Thursday, April 30, 2020

The Book of Koli - M.R. Carey

I've enjoyed M.R. Carey's previous books. His latest is The Book of Koli - the first in The Rampart trilogy. It's a post apocalyptic novel, one of my favorite genres. (Although perhaps a bit scary to be reading at this time!)

Sometime in the future, the human race has been decimated. Small pockets of survivors live in their own fortified villages and encampments. Society has reverted to a much earlier time with survival being the goal. Nature has turned on humans, with predator plants and trees. Tech from the past is revered.

Young Koli lives in the barricaded settlement of Mythen Rood. He labors with his mother and sisters in the sawmill. But as he comes of age, he begins to question the way things are in his life and village. Traditions, hierarchies, roaming 'faceless' men and what might be beyond the bastions of Mythen Rood.....

I am always curious to see what an author has imagined for a post apocalyptic world. Carey has done a great job of world building. There are bits and pieces of language and roadmarkers that will give the reader hints to the past. The tech is the interesting part. Some of the technology has survived (although it's decades past what we have today) Just as interesting is the way this group has evolved, how their society works - and doesn't. Koli challenges this and the life he thought he would lead is forever changed.

Carey's foreshadowing makes for absolutely addictive reading! I couldn't help but read 'just one more chapter' 'til late at night. Koli's voice makes for wonderful storytelling. Adventure, danger and a coming of age tale fill the pages of The Book of Koli. 

Now, this is the first book of a trilogy. So, while it reaches a satisfying end, there is so much more to Koli's odyssey. And I can't wait to see what's in store. The Trials of Koli releases in September 2020 with The Fall of Koli coming out in 2021. Read an excerpt of The Book of Koli.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Over the Counter #448

What book caught my eye this week? (Not over the counter and under the scanner though!)

The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power by Deirdre Mask.

From St. Martin's Press:

"An extraordinary debut in the tradition of classic works from authors such as Mark Kurlansky, Mary Roach, and Rose George.

An exuberant and insightful work of popular history of how streets got their names, houses their numbers, and what it reveals about class, race, power, and identity.

When most people think about street addresses, if they think of them at all, it is in their capacity to ensure that the postman can deliver mail or a traveler won’t get lost. But street addresses were not invented to help you find your way; they were created to find you. In many parts of the world, your address can reveal your race and class.

In this wide-ranging and remarkable book, Deirdre Mask looks at the fate of streets named after Martin Luther King Jr., the wayfinding means of ancient Romans, and how Nazis haunt the streets of modern Germany. The flipside of having an address is not having one, and we also see what that means for millions of people today, including those who live in the slums of Kolkata and on the streets of London.

Filled with fascinating people and histories, The Address Book illuminates the complex and sometimes hidden stories behind street names and their power to name, to hide, to decide who counts, who doesn’t—and why."

(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!)

Monday, April 27, 2020

To Have and To Hoax - Martha Waters

How would I describe Martha Waters' new novel, To Have and to Hoax? A Regency rom-com!

Lady Violet Grey and Lord James Audley fell madly in love five years ago. That first year was magical. The next four? Not so much. Lady Violet is determined to have their polite stalemate ended and devises a plan. She will pretend to be ill and certainly that will bring them back together. Right? Uh huh. What is that phrase about the best laid plans?

To Have and to Hoax follows Lady Violet and Lord James from one hair brained scheme to another. It's a fun journey full of missteps, miscommunications - and the undeniable fact that they are still in love. And yes, some of the plot stretches credulity, but that's the whole idea - just go with it.

It was easy to like both lead characters and root for their romance to be rekindled. The supporting cast was just as likeable, with a few quirky additions. But, what I really enjoyed was the dialogue. Waters has absolutely captured the verbal jousting of polite society in the Regency period. The sly barbs that are still perfectly correct, the double entendres that can't be acknowledged, the 'proper' ways of manners and society and more.

