before, listening to a book seems to only draw me deeper into the story. Listen to an excerpt of The Impossible First.

An excellent and absolutely recommended book for those of you looking for adventure and inspiration. Brady isn't done challenging himself - his latest expedition is The Impossible Row.

Friday, February 14, 2020

You Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover #300

- 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 enjoyed Lucy Foley's previous book, The Hunting Party. I'm looking forward to her latest, The Guest List, releasing in May in NA and in February in the UK. Secrets and murder on a remote island. What's not to love? The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Quite a difference in tone between the two. Dark vs. light. The red font on the UK cover denotes danger. The image of the island reminded me of Christie's And Then There were None. I do like the yellow font against the grey on the US cover. The mist and heavy sky promise something ominous on that island. The rocks in front of the boats also harbor danger. An easy choice for me this week - US. What about you? Which cover do you prefer?
Any plans to read The Guest List?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Over the Counter #437

What book caught my eye as it passed over the library counter and under the scanner? I've enjoyed Hillbilly Elegy, Maid and other similar titles. This one looks like a good read as well...

Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.

From Knoph Books:

"The Pulitzer Prize-winning authors of the acclaimed, best-selling Half the Sky now issue a plea--deeply personal and told through the lives of real Americans--to address the crisis in working-class America, while focusing on solutions to mend a half century of governmental failure. With stark poignancy and political dispassion, Tightrope draws us deep into an "other" America.

The authors tell this story, in part, through the lives of some of the children with whom Kristof grew up, in rural Yamhill, Oregon, an area that prospered for much of the twentieth century but has been devastated in the last few decades as blue-collar jobs disappeared. About one-quarter of the children on Kristof's old school bus died in adulthood from drugs, alcohol, suicide, or reckless accidents. And while these particular stories unfolded in one corner of the country, they are representative of many places the authors write about, ranging from the Dakotas and Oklahoma to New York and Virginia. But here too are stories about resurgence, among them: Annette Dove, who has devoted her life to helping the teenagers of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, as they navigate the chaotic reality of growing up poor; Daniel McDowell, of Baltimore, whose tale of opioid addiction and recovery suggests that there are viable ways to solve our nation's drug epidemic. These accounts, illustrated with searing images by Lynsey Addario, the award-winning photographer, provide a picture of working-class families needlessly but profoundly damaged as a result of decades of policy mistakes. With their superb, nuanced reportage, Kristof and WuDunn have given us a book that is both riveting and impossible to ignore."

(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 the counter at the library. But...I can mention them and maybe one of them will catch your eye as well. See if your local library has them on their shelves!)

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Alone in the Wild - Kelley Armstrong

Oh, I have been eagerly awaiting the next entry in Kelley Armstrong's 'Rockton' series. The fifth book, Alone in the Wild, releases today - and it's a fabulous read!

For those of you who haven't read this series yet (and you need to!), Rockton is a hidden, off the grid town up in the wilds of the Yukon. The residents? Yeah, they're all running from something or hiding from someone. Nobody asks too many questions. But even this town needs some laws - and someone to enforce them. That's where Detective Casey Duncan comes in - she was a homicide cop 'down south'. She and Sheriff Eric Dalton are partners at work - and at home. The first four books have let us get to know the lead characters, the residents, the dynamics and follow along as Casey and Eric work cases.

In Alone in the Wild, the pair are on a rare weekend off, camping out in the woods when Casey finds a baby - alive, but in the arms of a dead woman.....

What makes this series one of my absolute favourites? I am fascinated with the setting and Armstrong's world building. A town full of secrets offers up so many possibilities for storytelling. And the idea of a hidden town? Who's to say there isn't? Armstrong has slowly eked out the details of the town and what lies beyond it's fences over the course of the last four books. In this entry, most of the action and story takes place outside the town in the wilds of the Yukon. Rockton residents aren't the only ones in the area. There are those who have chosen to leave town and make their home elsewhere in the wilderness. There are the First Settlement residents who live a rougher but recognizable life. But, there are also Hostiles - people who have reverted to an almost animalistic state. And a few who live alone. I've been itching to find out more about these 'outsiders' and Alone in the Wild finally gives us some answers. But there are still questions and more to learn. I'm hooked!

What else? The characters. Casey is a strong female lead - tough, intelligent and determined - but not perfect. Eric is just as well drawn. The two together make a great team. I'm not a big romance reader, but Armstrong does it well. Their relationship is believable, not 'over the top' and enhances the book, rather than being the main focus. The main core of residents are very eclectic (and dangerous) and I enjoy what they bring to the books as well. I must say, I very much like the new addition of Storm the dog - her chuffing and baleful looks speak volumes.

And last, but certainly not least are the mysteries/cases in every book. They're unpredictable, intriguing and impossible to figure out ahead of the ending. Twists and turns along the way kept me guessing. And the action had me on the edge of my seat.

