Friday, May 29, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #314

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 jumping up and down here! A new book is coming from Ruth Ware. One By One releases in the late Fall 2020. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. "A company retreat gone wrong... "  Both covers employ the same mountainous setting. The US has a much stronger avalanche image. The chalet is obliterated on the US cover (if there was an image), while the UK gives us a clear look at it. And one lone figure walking towards it. I like that somewhat ominous figure. As always, the UK cover employs a tagline that lets the potential reader have an idea of what they'll find inside. So, that's my deciding element for this week - UK for me. What about you? 
Which cover do you prefer?  Any plans to read One By One?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

My Kind of People - Lisa Duffy

Yes, Lisa Duffy's new novel, My Kind of People, is the latest of my summer listens. I'd love to live in that house with a view of the ocean!

Everyone on Ichabod Island knows the story of ten year old Sky. She was found as an newborn abandoned at the local fire station. She was adopted by the couple that found her. But, she's lost those parents as well - to a car accident. In their will, they've asked their friend Leo to raise Sky.

Leo loves Sky, but this is a huge transition for all of them. Leo's husband Xavier doesn't want to leave their home in the city and can't get used to this new situation.

That sets the stage for My Kind of People, but there's much more to this story. There are a number of other plot lines that intersect with Leo and Sky's story. Maggie often looks after Sky, but her own life is in turmoil. A relative of Sky's arrives on the island as well - what are their intentions? And every small town has a busy body doesn't it? Duffy has created a particular odious woman named Agnes. She's pretty easy to dislike. There are also chapters from a mystery woman scattered throughout the book. Who is she? Sky's friend Frankie and local handyman and neighbor Joe complete the cast.

I really liked Leo. He's kind, thoughtful and caring. Maggie is the female version of Leo, also very easy to warm up to. Sky is well depicted and I really enjoyed the conversations and interactions between Frankie and Sky. Xavier was hard to like, despite Leo's love for him.

Duffy has written a wonderful story of love, loss, friendship, family, hope, happiness and more. (And you might just need a tissue or two....)

I chose to listen to My Kind of People. I've said it before, but I'll say it again - listening to a book is immersive - I feel much closer and involved in the story. My Kind of People employed four narrators - Joniece Abbott-Pratt, Nancy Linari, Madeleine Maby and David Sadzin. They were all really good and matched the mental images I had created for the characters. I always enjoy having more than one reader - it's more 'real', if you will and feels like those conversations are really happening. Leo's voice was warm and caring, Sky's voice was childlike and Maggie was just comforting. The mysterious  woman sounded well, mysterious! They all had clear speaking voices and interpreted the author's work well. The emotion and timbre of the story was also well depicted. Hear for yourself - listen to an excerpt of My Kind of People.

I thought about the title after I finished listening to My Kind of People. Each character in the book  would have a different take on who their 'kind of people' would be. Duffy has created some wonderful characters that I would be happy to have in my life. And it made me think about my circles of people. Those of you who love character driven novels or television shows like This is Us, are going to love My Kind of People.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Over the Counter 452

What book caught my eye this week? (Not over the counter and under the scanner though!) I've been playing a lot of my old vinyl lately......

The Decade That Rocked: The Photography Of Mark "Weissguy" Weiss.

From Insight Editions

"Mark “Weissguy” Weiss set an unmatched standard for rock photography. Starting out as a teenager by sneaking into concerts with a neighbor’s 35mm camera, he embarked on a legendary career that took him around the globe and onto some of the most memorable album and magazine covers in rock history– featuring the likes of Van Halen, Ozzy Osbourne, Aerosmith, and Mötley Crüe to Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, Bon Jovi, and KISS, and so many more. With 700+ photos, brand new interviews, and stories from Mark himself, The Decade That Rocked is a monument to the photography, friendships, and legacy of an artist that helped define ‘80s rock." "Mark Weiss is a rock star. If he didn't have a camera hanging around his neck, it would be a Les Paul guitar." - Gene Simmons, Kiss

(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, May 25, 2020

Big Summer - Jennifer Weiner

And continuing on with my summer listens list is the newly released Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner.