I chose to listen to To Have and To Hoax. Listening to the audio version allowed me to hear and experience the cleverness of those conversations much more than so than I would have by reading a print copy. The narrators were two 'new to me' readers - Anais Inara Chase and Joel Froomkin. I thought they both did a great job. And I was glad to have two readers instead of one playing both parts. Chase's voice was light and quick and perfectly suited the mental image I had created for Lady Violet. Her intonation is clear and easy to understand. She captures the tone and tenor of the action and situations easily with her voice. Froomkin is an award winning voice actor. I can see (hear) why! He easily captures and portrays the character of Lord James with his aristocratic tone and measured speed of speaking. But he too captures the emotion and action of the book, giving his interpretation lots of movement. The two play off each other very well and are quite believable as a couple. Hear for yourself - listen to an audio excerpt of To Have and To Hoax.

To Have and To Hoax was a light-hearted, fun read and a nice distraction from the real world.

Friday, April 24, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #310

- 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
Oh, I'm excited about this one! Shari Lapena is releasing a new suspense novel - The End of Her - in July of this year on both sides of the pond. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. So... the colour scheme used on both is very similar with the dark muted tones. The storm is coming in the US cover, while it's already raining in the UK cover. Ominous tones with sitting along on a park bench in the waning daylight. And the danger has arrived in the rear view mirror on the UK cover. And a house. A great blurb from Ruth Ware (another fave author) on the UK sums it up well. "Suburban Paranoia". I really dislike actual images of people on the cover as I prefer to make my own mental image based on the author's descriptions, so an easy choice for me this week - UK cover. What about you? 
Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read The End of Her?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

The Big Finish - Brooke Fossey

It was the cover of Brooke Fossey's newly released debut - The Big Finish - that caught my attention. It seemed to promise a fun read - a feisty oldster on the back of a bike being driven by a young woman. Lots of possibilities there....

Duffy and his roommate (and friend) Carl call the Centennial Assisted Living Facility home. They're more than a little surprised when a young woman crawls through their window and into their room.....and claims to be Carl's granddaughter. Josie comes with lots of baggage....and I'm not talking suitcases.

There seems to be enough of the 'seniors fighting back, seniors giving it one last kick, seniors robbing banks etc. books, that it has almost become a genre in my mind. And within that genre there always lives a curmudgeon with a heart of gold. Duffy is the curmudgeon in this case. I had expected it to be Carl as Josie is his relation. But Duffy sees something of himself in Josie and takes her on as 'one good thing he can do before....'

But of course, nothing ever goes as planned, does it? Fossey sets up a number of roadblocks that Duffy and his compatriots have to get past. The compatriots are a lovely mix of characters, helpful (and not), a love interest and of course an 'evil' administrator that is determined to move the existing residents along to another facility. Josie's baggage also includes a nasty boyfriend.

All the right pieces were there for a fun read, cheering for the underdogs. And I did. And a poignant last hurrah. And it was. But....yeah there's a but. I expected to like Duffy much more than I did. I just never fully connected or committed to him or his 'rescue'. Maybe because I wasn't overly drawn to Josie either. I felt Carl got the short stick in the whole deal. Who I did like was Anderson - the chef/orderly at the home. And there were some residents I enjoyed.

The plot line is a bit of a stretch and the ending is telegraphed long before the final pages. The Big Finish is an admirable debut and I would read Fossey's next book. But there are other books in this vein that have done it better. Fredrik Backman being my fave.

(And that cover? Not quite what's inside.)

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Over the Counter #477

What book caught my eye this week? (Not over the counter and under the scanner though!) Well, I thought this one was fitting as its Earth Day......

National Geographic: The Photo Ark Limited Earth Day Edition: One Man's Quest to Document the World's Animals by Joel Sartore.

From National Geographic Books:

"Joel Sartore is committed to documenting every animal in captivity--with a focus on the growing list of endangered species and those facing extinction--circling the globe, visiting zoos and wildlife rescue centers to create studio portraits of 12,000 species. Paired with the eloquent prose of veteran wildlife writer Douglas Chadwick, and with a foreword by Harrison Ford, Sartore's animal portraits are riveting: from tiny to mammoth, from the Florida grasshopper sparrow to the greater one-horned rhinoceros. Now, with the accelerating pace of climate change and its devastating effect on wildlife habitat, his book presents a more urgent argument for saving all the species of our planet."

(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!)

Monday, April 20, 2020

Strike Me Down - Mindy Mejia

Did I mention that audiobooks are my go-to right now? My latest listen is Strike Me Down by Mindy Mejia.