Sorry, one more thing - the writing. Armstrong's work is just so, so...well, so readable! And addictive. I am immediately engrossed in the first few pages of her novels and get quite annoyed when someone interrupts me! See for yourself - here's an excerpt of Alone in the Wild.

This reader can't wait for the sixth book!

Monday, February 10, 2020

Giveaway - Crooked River - Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Calling all Pendergast fans! Crooked River (#19!) by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child has just released - and I have a copy to give away to one lucky reader!

What's it about? From Grand Central Publishing:

"Racing to uncover the mystery of several light green-shoe-clad severed feet found floating in the Atlantic, Agent Pendergast is faced with most inexplicable challenge of his career in this installment of the #1 NYT bestselling series.


Appearing out of nowhere to horrify the quiet resort town of Sanibel Island, Florida, dozens of identical, ordinary-looking shoes float in on the tide and are washed up on the tropical beach–each one with a crudely severed human foot inside.


Called away from vacation elsewhere in the state, Agent Pendergast reluctantly agrees to visit the crime scene–and, despite himself, is quickly drawn in by the incomprehensible puzzle. An early pathology report only adds to the mystery. With an ocean of possibilities confronting the investigation, no one is sure what happened, why, or from where the feet originated. And they desperately need to know: are the victims still alive?


In short order, Pendergast finds himself facing the most complex and inexplicable challenge of his career: a tangled thread of evidence that spans seas and traverses continents, connected to one of the most baffling mysteries in modern medical science. Through shocking twists and turns, all trails lead back to a powerful adversary with a sadistic agenda and who–in a cruel irony–ultimately sees in Pendergast the ideal subject for their malevolent research." Read an excerpt of Crooked River.

And if you'd like to read Crooked River, enter for a chance to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no po boxes please. Ends Feb. 22/20.

Friday, February 7, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #299

- 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
No Bad Deed is Heather Chavez's debut novel. What caught my eye was the blurb from Lee Child on both covers. And this descriptor has landed it on my ever teetering TBR pile."A gripping new thriller that fans of Harlan Coben and Linwood Barclay will read in one sitting". The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Both covers are a bit lurid IMO. The US cover features ominous colors, dark stormy night and tag line.The rain is also present on the UK cover, complete with the ever popular woman's face in the rear view mirror. View of car outside vs. view from in car. Easy choice for me this week - US. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read No Bad Deed?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

When We Were Vikings - Andrew David MacDonald

I was intrigued by the publisher's description of Andrew David MacDonald's debut novel, When We Were Vikings.

"A heart-swelling debut for fans of The Silver Linings Playbook and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time." And yes, that descriptor is spot on!

Twenty one year old Zelda is a Viking enthusiast. She also has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. She is high functioning, but her view of the world is seen through a different set of eyes. Zelda lives with her brother Gert. They've agreed to a set of rules that is posted in their apartment. But, money is tight and when Zelda suspects that Gert is operating outside the rules, she sets herself a quest."...Zelda finds herself in a battle that tests the reach of her heroism, her love for her brother, and the depth of her Viking strength."

Oh, where to start? Zelda is such a wonderfully drawn lead character. The reader can't help but be on her side, urging her forward, fearing for her safety and discovering what we might take for granted, as she also navigates her own coming of age. The supporting cast is just as wonderful - her brother's girlfriend AK47 is a calming influence, her therapist is the voice of reason, her boyfriend Marxy and the rest of the gang at the community center are inclusive and without guile. Gert is a complex character and I appreciate his struggles as he tries so hard to raise himself and Zelda. The 'villains'? Yes, you will love to hate them.

I love that MacDonald kept things 'real' with Zelda. She sees Viking lore and values as a guide for living, but she's still a young woman exploring her sexuality, the meaning of love, the responsibility of family, finding a place for herself and so much more.

When We Were Vikings was an unexpected, captivating, heart string tugging (and nail biting in some spots!) tale. I can't wait to read what MacDonald writes next.

I chose to listen to When Were Vikings. The reader was Phoebe Strole. Her voice was perfect for Zelda. She has a younger tone of voice and it absolutely matched the mental image I had created for Zelda. She also captures Zelda's personality and outlook with her intonation, speed, volume and emphasis. Voices used for the rest of the cast were just as well done. Strole speaks clearly and is very easy to understand. I've said it before and I'll say it again - listening to a book immerses me in the story. And in the case of When We Were Vikings, I know that I enjoyed listening to Zelda's story so much more than I would have by reading. (But either way, you're going to love it!)Listen for yourself - here's an audio excerpt of When We Were Vikings.

And remember - "We are all legends of our own making." Absolutely recommended.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Over the Counter #436

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? I'm dizzy just thinking about it...

The Man Who Walked Backward: An American Dreamer's Search for Meaning in the Great Depression by Ben Montgomery.