I read Weiner's debut novel, Good in Bed, back in 2001 and have been a fan of her stories ever since.

Big Summer's lead character is Daphne Berg. She's an influencer for plus size women. She's finally found success, self acceptance and happiness. But when her high school 'best friend' Drue contacts her after many years, Daphne's doubts about herself and their relationship back then resurface. But, she's going to be the bigger person and agrees to be Drue's maid of honor at her upcoming nuptials.

Daphne is an influencer. I learned a lot about those who have this as a career. Lots and lots of time spent posting - and posing to garner those followers and likes. "Even if things don’t get better, you can always make them look good on the Internet."

Big Summer starts off with a prologue that puzzled me as I began to read the following chapters. How was this going to tie into Daphne's story? I initially thought that Big Summer would only be a story of relationships, with others and one's self .Which I would have been very happy with! When I reached what could have been an ending, I was surprised to find there was more to hear - lots more. You see, Big Summer morphs into a mystery! And that's kind of the second half of the book. And that prologue finally ties in.

I really liked Daphne as a lead character. She's funny, kind and her voice, experiences, thoughts and thoughts all ring true. Weiner has written many of her characters from her own experiences and her books benefit greatly from that personal injection. I was reminded of earlier books' characters, all as well liked. Mean girl Drue is the one you'll love to hate.....or will you? My feelings on her changed more than once, as secrets and truths are revealed.

The mystery is intriguing, with more than one culprit offered up for the crime. Things got busy in this latter half and I'm not sure all the plot devices worked for me. But, I did enjoy both parts of this novel. The social aspects, the relationships, resolutions and a nice whodunit kept me eagerly listening. Hear for yourself - listen to an audio excerpt of Big Summer.

I choose to listen to Big Summer. The narrator was Danielle Macdonald. She was perfect! Her voice has a younger tone to it and is very expressive, matching the image I had mentally created for the character. Her voice is pleasant and easy to listen to. She speaks clearly and enunciates well. Macdonald interpreted and presented the author's work 'just right'. Bottom line - I believed in the performance. I started thinking I had listened to a previous book by this narrator. It was only on looking up Danielle Macdonald that I discovered she was the actress who starred in Dumplin'.

Another good addition to your summer reads/listens list.

Friday, May 22, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #314

- 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
Rachel Joyce is one of my favourite authors. I've read and loved each and every one of her books. She makes you feel and think long after the last page has turned. Her latest book, Miss Benson's Beetle comes out in July across the pond and not until November in North America. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Okay, let's start...Gold is featured on both covers, but I find it more effective against the green of the UK cover - it 'pops' a bit more. Beetles are on both covers - a single large one on the US cover, but lots of winged beasties on the UK cover. I do like the stylized US one. The UK beetles seem to flying in a vortex that almost seems sci-fi. The book is set in the fifties and the US seems to speak more to that time frame. The US cover has a magnifying glass, net, two women with suitcases and a boat. All of that gives the potential reader what they find inside - and is true to the plot. The UK cover really only says bugs in a forest. 
So, for me this week - the US cover. What about you? 
Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read Miss Benson's Beetle?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Over the Counter #451

What book caught my eye this week? (Not over the counter and under the scanner though!) There's a cookbook for everything and everybody...superheroes included...

Marvel Eat the Universe: The Official Cookbook by Justin Warner.

From Insight Editions:

"Prepare to eat like a Marvel Super Hero as chef Justin Warner invites you to pull up a chair and explore the Marvel Universe through these creative dishes inspired by Marvel’s heroes. Based on Marvel’s digital series hosted by Warner, this ultimate compendium of recipes will feature dishes that span a variety of skill levels, including Storm’s Tournedos, Dazzler’s Glittering Pizza Bagels, Green Goblin Pumpkin Bombs, and more. With sixty recipes inspired by Marvel Comics’ rich history, Marvel Eat the Universe: The Official Cookbook offers something delicious for fans from every corner of the multiverse."