I was familiar with Mejia's writing as I'd read her two previous books. But, I was surprised by the plot of Strike Me Down - it's unusual and different, so I didn't feel like it was one I'd already heard.

Forensic accountant Nora Trier is hired to find a missing twenty million dollars for Strike - an athletic group with deep pockets and legions of fans. Strike is owned by a husband and wife - Logan is a kickboxing legend and Gregg is the marketing maven. That's the bones of the plot, but there's much more to it than facts. Relationships play a big part in this mystery/suspense - for all characters but focusing on Nora.

The story is told in alternating chapters from Gregg and Nora. We get to know these two fairly well because of this technique. Logan is a big part of the story, but we don't really get inside her head. Instead we see the public Logan. I felt like I should connect with Nora, but never quite did. Instead I was observing her, rather that commiserating with her.

The listener is part of the investigation with information from the two sources. The back and forth keeps the reader guessing until the end. The final whodunit was telegraphed before the end and was unexpected.

As I mentioned, I chose to listen to Strike Me Down. Multiple narrators were used to present this novel. I really like cast ensembles. There's no guessing which character is speaking and it adds to a more realistic feeling. Samantha Desz, George Newbern and Allyson Ryan were the narrators. I must admit George Newbern is a perennial favorite of mine. He has a very versatile voice that easily moves from earnest to malevolent. And I don't know how to explain it, but he has a 'tone' to his voice that is really distinctive. I'm not sure which reader did each of the female roles, but they both suited the character they were portraying. The voice for Nora was controlled and well modulated, absolutely suiting the character. The voice for Logan, was big, bold and brash - again a perfect fit.

Strike Me Down was a comfortable, easy listen. Hear for yourself - listen to an audio excerpt of Strike Me Down.

Friday, April 17, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #309

- 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'm a big fan of Mark Billingham's Tom Thorne series. Cry Baby is the 17th entry and releases later in this year. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Both covers follow the design/look of previous books in the series. A swing is a focus of both covers. Although I have to say that the US swing looks like quite the tree topper. I guess camera angle should be taken into consideration. A treed park I would presume. The author name, then book title take precedence in this version. The UK swing is located in a gated park perhaps. The fog and weedy growths clinging the (dangerous if it's in a park) fence. The title takes precedence over author name in this version. Does the pink color mean its a girl who is the crybaby. And two nice blurbs from some other authors I quite enjoy. I have picked US covers for this author before, but I'm going to go with the UK cover this week. What about you? 
Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read Cry Baby?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Over the Counter #446

What book caught my eye this week? (Not over the counter and under the scanner though!) Lots of online social media, posting and more happening right now, but what if you need help? You know who you can ask.....

Siri, Who Am I? by Sam Tschida.

From Quirk Books:

"A Millennial with amnesia uses her Instagram account to piece together her identity in this hilarious and whip-smart comedy about the ups and downs of influencer culture.

Mia might look like a Millennial but she was born yesterday. Emerging from a coma with short-term amnesia after an accident, Mia can’t remember her own name until the Siri assistant on her iPhone provides it. Based on her cool hairstyle (undercut with glamorous waves), dress (Prada), and signature lipstick (Chanel), she senses she’s wealthy, but the only way to know for sure is to retrace her steps once she leaves the hospital. Using Instagram and Uber, she arrives at the pink duplex she calls home in her posts but finds Max, a cute, off-duty postdoc supplementing his income with a house-sitting gig. He tells her the house belongs to JP, a billionaire with a chocolate empire. A few texts later, JP confirms her wildest dreams: they’re in love, Mia is living the good life, and he’ll be back that weekend.

But as Mia and Max work backward through her Instagram and across Los Angeles to learn more about her, they discover an ugly truth behind her perfect Instagram feed, and evidence that her head wound was no accident. Did Mia have it coming? And if so, is it too late for her to rewrite her story?"

(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, April 14, 2020

Death in Mud Lick - Eric Eyre

I'm always appreciative of a good fictional tale. But, it's hard to top a real life narrative....

Death in Mud Lick: A Coal Country Fight Against the Drug Companies That Delivered the Opioid Epidemic by Eric Eyre is one of those real life stories.....