From Little Brown:

"From Pulitzer Prize finalist Ben Montgomery, the story of a Texas man who, during the Great Depression, walked around the world — backwards.

Like most Americans at the time, Plennie Wingo was hit hard by the effects of the Great Depression. When the bank foreclosed on his small restaurant in Abilene, he found himself suddenly penniless with nowhere left to turn. After months of struggling to feed his family on wages he earned digging ditches in the Texas sun, Plennie decided it was time to do something extraordinary — something to resurrect the spirit of adventure and optimism he felt he’d lost. He decided to walk around the world — backwards.

In The Man Who Walked Backward, Pulitzer Prize finalist Ben Montgomery charts Plennie’s backwards trek across the America that gave rise to Woody Guthrie, John Steinbeck, and the New Deal. With the Dust Bowl and Great Depression as a backdrop, Montgomery follows Plennie across the Atlantic through Germany, Turkey, and beyond, and details the daring physical feats, grueling hardships, comical misadventures, and hostile foreign police he encountered along the way. A remarkable and quirky slice of Americana, The Man Who Walked Backward paints a rich and vibrant portrait of a jaw-dropping period of history."

(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 the counter at the library. But...I can mention them and maybe one of them will catch your eye as well. See if your local library has them on their shelves!)

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The Authenticity Project – Clare Pooley

I just knew from the first few pages that I was going to love Clare Pooley's debut fiction novel, The Authenticity Project. Trust me, you will too....

An older, lonely widower/artist who has spent the last fifteen years pretty much by himself in his home is determined to get back out into the world. He comes up with an idea.....he writes his truth in a green notebook and leaves it on a table in a local cafe.....and The Authenticity Project is begun.

"Everyone lies about their lives. What would happen if you shared the truth instead? The one thing that defines you, that makes everything else about you fall into place. Not on the internet, but with those real people around you? Maybe nothing. Or maybe telling that story would change your life, or the life of someone you've not met me. That's what I want to find out."

What a great premise eh? I couldn't wait to see what would happen next. Well, the notebook is picked up again and again - and the lives of six strangers intersect.....

I loved Pooley's characters - they're all wonderfully drawn, strengths, foibles and all. (And yes, I'd like to be sitting around the table with them at the back of the cafe.) I was immediately invested in their lives and kept quickly turning pages to see who would next pick up the book. The narrative moves from player to player and again and this only ensured I couldn't put the book down. Those intersections get more and more complicated, changes happen and I certainly didn't see some of them coming. Some I liked, some I didn't, but they were all 'just right' for the book.

Pooley's writing is so easy to read, flows so easily and is utterly addictive. If you're looking for a warm, feel-good, uplifting, unexpected, just be yourself tale, this is one you'll want to read. After I turned the last page, I wondered - what would happen if someone actually did this? Here's an excerpt of The Authenticity Project.

"If we all stopped making each other feel sad and inadequate by pretending to be perfect, and instead opened up about our struggles, we would all be much happier, and feel less alone." Clare Pooley.

This is easily one of my favourite reads for 2020 - and yes, I know we're only in February!

Monday, February 3, 2020

Giveaway - Framed - S.L. McInnis

Happy Monday! Let's brighten the day up with a great giveaway! Framed by S. L McInnis releases tomorrow - and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

What's it about? From Grand Central Publishing:

"How much can you trust your closest friend?

Beth Montgomery seems to have the perfect life: a beautiful house in the hills above Los Angeles, a handsome, ambitious husband, and plans of starting a family. So it doesn’t occur to her to worry when the news breaks of a quadruple homicide across town, a botched drug deal that leaves an undercover officer among the dead. Beth certainly would never think to tie the murders to the sudden reappearance in her life of wild, sexy Cassie Ogilvy, the estranged best friend she hasn’t seen since they were college roommates.

As Cassie confidently settles into Beth’s new life, making herself comfortable not only in Beth’s guestroom but with her husband as well, it becomes increasingly clear that her old friend has a lot to hide. But it isn’t until a shocking late-night phone call, and Cassie’s even more startling disappearance, that Beth begins to understand that her world, as she knew it, is gone forever.

Unfurling over the span of three fraught, heart-pounding days, McInnis’s masterful suspense debut is fast-paced and diabolically unpredictable–a fresh, surprising, and powerfully smart twist on the traditional thriller." Read an excerpt of Framed.

"S.L. McInnis was born in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada in 1963. She has a degree in Broadcasting and has worked in public television and radio. Like the main character in Framed, she studied music for years. When not reading or writing, she binges crime dramas and true crime documentaries. She lives in Toronto with her husband, once a TV-Vice President, now a chef. Framed is her suspense debut. She's currently working on a true crime thriller and is also outlining the sequel to Framed."You can like S. L. McInnis on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

If you'd like to read Framed, enter for a chance to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends Feb 15/20.
a Rafflecopter giveaway