(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, May 18, 2020

Hello Summer - Mary Kay Andrews

A new book from Mary Kay Andrews heralds the arrival of summer reading for me. Fittingly, her newest is titled Hello Summer. And it's one you're going to want to add to your summer reading list!

Why do enjoy I Andrews' books so much? First off, I love her characters. This time, the lead is newspaper reporter Conley Hawkins. She's on her way to a new prestigious newspaper job when she finds out the deal has fallen through. She's got nowhere to go - but home to Silver Bay, Florida. And her family's struggling newspaper, The Silver Bay Beacon. I liked Conley right away - she's smart, quick and curious. That curiosity will serve her well - she and and an old friend are walking home late one night when they come across a car wreck - and the victim is the local Congressman. But, the cause isn't cut and dried in Conely's opinion. She starts to investigate and not everyone is happy with this. Andrews herself worked as a reporter for many years. That insider knowledge and experience add much to this book. And Rowena's society columns for the paper are priceless.

The supporting cast of an Andrews' book always included a somewhat crotchety but lovable character. In this case its Conley's G'mama - family matriarch Lillian. I loved her feistiness and her sometimes not so subtle meddling. She has a sidekick in her companion Lillian. The friction between Conley and her sister Grayson is something that's been building over the years. They're both stubborn and carrying baggage. Can they see a way to mend fences? Again, another thing I love about Andrews' books - relationships and how they're depicted and handled. Believable. The supporting cast is just as well drawn.

And yes, romance is another facet that makes Andrews books such great summer reading. It's not overt, sappy or in your face. The attraction and slow build is well done and fits seamlessly into the plot.

That plot also includes a great mystery. Was the Congressman murdered? An accident? Who, what, where, when and why. The answers to those question kept me guessing until the last bit of the book.

The writing is engaging and the reader is easily drawn into the story. The setting has me wishing (and not for the first time!) again for a seaside cottage. Andrews descriptions of time and place had me inagining.

Sun, fun, family, romance, mystery and more populates the pages of Hello Summer. See for yourself - here's an excerpt of Hello Summer.  Great escapist reading for me - taking a break from reading about what's going on in the world and heading to the beach through the pages of Hello Summer. Five stars.

Credit: Bill Miles
"Mary Kay Andrews is The New York Times bestselling author of The Beach House Cookbook and more than twenty novels, including The Weekenders, Ladies' Night, Spring Fever, Summer Rental, The Fixer Upper, Deep Dish, Blue Christmas, Savannah Breeze, Hissy Fit, Little Bitty Lies, and Savannah Blues. A former journalist for The Atlanta Journal Constitution, she lives in Atlanta, Georgia." You can connect with Mary Kay on her website, like her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

Friday, May 15, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #313

 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
Canadian cover
I've enjoyed Susie Steiner's previous two books featuring Manon Bradshaw who works works part-time in the cold cases department of the Cambridgeshire Police Dept. The third entry, Stay Silent, releases the beginning of June. Three options this week! The US cover is on the left, the Canadian cover is on the lower left and the UK cover is on the right.

Trees are featured on each cover. (Having looked at the synopsis, a tree starts the story off.) I quite like the stictching on top of the words on the US cover. Kind of a "keep your mouth shut' idea. But I really like the colors used on the UK cover. That is a tree branch, but it could be electricity. It just says danger alongside the black background. The Canadian cover doesn't grab me all. The tree is viewed from a different perspective - looking up. But I find the colors kind of meh. The red just doesn't jump out at all.'s between US and the UK for me....and I think I'll go with the UK cover this week. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read Remain Silent? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line - Deepa Anappara

I always enjoy checking out lists of publisher recommended reads. I often find a hidden jewel I wouldn't have found on my own. Such is the case with Deepa Anappara's debut novel Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line.