From Simon and Schuster:

"From a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter from the smallest newspaper ever to win the prize in the investigative reporting category, an urgent, riveting, and heartbreaking investigation into the corporate greed that pumped millions of pain pills into small Appalachian towns, decimating communities."

I'd read new reports and watched some investigative reports on this, but wanted to know more. How's this fact to get you started? " The story of Death in Mud Lick starts with a pharmacy in Kermit, West Virginia, that distributed 12 million opioid pain pills in three years to a town with a population of 382 people."

A local resident who lost her brother to drugs is determined to find how and why he died. Eyre works as a reporter for a local paper and joins the crusade. And what he found had my jaw dropping. The sheer audacity and greed of big pharma, the deceit, the doctors on board with this and the stonewalling of each and every avenue Eyre tries to take to find answers and accountability.

The listener is alongside Eyre as he meets obstacles and roadblocks at every turn - and knocks them down or finds another way around. I was fascinated by how he found the evidence. His tenacity is inspiring. (Even more so as he was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease during all of this.) But Death in Mud Lick is not just facts and figures. It's also about people - the lives touched, changed and lost from opioids. These are heartbreaking stories that underline the insidiousness of addiction.

I chose to listen to Death in Mud Lick. The reader was Michael David Axtell. Axtell's voice easily suited the mental image I had created for Eyre. His speaking is clear, concise, well enunciated and easy to understand. His voice has movement, capturing the tone and emotion of the book. This is hard to explain - but his voice just says 'investigative reporter.' Dogged and determined.

This is an amazing David and Goliath tale that should never have happened in the first place. Death in Mud Lick was a fantastic listen - absolutely recommended. Hear for yourself - listen to an audio excerpt of Death in Mud Lick.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Giveaway - The Gringa - Andrew Altschul

Thanks to Andrew Altschul, author of the newly released novel, The Gringa, for stopping by today to answer a few questions. And.....I also have a copy of the Gringa to giveaway!

 Q and A with Andrew Altschul, author of The Gringa

The Gringa is inspired by the real-life story of Lori Berenson, an American who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for terrorist activities in Peru in the 1990s. What about Berenson’s story inspired you to base this historical novel on it?

I lived in Peru for a couple of years in the late 1990s, soon after Berenson’s arrest and trial. Even though she was in a military prison, she was still in the news from time to time, and every time her name came up people went crazy – she was the most hated person in Peru, the foreigner who’d come to try and restart a war (or so the government alleged). I was intrigued by this, and also by the question of what had brought her there. She and I have certain things in common – we’re the same age, we both grew up in secular Jewish families in the New York area, went to great schools, etc. etc. I like to think of myself as a liberal or even a leftist, but I had never gone “all in” the way Berenson had, or really risked much of anything in the name of my political beliefs. So there was something about her story that was both chastening and frightening to me, and part of writing the novel was to try and understand why one of our lives went in one direction, and the other’s went in such a different direction.

The point of view in the novel is that of an American journalist living in Peru. How closely is that perspective based on your own life experiences?

Well, he’s sort of a “reluctant” journalist – he’s a failed novelist and a “refugee from George W. Bush’s” America, who gets strong-armed into writing the story of this paroled terrorist. He’s left the U.S. for a lot of reasons, and many of them are somewhat similar to mine. And his life in Peru, too, isn’t so different from mine – he thinks only of himself and his enjoyment, rather than trying to do anything to contribute to this country he claims to love. In that sense, he’s an exaggerated version of me, and I wanted to use Andres to both investigate this American propensity for self-centeredness and self-misunderstanding and to maybe think through what it might take to get Americans to think in more complex and responsible ways about the lives of people in the rest of the world.

What did you learn from researching and writing the novel about the ways in which people get involved with radical groups and how they transition from activist to radical? 

I learned that it’s often, as Hemingway supposedly said about bankruptcy, “little by little and then all at once.” That is, not many people join radical groups in the hopes of killing people or blowing up buildings or hijacking planes – they join because they see these groups as dedicated to change and potentially more effective than traditional political avenues. The groups themselves usually start as “legitimate” political groups, and slowly evolve or factionalize as members grow dissatisfied with a lack of results. (Weather Underground split off from SDS precisely because they felt SDS wasn’t ready to do what it took to be effective). So someone who joins to take part in nonviolent protest, seeing that such protest isn’t working – and in fact is often provoking violent responses from the police or government – might slowly grow willing to consider… other tactics. Or they might not quite grasp how the group itself is changing around them, until suddenly the “actions” start to cross the line, but because of their dedication or solidarity they feel they have to stand with their comrades. I think the psychology varies.

Did you feel a burden to be 100% historically accurate in your depictions of the war and conflict in Peru?

In my depictions of the war and the history of Peru: yes. This is serious, life-and-death stuff, and a novelist has no business manipulating history to make a “better story.” That is, my protagonist and her colleagues in the group I’ve called the Cuarta Filosofía have some similarity to real-life persons, but the specific things they did and said are purely fiction. I did not set out to write about the “real story” of Lori Berenson, or the MRTA. But I placed them in a context which I took tremendous pains to keep accurate to the realities of the war, and to the reactions of the government and the Peruvian people. I had no right to do otherwise. At the same time, one of the most interesting things about writing the book was discovering that there is no “authoritative history” of the conflict – and in fact many people I talked to and many sources I read told very different stories, disagreeing even about “objective” facts like dates, statistics, etc. This was challenging for me, and really slowed down the writing – until one day I was talking to a Peruvian friend who’d been a student activist during this period, and he said, “But Andrew, that’s always how it is. No two Peruvians agree on what happened or why.” Once I understood this, I knew that my novel had to take precisely this approach, to look at the history of the war as something unstable, ever-changing, subject to manipulation and bias. It makes the novel more challenging, I think, but also, I hope, makes it “truer” to the experience of anyone who lived through the conflict.

How long did it take you to write this book? What was your writing and research process like?

It took eight years. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever written – largely because of all these ethical questions: How do you write about a war? How do you write responsibly about another culture, another history, particularly a history that claimed so many lives? I worked on it nonstop, and made four or five extended trips back to Peru to talk to people and get to know Lima better than I had when I lived in Cuzco. But there were many times when I thought I wouldn’t be able to finish it, that I just had no business, as a privileged white American, trying to take on this material. “Who am I to write this?” I kept asking myself. “Who am I?” What finally turned it for me was a conversation I had with a journalist friend, who told me, “You’re Lori Berenson.” What she meant was that I, too, was an outsider, an interloper, a gringo, and so there was a direct analogy between my relationship to the material and Berenson’s relationship to Peru and its history. It was this realization – that I had to write it from the perspective of someone who doesn’t really know how to write it, and maybe has no business writing it, and that I had to cop to that in the form of the novel itself – that enabled me to finally finish writing it.

What has the experience been like of publishing your book in the midst of a global pandemic?

It’s been great! Ha ha. It’s been hell. I had five events set up during the week after publication, and ten more throughout March and April – but as I travelled from city to city I would get notified almost as soon as I arrived that the event was cancelled: Worcester, MA; Providence, RI; New York City, Denver, San Francisco… one by one, they all went down. I spent nearly a year putting this tour together and I’m crushed. And since then, I’ve spent all day every day trying to shore up the book through online events, social media posts, etc. It’s far more exhausting than the book tour would have been, and I feel like it’s just getting started. Still, there have been some nice things, one of which is forming a kind of unexpected fellowship with other authors in the same boat, sharing tips and experiences with them, recommending one another when we hear about possible events, etc. I’ve always been a big believer in the literary community, and the outpouring of support I’ve heard – for authors, for bookstores, for small publishers – has been a real silver lining through this difficult time.

Thanks so much for stopping by Andrew. Read an excerpt of The Gringa.

"Andrew Altschul is the author of the novels Lady Lazarus (2008) and Deus Ex Machina (2011). His work has appeared in Esquire, McSweeney's, The Wall Street Journal, Ploughshares, Fence, One Story, and other publications, and in anthologies including Best New American Voices, Best American Nonrequired Reading, and O. Henry Prize Stories. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow and Jones Lecturer at Stanford University, he has received fellowships from the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers Conferences, the Ucross Foundation, the Fundación Valparaíso, and the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center. He was the founding books editor at The Rumpus and is a Contributing Editor at Zyzzyva. The former director of the Center for Literary Arts at San Jose State University, he now directs the Creative Writing program at Colorado State University. He lives in Fort Collins, CO." You can connect with Andrew on his website, like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter as well as on Instagram.