Djinn: "An intelligent spirit of lower rank than the angels, able to appear in human and animal forms and to possess humans."

Jai is nine years old and lives with his parents and older sister in a tin roofed home in the slums and shadow of wealthy high rises in a large Indian city. When a child from his school goes missing and the police are completely indifferent and uninterested, Jai decides to look for him with the help of his two friends.

Initially, I found the narrative to be somewhat light hearted. Jai uses his detective skills learned from his favorite television show. The banter between the friends is clever. Jai seems to be always in trouble with his family, teacher and neighbors. But things start to take on another note and a darker tone when another child goes missing. And the same indifference is employed from those 'above' the residents of this shanty town.

Jai's voice was wonderful - quick, sharp-witted, knowing, but still innocent, despite living a life we Westerners would view as deprived. He is greatly loved by his family and friends, is kind and caring with a roguish streak. I liked him very much.

The setting is so well described - I could feel the heat, smell the spices and hear the aunties complaining. The setting is just as much a character in the book. It dictates the direction the plot takes. And it goes places I didn't want it to. On reading the author's notes, I learned that Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line was based on actual events in India. Anappara was a journalist in India for many years, reporting on children's issues. That knowledge and experience brings the book alive.

I laughed and yes, I cried. But I truly enjoyed this book. (And learned quite a bit) Here's an excerpt of Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line.

A statistic from Anappara's research: 180 children go missing each day in India. Only 1 in 3 will ever be found.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Over the Counter #450

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

The Answer Is . . .Reflections on My Life by Alex Trebek.

From Simon and Schuster:

"Longtime Jeopardy! host and television icon Alex Trebek reflects on his life and career.

Since debuting as the host of Jeopardy! in 1984, Alex Trebek has been something like a family member to millions of television viewers, bringing entertainment and education into their homes five nights a week. Last year, he made the stunning announcement that he had been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. What followed was an incredible outpouring of love and kindness. Social media was flooded with messages of support, and the Jeopardy! studio received boxes of cards and letters offering guidance, encouragement, and prayers.

For over three decades, Trebek had resisted countless appeals to write a book about his life. Yet he was moved so much by all the goodwill, he felt compelled to finally share his story. “I want people to know a little more about the person they have been cheering on for the past year,” he writes in The Answer Is…: Reflections on My Life.

The book combines illuminating personal anecdotes with Trebek’s thoughts on a range of topics, including marriage, parenthood, education, success, spirituality, and philanthropy. Trebek also addresses the questions he gets asked most often by Jeopardy! fans, such as what prompted him to shave his signature mustache, his insights on legendary players like Ken Jennings and James Holzhauer, and his opinion of Will Ferrell’s Saturday Night Live impersonation. The book uses a novel structure inspired by Jeopardy!, with each chapter title in the form of a question, and features dozens of never-before-seen photos that candidly capture Trebek over the years.

This wise, charming, and inspiring book is further evidence why Trebek has long been considered one of the most beloved and respected figures in entertainment."

(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, May 12, 2020

Feels Like Falling - Kristy Woodson Harvey

The weather's not cooperating with my desire to sit in the sun and read summer fiction. But closing my eyes and listening to a book in a sunny window is the next best thing.

My latest beach bag listen is Kristy Woodson Harvey's new book - Feels Like Falling.

"It’s summertime on the North Carolina coast and the livin’ is easy." But not for everyone. Gray Howard's life is in turmoil - her mother has passed, her husband has left her for his secretary and she doesn't know what to do next. Either does Diana Harrington. She's broken up with her latest boyfriend and he's spent her nest egg. With nowhere else to go, she's living in her car. Until.....Gray and Diana's lives cross. And things might just be looking up...

Oh, all the right elements are there for a great beach bag read! Interesting, well drawn characters that you want to know more about. Feels Like Falling is told in alternating chapters from Gray and Diana. Now, I must admit, I was more drawn to Diana. I just really like her down to earth outlook. Gray surprised me though - she ended up being more thoughtful and kind than I first thought she would be. I quite enjoyed the interplay between the two as their relationship turns into friendship.