And if you'd like to read The Gringa, enter for a chance to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends April 25/20.

Friday, April 10, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #308

- 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
And for those of you who enjoy Nicholas Sparks books, there's a new one coming out in September on both sides of the pond. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. I must admit, I'm a sucker for pictures of doors, so the US cover appeals to me. Not sure why - perhaps the opening to the unknown, a story, a person and more. I like this door and the worn porch boards. It's a 'solid' picture. In contrast, the UK cover is very nebulous with the unfocused picture. And in case you weren't sure what type of books Sparks writes, we've got a couple kissing. (Romance!) I'm not too sure about the use of the hexagon to outline the title and author name. Flower are in the forefront of both books. Honestly, quite an easy choice for me this week - US. What about you?
Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read The Return?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Over the Counter #445

What book caught my eye this week? (Not over the counter and under the scanner though!) The picture and colour of this cover would have me picking it up to look inside....

Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby.

From Knopf Doubleday:

"From Samantha Irby--beloved author of New York Times bestseller We Are Never Meeting in Real Life--a rip-roaring, edgy and unabashedly raunchy new collection of hilarious essays.

Irby is forty, and increasingly uncomfortable in her own skin despite what Inspirational Instagram Infographics have promised her. She has left her job as a receptionist at a veterinary clinic, has published successful books and has been friendzoned by Hollywood, left Chicago, and moved into a house with a garden that requires repairs and know-how with her wife in a Blue town in the middle of a Red state where she now hosts book clubs and makes mason jar salads. This is the bourgeois life of a Hallmark Channel dream. She goes on bad dates with new friends, spends weeks in Los Angeles taking meetings with "tv executives slash amateur astrologers" while being a "cheese fry-eating slightly damp Midwest person," "with neck pain and no cartilage in [her] knees," who still hides past due bills under her pillow.

The essays in this collection draw on the raw, hilarious particulars of Irby's new life. Wow, No Thank You is Irby at her most unflinching, riotous, and relatable."

(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!)

Monday, April 6, 2020

In Five Years - Rebecca Serle

Rebecca Serle's latest book, In Five Years, is already a New York Times Bestseller and is a Good Morning America Book Club pick.

Lawyer Dannie Cohan interviews with a prestigious firm and knows she nailed the last question - where will you be in five years? She goes out to celebrate with boyfriend David and he pops the question. She happily goes to sleep that night, knowing that her five year plan is right on track. But when she wakes up, it's in a strange apartment with a strange man, a different engagement ring on her finger. And the date? Five years in the future. Aaron seems to know she dreaming? When she goes to sleep again, she wakes up with David in the 'right' time.

Oh, lots of places this one could go! And I really liked where Serle took it.

In Five Years is told from Dannie's viewpoint, so we get to know her pretty well. But we get to know her best friend Bella just as well. Serle has created a wonderful friendship between the two women. I have to admit, it was Bella who stole my heart. She's the opposite of Dannie, definitely not a type A. But. Yes, there's a but. Fate, karma, the universe steps into their lives and changes things. And suddenly all of Dannie's carefully laid plans mean nothing. And that mystery man from five years hence? He appears again...and that's all I'm saying! (Note - you may need a few tissues - I did.)

I chose to listen to In Five Years. The reader was Megan Hilty and she was great. The voice for Dannie suited the mental image I had created - a little uptight, exacting, but emotive. Bella's voice was a bit gravelly, quite engaging and suited the artistic nature of this character. I'm always in awe when I listen and realize that the conversation between two characters is being narrated by one person. Hilty also provided believable voices for two male characters. Hilty really interpreted the book well. Not gonna lie, there's a lot of emotions in this tale and Hilty captured them with her voice. Her voice is clear, easy to understand and is pleasant to listen to. Hear for yourself - here's an audio excerpt of In Five Years. I've always enjoyed listening to books, but even more so in these uncertain times. I love becoming immersed in the story and escaping for a wee bit.

I really appreciated Serle's writing. She has penned a wonderful tale of friendship, love, loss and living. She caught me off guard with the ending, but on reflection, it's just right.

If you like JoJo Moyes, you'd enjoy this book.

Friday, April 3, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #307

- 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
Woohoo! A new book by Karin Slaughter is on the way! The Silent Wife is the 10th book in the Will Trent series and is most definitely on my TBR list. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right.  The first time I looked at the UK cover, I thought the image was of a lake and some sort of barrier. (Yes, I need an eye checkup!) It is instead a braid with a red  ribbon. That red denotes danger. The title of the book is not as noticeable as it is on the US cover. And like most UK books, there's a cover blurb to catch your attention. Knowing from the UK cover that 'someone's watching you', that heart drawn on a window on the US cover seems very ominous, with the drip of condensation adding to that feeling. And the red underscores the danger. Title and author name are the same size on this cover. I'm going with the US cover this week. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read The Silent Wife?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Misconduct of the Heart - Cordelia Strube

I've been looking forward to Cordelia Strube's forthcoming book, Misconduct of the Heart. (releases April 21)  The premise had intrigued me....

"Stevie, a recovering alcoholic and kitchen manager of Chappy’s, a small chain restaurant, is frantically trying to prevent the people around her from going supernova: her PTSD-suffering veteran son, her uproariously demented parents, the polyglot eccentrics who work in her kitchen, the blind geriatric dog she inherits, and a damaged five-year-old who landed on her doorstep and might just be her granddaughter."

I picked it last week, sat in the sun and turned the first page....and was immediately hooked by the first few chapters. The introduction to Stevie et al is rough, raw and yes, powerful. Inside Chappy's you'll find the walking wounded, the marginalized, the forgotten and largely dysfunctional cast. And I wondered where in the world would Strube take this story from such a grab ya by the throat introduction?

But that was my initial gut response. As I kept reading, I found my perception changed - I cared about what happened to Stevie, her family and co-workers. I wanted more for them. My own emotions ran the gamut - anger, sadness, outrage (gotta love corporate - not) but also on the flip side hope, love and yes, humour.

One of the Chappy workers regals the others with animal kingdom facts. The facts given relate directly to what is happening in the book at that time - very clever. Stevie's inner dialogue and thoughts will make you stop and think. There is much wisdom to be found in her thoughts and dialogue. And I would challenge you to think about this character's observation...

"Olivia has this theory we go through life not really seeing what's around us or really knowing who's around us. And because we're shit-scared of what we don't know, we close our eyes to stuff."

When I first started to read the book, it was like a train wreck that I couldn't stop staring at. But by the end? Yeah, I wanted to know these people. They're so, so.... well, so real, so well depicted. Just people doing the best they can in the situation they're in - bad and good. Each player has a tale to tell and I was interested in each and every one. But Stevie? She was one of the best characters I've met in a long time.

And yes, there are some really heavy situations. Gentle readers - this is no holds barred read, certain situations may be triggers for some.

Strube is a very, very talented wordsmith with a sharp eye for the human condition. I absolutely loved this book. Hands down one of my faves for 2020.

PS - I really started wondering about the behind the scenes at the restaurant. Makes you wonder how much is truth - and how much of that is fiction.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Over the Counter #444

What book caught my eye this week? (Not over the counter and under the scanner though!) The title.....

Race Me in a Lobster Suit: Absurd Internet Ads and the Real Conversations that followed by Kelly Mahon.

From Quirk Books:

"his collection of prank Craigslist ads and the real email exchanges that followed is the perfect gift for fans of offbeat humor.

When New York City copywriter Kelly Mahon started posting fake gig ads online as a creative outlet, she was surprised to find that there was someone interested in every bizarre job offer she dreamed up. Race Me in a Lobster Suit collects Mahon’s funniest posts, along with the improvised email exchanges with would-be cocoon knitters and lobster racers. Some correspondents became suspicious, while others seemed willing to play along. The result is good-natured comedy gold and a kind of collaborative entertainment that could only exist in the internet gig economy. Irreverent illustrations by cartoonist Graham Annable (creator of the Harvey Award nominated Grickle comics) ensure that this small book offers outsize laughs. A quick, hilarious read, Race Me in a Lobster Suit is perfect for anyone who needs a bit of absurdity to brighten their day."

(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!)