And of course there must be obstacles to overcome. And there are! Setting is important too and Harvey hits all the right notes here as well. (Wish I was there!) But what's the most important element of a great summer read? Uh huh - you got it - romance! Love lost and all the angst that comes with it. And the winding road to love found. And all the missteps, miscommunications and missed cues along the way.

Harvey's writing is easy and engaging and I found myself quickly caught up in the tale.

As I mentioned, I chose to listen to this book. Two narrators were used - Kelsey Navarro and Amanda Ronconi. Navarro had the perfect voice for the mental image I created for Gray - cultured and sophisticated. It was very 'smooth' if that makes sense. Easy to listen to and well modulated. She also captured the emotions of the character with her voice. Ronconi's voice was ideal for the character of Diana. Rough around the edges, a nice twangy accent and well, just a down home, heart of gold manner of speaking. Easy to listen to as well. And I really appreciate having two different readers. In addition to be easier to know who's speaking, it feels more like actual conversations. Makes the listening more immersive. Both did an excellent job. Hear for yourself - listen to an excerpt of Feels Like Falling.

This was the first book I'd read/listened to from Kristy Woodson Harvey - and I would happily pick up another! Who else enjoyed Feels Like Falling?  "Buckle up, buttercups, because Feels Like Falling feels like your next summer sizzler!" - Mary Kay Andrews.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Giveaway - Liberation - Imogen Kealey

Calling all historical fiction fans! I've got a wonderful book to tell you about - and a copy to give away to one lucky reader!

Liberation is Imogen Kealey's newly released debut novel, set in the Second World War.

From Grand Central Publishing:

"Hero. Soldier. Spy. Leader. Her name is Nancy Wake.

 The international bestseller -- a "thrilling debut" and "cinematic treat" -- inspired by the true story of World War II's greatest heroine (Publishers Weekly).

 To the Allies, she was a fearless freedom fighter, a special operations legend, a woman ahead of her time. To the Gestapo, she was a ghost, a shadow, the most wanted person in the world.

But at first, Nancy Wake was just another young woman living in Marseilles and recently engaged to a man she loved. Then France fell to the Nazi blitzkrieg. With her appetite for danger, Nancy quickly finds herself drawn into the underground Resistance standing up to Nazi rule. Gaining notoriety as the White Mouse, with a 5-million-franc bounty hanging over her head, Wake rises to the top of the Nazi's Most Wanted list -- only to find her husband arrested for treasonous activity under suspicion of being the White Mouse himself.

Narrowly escaping to Britain, Wake joins the Special Operations Executive and parachutes into the Auvergne, where she must fight for the respect of some of the toughest Resistance fighters in France. As she and her maquisards battle the Nazis, their every engagement brings the end of the war closer -- but also places her husband in deeper peril.

A riveting, richly imagined historical thriller, Liberation brings to life one of World War II's most fascinating unsung heroines in all her fierce power and complexity. This is the story of one of the one of the war's most decorated women, told like never before." Read an excerpt of Liberation.

"Imogen Kealey is the pseudonym of American screenwriter Darby Kealey and British novelist Imogen Robertson, who bonded over their desire to tell Wake’s story. Liberation, their first novel as Imogen Kealey, is currently in development as a major motion picture."

Sound 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, no PO boxes please. Ends May 23/20.

Friday, May 8, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #312

- 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 fan of Michael Robotham's writing and have really enjoyed his Joseph O'Loughlin mysteries. Last year he introduced a new character - Cyrus Haven - a forensic psychologist. I enjoyed the first book and this second book, When She Was Bad, releases in July on both sides of the pond. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Okay, let's get started with the US cover. It employs one of my favorite cover images - a woman's blurred face. Nah, I'm kidding - I am overtired of woman's face, she looks scared images. The font is a good choice though. The UK cover matches the style of previous releases. I think it's clean and the author and the title are prominent. What's in the background is tantalizing and I had to take a closer look. Large old isolated. spooky looking house with a single light on in an attic room, birds (maybe ravens?) flying about, an ominous shadow. And I think that might be a dog in the upper right. All books with dogs in them are good, right? Easy choice for me this week - UK cover. What about you? 
Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read When She Was Good?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. 

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Someone We Know - Question and Answers with Shari Lapena

If you're looking to start packing your beach bag (okay - porch bag) for summer reading, make sure you add Shari Lapena's suspense novel, Someone We Know, to the list. The paperback releases May 12/20. I've read it and can happily recommend it! (my review) I really enjoy Lapena's books and am also looking forward to her forthcoming book - The End of Her - releasing July 28/20.

In the meantime, get to know Shari and her writing a bit better......

In Someone We Know, Raleigh, a teenaged boy, is the person of interest in a series of home break-ins. What inspired this character?
It was something I saw on the internet about a kid breaking into someone’s house in the middle of the night to use their wifi. I guess he’d had his own wifi restricted at home. It got me thinking about what a teenaged boy might do, and what the repercussions might be—and it just went on from there.

What was your inspiration for writing Someone We Know? How is it different from your previous thrillers?
As I said above, the idea was tweaked by something interesting I saw on the internet. That was enough to get me started. I knew the boy had to stumble onto something big—I needed a murder. It’s always easy to come up with a dead body—it’s how that dead body got to be there that’s more difficult, and a lot more interesting. That’s where the story comes in.  In many ways, Someone We Know is similar to my other thrillers—it’s fast paced, it’s twisty, and you want to get to the bottom of it all.  But this one focuses also on whole families, on parents and sons in particular, rather than focusing only on couples. It feels richer and deeper to me in that way.

Which character in Someone We Know did you have the most fun creating? Which one was the most challenging to write?
For fun, I’d have to say Raleigh, because he’s a teenager who’s got himself into a world of trouble. He’s a likeable mess, so you have to feel for him. The most challenging character to write was probably Robert Pierce, because it’s always tricky to get a probable psychopath just right. 
The one I liked best was Olivia, Raleigh’s mother. I feel for her, I really do.

What is your process for developing characters? Are any of these characters based on anyone you know?
I never base a character on any particular person, although I’m sure I take the occasional trait here and there from different people I see and incorporate them into my characters as I see fit. I develop characters organically—I put a character into a particular situation—usually a difficult one—and see what they do and say. They grow and develop as the story goes on and they face ever greater challenges. There’s no better way to learn about your characters than to put them in a situation of conflict and see how they react. Much better than creating a chart with eye color and shoe size and how they take their coffee—although that would help to keep the details straight! 

Do you know at the beginning who the killer will be or do you decide as you write? 
No, I don’t know who the killer will be at the outset, but I know it has to be one of several people. I start with a situation with a lot of possibilities, one that can go in a lot of different directions, and then, as I develop all the threads, and as I come to the end, the best answer presents itself. 

Your plots have many twists. How do you come up with these plot turns? Do you plan everything out beforehand or do you wing it and see where the story takes you?
The plot twists come instinctively, I guess. I’m not a planner, in that I don’t plan a novel out ahead and then write it. I start with an exciting premise, and I get inside the characters—they’re in a fraught situation, and they take things where they’re meant to go.  The twists and turns just come. I really believe that the unconscious mind is working all the time. I believe that that’s where our ideas and creativity come from, and you have to be receptive to it. Practically speaking, I have to set up an interesting situation that could go in a lot of directions in the first place, with some characters with unknown backstories, so that these twists and turns can arise. Once I have my premise, I can get started and let things unfold as they will. Still, I think about things as I go along, how the situation might become more complicated, more difficult for the characters, and the different ways it might be resolved.

Why do you think your books have struck a chord with readers? To what do you attribute your ability to predict what thriller readers want?
It’s been such a thrill, really. I didn’t expect it. But yes, something about my books resonates with readers. I think with The Couple Next Door, there was something about the parental lapse of judgment that resonated with many, many people. A Stranger in the House didn’t have that sort of premise, but readers gobbled it up—and An Unwanted Guest too. I think generally speaking, what has made my books successful—and I’m going by what my fans say, which is almost always “I couldn’t put it down”—is that my books have a relentless forward momentum that they enjoy. They’re fast moving, and you just have to know what’s going to happen next, and you want the answers to all your questions—the answer to not just what happened, but why. And also, they’re twisty—and readers love to have their expectations upended.

Sounds good, doesn't it!? Read an excerpt of Someone We Know.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Over the Counter #449

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

The Museum of Whales You Will Never See : And Other Excursions to Iceland's Most Unusual Museums by A. Kendra Greene.

From Penguin Books:

"Mythic creatures, natural wonders, and the mysterious human impulse to collect are on beguiling display in this poetic tribute to the museums of an otherworldly island nation.

Iceland is home to only 330,000 people (roughly the population of Lexington, Kentucky) but more than 265 museums and public collections–nearly one for every ten people. They range from the intensely physical, like the Icelandic Phallological Museum, which collects the penises of every mammal known to exist in Iceland, to the vaporously metaphysical, like the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft, which poses a particularly Icelandic problem: How to display what can’t be seen? In The Museum of Whales You Will Never See, A. Kendra Greene is our wise and whimsical guide through this cabinet of curiosities, showing us, in dreamlike anecdotes and more than thirty charming illustrations, how a seemingly random assortment of objects–a stuffed whooper swan, a rubber boot, a shard of obsidian, a chastity belt for rams–can map a people’s past and future, their fears and obsessions. “The world is chockablock with untold wonders,” she writes, “there for the taking, ready to be uncovered at any moment, if only we keep our eyes open.”"

(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, May 5, 2020

If It Bleeds - Stephen King

Ahh, I've been waiting to listen to Stephen King's latest release, If It Bleeds. It was well worth the wait! But then again - so is every book from King!

But then again, how can you imagine what a Stephen King tale is going to involve? For me, I love the delicious feeling I get when I crack the first page or listen to the first disc of a new King book. The possibilities are endless as is Stephen King's imagination.

If It Bleeds is a collection of four novellas - Mr. Harrigans Phone, The Life of Chuck, Rat, and the title story, If It Bleeds.

They're all excellent tales, but my hands down fave was If It Bleeds. Why? Because it's the return of Holly Gibney! Holly is a recurring character, most notably from the Mr. Mercedes novels as well as The Outsider. Holly is working predictable cases at the Finders Keepers Detective Agency when she sees news footage of a school bombing. But the reporter.....there's something, well....something wrong about him. And that's all I'm going to say. Sooooo good. I've always enjoyed Holly as she has grown through over the years. She still doubts herself, but is much stronger now. And this time, she's working alone. Do or die so to speak. The danger is palpable in this listen and had me staying up too late to finish it! (This is also where the book's title comes from - news jargon - If it bleeds, it leads). The reader for this story absolutely captured Holly's hesitancy and conveyed her new found determination. And he easily transmits the danger - and evil of the story.

In Mr. Harrigan's Phone, a young teen makes friends with a crotchety, old (and wealthy) neighbor. I really enjoyed their interactions and the relationship as it developed. But a gift from Craig to Mr. Harrigan seems to be the gift that keeps on giving.... Okay, I've heard the urban myths about this one, but King puts his own stamp on it - and will have you wondering....The reader for this one had just the right (and believable) voices for both characters. Lots of inflection and movement with the reading immerses the reader in the tale. And I liked the pacing of the narration.

The cover is clever - it may just look like a cat - but look at the nose area - yep, that's a rat. And the star of the next novella, Rat. You know the phrase - make a deal with the devil. But what about a deal with a rat? Uh huh, a wannabe novelist is desperate to finish a book. I think what was the most unsettling about this tale was the rat's voice and dialogue. Is the rat really talking to the writer? Or is it all in his head? The narrator for this one was excellent. The voice for the rat is calm and reasonable, which makes it all the more frightening. And the voice used for the would be novelist absolutely catches his hope, his incredulity and ultimately..... This reader was a clear speaker and easy to understand. His voice was just right for this tale.

The Life of Chuck was interesting in it's presentation. It's told backwards in three acts, beginning with the end of the world (kinda spooky listening to this one in today's atmosphere...). Billboards are showing up everywhere thanking Chuck for his 39 years of service. Who is Chuck? Does he tie into the end of the world? Each acts goes a little bit further into the past until....well until the beginning and the end meet. In a way I hadn't imagined.The reader for this one had a nice little gravelly undertone that suited the mental image I was creating for Chuck. His voice was really expressive and definitely holds the listener's attention.

I chose to listen to If It Bleeds. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Listening draws the reader further into the story in my experience. (And this is one of the few books I would listen to again in the future.) The readers for this book were Will Patton, Danny Burstein and Steven Weber. Patton and Weber have both read King novels in the past. Hear for yourself - Listen to an excerpt of If It Bleeds. Oh, make sure you listen to the author's notes at the end - King talks about the inspiration for the novellas.

(For a real treat, here's a video of King himself reading from If It Bleeds.)

Monday, May 4, 2020

Giveaway - Die Next - Jonathan Stone

Happy Monday everyone. Let's start this week off with another wonderful giveaway from the folks at Grand Central Publishing. If you're a fan of thrillers.....this one's for you!

Die Next by Jonathan Stone is newly released - and I have a copy to give away to one lucky reader!

"From bestselling author Jonathan Stone comes a pulse-pounding thriller for the digital age that will make you question everything that you have ever saved on your phone.

In a crowded coffee shop, Zack Yellin swaps identical-looking cell phones with the businessman next to him. It’s an honest mistake-and a deadly one. Because the “businessman” is actually a professional-and highly volatile-hit man named Joey Richter, and his phone is filled with bombshell evidence.

If Zack takes Joey’s phone to the police, will they believe his swapped cell phone story? Would they even be able to protect him? Because the hit man now has Zack’s phone with the phone numbers and addresses of Zack’s new girlfriend Emily, his best friend Steve, and all the texts and information from Zack’s life.

Whether Zack keeps the phone or ditches it, Joey will kill him for what he now knows. In cat-and-mouse twists, turns, and continually mounting terror, one thing is clear: Zack is next on the hit man’s list." Read an excerpt of Die Next. "Die Next is the model of a brilliant and stylish thriller! Rich with character development and it's-like-I'm-there settings, the novel is an adrenaline rush between covers. Bravo!" --- Jeffery Deaver, author of The Bone Collector and The Goodbye Man

"Jonathan Stone recently retired from a 40-year career in advertising.  He was the  creative director at a New York advertising agency, and did most of his fiction writing on the commuter train between the Connecticut suburbs and Manhattan.

Of his nine published novels, several are currently optioned for film: Moving Day is set up as a feature at Lionsgate Entertainment, Days of Night has been optioned by New Republic Pictures, and Parting Shot has been optioned by Marc Platt Productions.

A graduate of Yale, Jon is married, with a son and daughter. " You can connect with Jonathan Stone on his website and follow him on Twitter.

I love this premise! And if you do too, enter for a chance to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to Canada and US, no PO boxes please. Ends May 16/20. Watch for my review! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, May 1, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #311

- 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
Another book that I'm really looking forward to! Fredrick Backman's new book, Anxious People, releases in
August in the UK and September in N.A. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. The premise looks like so much fun! Okay, I have to admit, the US cover doesn't appeal to me at all. The colors used and the back view of two people. Kinda meh for me. The UK is much more interesting. The starkness of the cover catches my eye much more than the US does. And the familiar UK tag line on the cover gives the potential reader an idea of what the book is about. (Fun!) So, an easy choice for me this week - UK all the way. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read Anxious People?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.